Google for Startups announces new cohort of 40 Black-led tech startups

Google for Startups has announced the 40 Black-led tech startups receiving grants from its $4m (approx £3mn) Black Founders Fund across Europe, created to tackle racial inequality in venture capital funding for startups. The announcement follows a series of launch events across Europe, in London, Paris and Berlin, including a gathering hosted by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, at City Hall for a group of London-based founders as part of the capital’s London Tech Week celebrations.

The Black Founders Fund was first launched last year with a $2m (£1.5m) fund to help tackle stark racial inequality in venture capital funding - this year’s fund has doubled to $4m (£3m). Founders from the 2021 programme raised an additional $81m (£64m) in follow-on funding and increased their headcount by 21%.

Prior to the fund’s launch in 2021, less than 0.25% of venture capital (VC) funding went to Black-led startups in the UK. 

The British tech startups make up two thirds (26) of the 40 companies selected across Europe and are set to transform a wide range of sectors including beauty, fashion, fintech, education, construction and food/beverage.

Some of the 26 UK-based startups selected include:

  • Josephine Philips, Sojo UK - a sustainable fashion tech startup modernising the clothing repair and tailoring industry.
  • Simi Lindgren, Yuty - the AI driven conscious beauty destination. 
  • Zak Nason-Giwa, Goodloans - a London-based fintech company, breaking down the barriers to lending In emerging markets with its SaaS-AI digital lending platform.
  • Asha Haji, Framework - the world's first on-demand business school designed for startups.

Each successful startup will be given $100,000 in non-dilutive cash awards, up to $200,000 in cloud credits and ad support, 1:1 mentoring by industry experts and invaluable connections within Google’s network. 

The success of last year’s cohort shows the impact that direct and targeted support can have in helping to tackle inequality, by supporting Black founders who are disproportionately locked out of access to capital. Across Europe, founders from the 2021 programme raised an additional $81m (£64m) in follow-on funding and increased their headcount by 21%. 

Josephine Philips, CEO of sustainable fashion tech startup Sojo, selected for the 2022 fund comments: “I was thrilled to be selected for the Black Founders Fund. Sojo is focused on building the technology to make clothing alterations and repairs mainstream - to receive not only financial support, but mentoring and invaluable networking opportunities from Google will help us to invest in our tech and allow the business to grow. It is great to see Google addressing the funding gap and providing real tangible support for those who are underrepresented in the startup community.”

Marta Krupinska, Head of Google for Startups UK: “For the second year in a row we've been able to debunk the myth of the “pipeline problem”. The UK is home to a wealth of talent from underrepresented backgrounds – we're so excited to have doubled last year's fund and partner with 40 fantastic companies, of which two thirds are based in the UK, and one third is led by women.” 

Rachael Palmer, Head of VC and Startup Partnerships, EMEA, Google, adds: “Last year’s founders have generated significant returns for investors - in some cases more than 10 times the initial investment in less than a year. We’re inviting investors to grasp these opportunities by working with us to support innovative Black-led businesses. Through the Fund, we’re hoping to ignite the change needed across the entire startup ecosystem, deliver more opportunities for underrepresented entrepreneurs and ultimately change the face of what a successful founder looks like.”

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “London celebrates the diversity of its business community and it’s fantastic to see that 60 per cent of the companies selected for Google’s latest Black Founders support programme are from London. Our city is a leading hub for innovation and startups, and our tech sector has an important role to play in creating jobs and investment for the capital’s economy as we build a better London for everyone.” 

The Black Founders Fund is just one of the ways that Google is working to help support historically underrepresented groups. In addition to contributing to economic opportunities with this fund and YouTube’s Black Voices Fund, the Black-owned feature on Search and Maps helps people to find and support Black-owned local businesses.