October 25, 2021

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Google awards $100K each to five Black-led Austin startup companies

Five Black startup company founders in Austin have been awarded $100,000 each as part of the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund, says Google.

The fund is a $10 million initiative from Google designed for Black founders starting companies who are often locked out of access to funding critical to their success.

Mbiyimoh Ghogomu (top left), Hakeem James (top middle), Sterling Smith (top right), Riana Lynn (bottom left), and Janet Omadeke (bottom right) each have received $100K from Google for their Austin startups. (Google)

The following five startup founders in Austin are part of a group of 50 founders selected in the second cohort of the program:

  • Hakeem Jones, founder of CustomerX.i, which created a dashboard and data ingestion tool for brick and mortar stores to generate target audiences, find new customers, better understand existing customers across channels, and ultimately automate better customer experience and business growth
  • Riana Lynn, founder of Journey Foods, which is made up of a team of food explorers, scientists, and machine learning experts working together to deploy an industry-leading data science platform to eliminate problematic food supply chains and inefficiencies
  • Sterling Smith, founder of Sandbox Commerce, which allows for the quick creation of customized and scalable iOS and Android apps for traditional retailers and focuses on providing access to growing retailers and founders, especially those often overlooked and underrepresented
  • Janice Omadeke, founder of The Mentor Method, a platform that uses its technology to best match talent with mentors
  • Mbiyimoh Ghogumu, founder of Tradeblock, a community he created with two childhood friends where fellow sneaker lovers can safely and securely connect, explore and trade sneakers

Last year, Google for Startups gave 76 Black-led startups up to $100,000 in non-dilutive funding, helping them keep their doors open, pay their employees, and focus on building their businesses. Founders who received awards last year then raised more than $50 million in capital and 80% of recipients used the funding to create jobs.

With this second $5 million investment in the U.S. Black Founders Fund, 50 more founders will receive $100,000 in non-dilutive capital, meaning founders do not give up any ownership in their company in exchange for funding. The fund also includes technical support from tools and teams across Google, including as much as $120,000 in donated search Ads from Google.org and up to $100,000 in Google Cloud credits. 

In addition to the five companies in Austin, three companies in Houston and two companies in the Dallas area were selected this year.

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