How Google for Startups’ Black Founders Fund is Supporting the TC Community

Transparent Collective
4 min readNov 1, 2022


Venture capital investors poured $150 billion into startups in 2020. With the venture ecosystem opening its aperture to new faces in the tech space and the rate of Black entrepreneurship growing rapidly, funding for Black entrepreneurs is advancing.

One reason why we’re seeing growth in the venture backing of Black founders is that their companies are being accepted into reputable accelerators in record numbers. In the last few years, a number of new programs dedicated to underrepresented founders have popped up, like Google for Startups’ Black Founder Fund, which was founded in 2019.

The Google for Startups Black Founders Fund awards non-dilutive cash grants to Black founders at early-stage companies. They recognize founders who have joined their programs or have been nominated by Google’s partner community or a previous recipient. Selected founders receive $100,000 in capital, Google Cloud credits, and hands-on support to grow their startups.

James Norman, CEO at Pilotly, the first market research platform purpose built for creative content, said that the experience has really benefited him and he’s excited to see the variety of companies and founders the fund is supporting.

“The way they’re bringing their resources to bear in combination with goodie nation as a facilitator has been amazing. I still have a number of resources to tap into at this point, but how they are working to build community and a safe space for Black and Latinx founders is impressive.”

He also added, “Not everyone has a wide group of founder friends to share the ups and downs of their journey. It’s great to see founders getting the support they need and it’s rewarding to see them recognize their wins. That’s a big part of seeing yourself through the entrepreneurial journey.”

Ashton Keys, Founder and CEO of Athlytic, a fully integrated marketplace that connects student athletes with potential monetization opportunities, noted that it was a positive learning experience, especially being part of the Sales Academy.

At its core, the Black Founders Fund aims to create access and opportunity for Black founders. Aside from access to capital, Google supports founders through its products, best services, and a global community where Black founders can connect, learn and grow.

“The strategies I learned from the sales academy helped me close more clients,” said Keys.

For Norman, he recalls the time when he had trouble raising capital. “Having Google get involved provided a catalyst for fundraising, which I hadn’t since six years ago when I finished 500 Startups. Doing this with a grant shows their commitment to the community.”

Jewel Burks and André Barrence, founders of the Black Founders Fund, were inspired by their own experiences as black entrepreneurs to include Google mentorship and product support with each cash award.

If there’s one valuable lesson that Norman learned, it’s the coordination of community time. He added, “It has been a good reminder that we need to take breathers in our busy schedule to reflect on progress and visualize the next steps. I’ve enjoyed my time with the other founders.”

Meanwhile, Keys learned about the entire TPOINT agenda strategy for approaching sales and how to handle objections and concerns.

Norman says being part of Google for Startups Black Founders Fund is an opportunity that any Black-led startup shouldn’t miss.

“I think any Black founder that hasn’t raised a Series B should join this. You’re bound to learn something, open up a door for your business and expand your community of like-minded individuals,” Norman noted.

Norman and Keys are only two out of 200+ Black founders who have received funding support from the program. The two are also members of the Transparent Collective community. Other TC founders who have been selected for Google for Startups Black Founders Fund include:

Jasmine Shells, Founder of Five to Nine

Roger Roman, Founder of AfriBlocks

SaLisa B., Founder of COI Energy

Andrew Hill, Founder of LiftEd

Ofo Ezeugwu, Founder of WYL (WhoseYourLandlord)

Javier Evelyn , Founder ofAlerje

Calvin Williams, Jr., Founder of Freeman Capital

Carolyn D. Pitt, Esq., Founder of

Dr. Tye Caldwell, DPB and Courtney Caldwell, Founders of MBAShearShare, Inc.

Google for Startups Black Founders Fund will reopen its application period in 2023 and grant startups that meet the eligibility criteria in the US, Brazil, and Europe.



Transparent Collective

Transparent Collective helps Black, Latinx, and women founders access the connections & resources needed to succeed.