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Black Girls Code CEO Kimberly Bryant Makes A Statement After Being Placed On Leave

Earlier last week, the unprecedented announcement of Black Girls Code CEO and founder Kimberly Bryant being removed as the nonprofit’s head came in as a shock to the tech community. Kimberly Bryant alerted the public about the breaking news with a “press release” on Twitter. “Press release: So it’s 3 days before Christmas and you wake up to discover the organization YOU created and built from the ground up has been taken away by a rogue board with no notification,” Bryant wrote via Twitter. Press release: so it’s 3 days before Christmas and you wake up to discover the organization YOU created and built from the ground up has been taken away by a rogue board with no notification. VC: @BlackGirlsCode — kimberlybryant.eth (@6Gems) December 21, 2021 The tweet caused an uproar from her counterparts and followers who wanted to learn more details of the indefinite suspension and how to support Bryant. Recently, Bryant shared a statement with TechCrunch to further clear the air.

Dec 29, 2021

After Clarence Bethea Used Silicon Valley Naysayers As Motivation, His Startup Closed An $18.2M Funding Round

As the founder and CEO at Upsie, Clarence Bethea has the magic sauce when it comes to securing funding. During the latest episode of AfroTech’s Black Tech Green Money (BTGM), he shares how he managed to raise an $18.2 million funding round thanks to his perseverance. He also breaks down what Silicon Valley looks like for Black companies and founders — an experience that surely came with lessons. “I remember we had like 80 Silicon Valley investors there and it was a hard lesson for me to learn,” he shared about one particular experience with the Village Capital program. “They didn’t give a damn about me and it was clear that I meant nothing to them. I was just a Black guy in the room.” Clarence Bethea also recalls a sobering experience with an investor during his time in the program. “I actually had an investor say to me, ‘Clarence, I’ve never seen a Black founder go to exit or IPO at like a billion-plus exit. So, I just have a hard time believing that a Black founder can build a big...

Sep 7, 2021

Only 40 Black Founders Secured VC Funding of At Least $1M in Q4 2020

Of the 1,537 startups that closed venture capital deals of at least $1 million in the fourth quarter of 2020, only 40 of them have Black founders at the helm, a new report finds. These findings were brought to light by Los Angeles-based diversity recruiting platform company Hallo in its second quarterly Black Founders Funding report. The new report analyzed 1,537 young companies across the U.S. that raised funding between $1 million and $50 million at the end of last year. The findings only account for these mega-deals closed between Oct. 1, 2020 , and Dec. 31, 2020. “In my honest opinion, the largest bottle neck for entrepreneurs of color are in the earliest days of starting your company. Once it’s time to go raise a traditional seed round the lack of friend and family capital access might put even the best laid plans and product roadmaps behind the curve in the eyes of seed investors aiming to back initial products and amazing teams,” Hallo’s co-founder and CEO Vernon Howard told...

Jan 28, 2021

Entrepreneur Will Lee Launched A Black-Owned Luxury Yacht Business During Lockdown

When lockdowns began in early 2020, Will Lee took the opportunity to go on a much-needed vacation. He went to Tulum, Mexico to decompress by the beach. While in Tulum, Lee booked a yacht experience with a local company and noticed something peculiar: the luxury yacht services didn’t seem to cater to Black customers. From there, he decided to curate an experience specifically for the Black consumer. This includes carefully selecting drinks, food, music, and experiences that Black customers want. According to Lee, the business took off rapidly, far exceeding his expectations. “Within the first month of operating, we were able to close over 30k in revenue,” he said. According to Lee, Yacht Club Company has already hosted several celebrity clients including Meg Thee Stallion, Trey Songz, and Johnny Venus of EarthGang. Now their three-man team — including co-founder, Jon Roberts, and head of partnerships, Ryan Fletcher —  is setting their sights higher. “As we continue to develop our...

