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The tech industry's missed opportunity: funding black women founders

Bärí  A. Williams writes, "This is a tale of two tech startups.

The first is a messaging app that allows a user to send a one-word greeting to a friend and nothing more. There is no messaging functionality, filtering features, or ability to provide a longer message. In time, it will come to send notifications for followers, with the message, 'Yo,' and a link.

The second startup is also a messaging app. It operates much like Gmail and Outlook’s 'recall message' feature, but for text messages, and is well positioned for dating app expansion. All of the text messages a user has sent to exes, old friends, parents, and colleagues can be recalled by using this app as a primary messaging app.

The first app, Yo, received mainstream press attention and $1.5 million dollars in funding from a well-known VC firm with Facebook alum. Its founder is a white man.

The other app, On Second Thought, is available in almost 200 countries but has yet to have a major VC funding round. Its founder, Maci Peterson, is a black woman. 'Some large VCs thought we were too early, some never responded, some we couldn’t get meetings with,' she explains. The company bootstrapped first, then raised money from a friends and family round, included angel investors, and won money from pitch competitions.

The different outcomes for these two startups highlights the hurdles that black women founders often face. Investors aren’t taking risks on startups run by the nation’s most credentialed, accomplished, and ambitious group. In an industry filled with tales of boys behaving badly, there is a growing group of women who are just looking for their break. The tech industry, one that thrives on creative solutions and innovation, is ignoring the opportunity for fresh ideas for new products, and improvements on existing ones."


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