Meet the 8 Companies With Black Founders at First White House Demo Day
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

Page: 1 2

At the first White House demo day, held on August 4, the makeup of the exhibitors was quite different from what one might see at the typical demonstration for venture capital in Silicon Valley. Of the 32 companies that exhibited that day, 24 of them were founded or co-founded by women, and eight of them were founded by African Americans. Obama met the startups and gave remarks about the need to give more entrepreneurs from all walks of life a chance to turn their ideas into indispensable products and services. In line with the topic of diversity, several venture capital companies pledged to make diversity a priority in their business interactions. One in particular, the National Venture Capital Association promised to advance opportunities for women and underrepresented minorities.

[RELATED: President Obama Hosts First-Ever White House Demo Day]

Twenty-nine U.S. schools also committed to actions that will expand innovation and entrepreneurship education offerings in order to enhance the economic potential of colleges and universities and better prepare students to create products that benefit humankind. In addition to the companies that exhibited, Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls Code was honored.

The event was groundbreaking because it showed that women and black founders are capable of building successful, high growth tech startups, and it demonstrated how the tech industry is capable of uplifting the unemployed and underemployed. For example, Jerome Hardaway launched FRAGO, a nonprofit startup that helps U.S. military veterans transition back into civilian life.

“Web development saved my life,” Hardaway told Megan Smith, U.S. Chief Technology Officer and Daymond John, FUBU founder and venture capitalist, at the Demo Day. “When I was coming from the military in 2009, it was a horrible transition. The only thing that helped me land my first job was learning front end web development. Now I’m giving back, helping veterans learn how to code at zero cost to them.”

Take a look at eight of the companies who have at least one black founder. Send them a message of support on Twitter.

Jewel Burks and Jason Crain
Atlanta, Georgia

Partpic combines image recognition and machine learning technologies to transform the industrial supply industry, a $570 billion annual market worldwide. Traditionally, finding a replacement part requires a lengthy process of serial number verification and supplier communication.  With Partpic, customers simply snap a picture of the part they want to replace and automatically receive product name, specifications, and supplier information. Partpic is an Atlanta-based startup that recently closed a $1.5M seed round including investments from Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest and Comcast Ventures. Jewel Burks leads the Partpic team as co-founder and CEO, and additionally serves as an Entrepreneur in Residence at Google. Partpic’s leadership team also includes former Googler, Jason Crain as co-founder/COO.

Detroit Dirt
Pashon Murray
Detroit, Michigan

As a child, Pashon Murray was inspired by her father’s founding of a waste hauling company. In 2011, Murray founded Detroit Dirt, a business that collects food waste from companies, including General Motors, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and the Detroit Zoo, and transforms it into rich soil. Using advanced composting techniques, Detroit Dirt helps companies regenerate their waste into resources that will educate the community, create jobs, and provide gardeners rich, life-bearing soil. Last year, Murray was named a fellow at MIT, where she studies the science of composting and waste reduction.

Frederick Hutson
Las Vegas, Nevada

After serving time in prison for a non-violent drug offense, Frederick Hutson knows how important family support is on the path to recovery. He founded Pigeonly to make a positive impact on the lives of inmates by creating solutions for people who want to stay in touch with loved ones in prison. Pigeonly products include Fotopigeon (an easy way to send printed photos by phone) and Telepigeon (a low cost option for phone calls). Though still young, the 25-person company has shipped over one million photos and processed over 8 million phone minutes. Pigeonly is a graduate of NewME Accelerator and Y Combinator and has raised $5 million in funding.

(Continued on next page)

Page: 1 2

Join the Conversation

Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.