Geekz Ventures recently announced the inaugural selections for its new program focused on increasing Black tech companies.
Known as the GROWTH pre-accelerator program, Geekz Ventures’ newest initiative works on helping Black and Latino-led start-up companies. Offering aid to BIPOC-led companies that are still in their early stages, the GROWTH program is open to founders of any company. The initiative, however, has a particular focus on companies from industries such as MediaTech, Mobile Technology and other Entertainment companies.
For the program’s first group of startup founders, the GROWTH program will provide ten up-and-coming businesses with mentorship, networking opportunities and funds. Amongst these ten startups are Hayti, a Black-owned app that specializes in highlighting Black creators in writing and podcasting; Animteam, an app that allows users to 2D animate as well as visuEats, an interactive menu service.
Other companies in the inaugural cohort include Spawn, an AI-led reel platform for gamers, and The Barter Shio, a mobile app that creates a micro-economy to help small businesses. Through the program, these tech companies will be mentored by tech leaders such as Mandela SH Dixon, the CEO of the tech startup support All Raise nonprofit, and Gary Stewart, the managing director of Techstars.
In a statement, the program manager of Geekz Ventures, Brandon Wilkins, expressed his support for the incoming GROWTH pre-accelerator program cohort.
“What’s exciting me the most is being able to witness up-and-coming Black-founded tech startups,” said Wilkins. “Black people still represent the tech space in low numbers, and I’m excited to see the innovation and growth.”
Despite projected increases in diversity in tech, Black tech leaders are underrepresented in the field. According to a McKinsey article released in February, only eight percent of tech positions are filled by Black Americans despite making up 12% of the total U.S. population. Although data science, engineering, cybersecurity and software development open positions are expected to increase by 14% in the upcoming nine years, the presence of Black employees in these tech roles are expected to increase by just eight percent in the next nine years.
The lack of networking has been identified as contributing to this slow growth. According to a report published by Technical interviewing company Karat and Howard University, 25% out of 300 Black computer science students said that they did not know anyone in the tech business.
The other 75% admitted that they knew less than five people in big tech positions.