After having difficulty finding Black-owned businesses through the filters of existing apps, these Black men decided to create their own platform.
University of Washington (UW) classmates Andrew McDonald and Giovanni Iriarte-Young teamed up with fellow UW grad and veteran, Tema Woods, to launch The Ebba (Essential Black Business App) to help users find Black-owned businesses across the U.S.
According to GeekWire, the 8,000 businesses listed on the Seattle startup’s website were added by individual business owners and handpicked by The Ebba team. Businesses are filtered into categories that include food, cosmetics, fitness, travel, hospitality, and more.
“Our overall goal is to get people to explore their communities, learn along the way and support the businesses within them,” McDonald said.
The app is part of a mission to push Black-owned businesses to major platforms like Yelp and the Official Black Wall Street. “Our main competitors would be Google and Yelp, as well as Seamless, powered by Grubhub. They serve a huge audience but they’re not really focused on the Black community to the same degree as we are, because we come from the Black community.”
The company profits from commission charges that are determined based on what businesses earn through the platform. Figuring out the context of the industry is an important aspect when sorting through businesses and evaluating companies.
“How Black does the business need to be? How do we make it more equitable depending on the industry of the Black-owned company?” Iriarte-Young said.
“The best position is for companies to gain exposure and grow so that the Black community has more representation business-wise across all industries.”
Recently, The Ebba launched an updated version of its app, which allowed users to purchase products while exploring community and history. Future plans for the app include incorporating augmented reality, getting into the supply chain industry, developing a kid-friendly version to teach financial literacy, and expanding into the food and delivery space.