Jewel Burks Solomon has been busy. Since taking the helm as director of Google for Startups US earlier this year, she’s been part of pushing the tech giant along into its commitments to Black founders and their businesses. Today, the company announced its latest effort to support Black founders by dolling out a hefty $5 million dollars in non-dilutive cash awards for 76 Black tech and tech-enabled businesses.
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, said Jewel Burks Solomon in a statement shared with The Plug. By combining cash awards with Google for Startups mentorship and programming, we hope to help create a more level playing field for these founders, who are building amazing companies and making an impact on their communities.
The Google for Startups Black Founders Fund was announced in June as part of Google’s company-wide racial equality commitments. The cash awards, no strings attached, will provide founders supportive and needed capital as they continue to grow their companies. They’ll also receive Google’s technical resources, mentorship, best practices, and ongoing access to Google for Startups programming.
With representation expanding the country, of the 76 startups, 36 are based in Atlanta and others hail from outside the bubble in cities like Durham, Dallas, Detroit, Alabama, Memphis, Philadelphia, and South Carolina, among others. Companies range from Fintech to fashion to water sensors to video streaming platforms and more. Cash awards will range from $50,000 to $100,000 per founder. See the full list of companies receiving funding here.
Distribution of the $5 million cash awards will be managed by Goodie Nation, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that facilitates and accelerates social capital opportunities to help fill the funding gap for diverse founders and social entrepreneurs. Goodie Nation will receive $100,000 to provide these services. Honestly, this is a major inflection point for Black tech. When you combine the money with the relationships companies have access to, it builds a solid opportunity and scalability, said Joey Womack, CEO of Goodie Nation. “The possibilities of other companies jumping in to follow suit are endless. The success of the money won’t be about whether companies go no to become unicorns, but about unlocking the possibilities of creating dope founders.
Google’s efforts to build ecosystems with Black founders in mind have been part of its ongoing effort to provide programming and resources for Black startups and entrepreneurs. At the height of the racial justice protests that followed the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in late May, Google CEO Sundar Pichai committed $175 million to support programming, funding, and technical training for Black businesses and technologists.
Additional funding has expanded to other Black tech ecosystems where the company has also announced a $1 million Black founders Fund in Brazil, and a $2 million in Europe.In 2016, it launched the Black Founders Exchange week-long accelerator and pitch competition at American Underground in Durham, North Carolina. Hosted annually, each cohort saw over 10 participants with over 19 companies going on to raise over $10 million dollars.
According to Burks Solomon, the cohort of startups receiving Google’s latest cash award hail from various Google startup programs including Google for Startups Atlanta Founders Academy (launched in February), and Google for Startups Accelerator for Black Founders (launched in June).