Tech giant Google, back in October 2020, launched Black Founders Fund in order to fulfill its commitment towards strengthening racial equity in Europe. And today, it has announced the 30 startups from the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands who have been selected to receive awards from the Black Founders Fund.
These startups are said to be addressing global challenges like access to healthcare, financial inclusion, energy and education, in the most competitive industries, from hardware design and advertising to data and risk management. Besides, 40 per cent of startups selected are led by women.
Here are the ten top international startups shortlisted for the 2021 Future Hamburg Award
Google’s Black Founders Fund
According to the tech giant, currently, less than 0.5 per cent of VC funding is going to Black-led startups, and Black people are making up less than 3 per cent of the VC community. Besides, Google also believes that Black founders in Europe disproportionately lack access to the networks and capital needed to grow their businesses.
Following its commitment to build a more equitable future for everyone, Google for Startups launched a $2M (approx €1.64M) Black Founders Fund. It has selected 30 startups from six countries in Europe and awarded them up to $100K (approx €82K) in equity-free cash, paired with up to $220K (approx €180.5K) per startup in Google Ad Grants and Cloud credits, and support from experienced Startup Partner Managers at Google.
Besides, the founders will also receive mentoring with Google experts, leadership training and will be invited to take part in weekly Founders Standups – designed to help founders to celebrate the highs and navigate challenges with other founders.
Google mentions in a statement that, “We often hear that lack of diversity in tech is a pipeline problem. This program shows that isn’t the case. We received almost 800 applications for the fund from 18 countries in Europe and the quality we saw was truly exceptional – from tech prodigies, to former executives of the most successful companies in the world, to serial entrepreneurs.”
Lack of access to capital for Black founders
Google interviewed almost 100 founders for the fund to understand their businesses, their ambitions, and their lived experience as leaders, whether they are serial or first-time founders.
“We looked at what opportunities each founder has been given (or not given) and what they did with them. Did they need to work three jobs at a time? How much perseverance did it take to get that degree? Did they have a friend or a cousin to call up to get easy funding? The answers we heard made clear the calibre of these founders,” says the tech giant in a statement.
Google believes, once everyone starts to engage including – the corporations, VCs, angel investors, the founders, – only then a long-lasting change can be achieved. Currently, less than 0.5 per cent of VC funds are invested in Black-led startups, and only 38 Black founders have received capital from VCs in the last ten years. The Black Founders Fund in Europe is a third region, after the US and Brazil, where Google for Startups is helping to level the playing field by backing Black founders who are disproportionately locked out of access to capital.
Google mentioned, “We are so impressed by the founders’ experiences – the depth of their industry knowledge coupled with their valuable lived experiences of being Black leaders. This makes them uniquely positioned to build successful startups and create important solutions for our community. Backing Black founders not only means creating individual success stories but also supporting job creation and wealth generation for decades to come.”
The race and gender equality
Founder of LINE, one of the selected startups of Black Founders Fund, Nancy de Fays believes building a diverse workspace, and helping each other big and small, can drive change.
In a blog post, Fays says, “We buy values and standards more than we buy the product itself. We buy ideals of life more than the actual features. Putting these two parameters in the equation – the capability of big corps to shout loud, and consumers’ receptiveness to brands values and messages – it does make sense to me that to drive such a society change, big companies should voice and convey strong messages. They can reach a ton of people at once by directly taking the floor occupying the social media scene, or indirectly by promoting messages of peace, respect and tolerance.
According to Fays, startups are catalysts for change – if startups build diverse teams and fight against race and gender inequalities, then it’s the whole society that is moving forward all at once.
She further adds, “Founders need to build diverse teams without falling into compassion fatigue. They must show empathy and respect and bring onboard the best talents. Period. They need to be outspoken about their values, convey a strong, global mindset and build their organisation around them. And if they find themselves scoring low on diversity along the way, they should question themselves on the why and act on it without doing charity.”
The selected 30!
