AFROTECH is honoring individuals across the tech industry — including the disrupters, innovators, wealth-makers, and overall game-changers in the industry in honor of Black History Month.
The inaugural AFROTECH™ Future 50 list honors 50 rising titans in the tech industry. These are up-and-coming visionaries from sectors across CPG, FinTech, D&I, VC, Board Directors, Product Leaders, Beauty, Crypto/NFTs, Social Impact, and Entrepreneurship.
You’ve seen their stories on here, and elsewhere. You’ve followed their journey and watched them change the face of technology. You even may have been inspired to begin your own entrepreneurial journey after reading about theirs.
And that, really, is what they’re here for. AFROTECH prides itself on bringing you the best — and brightest — Black men and women who overcame impossible odds to become thought leaders, disruptors, and innovators. Black men and women certainly don’t get enough credit, and recognition, for their role in the ever-changing business world…but we’re here to change that.
These 50 men and women are, certainly, the best and brightest amongst us. And they deserve to be celebrated, not just during Black History Month, but every month — and, indeed, every day.
These honorees have been historical firsts, or they’ve been inventors making a direct impact on science, health, and representation in education.
- Ramarni Wilfred — Wilfred scored a higher IQ than scientist Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, and physicist Stephen Hawking at age 11. By achieving a 162, the young student, who studies at a comprehensive school in east London, is considered a genius and the smartest boy in England’s capital.
- Alena Wicker — Wicker is set to begin her studies at Arizona State University, where she will have a double major in astronomical and planetary science and chemistry. Wicker’s ultimate goal, she says, is to become an engineer for NASA someday — and maybe even go into space!
- Alena Maze — Maze successfully completed her Ph.D. in survey methodology, and she’s the first-ever African American to do so.
- Caleb Anderson — While most kids are preparing to go to middle school at 13-year-old, Caleb Anderson is hitting the books at Georgia Tech, where he is a sophomore studying aerospace engineering.
- Hadiyah-Nicole Green —Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green — a multi-disciplinary physicist and the second African American woman to graduate with a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Alabama at Birmingham — has become the first to successfully cure cancer using laser-activated nanoparticles.
- Kizzmekia Corbett — Corbett, a viral immunologist at the National Institutes of Health, and a group of other scientists were responsible for helping to co-create the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
- Josh Aviv — The days of locating the nearest charging station for your vehicle are gone thanks to BoostEV, the world’s first on-demand mobile electric vehicle charging network. That’s thanks to Josh Aviv.
- Zaila Avant-garde — Zaila Avant-garde made history as the first African American contestant to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
- Raven Baxter — The molecular biologist — also known as Dr. Raven the Science Maven — embraces various mediums such as content creation, education, and music to spread awareness with hopes to foster creative thinking and create an inclusive space for students.
- LaShyra Nolen — Growing up as a child in Compton, California, LaShyra “Lash” Nolen dreamed of being a neurosurgeon and an astronaut. Her ambitions proved to be profitable leading her to become the first Black woman class president of Harvard Medical School.
These honorees have made an impact on their community through efforts like teaching, DEI, and more.
- Mari Copeny — At eight-years-old, concerned with the growing Flint water crisis, Copeny took initiative by writing a letter to former President Barack Obama to incentivize a visit to the city for the crisis to be examined directly. Upon visiting the devastation, Obama approved $100 million in relief funds for the people of Flint.
- Emmanuel Ellerbee — The Atlanta Falcons linebacker launched his nonprofit, Bee’s Believers, to bridge the gap between student-athletes and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
- Ruben Harris — Founder of Career Karma and the co-host at Breaking into Startups podcast.
- Ryan Wilson — Founder of The Gathering Spot, a Black-owned co-working space.
- Sade Ndya — A cinematographer, the founder of The Red Futon (a production company for BIPOC talent to partner with brands/musicians), and a mentor to help brown & Black girls in the film industry.
- Nicole Enearu — Patricia Williams opened her first McDonald’s franchise store in 1984. Today, Williams and her daughters Nicole Enearu and Kerri Harper-Howie own every McDonald’s in the city of Compton.
- Joseph Kitonga — The COVID-19 pandemic made it clear that as essential workers help keep the world afloat, startups like Vitable Health are simply vital. And, Kitonga is the founder.
- Yelitsa Jean-Charles — The founder of Healthy Roots Dolls.
- Jasmine Crowe — Founder and CEO of GOODR, an Atlanta-based sustainable waste management platform.
- Ahmed Muhammad — Muhammad launched Kits Cubed in March 2020 to introduce kids to the wonders of science.
The Innovative Startups
These honorees are visionaries-in-action and founders who have found the void and created the missing piece.
- Olamide Olowe — Co-creator of the Topicals skincare line.
- Fawn Weaver — Founder and CEO of Uncle Nearest whiskey, the best-selling Black-owned and founded spirit brand today.
- Joah Spearman — Founder and CEO of Localeur, a leading travel startup that shares local recommendations in over 200 cities around the world.
