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VC Funding To Black-Founded US Startups Reportedly Hit $705M In 2023 — The First Time The Number Fell Short Of $1B Since 2016

The state of venture capital (VC) funding for startups in the United States paints a concerning picture for Black entrepreneurs.

Feb 29, 2024

Should You Launch Your Big Idea As A Stealth Startup?

Starting a business comes with highs and lows. On the one hand, an entrepreneur may feel endless optimism as they launch a new concept and see how the market responds. But conversely, fears over being scooped by the competition — especially bigger brands — can make even the most confident individuals second guess their decisions. And in particular, steep competition from established businesses is a major caveat that an entrepreneur needs to consider when launching a new concept. This is because a competitor with a more established firm often has access to resources, a deep network and name recognition by consumers. This means that even if an upstart business is first to market with an idea, it can still be overtaken by the competition and lose its edge. This is where choosing to be a stealth startup can be a calculated and smart decision. What Are Stealth Startups? Stealth startups are exactly as the name implies — startups that maintain a low profile and enter into the market with...

Public Ventures' Zoey Dash McKenzie Launches $100M Impact Fund To Invest In Clean Tech And Life Science Startups

Zoey Dash McKenzie is taking action to be a part of changing how women, Black, and people of color are disproportionately affected by climate change.

Jul 7, 2023

Stephen Curry Joins Forces With AI Platform Simplicity To Help Cities Connect With Their Residents

Stephen Curry is taking a step off the basketball court and into the startup world.

Feb 24, 2023

How A Short Film Streaming Platform Is Redefining The Industry Standard With The Support Of Microsoft For Startups

With the rapidly growing demand for short-form videos on streaming and social media, the world has a much greater appetite for high-quality content that clocks in under 20 minutes. But with short films primarily being shown at festivals around the world, Janvier Wete, CEO and Founder of Minute Shorts, saw an opportunity to make festival-quality content more widely accessible and generate revenue for short films. After feeling frustrated with the process of entering his own short film to festivals in 2017, Wete wondered if he could create a platform to distribute the film and carve a path for others to reach a wider audience. At the time, most short filmmakers couldn’t distribute their work until they’d created a larger budget film. Wete saw how these barriers prevented many talented filmmakers from sharing their work with the world — especially diverse filmmakers. Inspired by how Spotify provided a platform for indie artists, Wete launched the first version of the Minute Shorts...

Aug 22, 2022

According To Forbes, Here's The Reality Of Your Favorite Celebrity's Favorite Startups

A new claim by Forbes suggests that celebrity startups may not be what we think they are. The outlet starts out by taking aim at both Rihanna and Kim Kardashian’s recent announcements about their latest funding rounds in their celebrity startups, questioning whether Savage X Fenty and SKIMS (respectively) were really worth the money they’d raised in recent funding rounds (Savage X Fenty raised $125 million in a Series C funding round, while SKIMS raised an additional $240 million, thus bringing its new valuation to $3.2 billion). The outlet also points out that celebrity investments (in other words, what they’ve invested from their personal checkbooks) in their own companies are often not disclosed — and neither are the real sales numbers. “All these private companies are on a PR tear and it’s even easier when a big name is involved,” said Sucharita Kodali, a retail analyst at Forrester, to Forbes. What’s more, she said, company valuations are often inflated by up to ten times their...

Google For Startups Is Now Accepting Applications For Its 2022 Cohort

Google for Startups is on the hunt for promising Black, Latinx, and Veteran founders across the country. Starting now, these founders can apply to be a part of the third cohort of the Founders Academy. The four-month virtual program will provide Google’s best practices, top tools, and the community required to raise capital and upscale startups, according to information provided to AfroTech. “Boddle had begun raising a round of funding when we started the Founders Academy. The timing was fortuitous because it allowed us to take advantage of the program’s investor-in-residence. Tony was instrumental in helping us crystallize our pitch to VCs and gain better insights on negotiating for the $1.45M funding round that we eventually raised,” said Edna Martinson, Founders Academy alumna and founder of Boddle Learning in a statement provided to us.

Dec 17, 2021

The GOAT Effect: Simone Biles-Backed Mental Health Startup Cerebral Now Valued At $4.8B

Simone Biles is not only leaving her mark on the world of just gymnastics but the world of technology as well. AfroTech previously shared that the Olympic star partnered with Cerebral — the leading online mental health provider — as its Chief Impact Officer (CIO) in October 2021. After being on the team for less than two months, the mental health startup’s value has vaulted to a higher level, InnovationMap reports.

Dec 14, 2021

Elise Smith And Heather Shen's Praxis Labs Raises $15.5M In Oversubscribed Series A Round

Praxis Labs, a Black and Asian-woman-founded company utilizing the power of virtual reality (VR) for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) training, just raised $15.5 million in an oversubscribed Series A round. This is the second major funding round for the company, which raised $3.2 million in February 2021, AfroTech previously reported. According to their website, Elise Smith and Heather Shen, both Stanford graduates, launched Praxis Labs in late 2019 to leverage their unique experiences and perspectives to “build the most efficacious and impactful learning experiences.” In a press release, Praxis Labs indicated that the financing round was co-led by Norwest Venture Partners and Emerson Collective. Other investors in the round included Penny Jar Capital (anchored by Steph Curry), Precursor Ventures, Concrete Rose Capital, Ulu Ventures, SoftBank’s SB Opportunity Fund and Firework Ventures. “Our society is more segregated than ever, and the workplace is often the most...

