Google supports black-led tech start-ups in seeking venture capital

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WITH ‘NOIR start-up founders’ being ‘underserved when it comes to access to venture capital’, according to Ade Rawcliffe, the ITV Group’s diversity and inclusion director said the organization was delighted to get involved with Google for Startups.

Rawcliffe was speaking in the week when black-led tech start-ups based in the UK were invited to apply for this year’s Black Founders Fund, worth a total of around £3million, with the aim to help tackle the high inequality in venture capital (VC).

The Black Founders Fund will be awarded to the most innovative black-led tech start-ups across Europe with business plans that show how they use technology to deliver creative solutions to all sorts of challenges.

Google for Startups will offer each successful business up to $100,000 in non-dilutive cash rewards, $200,000 in cloud credits and advertising support, one-on-one mentorship by industry experts, and invaluable connections within Google’s network.

“The UK is one of the most start-up friendly environments in the world. Yet black start-up founders are underserved when it comes to access to venture capital,” Rawcliffe pointed out.

“According to an Atomico report, while black and multi-ethnic communities make up 14% of the UK population, all-ethnic teams received 1.58% of all venture capital funding.

“To change that, we have to work together. We are very grateful to Google for their very successful European Black Founders Fund initiative and are delighted to be able to join them and WPP in providing £1m of airtime and therefore even more value to black founders .

The first Black Founders Fund, launched last year, offered $2 million in funding to 30 black-led start-ups across Europe, 20 of which are based in the UK.

The funds were distributed by OneTech, a London-based organization that supports underrepresented founders.

Before the program launched in 2020, less than 0.25% of venture capital (VC) funding had gone to black-led start-ups in the UK and only 38 black founders had received equity funding. risk over the past 10 years.

Marta Krupinska, Google’s Head of Startups UK, said: “When we launched the Black Founders Fund last year, we received almost 800 applications from all over Europe from truly amazing companies, shattering the myth according to which the lack of representation in the start-up space is due to a pipeline issue.

“That’s why we’re thrilled to double this year’s fund, step up our efforts to support founders of black startups, and help address inequity in venture capital funding.”

The success of last year’s cohort shows the impact that direct, targeted support can have in helping to level the playing field, supporting black founders who are disproportionately excluded from access to capital.

Across Europe, the founders raised an additional $63 million in follow-on funding and grew their headcount by 21%.

In 2021, seven of the 16 black women to receive funding in the UK were part of the Black Founders Fund program and eight of the female founders were in the top 10 Black Founders to Watch in Europe.

The UK-based founders last year represented a wide variety of industries, ranging from advertising, beauty, education, fitness and health and included: Audiomob – specialist in non-audio games intrusives – raised $14m (£10m) in Series A – legal tech company – raised $3m (£2.2m) in seed funding, Scoodle – the platform education influencer – raised $1.9m (£1.4m) in a seed funding round and Afrocechix – the natural haircare e-commerce business – raised $1.2m (£896,000) in its seed funding round.

Ismail Jeilani, CEO and Co-Founder of Scoodle, said: “Beyond money, one of the most valuable things any investor can provide is the stamp of approval, or recognition and signal on the market.

“It’s something we can’t even quantify. It’s powerful to go to meetings knowing that we have received funding and support from Google.

“That in itself elevates us to a certain level that might not have been there without Google. Since receiving the funding, we have tripled the number of monthly active users and raised additional capital.”

ITV, WPP, Soho House and Allen & Overy have partnered with Google for Startups to provide support for last year’s grant recipients. ITV has given eligible UK-based start-ups the opportunity to take part in the network’s industry-leading scheme which provides £1m of airtime and production in 2022, equity-free.

TV-ready start-ups – those whose backend operations could meet the demand that TV would create – took part in tailored media literacy workshops to help them learn about the world of TV marketing.

The founders of these companies were also offered media planning and pilot spot production sessions to bring their TV commercials to life.

Rachael Palmer, Head of VC and Startup Partnerships, EMEA, Google said: “Many of the last year’s start-ups are already generating significant returns for their early investors, which in some cases are more than 10 times higher than the initial investment in less than a year.

“Recipients of the fund have clearly demonstrated that there is a whole world of untapped potential within the black community and many overlooked investor opportunities. We want to unlock even more of this talent.

“That’s why we’re doubling this year’s fund and inviting like-minded organizations to join us in helping transform the start-up ecosystem and facilitating fairer access to funding, so we can achieve more. together.”

The Black Founders Fund is just one of the ways Google is working to help support historically underrepresented groups.

In addition to contributing to economic opportunity with this fund and Youtube’s Black Voices Fund, our company is working to improve representation at senior levels internally.

Externally, Google is working to ensure its products help black users, for example the inclusive Real Tone technology on the Pixel 6 camera, which helps to more accurately represent the skin tone of different ethnicities, as well as the Black-owned feature on Search and Maps that helps people find and support local Black-owned businesses.

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