March 14, 2022

From A Tech Product That Detects Cervical Cancer In Women To A Platform Helping Influencers Get Paid Quickly: Here Are The Black UK Founders That Raised Funds For Their Innovations

Only a small percentage of Black founders in the UK received VC funding between 2009 to 2019 — and none so far have received late-stage funding. But 2021 proved to be fruitful, with initiatives like Google’s Black founders’ – and others – awarding Black and minority startup founders for their innovations.

One such founder, who received backing, is Erika Brodnock, the cofounder of Kami, a parental support platform that gives parents access to expert advice via a mobile app.

The startup received a $67k grant from the BFF in June this year and uses AI-driven coaching to offer users guidance and support.

Kami fuses cutting-edge AI with human expertise, resulting in an intelligent support system for working parents, providing evidence-based, judgement-free support that empowers all parents to improve their mental health and foster healthy early development in their children.

Other Black founders killing it in the game include Tanna Ezeike, 24, and Tomi Aiyeola, 25, who started the business in 2019 and beta-tested its product with 250 creators.

More than 50 million content creators have to wait 120 days to be paid by the brands they work with, said Ezeike when speaking to Insider but his company, XPO, is trying to shorten that period to 24 hours. 

XPO is an invoicing service that seeks to be the intermediary between creators and brands. Once a creator submits an invoice to XPO, the company confirms its legitimacy with the brand, collects the earnings, and distributes the money.

Last year in July 2021, the co-founders raised a $1 million seed round led by investment firm Blue Wire Capital. 

This comes as the creator economy, which counts 50 million people globally, continues to grow, according to a report by venture capital firm SignalFire.

Chantelle Bell

Bell cofounded Syrona Women with friend and business partner Anya Roy while they studied at Cambridge University. Syrona is a pregnancy-test-like product that detects cervical cancer in women. It also has an app that offers gynecological advice for people with a uterus by allowing them to track health symptoms, communicate with a community of users, and get insights approved by doctors. 

First, the user will create a profile and the Syrona Women team will do the work behind the scenes to recommend the best options for you and customize your test options to best suit your needs.

Once the tests arrive, the user will take the sample and pop it back in the post to Syrona Women. The team then analyses and sends the results back with an explanation. The platform has online GPs ready and waiting to answer any questions the user might have after receiving their results.

Founded in 2018, Syrona first received £20k in angel investment from Bethnal Green Ventures. In June 2021, it also received a $67k grant from the BFF.

Users subscribe to the Syrona Women kit, with a recommended use of twice yearly, and provides users with access to the company’s growing community, where users will be able to ask questions, share experiences safely and access the online GPs for clinical advice.

Tobi Oredein 

Black Ballad founder and chief executive Tobi Oredein raised 355,000 last year. Some £127,000 came from venture capitalists and private investors, while just over £200,000 – above the £120,000 target – came from a Seedr equity crowdfunding campaign.

Black Ballad is an online publication writing stories for and about Black women.

Oredein said the fundraising showed how Black Ballad “is unrivaled in our relationship with this audience. I don’t know any other company that has black women as invested in its success in the ways we do.”

Oredein previously told Press Gazette: “Trying to get investment as a media business and as a publication, it’s a hard task. I think some VCs and angels have lost their faith in media of becoming a business that can be eight-figure or nine-figure. But we found a few angels and VCs who saw the potential in Black Ballad and see what Black Ballad can be.

Black Ballad now has more than 1,000 paying members with nearly 22,000 registered users on email and a community of 70,000 across social media.

Members who pay £4.99 per month or £49 per year can access all content and get discounts to events and partner brands.

Elizabeth Nyeko

As CEO of Modularity Grid, a London-based startup, Nyeko builds technologies that improve the performance of mini-grids, small-scale electricity generation, and distribution systems that power homes and businesses in areas where extending national grids are too expensive.

Nyeko, who was born in northern Uganda but fled from the civil war there as a child, received funding from the BFF, and a $1.2m grant from EIT Climate-KIC in March 2020.

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.