Building community and funding Black founders

One of the unspoken truths of entrepreneurship is that it can be extremely lonely. When COVID-19 hit last year, I saw firsthand how the founders in our programs were affected. Office closures kept their employees apart, event cancellations kept founders from connecting, and many needed to pivot their startups to keep businesses afloat. Since our mission is to level the playing field for underrepresented startup founders, I knew we would have to show up in a new way to ensure these founders did not fall through the cracks. 

The Google for Startups Black Founders Fund was built in response to both the financial and societal pressures facing Black founders. And while those pressures have always been present, they were magnified in 2020. Last year, we gave 76 Black-led startups up to $100,000 in non-dilutive funding, meaning founders do not give up any ownership in their company in exchange for funding. Founders used this capital to keep their doors open, pay their employees, and focus on building their businesses. With this second $5 million investment in the U.S. Black Founders Fund, bringing the fund’s total to $10 million, more founders across the United States will receive this funding. The fund also includes technical support from tools and teams across Google, including as much as $120,000 in donated ads from and up to $100,000 in Google Cloud credits.

Today, we’re announcing the next 50 recipients of our second Black Founders Fund in the U.S., leaders who are solving problems in education, healthcare, sustainability and more. The 126 founders who are now a part of the fund in the United States have consistently told us about the importance of giving back and paying it forward. In this spirit, we asked the first group of founders to nominate recipients for the second round of the fund. 

We’ve seen that the fund has a catalytic effect for founders when raising capital after they receive these awards. In less than a year, our first group of founders went on to collectively raise more than $50 million in funding. In addition, about 80% of the founders used the awards to create jobs and reported the fund has helped grow their revenues. While the financial impact of that shouldn’t be understated, the most impressive takeaway I’ve witnessed since we started the fund isn’t about money. It’s the profound way this community of founders has shown up for each other, and ensured that they were not alone during this time. 

Facilitated by our partner Goodie Nation, founders attend weekly meetings in small groups where they can connect with each other, sharing experiences and resources. Black Founders Fund 2020 recipient Gerald Youngblood of Tankee, a gaming network for kids, nominated Ofo Ezeugwu from Whose Your Landlord, a platform that provides more transparency for renters. Goodie Nation CEO Joey Womack introduced them to one another. Gerald shared advice on a negotiation and fundraising approach that worked for Ofo — and later surprised him with the news that he is a 2021 Black Founders Fund recipient.

We know that the challenges founders of color in the U.S. face when raising funds for their companies aren’t specific just to Black founders. That’s why today we announced the Latino Founders Fund to support Latino-led startups across the country as part of our broader $15 million commitment to economic justice for the Latino community. Since the inception of the Black Founders Fund in the U.S., we have expanded to support a larger group of Black founders globally, investing a total of $16 million in more than 200 founders across the U.S., Brazil, Europe and Africa. As we welcome the next group of the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund, we’re excited to see how the founders continue to connect and build amazing companies.