Just a few weeks ago, millions of eyes were on the city of Milwaukee to watch the Milwaukee
Bucks win four games in a row to become NBA Champions. Millions of dollars was spent and
with Milwaukee on such a high note, Nadiyah Johnson wants to ensure Milwaukee is not only
seen as a sports city.
As the founder of the Milky Way Tech Hub–a hub dedicated to empowering Black, Brown and
POC tech companies in Milwaukee–Johnson is working towards making Milwaukee a diverse
tech city by and for the POC community. The Milky Way Tech Hub is an arm of Johnson’s
bigger brand Jet Constellations.
To further her goal, Johnson recently created the Milky Way Tech Hub Accelerator and awarded
$60,000 to Black and Brown tech companies. The accelerator ran from July 5-16, 2021 where
startups participated in a virtual 2-week intensive program that focused on monetizing IP,
creating disruptive innovative businesses, branding, and marketing, and curating an investment
“It was extremely successful,” said Johnson. “Looking forward to possibly awarding more funds
The Milky Way Tech Hub Accelerator July 2021 Cohort included CrossKudi, Zoombeeto,LikeMinds, PerceptForm, Otto Science’s, Secure Bridges and PumpFive.
Otto Science’s—a company focused on accelerating scientific discovery by connecting scientist
to help and equipment they need—was one of the top winners of the accelerator. Founded by
Harsimran Kalsi and Satvir Kalsi, Otto Science’s received $20,000 to put towards their efforts.
According to Harsimran, Otto Science’s is providing a system for early-stage biotech companies,
scientists, physicians and labs to seamlessly cooperate and outsource experimentation, which
will result in faster discoveries and breakthroughs in science.
“If it wasn’t obvious from the pandemic, scientific research and development is at the heart of almost everything we care about, so it needs to be rapid, robust and reliable to adapt to an ever-
changing landscape,” said Harsimran. “Enhancing collaboration and access to scientific research is the future.”
Harsimran and Kalsi learned about the Milky Way Accelerator through a previous accelerator
program they were in. Aside from the funding, Otto Science’s applied because the accelerator
had great programming and they wanted to meet other founders.
“Science can’t change the world on its own, the world needs to be willing to change. Connecting
to other people who are passionate about eradicating diseases, accelerating science, and building
a brighter future for humanity would be especially helpful,” he said.
Talethea Thompson of Pump Five, a mobile gas service that now offers auto detailing and tire
services, was awarded $15,000 from the Milky Way Tech Hub. The other participating businesses were each awarded $5,000.
Thompson will be using the money to update her website and mobile apps, along with purchasing a specific truck design for her gas deliveries. Her goal is to get more commercial and industry contracts with municipals and county clients.
As things slowed down during the pandemic, Thompson took the time to gain knowledge such as tech, which is one of the reasons she joined the program. “The information was invaluable,” said Thompson. “The way we focused on my business and [how I can] grow was amazing.
Another reason Thompson joined is because of Johnson’s dedication to the Black community and ensuring Black businesses and people are at the center of Milwaukee’s tech hub.
“Nadiyah is laser-focused on making Milwaukee a tech hub. She is so passion-driven [and] because she’s so passion-driven and smart, she won’t be able but to be successful,” Thompson said. “The whole philanthropic arm of the Milky Way Tech Hub wants to give back to the tech industry for Black people.”