Thirty Black Founders in the United States to Watch in 2021
Next week, we kick off the inaugural Google for Startups Accelerator: Black Founders supporting twelve incredible entrepreneurs and their companies over the next three months with the best of Google’s people, programs, and products.
These founders represent only 1% of the ~1,000 highly qualified applicants to the Accelerator program, each solving major challenges through entrepreneurship.
As the program kicks off on August 10th, it is not only important for me to support these twelve talented entrepreneurs, but also to highlight many more of the amazing founders of color that I encountered throughout this launch — all doing impressive work and growing profitable, successful businesses.
While I wish I could showcase them all, here are 18 additional black-led early-stage startups that caught my attention and that everyone should be on the lookout for in 2021:
Admit.me | Bethesda, Maryland
Founder: Kofi Kankam
Admit.me is a sequenced guide of self-paced, step-by-step admissions guidance tools including: checklists, expert-driven videos, quizzes, essay templates, and more.
Civic Eagle | Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota
Founder: Damola Ogundipe
Civic Eagle is a B2B SaaS solution providing legislative intelligence, collaboration and a strategic edge to organizations and companies engaged in lobbying and government policy work.
COI Energy | Tampa, Florida
Founder: SaLisa Berrien
COI Energy offers an energy capacity trading platform that drives building efficiency, protects the electric grid, reduces carbon footprint, and helps the underserved achieve energy independence by optimizing energy resources.
Fêtefully | Dallas, Texas
Founder: GiGi McDowell
Fêtefully is an AI powered wedding & event planner that makes a luxury service accessible to an underserved market while enabling professional planners to make money in their spare time.
Gerald | New York, New York
Founder: Ola Okeshola
Gerald supports life events engagement & cross sell AI for insurance companies.
Grant Source | Houston, Texas
Founder: Allen Thornton
Grant Source is a Grant Funding System that helps organizations find funding for their Mission.
Innovare | Chicago, Illinois
Founders: Nick Freeman
Innovare is an all-in-one data, strategy, and project management tool that empowers education, non-profit, and social impact leaders to support students and communities.
Muju AI | Atlanta, Georgia
Founder: Jon Gosier
Muju A.I. offers a content ID system that improves the way music is licensed for TV and Film, tracked, and monetized.
MYAVANA | Atlanta, Georgia
Founder: Candace Mitchell
Myavana is a mobile app that uses AI/ML to make personalized hair product recommendations for your unique hair type, texture, and condition.
Nice Healthcare | Minneapolis, Minnesota
Founder: Thompson Aderinkomi
Nice Healthcare is a full stack, technology enabled, in-home primary care clinic.
Optimal Tech | Atlanta, Georgia
Founder: Reginald Parker
Optimal Tech provides hardware and software services to lower customer utility bills.
Possip | Nashville, Tennessee
Founder: Shani Dowell
Possip uses SMS and web-based pulse checks to strengthen organizations with diverse and dispersed people at the front lines, starting with schools and districts.
REUP | Los Angeles, California
Founder: William Lewis
REUP builds authentication tech that enables resales of luxury goods — starting with watches and jewelry.
Rheaply | Chicago, Illinois
Founder: Garry Cooper
Rheaply supports a category called an Asset Exchange Manager (AxM) — an asset/inventory management system that functions like a marketplace.
Varuna | Chicago, Illinois
Founder: Seyi Fabode
Varuna is an IoT and AI-Powered dashboard that helps water systems efficiently deliver clean water.
Wisy | San Francisco, California
Founder: Nelida Gomez
Wisy facilitates remote coordination and automation with AI for field sales.
Zirtue | Dallas, Texas
Founder: Dennis Cail
Zirtue is a relationship-based social lending app that simplifies loans between friends, family and trusted relationships with automatic loan payments.
I am continuously in awe of the accomplishments of these and the many other black entrepreneurs that I’ve encountered in my role supporting founders; and, I’m continuously in shock that these entrepreneurs remain an incredibly under-tapped opportunity for investors.
Last week, an old classmate sent me an article by Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern about access to capital for black-owned businesses.
My tl;dr as to what financial institutions and investors can do to support black entrepreneurs is for them to take the initiative to check out these and other black founders, learn about their companies, and reach out to set up a conversation.
(I’ve included a few LinkedIn profiles to make it easy for you to get started!)
Stealing from a panel conversation that I’m hosting later this month for the Stanford alumni network:
“Limited access to capital, minimal opportunities for exposure, and a lack of representation remain the reality for the Black entrepreneurial community.
If the world is serious in its desire to support the Black community as a whole, the journey starts with investing in Black-owned businesses and creating access to capital for Black entrepreneurs.”
Jason Scott currently serves as the Head of Startup Developer Ecosystems, US — managing Google’s regional Accelerators and startup developer engagement programs across the United States.