9 Of The Top Black Tech Founders In 2019 With $2 Billion In Combined Aggregate Valuations

9 Of The Top Black Tech Founders In 2019 With $2 Billion In Combined Aggregate Valuations

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Black tech founders
CEO and co-founder of Cadre, Ryan Williams, speaks at OZY Fest in Central Park on Saturday, July 21, 2018, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

These are nine of the top Black tech founders to watch in 2019. Between them, they have built companies with a combined $2 billion in aggregate valuations.

Ryan Williams, Cadre

Ryan Williams, 30, started a revolutionary $800-million real estate tech company called Cadre and proved that real estate can be funded on the web. The Cadre website lets qualified investors view details on apartment and office properties, with video walk-throughs, maps, lists of tenants and data. Williams accomplished this with the help of more than 80 investors including Jared Kushner (up to $50 million) according to Forbes. Other shareholders and investors include George Soros’ Soros Fund Management, Peter Thiel, billionaire venture capitalist Vinod Khosla and “Trump troll” Mark Cuban.

Williams has had to do a lot of explaining about the Kushner connection. Critics believe Ivanka Trump and her husband could profit from the opportunity zone tax breaks they championed as advisors to President Donald Trump.

Black tech founders
Diishan Imira is the founder and CEO of Mayvenn, Inc., a technology company that re-shapes how sale retail products are distributed. | Image: Anita Sanikop

Diishan Imira, Mayvenn

Diishan Imira‘s vision is to create the future of salon retail, empowering hairstylists and salon professionals to change the way people buy hair extensions. He founded Mayvenn in 2013, growing the platform into a national presence with more than 50,000 stylists, hundreds of thousands of customers and millions of dollars in investments. Mayvenn has raised $36 million in four funding rounds. Investors include Richelieu Dennis’ Essence Ventures, Cross Culture Ventures, Impact America Fund and 16z, the Andreessen Horowitz venture capital firm.

“Investors saw that we had traction and an ownable stake of a large, fragmented market that has been highly overlooked,” Imira said in a statement. “As founders, we’re not only passionate about our mission, but have very unique and complementary skill sets to go out and solve these problems.”

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 47: Diishan Imira Jamarlin talks to Diishan Imira, founder and CEO of Mayvenn, a platform that empowers hair stylists to take back ownership of the beauty market.

Black tech founders
Delane Parnell – Founder & CEO @ PlayVS | Image: Anita Sanikop

Delane Parnell, PlayVS

Delane Parnell‘s tech company PlayVS is a Los Angeles-based startup that’s building the online and offline infrastructure for high school esports. The company has raised $46 million, including a $30.5-million Series-B funding round with investors Sean “Diddy” Combs, Adidas and Samsung. The series B came five months after PlayVS’s $15.5 million Series A funding.
The venture-backed startup has signed an exclusive contract with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) that will allow students to play esports on behalf of their school all the way to the state championship level.

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 24: Delane Parnell Jamarlin talks to prodigy Delane Parnell, founder and CEO of high-school esports company PlayVS, which just raised a $15M series A round.

Jewel Burks Solomon is an advocate for representation and access in the technology industry. As co-founder of Partpic, a startup designed to streamline the purchase of maintenance and repair parts using computer vision, Jewel and her team built groundbreaking technology poised to change the way people everywhere locate products. | Image: Anita Sanikop

Jewel Burks, Partpic

Jewel Burks Solomon co-founded Partpic, a startup designed to streamline the purchase of parts. Her groundbreaking computer vision technology helped change how people locate products. Partpic raised more than $2 million in seed funding from investors including AOL co-founder Steve Case and Comcast Ventures. Partpic’s software has been integrated in mobile apps and websites of large parts distributors and retailers. It was acquired by Amazon in late 2016 and the technology now powers visual search for replacement parts in the Amazon Mobile Shopping app. 

Burks Solomon advocates for representation and access in the technology industry, mentoring startup founders and angel investing. 

