Browse Tag

startup

/

Black Owned Insurtech Startup in UK Hits Billion Dollar Valuation

Insurtech is a term that barely existed five years ago. It is used to describe the use of technology to disrupt the insurance industry. Because the global market is expected to reach $60 billion by 2028, companies operating in this space are attracting a lot of investor attention.

One such company is Marshmallow, a Black owned insurtech startup that recently reached a valuation of over $1.25 billion, becoming the newest and one of only two Black owned billion dollar (pound) startups in the UK.

The valuation came after an $85 million funding round, bringing the total amount raised by the company in the last year to more than $100 million.

Founded in 2017, by Oliver Kent-Braham, his twin brother Alexander Kent-Braham, and David Goate, the company aims to modernize the insurance industry by using data to provide more affordable auto insurance to customers who fall outside the typical “good risk” profile. These often include immigrants, expats, and people traveling within the UK.

Marshmallow has expanded its staff by more than 200% in the past year to around 170 people, and also plans to use its funding to hire 400 more over the next two years and to expand overseas and into other types of insurance beyond the auto segment.

“Customers are voting with their feet — and they clearly want a modern insurance offering,” Oliver Kent-Braham, co-founder and chief executive of Marshmallow, said.

Tony O. Lawson


Subscribe and Follow SHOPPE BLACK on Facebook, Instagram Twitter

/

South African Payment Platform Yoco Raises $83M For Expansion

You’ve probably heard the phrase “small business is the backbone of the economy” before, and for good reason: it is true. Small businesses employ a huge percentage of workers around the globe.

But in countries like South Africa, where more payments are going digital and more customers are looking to swipe their debit and credit cards, smaller businesses still largely do not accept digital payments, potentially missing out on customers accustomed to not carrying any cash.

The fintech company Yoco has decided to tackle this problem head on, using its portable card machines as a way for small businesses and merchants to accept digital payments in person.

yoco

Yoco’s Strategy

Yoco’s strategy to gain a foothold in the industry is twofold: the company aims to be the most recognizable brand in the market and to make the adoption of their portable card machines as seamless as possible for their customers.

And this strategy appears to be working, as the company boasts that it is adding up to 500 merchants a day and has processed over $1 billion in payments, and growing. The company is carving out a market for itself and building a reputation in the process.

$83 Million In Funding

It’s no wonder that Yoco was able to raise $83 million from the Dragoneer Investment Group, a major investor in Chime and Square as well. This makes Yoco the most valuable startup in all of South Africa.

It has raised the most funding of any startup in South Africa and is only third across the entire continent. Yoco plans to use this investment to deliver new products to their customers, such as QR payments and a peer to peer money transfer. As they grow and add new features, they are only cementing their market dominance.

Expanding To New Regions

Yoco is looking past South Africa for growth: The startup is looking at rapidly expanding throughout all of Africa and into the Middle East. This provides an excellent growth opportunity as many merchants throughout these regions are still dealing mostly with cash at the moment but are interacting with customers who are increasingly going digital.

And with word that the company is hiring former employees from Paypal and Uber, Yoco is poised to reach exciting new heights in the fintech sector.

 

Written by Johnny T. Ross


Subscribe and Follow SHOPPE BLACK on Facebook, Instagram Twitter


Get your SHOPPE BLACK Apparel!

/

Metafy Has Raised $8.7 Million to Help Video Gamers Monetize their Gaming Skills

In ten years, when you ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, you just might hear the words “professional gaming coach.” Thanks to the Pittsburgh-based startup Metafy, now millions of gamers have a chance to pursue a viable career path as professional coaches.

The CEO behind the startup, Josh Fabian, is a longtime gamer himself and saw firsthand the need for more sustainable ways for gamers to make a living. Now, his company already has 450 of the world’s best players coaching games like Mortal Kombat 11 and Super Smash Brothers Melee on the platform.

All players need to play is to go on the website to pick a game and coach and then schedule a time for their private coaching session. If you’re wondering who would potentially want such a thing, the answer is the 224 million gamers in the U.S. The idea of a coaching business came to Fabian after hiring a professional gamer to coach his kids.

Fabian was shocked when the gamer agreed to coach his children for only $20 an hour. Now two of Fabian’s children are in the Top 100 Pokemon players in the world.

“I kept coming back to this idea that there must be a better way,” he says. “Not just for us to get coaching that’s valuable and productive. But also, for these guys are trying to make a living doing what they love,” said the CEO.

And now, with Metafy, gamers can make a living doing what they love. Metafy coaches can set their rates from $15 to $200 an hour, set their hours, and receive 100% of their earnings. It’s a pretty good deal to be able to do what you love.

Metafy not only caters to aspiring professionals but casual players wanting an extra advantage and parents looking to keep up with their kids.

Metafy has raised a total of $8.7M in funding over 2 rounds. $3.2M in December 2020 and most recently, $5.5M in May 2021.

You can learn more about Metafy or even get coached by the world’s best players by visiting their website.

 

Written by Reese Williams


Subscribe and Follow SHOPPE BLACK on Facebook, Instagram Twitter


To advertise with us, click here

/

Jetstream Raises $3 Million to Improve African Cross-border Trade

Jetstream, a Ghanaian technology-driven logistics company, just landed $3 million in seed funding to solve one of Africa’s biggest problems: the lack of coordination at its ports.

