After receiving $100,000 from Pharrell Williams’ Black Ambition Prize, a group of peers launched a browser extension to encourage shoppers to buy Black.
Shea’d. Launched By Five Minority Entrepreneurs
They conjured the idea after moving from Atlanta, GA, to the Bay area and experiencing a culture shock.
To connect with Black communities, they joined forces to launch an iOS app. At the time, it was used to empower entrepreneurs in the area and provide a platform for them to share their stories.
Wanted To Enhance Black Purchasing Power
The application gained further traction during the Black Lives Matter movement, securing nearly 3,000 downloads. However, the founders wanted to ensure shopping Black would not be a trend. Over a year, Shea’d’s infrastructure worked toward enhancing the purchasing power by making it easier to find Black-owned businesses while shopping online.
“Black businesses should reflect the economic strength of our community, yet economic empowerment is not the only benefit of shopping Black. When you buy Black, you are circulating Black creativity, you are supporting brands that respect you, and on top of that, you are strengthening your community. At Shea’d, we believe you should support Black businesses because you are inspired by their products and it just so happens to empower your communities’ purchase power. With our extension, we can help you find your next favorite Black business that inspires you, that respects you, and that helps your community,” Havard told AfroTech in an interview.
The Shea’d Database
Already, Shea’d houses over 10,000 businesses in their database and uses artificial intelligence to display the most relevant Black-owned product recommendations for consumers. As users surf the Internet, the extension will automatically pop up and show alternatives during their product search.
“Instead of having to find businesses and remembering to support them, Shea’d automatically shows you Black-owned products similar to what you [are] already searching for online. We save you time while helping you find your next favorite Black-owned brand,” Havard told AfroTech.
As the company looks ahead it hopes for Shea’d to land under the radar of more consumers. In addition, the founders are looking to integrate owner profiles for customers to learn more about the face behind the brand. The feature was used for their former application and resonated well with their users.
“Our main focus is trying to get it in front of people and understand ‘What else do you need?’ But as far as things we are considering, one feature that we did have on our previous app, is that for each business, we had an owner profile. And the idea is that even when we talk to people now, it’s not just about supporting this product or a community, it’s also I wanna see the dedication of this business owner, I wanna know why they created this, and why I should support this person and not just like a brand,” Havard said.
She continued: “So, we’ve been getting that feedback and we are considering how can we kind of incorporate that back into our new product or extension.”