Google has selected 30 startups to receive a share of its $2M Black Founders Fund in Europe, providing these companies with a spot of cash, some valuable cloud services, and a bit of good old-fashioned networking among the Google crew.
The fund was announced last fall as part of a company-wide effort towards “building a more equitable future for everyone,” alongside grants and new sponsorships. Over 800 companies applied and Google interviewed 100 of them, ultimately winnowing that down to the 30 announced today.
Each company will receive “up to” $100K in non-dilutive funding, and up to $120K in Ads grants and $100K in Cloud credits. (I’ve asked Google for more details on how the fund was divided, and if any company received this full amount. I’ll update if I hear back.)
They’ll also get access to Google’s entrepreneurial network, tech support, and some other assets that don’t have hard numbers associated with them.
All the startups are led by black founders, and 40 percent by women of color. One of the latter is Nancy de Fays, co-founder of LINE, which makes these cool battery-hub combos for the MacBook “Pro” that add a ton of ports and battery life and look sweet to boot. I’ve learned a lot chatting with her at trade shows, and regret that I do most of my work at a desktop so I don’t have an excuse to use one of the company’s gadgets.
In response to being selected for Google funding, de Fays penned a blog post exhorting corporations to throw their weight around in favor of social change, and for startups to lead the way in diversity and equity.
We buy values and standards more than we buy the product itself. We buy ideals of life more than the actual features. Putting the 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.
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.
It’s something of a counterpoint to the idea, also commonly expressed these days, that companies should be mission-focused and objective.
Here are the other 29 companies that Google will be giving a boost to (descriptions taken from the blog post):
- Afrocenchix – Afrocenchix formulate, manufacture, and sell safe, effective products for afro and curly hair.
- AudioMob – AudioMob provides non-intrusive audio ads within mobile games.
- Augmize – Augmize builds risk models for property and casualty insurers using interpretable machine learning.
- Axela Innovation – Axela Innovations created a smart platform that joins up care services and puts the person receiving care at the center of the process.
- Bosque – Bosque is the first tech-enabled, direct-to-consumer plant brand in Europe with digitized inventory, AR tech, and on-demand access to vetted plant experts.
- Circuit Mind Limited – Circuit Mind is building intelligent software that fully automates the design of electronic circuit systems.
- Clustdoc – Clustdoc is client onboarding automation software used by organizations and teams around the world.
- Contingent – Contingent is an AI platform that proactively predicts, monitors, and manages supplier risk.
- Define – Define is a legal technology company that optimizes the contract drafting and reviewing process for lawyers, serving the world’s largest banks and consulting companies.
- Freyda – Freyda is digitizing the asset management industry by helping funds and service providers to become hyper-efficient in how they approach their data capture from documents.
- Heex Technologies – Heex Technologies provides AI-powered software and web services to development teams in data-intensive fields such as autonomous driving.
- HomeHero – HomeHero is an operating system for the house, making running a home simple and easy.
- Hutch Logistics – Hutch Logistics is a fulfilment and operating system for e-commerce brands.
- iknowa – iknowa is an end-to-end building and renovation platform for property owners and tradespeople.
- Kami – Kami empowers parents during family planning, pregnancy and childhood, allowing them to adapt and thrive through even the most difficult transitions.
- Kwara – Kwara makes building wealth together frictionless, by turning analog credit unions in emerging markets into modern digital banks.
- Lalaland – Lalaland uses AI to create synthetic humans for fashion eCommerce brands to increase diversity in retail.
- Modularity Grid – Modularity Grid is an AI platform that makes energy systems more efficient and resilient.
- Movemeback – Movemeback (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.
- Playbrush – Playbrush is the innovation leader in oral care, growing smart toothbrush subscriptions to foster better mouth and body health.
- Remote Coach – Remote Coach is a platform providing technology for personal trainers and fitness influencers to digitize and grow their businesses.
- Robin AI – Robin AI uses a combination of human and artificial intelligence to read and edit contracts.
- Scoodle – Scoodle is a platform for education influencers. Everyone has something they want to learn and something they can teach—we bring both sides together.
- Suvera – Suvera delivers a virtual care clinic for patients with long-term conditions in the UK.
- Syrona Health – Syrona is a digital health Company providing tracking, treatment, and management solutions for people with chronic gynecological conditions.
- Tradein – Tradein is a real-time scoring and prediction of business payment behavior and solvency.
- Vanilla Steel – Vanilla Steel offers a digital auctions platform for excess steel that provides sellers a simple inventory management process for excess material.
- Wild Radish – Wild Radish enables people who love food and cooking to engage in Michelin-quality, unique, cooking and dining experiences at home.
- Xtramile – Xtramile is a data-driven platform that delivers the right job to the right candidate anywhere online.
Feels like we’ll be hearing from most of these folks again. You can find out more about Google’s startup programs here.