Google for Startups Just Dropped a $5M Bag On Black Tech
For the most part, The Churn isn’t really trying to be in the breaking news game, but we do like sharing information on the early side when possible. And today, there’s big news in Atlanta’s Black tech ecosystem.
Google for Startups announced this morning it’s awarding a total of $5 million in cash to 76 Black startup founders across the U.S. Each will receive either $50,000 or $100,000 from the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund.
Distribution of the funds will be managed by Atlanta-based organization Goodie Nation, which facilitates opportunities for diverse founders and entrepreneurs.
Thanks to a large number of Black tech startups in Atlanta, Georgia has the most recipients among states, with 35 of the 76 awardees, who will split $2.35 million of the $5M total.
Jewel Burks Solomon is the head of Google for Startups U.S. In a statement provided to The Churn prior to the announcement, she said that combining the cash awards with mentorship, programming and other resources will create “a more level playing field for these founders, who are building amazing companies and making an impact on their communities.”
“We are committed to helping Black founders who have been deeply impacted by COVID-19 and who are disproportionately locked out of access to the funding they need to succeed,” Solomon said.
Among the Black startup founders receiving cash awards is Shaun Chavis, award-winning cookbook author and CEO/founder of LVNGbook, a platform of customizable cookbooks for people with chronic conditions looking to manage their well-being through healthy and sustainable eating habits.
“We are really focused on building relationships with doctors, dietitians, health coaches and other care providers who would like to use LVNGbook as they talk to patients about eating to prevent or manage disease,” Chavis says.
She plans to use her $50,000 award on sales, marketing, tech updates, recipe development and improvements to the LVNGbook app.
“This is really significant for us,” she says. “I bootstrapped the company, and this has been a hard first year for any company.”
Austin Webster is the founder of music discovery app Deepr, which will also receive $50,000 from the Black Founders Fund. He agrees it’s hard out here for a Black startup, especially with 2020’s economic “curveballs.”
“Fundraising is extremely hard, even more so for founders of color. The difficulties we have gone through, just to secure a couple of thousands of dollars from potential investors, would make a great Netflix movie,” Webster admits.
Goodie Nation founder Joey Womack is excited about partnering with Google for Startups to distribute the $5 million.
“Never before have we seen this scale of funding for Black tech founders in particular,” he says. “This is going to be a huge inflection point for Black entrepreneurship, not only in Atlanta but across the country.”
Womack wants founders to use the funding, which he calls an on-ramp for Black entrepreneurs who’ve been shunned from the tech ecosystem, to hit growth milestones and level up on connections to customers, partners and more funders.
“The goal and expectation is to focus on growing without worrying about keeping the lights on.”
See the entire list of startups receiving the funds and get to know their founders here.