Adams Applauds Google in Recognizing NYC Black Startup Founders

GFS BFF_Eric Adams at City Winery_Photographer Don Pollard
Top row: Justin Nabozna (Google), Daniel Navarro (Google), Julie Samuels (Tech:NYC), Andrew Hill (LiftEd), Robert Gordon (FanFest), Abiodun Johnson (GeoCloud), Marcus Mitchell (Google); Middle Row: Kimberly Gray (Uvii), Renee King (Fund Black Founders), Akili Hinson (Juno Medical), SaLisa Berrien (COI Energy), Ashley Edwards (MindRight Health); Bottom Row: Zuley Clarke (Viledge), Eric Adams (Brooklyn Borough President), Yamillet Payano (Sign-Speak), William Floyd (Google), Ofo Ezeugwu (WhoseYourLandlord). Photographer: Don Pollard.

Frontrunning mayoral candidate and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams continued his pro-business and technology push on Tuesday by helping to celebrate seven NYC-area Black startup founders who were recently awarded $100,000 in non-dilutive cash grants as part of the second Google for Startups Black Founders Fund.

For the second Black Founders Fund awards, Google for Startups selected 50 total Black-founded startups nationwide, including five from Brooklyn alone. Each startup will receive a non-dilutive cash grant of $100,000, technical and business mentorship from Google employees, $120,000 in Ads grants and up to $100,000 in Google Cloud credits.

“Black entrepreneurs are often among the most innovative, inspirational, and integral leaders uplifting opportunity in our communities. Empowering them with startup resources and mentorship raises their potential, which in turn helps create new jobs and possibilities for growth,” said Adams. 

In 2020, 76 Black founders were selected for the inaugural awards of between $50,000 and $100,000 in non-dilutive cash grants. Since receiving the grants, the initial founders have collectively raised over $50 million in follow-on capital, and approximately 80% used the funds to create new jobs.

“The Google for Startups Black Founders Fund embodies our mission of helping underrepresented founders grow their businesses,” said Jewel Burks Solomon, Head of Google for Startups US. “We are excited to continue the fund and contribute non-dilutive funding to Black founders, who currently receive less than 1 percent of total VC funding.” 

Also participating in the awards breakfast ceremony at Manhattan’s City Winery was Tech:NYC, an engaged network of tech leaders working to foster a dynamic, diverse, and creative New York. The organization brings together New Yorkers to support a successful technology ecosystem, attract and retain top-tier talent, and celebrate New York and the companies that call it home. 

“The people who build technology are going to continue to be crucial to our city’s recovery and to our city’s future,” said Julie Samuels, Executive Director of Tech:NYC. “I am so excited to celebrate these amazing founders because they represent the future of our city.”

The New York recipients of the funding included Akili Hinson, whose startup  Juno Medical meets healthcare needs with exceptional hospitality, modern technology, and transparent prices; Eli Polanco, whose startup Nivelo, provides actionable insights for blockchain cybersecurity and compliance investigations; Kimberly Gray, whose startup  Uvii reimagines online learning by increasing student engagement.

Additional New York City awardees include Robert Gordon, whose startup FanFest is a platform for creating and selling virtual experiences where fans can enjoy content with family and friends; and Zuley Clarke, whose startup Viledge is an e-commerce platform helping shoppers find and buy Black-owned products.

Brooklyn Awardees include Andrew Hill, whose startup LiftEd helps to close the achievement gap for individuals with learning disabilities; Abiodun Johnson, whose startup GeoCloud is a location intelligence company that aggregates geographically tagged and relevant data to solve location-based problems; Ofo Ezeugwu, whose startup Whose Your Landlord increases transparency and equity between residents and home providers; and SaLisa L. Berrien, whose startup COI Energy makes the world more energy-efficient by improving building energy performance and grid optimization.


“I commend Google for embracing Black-founded startups in and around our city, including some incredible entrepreneurs from Brooklyn, as part of their commitment to corporate citizenship,” said Adams.


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