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 43: Jewel Burks
Partpic founder and CEO Jewel Burks discusses how she developed an idea to streamline the purchase, repair and maintenance of parts. Partpic was acquired by Amazon in 2018.

Travis Holoway is the CEO and co-founder of SoLo Funds Inc. a mobile based lending exchange platform created to provide more affordable access to loans under $1,000. | Photo: Anita Sanikop

Travis Holoway, SoLo Funds

Travis Holoway is the co-founder of SoLo Funds, a payday loan alternative that allows lenders to make loans of less than $1,000 to people all over the world — and lets people to borrow small amounts — using mobile technology.

Holoway got the idea for the company after working as a financial advisor and seeing a disconnect between the “haves and have-nots,” he said. Seventy-eight percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck and 47 percent can’t come up with $400 of emergency cash without borrowing from someone or selling something.

A peer-to-peer lending exchange, SoLo Funds helps to solve emergency cash needs with low-dollar-amount loans that reduce the need for payday loans. So far, the company has raised $1.2 million in funding in a round led by Richelieu Dennis, founder and CEO of Sundial Brands and new owner of Essence Magazine.

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 11: Travis Holoway Jamarlin talks to Travis Holoway, founder and CEO of SoLo Funds, a startup focused on peer-to-peer lending. They discuss Mark Zuckerberg as a liberal tech version of Donald Trump, Jake Tapper’s double standards on CNN towards Black leaders, and whether Silicon Valley has “negro helpers” who set the community back.

Angelica Nwandu is the Founder/CEO of The Shade Room, an Instagram-based media company that primarily focuses on celebrity gossip. | Image: Anita Sanikop

Angelica Nwandu, The Shade Room

Angelica Nwandu founded the Instagram-based media company The Shade Room, in 2014, building it to 17 million-plus followers with no venture capital funding. While she was at home posting celebrity gossip on a social media app, she watched as her friends went off to college, Forbes reported. Now she has McDonald’s, CoverGirl and GMC advertising in The Shade Room.

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 22: Angelica Nwandu Jamarlin talks to the founder and CEO of The Shade Room, Angelica Nwandu. They discuss how she built a multi-million dollar media platform and her recent moves into films.

Paul Judge, TechSquare Labs

Considered the godfather of the Atlanta tech scene, Paul Judge is the co-founder of TechSquare Labs, an early-stage venture capital fund. Judge also runs Judge Ventures and has invested in more than 60 tech startups. TechSqure Capital is a $13-million fund. Judge is co-founder and executive chairman of Pindrop, an information security company that helps detect fraud and authenticate callers. The technology protects some of the largest banks, insurers, and retailers in the world and has total funding of more than $120 million from venture firms including Andreessen Horowitz, Google Capital, and IVP. 

Jasmine Crowe, Goodr

Jasmine Crowe. Social Entrepreneur. Founder and CEO at Goodr Co. Passionate About Ending Hunger and Eliminating Food Waste | Image: Anita Sanikop

Goodr, a 1-year-old Atlanta-based food waste management company that uses blockchain technology, has raised $1.25 million in funding. Investors include Trail Mix Ventures, Precursor Ventures, Halogen Ventures and Right Side Capital Management.

CEO and founder Jasmine Crowe is a social entrepreneur with no tech background. Her team redirects surplus food from businesses to people who need it. Their clients include Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the Georgia World Congress Center, Turner Broadcasting and Ponce City Market.

The company is expanding into new markets.

Morgan DeBaun, Blavity

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – SEPTEMBER 12: Founder and CEO Morgan DeBaun speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2016 at Pier 48 on September 12, 2016 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch) *** Local Caption *** Morgan DeBaun

Morgan DeBaun is the CEO and co-founder of Blavity, a website she created because Black millennials were not being represented by mainstream media. Investors agreed — to the tune of $9.4 million in funding. A recent Blavity funding round in July 2018 raised $6.4 million led by GV, the venture capital arm of Google parent Alphabet Inc. Investors include Cross Culture Ventures, 500 Startups and Harlem Capital Partners.