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, 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.
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
“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.
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 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
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.
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
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 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.
I couldn’t miss my guy @KasimReed as he did a fireside chat with @KillerMike tonight. These two dropped so many gems. Felt like I went to business school & church all in one night. #atlanta pic.twitter.com/SmAvtIfFnG— Paul Judge, Ph.D. (@pauljudge) March 29, 2019
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.
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 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
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