Engineer SaLisa Berrien Receives $100,000 From Google After Previously Securing $2M For Her Startup

SaLisa Berrien, a Pittsburgh university trustee, has received a $100,000 Black Founders Fund award from Google for Startups. The award will be used to expand her Tampa-based renewable energy services company, COI Energy.

Berrien was recognized in 2021 as one of Google’s 30 Black founders to watch.

On top of this funding, she has raised over $2 million for her firm which serves customers throughout Florida and 13 mid-Atlantic states. Berrien plans to expand to California in the near future. 

From working at electric utilities to Smart Grid, Clean Tech, and Big Data Analytics, SaLisa has had a diverse career in the energy space.

In her early career, she sold the first electric vehicle (G-Van) in the NE region while at PPL. She later went on to help EnerNOC move up the ladder and become the number 1 Demand Response company in the industry.

She believes if you do the right thing for your customers, they will remember you for that. She practices the Platinum Rule in all that she does, “Do unto your customer as they would have you to do unto them.”

Since 1996, SaLisa established several scholarship funds for high school and college students. Her first scholarship was named in honor of her ancestors (Jackson-Stephens Excellence Award and Talibah M. Yazid Academic Excellence Award) for paving the way so that she might have a better chance at life.

In 2004, she established the Karl H. Lewis Engineering Impact Alumni Endowment at the University of Pittsburgh for minority students enrolled in Engineering.

Devin Dixon, a serial entrepreneur, and developer, was also one of the chosen grantees.

He founded BingeWave. He taught himself to code C++ at 12 years old, started his first business in college at 19, and graduated with a computer science and business degree while running Division One Track & Field on scholarship.

Over the years, he has started several companies such as Sprout Connections, an app to help people find relevant connections at professional networking events, which he grew to 60k users.

Another organization he built was Untapped Founders – a networking organization for Black/Brown Founders that he grew across four cities in 5 months and partnered with notable brands such as First Round Capital and Airbnb. Devin’s ability to write code, lead teams and sell products make him a formidable company builder. In addition to start-ups, Devin teaches coding at boot camps and is an avid Tough Mudder/Spartan Racer.

Abbianca Makoni

Abbianca Makoni is a content executive and writer at POCIT! She has years of experience reporting on critical issues affecting diverse communities around the globe.

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