Black Tech Talent to Watch in 2017
Black people make up less than 1 percent of Venture Capitalists and the figures for black tech entrepreneurs fare no better. Can these numbers be higher? Absolutely. It’s part of the reason why I decided to support the efforts of Diversity VC. I first came across the group on Twitter back in 2016 and as an ethnic minority who’s interested in both investment and entrepreneurship ecosystems, I immediately reached out to support the mission.
One of the ways we can inspire more diversity in the industry is by promoting talent from various backgrounds and all corners of society. With that in mind, I thought I’d kick off my first blog post with a highlight of black tech talent to watch in 2017. The list is by no means comprehensive and in the coming months I hope to share more. But for now, here’s a list of some exciting startups that are founded or co-founded by black tech entrepreneurs.
Founded by Darren, TRIM-IT aims to solve a problem black people are all too familiar with: long waiting times at barber shops. The common frustration also often leaves customers with a barber that they don’t trust. Thankfully, the team at TRIM-IT are working hard to bring a solution to this untapped market opportunity. The app is already available on iOS and its services launched in London and Brighton in January 2017. More cities will be added in the coming months.
The traditional online advertising model is dead. Long-tail influencer marketing is the new way forward according to Fanbytes co-founder, Timothy Armoo. Banners, disruptive video ads, and celebrity endorsements are a thing of the past and Fanbytes is here to replace them. Founded by a group of 19 to 22 year olds, Fanbytes offers brands a programmatic means of advertising on Snapchat through a network of influencers. The start-up already has the likes of Disney, Addidas, and GoPro among its client base and is poised to grow even further.
By the age of 20 Anne-Marie Imafidon had obtained a Masters’ degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Oxford. As a child prodigy, she was the youngest girl to pass A-level computing aged 11, and her talents have since led her to founding STEMettes, a social enterprise dedicated to inspiring young women to go into Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Maths related careers. STEMettes’ work is crucial in helping increase diversity in the tech ecosystem. Within just 4 years, Anne-Marie and her team have facilitated STEMette experiences for over 13,000 girls across the UK and Europe.
How do you currently get recommendations on what to buy, consume, or experience? You likely get these recommendations from friends through disaggregated social media channels or through word of mouth. Now imagine a platform dedicated to helping you discover and discuss what’s hot. It could be the latest limited edition Yeezy Boosts, a region-exclusive Kith bomber jacket, or a new line of Mac lipstick. Cameron Alexander, an Economics and Management undergraduate at Oxford University, is working on such a platform and though things are currently under wraps, he plans to launch the app in 2017.
Finding sponsorship for an event can be a tricky affair. Events organisers traditionally rely on a range of offline networks and relationships to secure funding. On the other hand, corporates are usually limited to choosing from whatever proposals come directly to them. Is there a tool that can eliminate some of these frictions? Enter Vensy — a marketplace for corporate sponsorship. Vensy was co-founded by Tunde Salau and Rodney Johnson. It originally set out to match events organisers with brands seeking to connect with a specific audience but recently, the startup has pivoted to matching athletes with corporate sponsors. The team are now working hard to double down on the startup’s product-market-fit.
Michael is currently completing his MBA at the University of Oxford. He is the author of three books and works at the Oxford Seed Fund. Contact: @michaeltefula.