Nov 12, 2020

Black-Owned Rideshare Startup Aims to be Safe Alternative for Women and Children

North Carolina native, Diondre Lewis, is adding his own flare to the rideshare industry. His Charlotte-based rideshare and logistics company, ScoopM, is giving riders a different option other than mainstream companies like Uber and Lyft. ScoopM sets itself apart from other rideshare apps with its focus on safety. According to the official ScoopM site , the company promises no creepy drivers, dashcam stream, and an emergency panic button. The Charlotte Post reports that ScoopM’s safety measures are designed with women and children in mind. In light of past misconduct of Uber rideshare drivers , ScoopM also incorporates mandatory FBI screenings, driver interviews, and random drug tests. Along with maintaining rider safety, ScoopM also aims to provide drivers with higher pay and better benefits. “The awesome thing about rideshare is that it has been created by these entities,” Lewis told The Charlotte Post. “Uber and Lyft, they’ve also created a connected economy, gig economy where...

Feb 4, 2020

Walker and Company Expands BEVEL Product Line For Black Men

We’ve talked about Tristan Walker and his startup , Walker, and Company as one of our favorite Black-owned startups. Their custom hair care line, Form , which focuses on Black women’s natural hair, has been wildly popular. On Monday, Walker and Company announced its additions to its product line BEVEL. BEVEL is a line of grooming products designed specifically for Black men. Previously, the collection consisted of the BEVEL Beard Balm, Trimmer, and T-Blade. Now, they are offering BEVEL Body, and BEVEL Hair, Skin, and Shave collections. In total, they have launched 11 new products — including a beard softener, a face serum, and an exfoliating bar soap —  that will offer head-to-toe grooming options for Black men. The line has even gotten some good publicity from celebs like Steve Harvey. In 2018, the company was acquired by Proctor and Gamble and set up shop in Atlanta, GA. With the new expansion of their product line, we can’t help but get excited to see what’s next for Walker and...

Jan 14, 2020

Meet Sarah and Ray Smith, the Husband-Wife Founders of a Houston-Based Podcasting Service

After living in Houston, TX, for several months, I finally found a suitable workspace. Coffee shops — with their unreliable WiFi and unpredictable crowds – weren’t cutting it for me. So, I spent a week bouncing around coworking spaces in the city before picking a permanent home. Little did I know that in my new work home, I would discover one of the coolest startups in Houston, TX. The Houston Pod is a podcasting service operated by the husband-wife team, Sarah and Ray Smith. I convinced the pair to sit down with me for a few minutes and tell me their story. Who are Sarah and Ray Smith? Sarah and Ray were both born and raised in Rosenberg, TX, a small suburb of Houston. They attended rival high schools but met each other when they were 15-years-old. The Smiths went separate ways after high school but reconnected in their twenties. They discovered that they both had a passion for business, innovation, and communication. “For us, our journey has been very much about us learning about...

Dec 20, 2019

Spotlist Wants to be the Next On-Demand Service Platform

If you want groceries delivered to your door, you might choose between Amazon Fresh or Instacart. If you want to book a last-minute appointment with a beautician or a makeup artist, you might turn to StyleSeat. Spotlist, Inc. wants to be the one-stop-shop for various kinds of services so that customers never have to leave the house for their needs. The on-demand New Jersey-based platform is set to provide services across industries whether customers are in need of a makeover, a new hairdo, deliveries, or in-home massage. Spotlist, Inc., founder and CEO, Jae Pesante began developing her idea for the company while caring for her father, who was healing from surgery. “I always tell people that Spotlist wasn’t a company I came up with sitting around thinking of a way to make money. My father suffers from heart disease, and after his defibrillator surgery, he couldn’t drive,” Pesante said. “He told me that he wished he could have someone to service him at home.” Spotlist allows users to...

Nov 20, 2019

Ray J's Scoot-E-Bike Company is Set to Reach $200M in 2020

Ray J is doing big things in the tech world. According to The Source, he secured a deal with ride-sharing company, LOOPShare, for his Scoot-E-bike. The Source reports that William Norwood Jr. also known as Ray J walked away from the deal with $34 million and 18 million LOOPShare shares. According to Hot New HipHop (HNHH), Ray J created Scoot-E-bikes after a disagreement with his girlfriend. “Next time you get into it with your girl, start a business,” Ray J said on an episode of “The Vince Staples Show.” “Last time I did that, I created the Scoot-E-bikes. I got so rich I bought her a helicopter.” Scoot-E-bikes are set to release in 2020 and projected to earn over $200 million, then $2 billion over the next two years. Ray J’s Raytroniks Corporations had a bump in 2017. According to HNHH a former business partner of Ray J, Jean Paul, sued Ray J for starting a competing company. However, HNHH reports that the two settled for an undisclosed amount. Ray J is no stranger to the tech...

