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Malia Lazu, Founder of The Urban Labs, discusses her work to support startups and creative entrepreneurs through Accelerate Boston, a program that teaches the basics of business through curricula and alumni support. She says the program explores an inherent tension between a creative’s ambitions around their vision to make what they want to make, and the business demands of what the customer might want.
Malia Lazu, Founder of The Urban Labs, is a powerful culture creator and strategist whose instinct and clarity have changed cities, institutions and organizations throughout the US and abroad for over 20 years. Having started her first cultural endeavor at age 19 – in which she was credited with forever changing the voting landscape in Boston – Malia has been using strategy and the connective tissue of community networks to build diversity in authentic ways and creating consistent impact.
With over two decades of experience building diverse culture in the political and civic space, Malia felt the diversity and inclusion industry was in need of disruption in the private sector. While at MIT, Malia launched a space for diversity research and development called The Urban Labs, which has emerged as a boutique multi-cultural agency helping corporations and institutions be more effective in their diversity and inclusion efforts.
Over the last few years Malia has experimented in attacking ongoing diversity problems, including working with the city of Boston in the startup space, creating Accelerate Boston, an accelerator for creatives. In its first five years, Accelerate Boston helped launched 20+ minority businesses and continues to support minority entrepreneurs in their search for investment capital.
The passion and success of Malia’s work has earned her a reputation as one of the most insightful and critical culture creators of her generation, and caught the attention of MTV, Showtime, ABC-TV, Fox News, and print publications such as Newsweek, The Boston Globe, Boston Business Journal and Boston Magazine. Malia was named as one of the 50 founders to watch in Essence Magazine 2017.
In addition to her extensive work building bridges and bringing people together, Malia has created campaigns for numerous tastemakers including Grammy Award-winner and famed civil-rights activist Harry Belafonte, businessmen and philanthropists George Soros and Peter Lewis.
Malia currently sits on The Nation Magazine Editorial Board, Eastern Bank Board of Incorporators, Boston Society of Architects and the Black Economic Council of MA.