Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Google for Startups Announces Black Founders Cohort 2019

Teams from Across North America Selected for Fourth Annual ‘Google for Startups’ Black Founders Exchange


September Immersion Program Hosted for Companies with High Growth Potential at American Underground Startup Hub

Black Founders Often Isolated in ‘Entrepreneurial Deserts’ Will Connect with Rigorous Programming, Face Business Challenges Head-On 

(DURHAM, NC) - September 10, 2019 - American Underground and Google for Startups are excited to announce that from the over 160 applications received, 11 high-growth potential startups have been selected to participate in the fourth annual Black Founders Exchange from September 22-27 in Durham, North Carolina. In addition to welcoming these 11 new startups to the expanding Black Founders Exchange network as the 2019 cohort, American Underground and Google for Startups will also welcome back founders from past cohorts for the first-ever Alumnae Summit. 

The 11 participating companies selected for the 2019 cohort have varied and diverse missions - focusing on, among other fields, health care, wealth management, property tech, supply chain software, social media, and renewable energy:

Black Founders Exchange is an intensive immersion program founded in 2016 to further American Underground and Google for Startup’s shared goal to support founders of color. Programming focuses on how to navigate obstacles that are often faced by attendees- everything from what to do when facing racial bias in fundraising or how to build an effective network even if a startup is based in a so-called ‘entrepreneurial desert.’ The full itinerary is here. Photos and other images here.

>From 2016 to present, 19 participating companies have collectively raised over $10.8M in funding since completing the program. This includes the 2016 cohort graduate SpokeHub, that completed a historic raise of $2M from primarily Black investors and 2017 cohort graduate Partake Foods, which raised a $1M seed round led by Jay-Z’s Marcy Venture Partners. The goal of the program is for at least half of the startups to be funded within nine months of the program’s conclusion. In past years, many startups reach that goal or have gotten well on their way, thanks to the week’s grand finale event - a Google for Startups Demo Day event where founders pitch to a room of investors and community leaders. 

This is also the first year that programming will include an Alumni Summit designed to continue support founders from past cohorts with the knowledge, connections, and resources as they are looking to expand their businesses to new markets. Alumni schedules will include one-on-one sessions focused on operational feedback from regional and national business experts, technical insight from Google employees, and opportunities to connect with investors from around the country. In addition to attending the Alumnae Summit, select companies will offer insights and lessons learned to the new cohort of startups.

Follow Black Founders Exchange at the following social media handles and through the hashtag #BlackFoundersExchange: Instagram: @AmerUnderground, @GoogleForStartups, Facebook: /AmericanUnderground, /GoogleForStartups, Twitter: @AmerUnderground, @GoogleStartups


  • Molly Demarest, General Manager, American Underground
    • “The American Underground believes that economic opportunity increases when there is a diverse and inclusive startup ecosystem. Our Black Founders Exchange program is uniquely designed to both address the challenges and celebrate the experiences of being a Black founder in tech. The traction and success delivered by the alumni to date is evidence that this is the premier program for early-stage, Black founders nationally. We are excited to continue our partnership with Google for Startups in welcoming our fourth cohort.”
  • Nicole Froker, Partner Manager, Google for Startups
    • “Supporting the growth and success of underrepresented founders is core to Google for Startup’s mission. This program has proven its success year after year in equipping founders with the resources, networks, and expertise needed to scale their companies to the next level. ”

About American Underground
Dubbed the “Startup Hub of the South” by CNBC, American Underground [AU] is one of eleven Google for Startups Tech Hubs in North America. Based in Durham, NC, and supporting 325+ startups and scaleups across the Triangle Region, American Underground designs for any founder building a product towards scale, with an emphasis on those currently underrepresented in tech. Today, over 50% of American Underground companies are led by a woman and/or persons of color. With over $211 million in funding raised and 3,100+ and counting net new jobs created, American Underground companies continue to exemplify that startups increase and diversify economic opportunity, but require cultivation. Through connections, content, and workspace that tap the region’s ecosystem of experts, American Underground’s community of 32,000+ is the Triangle’s front door to the resources startups, founders and their employees need.

About Google for Startups
Google for Startups brings the best of Google's connections, products, and best practices to startups to help them grow. Through six international campuses, 11 tech hub partnerships in the United States, and 50+ partner organizations, Google for Startups builds thriving communities of top startups and connects them to each other and to Google, recognizing that having the right connections is key for success. To learn more about Google for Startups, visit startup.google.com or follow us on Twitter (@GoogleStartups).

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