53 Black founders and investors to watch in 2021 – PitchBook News & Analysis

In 2018, just 3% of VC partners in the US were Black, while 80% were white, according to the NVCA-Deloitte Human Capital Survey, a joint study designed to uncover the state of diversity and inclusion (D&I) across the venture industry.

For years, venture capitalists have faced mounting pressure to diversify their portfolio companies and investment teams with people of color and women. Last year, the conversation reemerged as protests erupted across the US in response to the police killings of several Black Americans. The venture industry, forced to reckon with its own overwhelming lack of diversity, saw an outpouring of support, with some founders vowing to reduce racial disparities in the industry.

This year, our list of Black founders and investors aims to celebrate and highlight leaders who are making a big impact. Thelist features both familiar names and the next generation of innovators who are working to shape their communities and the world at large.

For the people on this list, we considered:

The investorsAlthough mostly comprised of VCs, this list also features leaders who have created communities to empower other Black entrepreneurs through capitaland educational support. We have also included spotlights on several VC firms with a stated mission to fund diverse founders.

Where possible, weve included links to each persons Twitter page. Additionally, some companies are linked to PitchBook profiles, where you can further dive into funding details, other investors and more. Among the wide range of information available in PitchBook, users can search our database to find investors with active investments and a stated preference in minority and women-owned businesses.

These education technology (edtech) companies have developed software that enhances teaching practices and improves learning outcomes.

Dr. Johnetta MacCallaCo-founder and CEO of Zyrobotics, a creator of inclusive, educational technologies for the diverse needs of children with differing abilities.@Zyrobotics

Chris BennettCo-founder and CEO of Wonderschool, a network of modern early education programs to ensure all families have access to high-quality early childhood care.@wonderschools

These financial technology (fintech) companies use internet, blockchain and software technologies, as well as algorithms, to offer or facilitate financial services traditionally offered by banks.

Sheena AllenFounder and CEO of CapWay, a mobile banking and fintech company with the mission to restore trust and provide a fair opportunity to learn and grow wealth for all.@SheenaAllenApps

Joe BeardCo-founder of CollateralEdge, a fintech platform that provides banks with innovative, automated solutions to bolster the credit profile of loans and allow greater underwriting flexibility.@joebeard214

Tavonia EvansFounder of Guapcoin, a blockchain company and cryptocurrency created to amplify the economic voice of the Black community. @cryptodeeva

Jerry NemorinFounder of LendStreet, a lending platform designed to help people get out of debt, rebuild their credit and get a fresh start.@twitterhandle

David PotterCo-founder of CURU, a SaaS lead recovery platform that enables lenders and marketplaces to recover lost and rejected loan opportunities by boosting applicant eligibility in areas such as credit score and debt-to-income ratio.@CuruCredit

These founders are leveraging various mediums to contribute to and innovate entertainment.

Andre JonesCo-founder of The Tenth Magazine, a bi-annual publication that documents the history, culture, ideas and aesthetics of the Black LGBTQ community.@thetenthzine

Morgan DeBaunFounder of Blavity, a media platform focused on serving the multifaceted lives of Black millennials.@MorganDeBaun

Stacy SpikesFounder of PreShow and Movie, a mobile platform where customers can watch branded content in exchange for seeing first run movies in theaters for free.

These health technology (healthtech) companies provide mobility and other information technologies to improve healthcare delivery while decreasing costs.

Ade AdesanyaCo-founder of Moving Analytics, a digital cardiac rehabilitation and prevention program, delivered via mobile platform and health coaching.@AdesStartups

Crystal EvuleochaFounder of Kiira Health, a telehealth platform for collegiate women focused on addressing womens health inequities.@crystola_belle

Derrick MilesFounder and CEO of CourMed, an enterprise software provider that innovates delivery services from healthcare providers to patients.@CourMed

Kevin DednerFounder and CEO of Hurdle, a mental health company that puts culture first in its approachto deliveringtherapy and self-care support.@kdedner

Nathalie WaltonFounder of Expectful, a subscription platform that makes meditation easy for expectant and new mothers, in an effort to tackle the wellbeing crisis facing the 21 million women in the US on their motherhood journeys.@nathaliegwalton

Bea ArthurFounder of The Difference, an on-demand therapy technology that uses AI to connect users with a therapist via Alexa.@BeaArthurLMHC

These food technology (foodtech) companies are developing products and services intended to improve consumers food selection, purchasing and consumption experiences.

Zuleyka StrasnerFounder of Zero Grocery, a plastic-free online store that delivers fresh, high quality groceries and everyday goods at wholesale prices, utilizingreusable glass jars to reduce waste.@zuleykastrasner

Riana LynnFounder of Journey Foods, a SaaS and AI-powered platform intended to help food businesses develop nutritious food products.@rianalynn

Jasmine CroweFounder of GOODR, a platform created to provide a secure ledger that tracks an organizations surplus food from pickup to donation, delivering real-time social and environmental impact reporting analytics.@jasminecrowe

These companies exemplify the future of beauty because they are incorporating digital technologies into their products and services, providing bespoke products that target a niche group or are manufacturing and marketing their products as natural, clean and/or organic.

Darren TenkorangFounder of Trim-it, the first app-powered mobile barbershop, delivering the highest quality haircuts straight to your doorstep in a high-tech barbershop in a van.@Trimit_app

Tracey PickettFounder of Hairbrella, a rainwear company that combines fashion and function to keep hair dry and protected from the elements.@traceypickett__

Courtney CaldwellCo-founder of ShearShare, a B2B app that matches licensed beauty professionals to unused salon space.@ShearShareCOO

The travel industry took a hit in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic caused bookings to plummet. Hope for a 2021 travel season still exists and these founders are using technology to facilitatebetter travel experiences.

