Black people are better represented in the National Hockey League than they are in the technology industry. Just let that sink in. Five percent of the NHL is African-American, whereas according to USA Today, just 2 percent of Silicon Valley tech scene is black.
The incubators, cubicle mazes, and board rooms are home to America’s brightest minds. But what Silicon Valley boasts in brain power, it lacks in diversity. White people and Asians dominate Bay Area tech.
An even smaller sliver of black people has ascended to the top ranks. While efforts are underway to increase the number of minorities involved with the trillion-dollar industry, some have taken matters into their own hands, founding their own companies.
Here are 25 black tech founders worth knowing about:
Marcus Eagan is a 26-year old born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, where he attended Renaissance High School. He started tinkering with computers in his house as soon as he knew how to work a screw driver and the command prompt. He graduated from Grinnell College with a degree in History. After that, Marcus struggled to land a job in computers but eventually did. Once in the door, he started to shine. Having consulted as a developer with a number of Fortune 500 companies on analytics and security, he started his own company doing just that: Analytics and Security. A little more than a year after founding Nodal Industries, the company was acquired and he now serves as the Director of IoT Security at Luma in Georgia.
Angela Benton is the founder and CEO of NewME, a social enterprise that has accelerated hundreds of entrepreneurs from non-traditional backgrounds in launching their businesses and raising venture capital funding, over $21 million to date. She’s been honored by Goldman Sachs’ 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs, in addition to Fast Company’s Most Influential Women In Technology, Business Insiders’ 25 Most Influential African-Americans In Technology, Marie Claire’s 50 Women Who Rule, and many more.
Taariq Lewis is the Founder of DigitalTangible Inc (Serica & SericaPay). a Bitcoin2.0 company and digital assets trading company launched in 2014. DigitalTangible links various valuable hard assets, including gold and silver, to the bitcoin blockchain creating a marketplace and peer-to-peer trading platform accessible to precious metals investors, anywhere in the world. SericaPay is the digital loans and digital payment platform for small businesses. DigitalTangible was launched after Taariq spent time leading Mastercoin’s Smart Asset and Smart Contract initiatives in 2013. Taariq is also the founder of Bits of Coin, an Android, mobile news application for Bitcoin intelligence gathering.
Wayne is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Change Catalyst and its Tech Inclusion programs. Tech Inclusion is dedicated to exploring innovative solutions to diversity and inclusion in tech through the Tech Inclusion Conference, consulting and workshops. Wayne’s experience includes years of establishing partnerships with large brands to early stage startups. As a leading voice in diversity and inclusion in tech, Wayne shares his thoughts on solutions and culture in various media outlets where he has been featured in TechCrunch, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal. In addition to mentoring and advising early stage startups, Wayne’s life goal is to educate entrepreneurs who are passionate about using technology to change the world. Wayne Sutton writes about entrepreneurship, startups, diversity & inclusion in tech at SocialWayne.com
Sarah Kunst is founder and CEO of Proday, the celebrity personal training fitness app. In addition, Kunst an investor and entrepreneur who has worked at Apple, Red Bull, Chanel, Mohr Davidow Ventures and several venture-backed startups. She is also a contributing editor at Marie Claire Magazine. Her philanthropic interests include Venture for America, Code2040 and The US State Department’s Tech Women program, She also mentors and advises startups through Boost.vc, Mergelane and Female Funders.
Kunst is on the 2015 Forbes Magazine 30 under 30 list, a judge for the 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30 and named a top 25 innovator in tech by Cool Hunting. She has been recognized for her work in Business Insider as a 30 under 30 Woman in Tech and Top African-American in Tech and Marie Claire Magazine named her a Young Gun to watch. She also writes for Techcrunch, Fortune, and Entrepreneur.com. Marc Andreessen named her one of his 55 Unknown Rock Stars in Tech.
Brian Clark is a long time entrepreneur and currently, he is the Co-Founder and CEO of HDP Health which offers a service to match patients to clinical trials automatically by analyzing their medical records. They also help patients make sense of the latest medical research by offering easy to read summaries free of medical jargon.He also built LinkTexting, a tool to help mobile developers get more downloads, and is a Board Member and Instructor at Mission Bit - A non-profit teaching Middle and High School students how to code in after school classes around San Francisco.
Cheryl Contee is the CEO and co-founder of Fission Strategy, which helps the world’s leading non-profits, foundations, and social enterprises use the Internet in innovative ways to create change globally. She is also the co-founder of Attentive.ly, which is a rising tech startup, specializing in cutting edge influencer marketing Technology and #YesWeCode, which represents the movement to help over 100,00low-opportunity youth to become high-quality coders.
Matt Joseph is a technology executive with a background launching, investing in, and advising early stage enterprise businesses. Currently, he is the Founder and CEO of Locent, a Y-Combinator backed service that lets healthcare providers securely exchange electronic health records with patients. He was featured by the LA Business Journal in 2016 as one of ’20 in their 20’s’ for his work with Locent. Prior to founding Locent, Matt was Director of Investments and Operations at Launchpad LA; during his tenure, Launchpad LA was named top accelerator in Southern California by both Forbes and TechCrunch. He previously held corporate positions at Verizon and the Boston Consulting Group.He earned a B.A. from Princeton and a JD/MBA from UCLA.
