The Monthly Rundown, Bonus Edition: January Venture Rounds for Black-founded and Co-founded U.S. Companies

We’re back with a special Black History Month bonus edition of the Monthly Rundown. Following the classic Monthly Rundown style, this edition highlights Black-founded and co-founded companies with new funding from the last month. 

According to Crunchbase Diversity Spotlight data, only 20 of the nearly 800 U.S. funding rounds in January went to Black-founded and co-founded companies, representing just 2.56 percent. Even after the many declarations from VC firms in 2020 and pledges to “make the hire, send the wire,” there remains a long way to go in investing in, and leveling the playing field for, Black founders. 

The 10 Black-founded and co-founded companies featured below are listed in order of total funding raised in January, starting with the largest funding rounds. You can find the full list of Black-founded and co-founded companies with new funding in January here. And, if you’re a founder looking to get discovered, make sure your company is registered in Crunchbase, and your Diversity Spotlight tags are up to date.  


1. Calendly

HQ: Atlanta, Georgia

Industry: Productivity Tools, Scheduling, Software

Funding: Raised a $350 million Series B on Jan. 26. Lead Investor: OpenView

About Calendly: Founded in 2013 by Tope Awotona, Calendly is an automated scheduling tool that takes the work out of connecting with others so that its users can accomplish more. The company’s latest raise puts it squarely in unicorn territory. Calendly was the second most highly valued new U.S.-based unicorn in January, and raised the largest venture round in Atlanta’s history.


2. Gro Intelligence

HQ: New York

Industry: Agriculture, Big Data, Data Visualization, SaaS

Funding: Raised an $85 million Series B on Jan. 8. Lead Investors: Africa Internet Holding and Intel Capital

About Gro Intelligence: Founded in 2014 by Nemo Semret, Sara Menker, and Sewit Ahderom, Gro Intelligence is a big data and SaaS company creating a more connected, efficient, and productive global agriculture industry. According to CEO Menker in a recent article in The New York Times, “the company is developing indexes to measure conditions like drought, floods, temperature and more.” Its most recent funding round brings Gro Intelligence’s total funding to $115.3 million.


3. ShotTracker

HQ: Mission, Kansas

Industry: Analytics, Basketball, Software, Sports

Funding: Recently raised $11 million on Jan. 14. Lead Investors: Evertz and Verizon Ventures

About ShotTracker: Founded in 2013 by Davyeon Ross and Bruce Ianni, ShotTracker makes sensor-based technology that automatically captures basketball statistics in real-time during practices and games. According to an article in Sportico, ShotTracker has partnered with more than 60 Division I men’s and women’s programs and has relationships across the Big Ten and Big 12 conferences. The company’s most recent funding round will be used to continue hardware installations across the U.S.


4. Yac

HQ: Kissimmee, Florida

Industry: Audio, Collaboration, Messaging, Software

Funding: Raised a $7.5 million Series A on Jan. 25. Lead Investors: GGV Capital and Slack Fund

About Yac: Founded by Jordan Walker, Hunter McKinley, and Justin Mitchell in 2019, Yac is an asynchronous voice messaging platform for remote teams. The company’s hosted messaging and communications services include inbound call management, fax to email, virtual numbers, audio conferencing, and personal numbers facilities. With a second round of investment from the Slack Fund and a prime time to have a platform for remote workers, Yac is well-positioned for growth.


5. Partake Foods

HQ: Jersey City, New Jersey

Industry: Food and Beverage, Lifestyle, Wellness

Funding: Recently raised $4.8 million in a Series A on Jan. 8.

About Partake Foods: Calling all cookie lovers, Partake Foods is a food and beverage company that specializes in selling allergy-friendly cookies. Founded in 2016 by Denise Woodard, the idea for the company came after Denise’s daughter Vivienne was diagnosed with severe food allergies. According to an article in FoodBusinessNews, after Denise realized that the gluten-free foods on the market still held gums, starches, and sugars, she began to experiment with safe recipes and ultimately partnered with a product developer to finalize the recipes. Her products include crunchy and soft-baked cookies in flavors like birthday cake, triple chocolate, and ginger snap.


6. Goalsetter

HQ: New York

Industry: Financial Services, Fintech, Payments

Funding: Recently raised a $3.9 million Seed Round on Jan. 25. Lead investor: Astia

About Goalsetter: Founded by Tanya Van Court in 2016, Goalsetter is a finance app for children and families that provides a next-generation, education-first banking experience. Van Court was inspired to start Goalsetter after her time at Nickelodeon, and Discovery Education, where she saw a need to engage and excite children in learning about money. In a recent interview with Crunchbase News, Van Court said, “We surveyed parents on what kind of platform they wanted, and they told us that they didn’t want children to just spend, but to learn how to save money and learn about financial literacy.”


7. Kanarys

HQ: Dallas, Texas

Industry: Information Technology, Software, SaaS

Funding: Raised a $3 million Seed Round on Jan. 6. Lead Investor: Zeal Capital Partners

About Kanarys: Kanarys is a diversity-, equity- and inclusion-focused software platform providing clear metrics to diagnose, prioritize and optimize DEI efforts. Founded by Mandy Price, Star Carter, and Bennie King in 2019, Kanarys is the first Black- and female-founded DEI-focused tech company. Kanarys’ recent $3 million Seed Round brings the company’s total funding to $4.6 million. Co-founders Price and Carter are now among just 25 Black female founders in the U.S. to have raised at least $4.6 million in venture capital (via Crunchbase Diversity Spotlight Data) and join 93 other Black women in the U.S. to have raised over $1 million in venture capital funding (via CNN). According to a recent article in Dallas Innovates, Kanarys is rapidly expanding, growing 2,000 percent in users since its initial launch.


8. Gig Wage

HQ: Dallas, Texas

Industry: Fintech, Employee Benefits, Human Resources, Payments

Funding: Raised $2.5 million on Jan. 11, the second part of a Series A that brings the total round to $10 million. Lead Investor: The Foundry Group

About Gig Wage: Gig Wage powers payroll and instant payments for contract and gig workers. Founded in 2016 by Craig Jamal Lewis, Gig Wage is empowering gig workers by laying the foundation for the financial tools needed. Gig Wage says the capital will be used to support its sales and marketing, business development and product innovation. According to FinTech Global, the company also plans to launch a new debit card with no monthly fees.


9. Soundways

HQ: Memphis, Tennessee

Industry: Audio, Music, Software

Funding: Recently raised a $2 million venture round on Jan. 25.

About Soundways: Founded in 2016 by Gebre Waddell and Connor Reviere, Soundways develops software for music and audio recording, streaming, video gaming, consumer electronics, and automotive markets. The company is dedicated to revolutionizing the supply chain of sound recordings all the way from the recording room to the listening experience.


10. Drugviu

HQ: Chicago, Illinois

Industry: Health Care, Medical, Information Technology

Funding: Recently raised a $1.6 million seed round on Jan. 7.

About Drugviu: Founded in 2016 by Kwaku Owusu and Melanie Igwe, Drugviu is a population health platform that gathers real-world medical records from nonwhite populations in order to advance drug development and research for autoimmune diseases. Only 6 percent of medical research involves nonwhite populations, and Drugviu is working to increase that percentage by removing barriers that make it hard for people to contribute to research.

You can find the full list of Black-founded and co-founded companies with new funding in January here

Crunchbase’s Diversity Spotlight feature can also be used to discover additional diverse founders, firms that invest in diverse founders, and analyze diversity funding trends. Find more information here.

*Disclaimer: Verizon Ventures is an investor in Crunchbase.

  • Originally published February 25, 2021, updated March 11, 2021