- Kim and Tim Lewis — Founders of CurlMix, which raised over $5 million after rejecting a $400,000 offer on “Shark Tank.”
- Lily Adeleye — Six-year-old CEO with products on Target shelves, the youngest-ever CEO to have such an accomplishment.
- Pierre Laguerre — Founder of Fleeting, and the first Black man to raise the $1.07 million maximum in all regulation crowdfunding platforms.
- Trinity Mouzon Wofford — Founder of GOLDE, which offers several health and wellness products.
- Big Kika Keith — Founder of Gorilla Rx, the first Dispensary owned by a Black woman in California.
- Ronne Brown — Founder of Girl CEO, Herlistic, and Author of From Mopping Floors to Making Millions on Instagram. Ronne Brown is a branding expert, professional speaker, author, mentor, and mother of four.
- Tope Awotona — The founder and CEO of Calendly, a world-renowned cloud scheduling app.
The Wealth Generators
These honorees are the definition of “lifting as we climb.” They have invested in themselves and their communities. The honorees include venture capitalists, fintech startups, as well as those who are helping other companies succeed financially.
- Dazayah Walker — One of the youngest female venture capitalists in the game thanks to the impressive investment portfolio that she manages and maintains for one of Atlanta’s most prominent entertainment labels, Quality Control.
- Jarrid Tingle and Henri Pierre-Jacques — Tingle and Pierre-Jacques are Managing Partners at Harlem Capital, a venture capital firm with $174 million in assets under management focused on investing in people of color and women.
- Jewel Burks Solomon — The Head of Google for Startups in the U.S. She also serves as Managing Partner at Collab Capital, a $50 million venture capital fund.
- Khalid David — A carpenter turned Morehouse man turned Columbia Engineer. He made a name for himself at Turner Construction before joining MIT Sloan and founding TracFlo.
- Kyle Woumn — Woumn leads the engineering team at Overflow, a Series A startup that streamlines and scales the stock donation process for nonprofits and their donors.
- Lauren Simmons — In 2017, Simmons made history by becoming the youngest trader at the NYSE as well as the second African American woman to hold that title. She is now an investor, author, producer, and host.
- Rodney Williams and Travis Holoway — The Co-founders of SoLo Funds, one of the leading financial services companies for everyday Americans, enabling community building banking and lending solutions.
- Trey Brown — The founder and CEO of SPERGO, an apparel brand that combines fashion and comfort for people who want to live their dreams in style. When he was just 15-years-old, his clothing brand was reportedly projected to bring in $2.2 million in 2021 sales.
- Sydney Sykes and Frederik Groce — Founders of BLCK VC, a nonprofit organization designed to increase diversity in venture capital.
- Tyrone Ross — The CEO and Co-founder of Onramp Invest. He was recently named as one of Barron’s 10 people to watch in wealth management in 2022.
The Digital Architects
These honorees are no stranger to technology. They have made space and created their own within the tech space.
- Elise Swopes — NFT artist who learned to connect with a worldwide audience by melding art with a message. The Brooklyn-based digital artist has worked on campaigns showcasing her surreal cityscapes and established herself as a leader in crypto through top-selling art and tireless support of other creators.
- Andrew “Hawk” Hawkins and Troy Jones — As the Co-Founders of StatusPRO, these two entrepreneurs took their love for football and built a suite of training and gaming products that combines data with augmented and virtual reality, giving its users an out-of-this-world, yet real, experience.
- Delane Parnell — Founder of eSports company PlayVS, which changed the way we view — and play — eSports. PlayVS raised more than $96 million in just over a year.
- Nyla Hayes — Hayes is the 13-year-old digital artist behind the Long Neckie Collection and the founder of NFT Children’s Day, an initiative launched to encourage more youth to get involved in tech. She also made history as TIMEPiece’s First Artist-In-Residence.
- Isaac Hayes III — Founder and CEO of Fanbase, a monetized social media app that enables users to monetize posts via subscriptions. He’s also the first Black man to raise $3.5 Million in Reg CF crowdfunding.
- Kris Lamberson — FaZe Clan professional gamer and content creator Kris “FaZe Swagg” Lamberson is the No. 1 most-subscribed and most-viewed Black streamer on Twitch and one of the most decorated players in the Call of Duty scene.
- Joy Ofodu — A digital creator and marketing manager at Instagram, who also recently spoke at AfroTech’s 2021 conference.
- Alex Wolf — Founder of Alex Wolf Productions/Boss Babe Inc. — and the woman whom Silicon Valley is too afraid to call a genius.
- Brandon Buchanan — Co-founder of Meta4 Capital, the minority-owned investment management firm focused on investing in the rarest NFT assets such as digital collectibles, digital art, metaverse purchases, and gaming NFTs.
- Dave Salvant & Songe LaRon — Co-founders of SQUIRE Technologies, the premier barbershop management, and POS software system. Since its launch in 2015, SQUIRE has acquired over 2,000+ partners in over 40 major markets, and across three continents.