Today, Google for Startups announces the 30 tech businesses receiving grants from its $2million (approximately £1.5million) Black Founders Fund for Black-led tech startups across Europe.
With less than 0.25 percent of venture capital (VC) funding going to Black-led startups in the UK, and only 38 Black founders receiving venture capital funding in the last 10 years, Google for Startups is helping to level the playing field by helping Black founders who are disproportionately locked out of access to capital.
The Fund received close to 800 applications from Europe (of which almost 600 came from the UK) and the 30 tech startups from six countries selected to receive the Fund are set to transform a diverse range of industries including healthcare, gaming, food, education and fitness.
The Google for Startups Black Founders Fund provides each business with up to $100,000 in non-dilutive cash awards – meaning that unlike most investments, founders are not giving up any ownership in their company. The funds will be distributed by OneTech, a London based organisation supporting underrepresented founders.
Each of the selected startups also receive up to $220,000 in Google Ad Grants and Cloud credits; as well as an acceleration programme that includes leadership training, workshops, mentoring and access to a community of fellow founders with an “Ask me anything” support network.
To be eligible for application, all startups were required to have one or more founders that self-identify as Black and the startup must already have a product in the market.
As we begin to emerge from one of the most globally challenging years in recent history, the startup ecosystem has a defining opportunity to create the blueprint for future business investments and position itself at the forefront of leading equal opportunities for the tech industry.
Rachael Palmer, Head of VC and Startup Partnerships in EMEA at Google said: “We received an incredible amount of high-calibre applications. The recipients are all leaders in their fields and represent an exciting, diverse future of European tech.
“To receive close to 800 quality applications proves there is not a pipeline problem in tech. There are many innovative Black-led businesses that would significantly benefit from better access to early-stage funding. For these startups to succeed, we need to see a wider commitment to change from the entire startup ecosystem.”
The 30 startups to receive the Fund are as follows:
- Rachael Corson & Joycelyn Mate, Afrocenchix (UK): safe and effective products for afro & curly hair
- Christian Facey & Wilfrid Obeng, AudioMob (UK): provision of non-intrusive audio ads in games
- Favour Mandanji Nyikosa, Augmize (UK): claims, risk and policy management
- Nicholas Kelly, Axela Innovations (UK): data-enhanced healthcare
- Deborah Choi, Bosque (Germany): direct-to-consumer plant business
- Tomide Adesanmi, Circuit Mind (UK): AI that designs electronics
- Marie Assé & Karim Edson Bakoumé , Clustdoc (France): smart customer onboarding software
- Tai Alegbe, Contingent (UK): AI platform which predicts, monitors and manages supplier risk
- Nnamdi Emelifeonwu, Define (UK): Legal technology optimising contract drafting and reviewing
- Danielle Lawrence, Freyda (UK): SaaS platform automating manual data entry and simplifying workflows
- Bruno Mendes Da Silva, Heex Technologies (France): SDK for embedded architectures, APIs and a web platform
- Kenny Alegbe, HomeHero (UK): an operating system for the home
- Sait Cham, Hutch Logistics (UK): fulfilment and operating system for ecommerce brands
- Keano Chang, iknowa (UK): Connecting property owners with tradespeople
- Cynthia Wandia, Kwara (Germany): digitises the world’s financial cooperatives
- Michael Musandu, Lalaland (Netherlands): using AI to create synthetic humans for fashion ecommerce brands
- Nancy de Fays, Line (Belgium): hybrid cloud SaaS for creative pros
- Elizabeth Nyeko, Modularity Grid (UK): AI software for predictive analytics and maintenance of energy systems
- Charles Sekwalor & Oyin Solebo, Movemeback (UK): connecting hidden opportunities & talent in Africa
- Erika Brodnock, Kami (Optimum Health) (UK): virtual support system for parents
- Tolulope Ogunsina, Playbrush (Austria): digitising oral health care
- Ben Camara, Remote Coach (UK) digitising personal training
- Richard Robinson, Robin AI (UK): using AI to automate editing legal contracts
- Ismail Jeilani, Scoodle (UK): a platform for education influencers
- Ivan Beckley, Suvera (UK): virtual support service for long-term care
- Chantelle Bell, Syrona Health (UK): digital health company
- Jack-Hermann Ntoko & Jean-Cedric Bekale, TradeIn (France): a collaborative trade risk management platform
- Clifford Ondara, Vanilla Steel (Germany): a digital auctions platform for excess steel
- Anthea Marie Stephenson, Wild Radish (UK): delivering a consumer-facing cook-at-home service
- Stephanie Nenta Mbianda, Xtramile (France): delivering one-click job ads
Marta Krupinska, Head of Google for Startups UK said: “The Black Founders Fund cements Google for Startups’ commitment to levelling the playing field for founders. While supporting underrepresented founders has been core to the community and support programs at Google for Startups since 2016, it’s so critical that we are now able to contribute funding as well as programming for a community who have consistently been over-mentored yet underfunded. I really hope that the rest of the ecosystem will take note of these excellent founders and follow suit.”
Ismail Jeilani, CEO and co-founder of Scoodle, said: “The cash injection, especially at a time of COVID, is incredibly impactful. But for me, it’s a lot more than just the money. It’s access to the world’s best talent. Often the barrier isn’t around necessarily just the money, but it’s actually the smartest people that can give you the right advice at the right time.”
“It’s getting tips and recommendations on where to find the best talent. On the tech angle, it’s one thing to have the cash available, but it’s having the advice to help us allocate that effectively. That’s obviously something money can’t buy.”
Nnamdi Emelifeonwu, CEO and founder of Define, said: “Running a business is rewarding but not without its challenges, and particularly so if you’re a Black founder who historically hasn’t had access to the same level of funding support as their peers. Non-dilutive equity is the golden ticket for any startup and by providing this as part of the BFF initiative just shows how Google is prioritising the funding gap issue for Black founders. This is going to be really useful and couldn’t have come at a more apt time for us as we enter our next phase of growth. We’re really delighted that we were able to get it.”
“The mentoring will also be really useful to us as we continue to grow. I’ve been fortunate enough to have great mentors in my personal and professional life and have seen the value of mentoring firsthand. In the startup world, it really does take a community as you can’t do everything on your own, so getting that support from the Google community will be invaluable.”