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Funding Europe’s future with the Black Founders Fund

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To cement our commitment to racial equity in Europe, last October we announced the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund, a $2 million initiative to provide cash awards up to $100,000 to Black-led startups in Europe. These are non-dilutive awards, meaning companies won’t have to exchange equity for the funding, and are paired with up to $120,000 in Ads Grant and up to $100,000 in Cloud credits per startup. The founders will be introduced to each other and a wider community of experts for leadership, growth, technical support and access to Google for Startups’ body of knowledge, mentors and best practices.   

We often hear that lack of diversity in tech is a pipeline problem. This program shows that isn’t the case. We received almost 800 applications for the fund from 18 countries in Europe and the quality we saw was truly exceptional — from tech prodigies, to former executives of the most successful companies in the world, to serial entrepreneurs. 

Our team interviewed almost 100 founders for the fund to understand their businesses, their ambitions and their lived experience as leaders, whether they are serial or first time founders. Did they need to work three jobs at a time? How much perseverance did it take to get that degree? Did they have a friend or a cousin to call up to get easy funding? We looked at what opportunities each founder has been given (or not given) and what they did with them. The answers we heard made clear the caliber of these founders.

Today, we’re announcing the 30 startups from the U.K., France, Belgium, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands who have been selected to receive awards from the Black Founders Fund. Their inspiring, fast-growing startups address global challenges like access to healthcare, financial inclusion, energy and education, in the most competitive industries, from hardware design and advertising to data and risk management. And it’s not only racial diversity that they represent: 40% of startups we selected are led by women.

Lasting change only happens when you engage everyone —  the corporations, the VCs, the angel investors, the founders themselves — and invite them to support each other. With less than 0.5% of venture capital (VC) funding going to Black-led startups, and only 38 Black founders receiving venture capital funding in the last 10 years, the Black Founders Fund in Europe is a third region, after the U.S. and Brazil, where Google for Startups is helping to level the playing field by backing Black founders who are disproportionately locked out of access to capital.  

We are so impressed by the founders’ experiences — the depth of their industry knowledge coupled with their valuable lived experiences of being Black leaders. This makes them uniquely positioned to build successful startups and create important solutions for our community. Backing Black founders not only means creating individual success stories, but also supporting job creation and wealth generation for decades to come. 

Meet a few of the founders:

  • Image shows Bruno Mendes Da Silver against a white background, sitting on a stool, looking into the camera and smiling.

    Bruno Mendes Da Silva, from France, is the founder of Heex. Heex Technologies provides AI-powered software and web services to development teams in data intensive fields such as autonomous driving. 

  • Photo showing Deborah Choir smiling looking at the camera against a wall of flowers and plants.

    Deborah Choi, of Germany, is the founder of Bosque. Bosque is the first tech-enabled, direct-to-consumer plant brand in Europe with digitized inventory, AR tech and on-demand access to vetted plant experts. 

  • Michael Musandu looks into the camera smiling.

    Michael Musandu, of the Netherlands, is the founder of Lalaland. Lalaland uses AI to create synthetic humans for fashion eCommerce brands to increase diversity in retail. 

  • Headshot of Nnamdi Emelifeonwu wearing a suit, looking into the camera and smiling.

     Nnamdi Emelifeonwu, of the U.K., is the founder of Define. Define is a legal technology company that optimizes the contract drafting and reviewing process for lawyers, serving the world's largest banks and consulting companies. 

  • Image showing a black and white photo of Nancy de Fays looking into the camera and smiling.

    Nancy de Fays, based in Belgium, is the founder of LINE. LINE builds powerful hardware and software tools for content creators.

  • Tolulope Ogunsina looks into the camera, using a Playbrush toothbrush, smiling.

    Tolulope Ogunsina of Austria is the founder of Playbrush. Playbrush is the innovation leader in oral care, growing smart toothbrush subscriptions to foster better mouth and body health. 

  • Two men stand against a wall that says "Google for Startups, Further, Faster, Together." One of them looks at his smartphone, smiling, while the other looks into the camera, smiling.

    Christian Facey and Wilfrid Obeng are the founders of AudioMob, based in the U.K. AudioMob provides non-intrusive audio ads within mobile games. 

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