Below are the 30 companies that have been selected by Google:
- LINE (Belgium): it builds hardware and software tools for content creators (Founder – Nancy de Fays)
- Afrocenchix (UK): formulates, manufactures, and sells safe, effective products for afro and curly hair (Founders – Rachael Corson, Joycelyn Mate)
- AudioMob (UK): it provides non-intrusive audio Ads within mobile games (Founders – Christian Facey, Wilfrid Obeng)
- Augmize (UK): builds risk models for property and casualty insurers using interpretable machine learning (Founder – Favour Mandanji Nyikosa)
- Axela Innovation (UK): the company has created a smart platform that joins up care services and puts the person receiving care at the centre of the process (Founder – Nicholas Kelly)
- Bosque (Germany): it is the first tech-enabled, direct-to-consumer plant brand in Europe with digitised inventory, AR tech, and on-demand access to vetted plant experts (Founder – Deborah Choi)
- Circuit Mind Limited (UK): it is building intelligent software that fully automates the design of electronic circuit systems (Founder – Tomide Adesanmi)
- Clustdoc (France): it is client onboarding automation software used by businesses and teams around the world (Founder – Marie Asse)
- Contingent (UK): it is an AI platform that proactively predicts, monitors, and manages supplier risk (Founder – Tai Alegbe)
- Define (UK): a legal technology company that optimises the contract drafting and reviewing process for lawyers, serving the world’s largest banks and consulting companies (Founder – Nnamdi Emelifeonwu)
- Freyda (UK): the firm claims to be digitising the asset management industry by helping funds and service providers to become hyper-efficient in how they approach their data capture from documents (Founder – Danielle Lawrence)
- Heex Technologies (France): provides AI-powered software and web services to development teams in data-intensive fields such as autonomous driving (Founder – Bruno Mendes Da Silva)
- HomeHero (UK): it is an operating system for the house, making running a home simple and easy (Founder – Kenny Alegbe)
- Hutch Logistics (UK): a fulfilment and operating system for e-commerce brands (Founder – Sait Cham)
- iknowa (UK): it is an end-to-end building and renovation platform for property owners and tradespeople (Founder – Keano Chang)
- Kami (UK): empowers parents during family planning, pregnancy and childhood, allowing them to adapt and thrive through even the most difficult transitions (Founder – Erika Brodnock)
- Kwara (Germany): it makes building wealth together frictionless, by turning analog credit unions in emerging markets into modern digital banks (Founder – Cynthia Wandia)
- Lalaland (Netherlands): the platform uses AI to create synthetic humans for fashion e-commerce brands to increase diversity in retail (Founder – Michael Musandu)
- Modularity Grid (UK): it is an AI platform that makes energy systems more efficient and resilient (Founder – Elizabeth Nyeko)
- Movemeback (UK): often referred to as “the Linkedin of Africa”, is a global social professional platform, connecting people to opportunities, insights, and people they don’t have access to (Founders – Charles Sekwal, Oyin Solebo)
- Playbrush (Austria): it is the innovation leader in oral care, growing smart toothbrush subscriptions to foster better mouth and body health (Founder – Tolulope Ogunsina)
- Remote Coach (UK): a platform providing technology for personal trainers and fitness influencers to digitise and grow their businesses (Founder – Ben Camara)
- Robin AI (UK): the platform uses a combination of human and artificial intelligence to read and edit contracts (Founder – Richard Robinson)
- Scoodle (UK): it is a platform for education influencers. Everyone has something they want to learn and something they can teach – we bring both sides together (Founder – Ismail Jeilani)
- Suvera (UK): delivers a virtual care clinic for patients with long-term conditions in the UK (Founder – Ivan Beckley)
- Syrona Health (UK): a digital health company providing tracking, treatment, and management solutions for people with chronic gynecological conditions (Founder – Chantelle Bell)
- Tradein (France): it is a real-time scoring and prediction of business payment behavior and solvency (Founder – Jack-Hermann Ntoko)
- Vanilla Steel (Germany): the company offers a digital auctions platform for excess steel that provides sellers a simple inventory management process for excess material (Founder – Clifford Ondara)
- Wild Radish (UK): enables people who love food and cooking to engage in Michelin-quality, unique, cooking and dining experiences at home (Founders – Anthea Stephenson, James Bhardwaj)
- Xtramile (France): it is a data-driven platform that delivers the right job to the right candidate anywhere online (Founder – Stephanie Nenta)
Here’s how to build one that doesn’t, according to this expert…