5 Black-Owned Tech Companies Changing the IndustryOct 01, 2021 09:00AM ● By Boitumelo Masihleho
Black inventors, engineers, and entrepreneurs have always made significant historical contributions to science and technology. We have compiled a list of a few of our favorite Black-owned tech companies that are gaining traction in the industry.
Black Girls Code is an organization focused on increasing the number of women of color in the digital space by empowering girls of color. The company offers classes, community workshops, and after-school programs covering topics ranging from learning languages like Python or Ruby to artificial intelligence, VR, and robotics. Founder Kimberly Bryant, said she started Black Girls Code after seeing a lack of women like herself in engineering and wanted to encourage her daughter Kai to pursue her interests in STEM.
Before founding Black Girls CODE, Kimberly enjoyed a successful career in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. Black Girls Code’s ultimate vision is to provide African-American youth with the skills to occupy some of the 1.4 million computing job openings expected to be available in the U.S. by 2020 and to train 1 million girls by 2040.
Noirbnb is a Black-owned, global travel community that provides experiences and events with a focus on including and celebrating travelers of color. The company’s accommodations take its guests all around the world to popular destinations and events inspired by the African diaspora.
Stefan Grant is the Founder & CEO of Noirbnb and began Noirbnb in October 2015 after an experience while booking a stay in Atlanta. He realized that his experience wasn’t an isolated case and more importantly, that there was an opportunity to create a better, safer experience for travelers of color.
“Noirbnb provides safe, comfortable accommodations and fun, exciting experiences for Black travelers and people of color while helping our hosts make more money and connect with great people,” Grant told jamaicans.com. “We also help travelers remove the struggle and stress of trip-planning via our Concierge Service.” Starting Noirbnb did not come easy for Grant.He discussed it with Airbnb but nothing substantial came out of it. So he went solo and launched Noirbnb.
Based in Accra, Ghana, Jartogo is a network of zero-waste food vending locations and services, connecting verified food vendors with a fast-growing Ghanaian and West African market demanding affordable, restaurant-quality, convenient, freshly prepared meals. The mission of Jartogo is to eliminate 99% of food waste, food loss and single-use packaging. The company partners with independent local food vendors, typically referred to as ‘street vendors’ of ‘street food’ to provide them with safe, clean, sanitized kitchens to prepare and package food to distribute in glass jars to maintain freshness, food quality and safety standards. This is an initiative by the CEO and founder of Virotech Ghana Limited, Akwasi Asamoah. He was one of sixteen finalists of the Total Startupper in 2019.
California-based Kiverdi is a green tech and sustainability company focused on carbon transformation – breaking down CO2 and other carbon materials and reforming them into more environmentally-friendly products. The company's technology is inspired by NASA's use of single-cell organisms to convert carbon dioxide into food for astronauts. Among Kiverdi's commercial solutions is Air Protein, a system that combines CO2, oxygen, and nitrogen pulled from the air with water and minerals to create a protein that can be used to create meat substitutes.
Blavity is a Black-owned media-tech company, home to the largest network of brands specifically serving Black millennials through original content, video, and unique experiences.
Blavity also hosts the AfroTech conference, one of the largest multicultural tech conferences in the United States, bringing together engineers, venture capitalists, recruiters, technologists, and culture enthusiasts from all over the world. It is the definitive conference that brings leaders in technology and business together to exchange ideas and build a strong Black tech community. The company partners with diverse content creators and influencers to help them reach a wider audience, amplify their message, and fund their hustles. Blavity believes that the world shifts according to the way people see it— and if you change the way people view the world, you can transform it.
PopCom is an automated retail technology company that has built a software (SaaS) & connected (IoT) platform to revolutionize automated retail. PopCom’s technology integrates into vending machines and kiosks to provide deep consumer insights and engagement for retailers. Founder and CEO, Dawn Dickson, created the company after her own struggles to find vending machines that could sell her roll-up flat products (flatoutofheels.com) at high-traffic areas like airports.
PopCom placed the first machine in a public location in October 2020 at the Polaris Mall in Columbus, Ohio and rolled out 20 more machines with retail partners in the first quarter of 2021. PopCom has recently completed development on a new blockchain-enabled software platform that will enable consumers to securely buy government-regulated products such as cannabis, pharmaceuticals, and alcohol, from vending machines and ensure retailers stay compliant.
The company was awarded a design patent in September 2020 for a highly unique and innovative automated retail hardware design called PopShop digital pop-up shop and has a utility patent pending on the software system. “As an e-commerce entrepreneur myself, I understand that data was the foundation of my success. Now, retailers with one of our digital pop-up shops get the same critical data insights that online retailers have enjoyed for years,” said Dickson on their website.
Calendly was founded in September of 2013 by Tope Awotona. Awotona is originally from Nigeria and moved to Atlanta with his family in 1996. He would later become a UGA graduate and entrepreneur. Awotona put his entire life savings into Calendly and managed to bootstrap it for years before taking a $350 million funding round led by OpenView and Iconiq. The company is worth more than $3 billion, according to reports, and has more than 10 million users. Calendly is a productivity app that helps you schedule meetings without the back-and-forth emails and makes scheduling these socially distant meetings a breeze. The company currently has 254 employees.
Boitumelo Masihleho is a South African digital content creator. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Rhodes University in Journalism and Media Studies and Politics and International Studies. She's an experienced multimedia journalist who is committed to writing balanced, informative and interesting stories on a number of topics. Boitumelo has her own YouTube channel where she shares her love for affordable beauty and lifestyle content.
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