Oct 22, 2021

Exclusive: Michael B. Jordan, Serena Ventures, MaC Venture Capital Partner To Give HBCU-Bred Founders A Chance To Win $1M

Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic — a college basketball showcase — is bringing Historically Black College and University (HBCU) culture to television screens across the nation. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Invesco US (@invescous) Airing on Dec. 18, the TNT broadcast will feature a doubleheader competition of Hampton University versus North Carolina Central University and Howard University versus North Carolina A&T University. The inaugural Legacy Classic is set to bring viewers into a full-blown HBCU experience, and now, the event is also creating opportunities for current HBCU students and alumni. According to a press release provided exclusively to AfroTech, the Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic has partnered with MaC Venture Capital and Serena Ventures — tennis legend Serena Williams’ investment firm — to create a Startup Pitch Competition for HBCU founders. “At MaC we like to say that talent is ubiquitous but access to opportunity is not,” MaC Venture Capital General Partner...

Oct 18, 2021

Google CEO Announces $1B Investment In Africa To Support Its Digital Transformation

One mission Google has is to invest in initiatives that aid digital transformation, and their latest funding will go toward the continent of Africa. During its very first “Google for Africa” on Oct. 6, CEO Sundar Pichai announced that the company will invest $1 billion over the next five years in tech-led initiatives in Africa, according to TechCrunch. “We’ve made huge strides together over the past decade — but there’s more work to do to make the internet accessible, affordable and useful for every African,” Pichai said during the virtual event. “Today I’m excited to reaffirm our commitment to the continent through an investment of $1 billion over five years to support Africa’s digital transformation to cover a range of initiatives from improved connectivity to investment in startups.” The $1 billion investment will go toward “landing a subsea cable into the continent to enable faster internet speeds, low-interest loans for small businesses, equity investments into African...

Oct 6, 2021

Lizzo Bets On The Billion-Dollar At-Home Fitness Industry With An Investment In Rowing Startup Hydrow

Lizzo’s latest business venture has led her to the billion-dollar fitness industry. In a funding round said to be around $200 million for rowing startup Hydrow, the pop star is listed as an investor, CNBC reports. Singer Justin Timberlake was also included in the round. As more gyms reopen and people continue to return, Hydrow aims to remain as a top contender for at-home fitness. According to CNBC, partial funding will go toward ensuring the company can “meet the anticipated demand this holiday season.” “This puts us in the same category as the other leaders in the fitness industry,” Founder and Chief Executive Bruce Smith said. “Until now, we might have been a little bit under the radar because people thought of us as a smaller company. But we’re actually very ambitious.” Hydrow offers on-demand rowing classes and other fitness classes including pilates and yoga. As the at-home fitness rivalry rises, the startup looks to capitalize on its individuality. It also notes its user base...

Sep 21, 2021

VC Dana Guthrie Raised $13.5M Less Than A Year After She First Began Raising Capital

This fund manager is on a mission to get Black founders the capital they deserve! And in less than a year after she started, she’s succeeded in that mission by raising $13.5 million for her Milwaukee-based venture fund. When venture capitalist (VC) Dana Guthrie first sought out a career in the technology industry, she had no idea that it would lead her to help others in a massive way. As a basketball recruit in 2006, she enrolled in Milwaukee’s School of Engineering and from there jumped headfirst into the technology field majoring in computer engineering. Today, she’s using her platform to help connect Black founders with the financial resources that they need to not only survive but thrive. According to Yahoo! Finance, Guthrie created Alchemy Angel Investors after she crossed paths with like-minded individuals while working at Johnson Controls, a building equipment company. It was there that she also met Black professionals with a background in finance, but no real knowledge of...

Aug 18, 2021

Meet The Woman Behind The Startup Promoting Safety By Manufacturing Necklaces Equipped With Tracking Devices

Personal safety while traveling is still a growing concern, especially for women traveling alone. This is the thought that Jillian Tancil had in mind when she founded TanTek Technologies last year, a tech startup manufacturing necklaces equipped with tracking devices. The necklaces sync with a mobile application that shows approved contacts a person’s exact whereabouts. Consumers can also safely send emergency alerts through the necklace or app to approved contacts. “I never really intended to go into business. It’s not what I went to school for,” Tancil told AfroTech in a video interview. Tancil is an attorney by trade. During her third year of law school at Harvard University, she went on a solo spring break trip to Paris; this was the experience that birthed TanTek. Being the only girl out of her siblings, Tancil and her family often worry about safety, especially while traveling. Tancil’s wheels started turning when she did some research amid her trip and found that there aren’t...

Aug 14, 2021

How Privilege Allowed A White Tech Founder To Raise $1M To Solve A Problem Kenyans Say Doesn’t Exist

Kune, a Kenyan startup, has landed itself in some hot water. “After three days of coming into Kenya, I asked where I can get great food at a cheap price, and everybody tell me (sic) it’s impossible,” Robin Reecht told TechCrunch. “It’s impossible because either you go to the street and you eat street food, which is really cheap but with not-so-good quality, or you order on Uber Eats, Glovo or Jumia, where you get quality but you have to pay at least $10.” This, he said, prompted him to found Kune, a ready-to-eat meals service similar to Dinnerly. Though the company was only founded six months ago, it managed to land $1 million in pre-seed funding. This interesting confluence of events led to Kenyans taking to Twitter to air their issues out with the whole ordeal.  For one, Kenyans believe the founder is attempting to solve an issue that simply does not exist. It also didn’t help that Reecht got funding in such a short period of time when it’s been proven again and again that Black...