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Sean Diddy Combs Shop Circulate YinFo Rochester Black minority business

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Growing up in Rochester, Rob Lee always wanted to be a boss. The idea of calling the shots fueled his entrepreneurial desires, inspired by a solid support system; his parents.

Lee’s mother was a nurse at Rochester General Hospital, and his father was the director of social services for the Rochester Housing Authority. His parents’ hard work and empathy are at the heart of his new venture, which has some serious celebrity support.

In June, news broke that Sean “Diddy” Combs was behind the launch of a curated digital marketplace for Black business owners called Shop Circulate.

Rob Lee introduces YinFo at a press conference in downtown Rochester.

Lee’s new business venture, YinFo, will be the official payment provider for Shop Circulate.

YinFo is a payment processing platform similar to Square or PayPal. The difference between YinFo and comparable technology is the platform’s commitment to helping small and minority-owned businesses evolve.

“You start a business with just a dream and a dollar,” Rob Lee said. “Once that dream becomes fruition, what do I do next? We created that solution to help.”

According to Combs, Shop Circulate is meant to empower Black businesses in a collective pursuit for economic justice.

Fail fast

According to CNBC, 20%of small businesses fail by the first year, 30% by the second, and 50% close by the fifth. For Black-owned companies, eight out of ten fail within the first 18 months.

Hip-Hop artist Sean "P. Diddy" Combs walks down the steps of his chartered jet upon his arrival in Milwaukee.

Startup businesses need resources to grow, but Lee remembers support being scarce during his journey. Access to funding or lines of credit appeared out of reach for reasons beyond his control.

“There have been times when I’ve checked off every box and they still said no,” Lee said.

Rob believes YinFo can bridge gaps for entrepreneurs like himself.

“We created IT in a box,” Lee said. “It’s an ecosystem that once you plug-in, takes care of everything from payment processing to banking, marketing and customer engagement.



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