Ama MarfoCo-founder of Airfordable, alongside Emmanuel Buah. The duo created Airfordable to democratize travel in a budget-friendly way through a payment plan system with zero interest.@AmaMarfo

Joah SpearmanFounder of Localeur, which provides access to a global community of local insiders and authentic recommendations on where to eat and drink in over 180+ cities, as well as world travel tips, road trip guides and personalized itineraries.@joahspearman

Jonathan HayesFounder and CEO of Rewardstock, a platform that offers information on credit cards for travelers to earn, track and use reward points to book trips. The company was acquired by Experian in November 2020.@RewardStock

From streamlining internal teamwork to facilitating e-commerce sales, these founders are using technology to increase business productivity.

Ablorde AshigbiFounder of 4Degrees, a SaaS platform that provides relationship building recommendations and intelligent guidance on expanding team networks.@Ablordesays

Jordan WalkerFounder of Yac, an app designed to cut down on meetings and calls with voice messages, searchable transcriptions and asynchronous screen sharing.@jordanlwalker

Yaw AningCo-founder and CEO of Malomo, a shipment tracking and customer marketing platform for e-commerce brands that helps its users generate more revenue and increase customer loyalty.@YawA

Diishan ImiraFounder and CEO of Mayvenn, an online platform designed to provide quality hair products to hairstylists, so that they can sell directly to their clients without the burden of upfront costs.@DiishanImira

Karissma YveCo-founder of Gildform, an app that connects every element of the jewelry manufacturing supply chaintransforming the way fashion brand owners run their businesses.@karissmayve

These companies are helping both job seekers and hiring organizations find the best job match through software and mobile applications.

Ruben HarrisCo-founder and CEO of Career Karma, an app created to help job training programs find qualified applicants, as well as match people with coding bootcamps to support them throughout their careers.@rubenharris

Zack SmithFounder of Jobble, a mobile and web marketplace that connects businesses to people looking for gig economy and hourly work.@JobblerZack

Sky KelleyFounder of Avisare, a centralized network for all businesses to discover new contract opportunities, post their own and bid on all opportunities using one universal profile.@SkyKelley1

While not directly in the venture capital ecosystem, these founders started nonprofits and created communities aimed at educating and opening doors for future BIPOC leaders.

Kimberly BryantFounder and executive director of Black Girls CODE, a nonprofit that teaches computer programming and tech skills to girls and young women from underrepresented communities.@6Gems

Makinde AdeagboFounder of /dev/color, a nonprofit community for Black software engineers to help each other grow into industry leaders.@makinde

Laura Weidman PowersCo-founder and CEO of Code2040, a nonprofit aimed at helping underrepresented minorities achieve educational and entrepreneurial success.@laurawp

These investors are champions for minority voices in the private markets and are constantly working toward creating a more equitable future for entrepreneurs and investors alike.

About Harlem Capital PartnersFounded in 2015, Harlem Capital Partners is an early-stage venture firm based in New York. The firm prefers to invest in early-stage companies and reserves capital for investments in minority and women founders in the United States.

The firm has done its own research and compiled a list of 200 Black and Latinx venture capitalists to analyze occurrences and trends to understand minority involvement in the VC space.

See Harlem Capital Partners investment history

Abyah Nycole WynnCo-founder and managing director at Twenty65 Fund, a $10 million fund focused exclusively on supporting female and minority-led founders.@abyahw

Erik MooreFounder and managing director of Base Ventures, a seed-stage VC firm with the idea to fund disruptive ideas and champion nontraditional thinkers.@basevc

Taj Ahmad EldridgeSenior director of investment at Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) and founder of Fund Humanity, a nonprofit impact-relief fund.@Econoahmad

Arian SimoneAngel investor and founding partner of the Fearless Fund, which recently launched a $25 million fund to invest exclusively in early-stage businesses run by women of color.@ArianSimone

About Fearless FundFearless Fund invests in women of color led businesses seeking pre-seed, seed level or Series A financing. Its mission is to bridge the gap in venture capital funding for women of color founders building scalable, growth-aggressive companies. Fearless Fund is built by women of color for women of color.

See the Fearless Funds investment history

Angela BentonFounder of NewME, a technology accelerator created to accelerate, educate and empower underrepresented tech entrepreneurs around the world and founder of Streamlytics, a platform designed to measure what content users are watching and listening to across streaming platforms . @ABenton

Karim WebbEntrepreneurial activist, founder and CEO of 4thMVMT, which focuses on communities impacted by institutional racism and invests in entrepreneurs who lack access to capital, operational resources and networks to start and grow a business.@KarimWebb

AboutBackstage Capital In 2015, Arlan Hamilton founded Backstage Capital from the ground up. Based in Los Angeles, California, the fund is dedicated to minimizing funding disparities in tech by investing in high-potential founders who are people of color, women, and/or LGBTQ.

SeeBackstage Capitals investment history

Sydney SykesLSVP scout investor and co-founder of BLCK VC, a nonprofit that aims to support and expand Black representation in venture. @Syd_Lykes

Female founders and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemicDownload this in-depth report: All In: Female Founders and CEOs in the US VC Ecosystem

LGBTQ+ founders and investorsRead our blog: 25 LGBTQ+ founders, entrepreneurs and VCs you should know

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53 Black founders and investors to watch in 2021 - PitchBook News & Analysis

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