Dan is an innovator whose influence can be seen throughout the tech industry. He is currently the Co-Founder and CEO of Level Therapy, which provides mobile access to treatment tools and psychotherapists through video, voice, and text. The companies mission is to empower everyone on Earth to achieve their highest potential, and the team believes the best way to do that is by democratizing access to mental wellness.
Before Level, was the Founder and CEO of Freshsessions, which was the world’s first marketplace for musicians to find and book studio time anywhere. Before setting out on his own, Dan held various product, research, and operations roles at Salesforce, SurveyMonkey, Forrester Research, and TheLadders. He was also on the team that wrote the business plan for BlackGirlsCode. In 2014, Business Insider listed Dan as one of the top 46 African Americans in Tech.
Tanisha Robinson is the Co-Founder of Print Syndicate LLC. A serial entrepreneur, Ms. Robinson previously built and solid daily deals site Fudha.com. She is a US Army veteran, Ohio State alum, marketing jedi,and puzzle lover.
Albert is the Co-Founder and CTO of TechMeetsTraader. A social trading community where investors can effectively communicate entry and exit positions for both stocks and options. They aim to revolutionize communication amongst retail investors by providing an easy to use, low barrier to entry platform that directly addresses the problems for retail traders. Their goal is to create an environment that provides a premium service to investors. The application streamlines the information flow from order entries to social validation by bridging each at-home trading station.
Kellee James is Founder and CEO of Mercaris, a market data service and trading platform for organic, non-GMO and other identity-preserved agricultural commodities. Prior to Mercaris, Kellee spent five years at the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), the first electronic trading platform and registry for spot, futures and options contracts on carbon, sulfur, clean energy and other environmental products. In 2009, she was appointed by President Barack Obama as a White House Fellow where she advised members of the administration on environmental markets. She has also worked with coffee farmers and commodity banks in Latin America on risk management and income diversification strategies. Kellee was named by both Black Enterprise Magazine and Crain’s Chicago Business Magazine as a ‘40 under 40’ rising leader. Ms. James is an Aspen Institute Catto Environmental Fellow and has also served on the board of Net Impact, a membership organization of more than 12,000 MBA professionals committed to sustainability. She is currently a non-resident senior fellow at the Joint Center for Political & Economic Studies, a think tank in Washington, DC. Kellee received her MBA and MA in International Development from American University and completed a BA in Spanish from the University of Kentucky.
Chris Bennett is the CEO and co-founder of Soldsie, a social shopping service. He is passionate about social change, innovation and the Internet.Soldsie is the leader in working with businesses to generate revenue from social media. Soldsie was founded in 2012 and works with businesses like the Frye Company, Nylon Magazine, and the New York Times. Soldsie was founded in 2012, is based in San Francisco, and is backed by First Round Capital, Lerer Ventures, SoftTech VC, and 500 Startups.
Christian is the co-founder and general partner of BUILDUP. A program featured in TechCrunch , she leads this nonprofit which educates, mentors and advises pre-seed stage startups, which have a minimal viable product, and has raised less than $250,000 (pre-money valuation of $1,000,000). Currently, the organization has mentored 23 startups on scaling their product and creating engagement with stakeholders in Silicon Valley.
Frederick Hutson is the CEO of Pigeonly, a technology company that builds solutions driven products for those who need it most, underserved communities. A born entrepreneur, he launched and sold his first business at the age of 19. His desire to attain the American dream on his terms took him down the wrong path and at 23, he was indicted for distributing over 3,000 kg of marijuana. It was during this four-year federal prison sentence a new idea surfaced, one that would give him an opportunity to impact the lives of people no one else was paying attention to - inmates, Pigeonly was born. Pigeonly’s most popular products provide solutions for people who have a loved one in prison - A easy way to send printed photos from your phone and a low-cost option to expensive phone calls. Though still young, they’ve shipped over 1 million photos and processed over 8 million phone minutes since Pigeonly launched.
Dr. Paul Q. Judge is a serial entrepreneur and noted scholar. He has founded several companies that grew and resulted in successful acquisitions. Dr. Judge is co-founder and Executive Chairman of Pindrop Security, provider of phone anti-fraud and authentication solutions, founded in 2011. He is also a co-founder of Monsieur, the creator of the robotic bartender. He is a founding partner at Tech Square Labs a company building studio based in Atlanta. The first company incubated by @TechSquare is Rescour which provides automated market research for commercial real estate.
Wale Babatunde has over five years work experience in product and business development. As a past founder of UNDER40PRENEUR; an online media company registered in Nigeria. Wale was able to grow his company from scratch and provide employment for other young people like himself. Today, he is CEO & Co-Founder of Podozi Inc. a 500 Startups portfolio company, that is solving the problem of finding authentic & appropriate beauty products for people of color in Africa. Wale holds a B.S. in Computer Engineering from the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University, a National Diploma in Computer Technology from Yaba College of Technology and Leadership Certificate from the Daystar Leadership Academy.
