On Wednesday, The Plug will release a first-of-its-kind report analyzing 100 high-growth, Black-led technology companies and founders that are making a significant impact in their industries and communities.
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“These founders have broken barriers,” Tayler James, Director of Research at The Plug, said. “They have introduced us to different systems and solutions that we weren’t privy to years prior. They’re setting the standard and the stage to really move the needle for our Black community.”
The Black Tech Effect 2023 report is an opportunity to celebrate the success of these founders and companies while acknowledging the ongoing challenges affecting the Black tech ecosystem.
Pushing against a deficit narrative
Far too often, Black-led tech companies are under-examined and under-represented. The Black Tech Effect aims to shift narratives of Black tech companies from a deficit lens to an empowered one, reimagining the current state of tech. James and her team utilized an innovative methodology that looks not just at a company’s total funding and years in operation, but their social impact as well.
“A lot of other reports — the best of this, best of that — they’re always measured at a high level of valuation, so who raised the most money,” James said. “We wanted to move away from that because we know of the discrepancies within entrepreneurship for Black and brown founders.”
The under-examination and over-emphasis of growth and performance have led to false insights and narratives about the progress of Black-led tech companies. This paucity of information has detrimental effects not just on Black founders and companies, but on society as a whole. By missing out on the impact these companies bring, we also miss out on innovative approaches to global issues like climate change and sustainability.
The Black Tech Effect report was created in partnership with The Tech We Want, a program of the social change venture Omidyar Network. Omidyar Network believes this report will help address the data gap on Black-led tech companies, promote an inclusive future and help position these founders and companies to be seen by more investors.
“It really was about a reframing, a new narrative and using data-driven reporting to demonstrate some of that transformation and do something collaboratively that we haven’t really seen put out there,” Sherrell Dorsey, CEO and founder of The Plug, said about the partnership with Omidyar Network. “Let us redefine how we determine that these businesses are successful beyond just funding and beyond growth, but the fact that they’re also helping to build up community in the process.”
Key takeaways from the report
The Black Tech Effect highlights companies in eight categories: HBCU Founder, Woman Founder, Veteran Founder, Social Impact, Unicorn Status, International, Legacy, and Up and Coming.
Nearly half of the 100 companies are in fintech, clean tech, technology, media and telecommunications or artificial intelligence and machine learning. On average, the companies on the list have been in operation for seven years.
Ultimately, the findings of this report all serve a greater purpose.
“We’re bringing visibility to not only these 100 companies but just the Black tech ecosystem as a whole to set the stage and the foundation that we’re here, that we need to be a part of these conversations, that these investors need to see us and we need to be given the same opportunity as other founders and organizations,” James said. “We are intelligent, we are thriving.”