Nov 18, 2019

This P.h.D Student is Building a Mental Health App For Black Youth

This piece has been edited since its original publish date of March 29, 2019. Persisting stigmas around mental health can make it difficult for Black youth to receive the help they need. They’re often forced to navigate misconceptions within their communities and anti-Blackness within the medical industry. One North Carolina based grad student is using tech to erase some of those barriers. Henry Willis, a PhD student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Clinical Psychology Graduate Program, is developing a mental health app for Black youth. Finding ways to provide Black youth mental health resources is an absolute necessity.  Everyday factors of being Black — like exposure to racism — can drastically impact people’s mental health. This is something Willis himself noticed in his own research. “I’ve published papers that have looked at how things such as online racial discrimination can lead to increased PTSD symptoms, or how positive racial identity beliefs can lead...

Oct 15, 2019

How This Founder Is Using Tech To Help People From Marginalized Groups Share Their Workplace Experiences

This article was originally published on 07/05/2019 When job hunting, people often scour the internet for reviews of companies they’re applying for. After all, you want to know as much as you can about the company you’re going to be working for. That quest is especially important for members of marginalized communities. The United States has a long history of workplace discrimination across industries. In 2017, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received over 84,000 workplace discrimination charges. Topping the list were workplace retaliation claims (48.8 percent) followed by discrimination based on race (33.9 percent), disability (31.9 percent), and sex (30.4 percent). Unfortunately, not all stories around workplace discrimination make it to the EEOC or the courts. Luckily, sites like Justus are shifting the way people can collect and share important workplace information. Earlier this year, Elyse Bush launched Justus to give marginalized affinity groups —...

Jul 5, 2019

This Startup Wants To Transform The Shea Butter Industry By Investing In The Women Who Make it

For anyone struggling with dry skin, shea butter is a popular choice. It has the benefits of being super moisturizing, while not being all that hard, to find. But have you ever paused to think about how the shea butter you use is sourced? Shea butter is extracted from the nut of the shea tree that’s indigenous to Africa. Unfortunately, many of the women who make shea butter are exploited or abused . The exploitation of African women living on the continent isn’t unique to the shea butter industry alone, but it is something that has to change. That’s where Real Raw Shea (RRS) comes in. Founded by Aisha Suraz and Alfred Glover, RRS is a global supplier of shea butter and other natural ingredients with a focus on sustainability. Ghana is one of the largest producers of shea butter in the world. According to the European Union’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs , Ghana has the largest mechanical shea processing capacity. Suraz and Glover are both of Ghanaian descent — and even learned later...

Jun 21, 2019

This PhD Student is Building a Mental Health App For Black Youth

This piece originally published on March 29, 2019 Persisting stigmas around mental health can make it difficult for Black youth to receive the help they need. They’re often forced to navigate misconceptions within their communities and anti-Blackness within the medical industry. One North Carolina based grad student is using tech to erase some of those barriers. Henry Willis, a PhD student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Clinical Psychology Graduate Program, is developing a mental health app for Black youth. Finding ways to provide Black youth mental health resources is an absolute necessity.  Everyday factors of being Black — like exposure to racism — can drastically impact people’s mental health. This is something Willis himself noticed in his own research. “I’ve published papers that have looked at how things such as online racial discrimination can lead to increased PTSD symptoms, or how positive racial identity beliefs can lead to better mental health over...

Mar 29, 2019

Founder Gym and Google are Teaming Up to Help Minority Founders

Founder Gym , the popular 6-week online training program for entrepreneurs, is partnering with Google to elevate more underrepresented founders and help them gain the skills to scale their businesses. Google and Founder Gym’s first project was a pilot program that started last March. “For the first time, Founder Gym is bridging this gap by giving underrepresented founders the opportunity to be directly trained by some of the most experienced and successful venture capitalists and founders in the world,” Founder Gym CEO Mandela SH Dixon told AfroTech. Google Startups is paying for startup leaders to participate in Founder Gym’s virtual courses. Founder Gym has online pre-seed and seed cohorts to help founders at various stages of their companies. The pre-seed cohorts offer daytime and evening sessions that educate entrepreneurs on the legal preparation of their company, how to find funding and effectively pitch to investors. The seed cohorts cover topics on the mentalities of venture...

Feb 13, 2019