Maci Peterson is a Millennial entrepreneur and marketing expert. She has been named “Tech’s Newest Innovator” by Essence Magazine, and is a recognized subject-matter expert and advisor on entrepreneurship, innovation and diversity initiatives. Maci is the co-founder and CEO of On Second Thought, a messaging app whose patented technology lets users take back text messages before they get to the other person’s phone. She has been recognized on Inc Magazine’s “30 Under 30 List” of 2016, and Washington Business Journal’s “40 Under 40 List” of 2015. In addition, Maci has been identified as a rising leader in technology by Revolt TV, and one of the “29 People You Should Know” by BET. Maci began On Second Thought after winning 1st Place in the #StartupOasis pitch competition at South by Southwest in 2014.
Born and raised in New York City, Ali Abdullah acquired a knack for hard work at an early age. As a result, he now sits as one of today’s rising technology entrepreneurs. First introduced to computer programming in high school, Abdullah realized computer science was the perfect way to become the next Google, or in his words “become the next organized circuit.” Ali went on to study computer science at Alfred State University followed by Columbia University, but ultimately found himself absorbing the ins and outs of the technology field at MIT.
Abdullah introduced the first version of the now two-year-old app to his three mentors in 2009, but was forced to return to the drawing board to flush out his idea. In the meantime, with a daughter on the way, Abdullah joined the Clinton Foundation as a web application engineer and later took on a position with the Department of Education. Eventually, Ali joined Google as a senior engineer, and subsequently met Claim it!’s two co-founders, Kaza Razat and Khalid Mills. Collectively, the three Google on June 13, 2014 and “went full-time with Claim it!.”Now, two years later, Abdullah and his partners are monetizing a million-dollar mobile application by partnering with brands like Starbucks, Beats by Dre, T-Mobile, Sax 5th Avenue, Sprint, and more.
Kimberly Foster is founder and editor-in-chief of For Harriet, a multiplatform digital community for Black women that reaches over 2 million visitors a month. Founded in 2010, For Harriet is a leading voice for Black women’s journalism and storytelling. It’s grown from a single blog to a network of 5 sites. Kimberly began For Harriet while she was an undergraduate at Harvard University. Since then, For Harriet has grown to become a preeminent destination for Black women online.
Drew is the founder and principal of SeedPress, a lean product development studio that specializes in WordPress and practices a new economic methodology called Producism. The company’s mission is to use alternative economics and open source technology as a force to deliver meaningful products and empower under-served communities. The company focus is in software-as-a-service, training, publishing, and new product development consulting.Originally from New Haven, Connecticut and now residing in Richmond, Virginia, Drew enjoys making ideas happen, reading, creating soulful hip hop beats under the moniker ‘Nacchi Atums’, living a healthy and mindful lifestyle, curating content, and helping others reach their full potential.
Cedric J. Rogers is a legacy entrepreneur, investor and technologist. He was born into a family of passionate entrepreneurs and has founded successful companies. Cedric is currently a Co-Founder of Looklive with Paul Q. Judge and Greg Selkoe. Looklive is the next generation for online media and shopping. It’s aim is to be the world’s authority and source on the influencers shaping and directing global style and culture. He is also the Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Higher Altitude Inc.
He cofounded this company with the mission of creating purpose driven mobile apps that empower people. Through design, mobile, and social discovery technology,Prizm aims to inspire millions of youth across the world.
A 25 years old from Hayward California; a city nestled in-between Oakland and Sillicon Valley. Always running in the direction of his interests, David has worked extensively for several creative outlets: Karmaloop, HipHop DX, Revolt just to name a few all while creating his own content ( music ) and running a clothing line after attending Hampton University. At the end of 2014 David found himself entering the start-up scene which led to the 2015 launch of Highspeed and it’s 2016 expansion to DC where he finds himself trailblazing in the nation’s capitol.
Tara Reed is an entrepreneur, marketer, and young art collector. She’s also the CEO of Kollecto, a concierge service that helps people buy affordable art. Her service uses technology to group people into cohorts by taste and then leverages human curators to understand taste & give personalized art recommendations. Before launching Kollecto, Tara worked on monetization & e-commerce projects at Foursquare, Google, & Microsoft.
Tristan is the Founder & CEO of Walker & Company Brands. Prior to his founding Walker & Company he was an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Andreessen Horowitz. Prior to his time at Andreessen Horowitz, he was the Director of Business Development for foursquare, where he oversaw strategic partnerships and monetization. In this role, Tristan managed integrations with large brands and media entities including American Express, The New York Times, CNN, MTV, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, and Starbucks. He is also the Founder and Chairman of CODE2040, a program that matches high performing black and latino undergraduate and graduate coders and software engineering students with Silicon Valley start-ups for summer internships.