“These are exactly the types of problems that technology solves,” said Miishe Addy, cofounder of Jetstream.

Addy founded the startup with Solomon Torgbor in 2018 to help African businesses by aggregating private sector logistics providers at the ports and borders of Africa, and then bringing them online. This way, companies could have better visuals and control over their cross-border supply chains.

“We are different from a more siloed freight management system because we are leveraging financing…so that shipments can be tracked every step of the way. We are bringing many of the local providers online for the first time,” Addy mused.

Since Africa increased its share of international exports from 80% to 90% between 2000 and 2017, there’s been a growing demand for the continent to be less commodity-dependent and diversify its exports.

Africa needs to revitalize its notoriously slow and costly ports to create more opportunities and encourage intracontinental trade. For Ghanaian native Torgbor, Ghana is the perfect place to plant Jetstream’s roots. The West African country can be a thriving hub for intercontinental trade as it’s home to the largest container terminal in West and Central Africa, Port Tema.

Jetstream isn’t just making waves in the world of commerce, however. Data suggests that women-led startups in Africa attract as little as 15% of the total VC investments available in the continent. Addy hopes that Jetstream’s win will lead to more women leaders being funded.

Technology and data are at the forefront of Jetstream’s business model, and according to Addy, these two elements might bring the future that Jetstream envisions to life.

“We see a future where trade running on Jetstream’s digital rails has a powerful competitive edge on logistics. Jetstream is to cross-border logistics what Flutterwave is to fintech in Africa.”

 

Written by Reese Williams


Subscribe and Follow SHOPPE BLACK on Facebook, Instagram Twitter


To advertise with us, click here

/

Be Seen and Heard: SHOPPE BLACK Teams Up With Yappa to Offer Audio and Video Comments

Over the past seven years, Shoppe Black has grown from an idea into a global community of almost 400,000 people. The members of this digital community may have varying views on a number of topics, but we have at least one thing in common, an interest in seeing Black people win.

As a company, it’s important that we find new, innovative, and most importantly, safe ways for us all to connect and engage with one another.

So, in an effort to enhance our digital community, we’ve installed Yappa, an audio and video commenting tool created by the good folks at Yappa World Incorporated.

About Yappa

Yappa is a Black owned audio and video commenting tool used to maximize a website’s content and audience participation. The company was founded by Kiaran Sim and Jennifer Dyer.

yappa
Yappa founders, Kiaran Sim and Jennifer Dyer.

In a recent conversation with Kiaran, he shed some light on what inspired the creation of Yappa. “We identified a problem with how we communicated as a society and the digital platforms that fostered an environment that can bring out the worst in humanity.

Cyber-bullying, keyboard bashing, trolling, and unfiltered rhetoric have become a part of everyday life on social media. We can often be misunderstood or misrepresented via 150 text characters. We created Yappa to offer a tool for communication that fosters productive, meaningful engagements.”

yappa

According to Kiaran, the response since they launched has been overwhelmingly positive. In 2020, Yappa enjoyed its most successful year to date. Collaborations with iHeart Media, Shaquille O’Neal, Daymond John and others have given Yappa exposure to new audiences.

“Across the summer of 2020, we got together with Big Boy’s Neighborhood (Real 92.3FM), to create a town hall for Los Angelino’s to share their stories on how the pandemic has impacted their lives. We received an overwhelming response, which truly brought a sense of product validation”, said Kiaran.

Future Plans

When asked about future plans for the company, Kiaran said that while he could certainly come up with some ideal scenarios,  he would rather live in the moment and focus on the immediate goals as an entrepreneur.

“This way, instead of filling my thoughts with lofty visions of grander, I take a more agile approach, following the breadcrumb trail that our audience leads us to. Maybe we’ve been acquired, we do an IPO, or we achieve another measurement of success, but I only see great things in store for Yappa’s future at the current rate of scale.”

Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs

“The one word of advice I would give to an aspiring entrepreneur is don’t be afraid to find out who you are. Fear of failure is the biggest obstacle you will have to overcome regularly. Don’t be scared to fail, but in the same breath, do everything you can to validate your business ideas first before making significant life-changing decisions.”

GET STARTED!

Step 1: Scroll down to the bottom of the article until you see this “Sign Up/Login” box.

 

Step 2: Create an account

yappa

Step 3: Log in

yappa

Tony O. Lawson


Subscribe and Follow SHOPPE BLACK on Facebook, Instagram Twitter


 Get your SHOPPE BLACK Apparel!

/

Black Owned Tech Startup Raises $4.6 Million to Help Companies Improve Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the Workplace

Kanarys is a Black owned tech startup that helps companies get the specific data and insights they need to diagnose, prioritize, and optimize Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) efforts.

Kanarys believes that now is the time for companies to examine their culture, policies, and procedures and to approach DEI from an institutional and systemic lens.

Black Owned Tech Startup
Kanarys co-founders Bennie King. Mandy Price, and Star Carter

Employees can use Kanarys to discuss work-related issues surrounding discrimination, and then artificial intelligence aggregates that data so that companies can pinpoint areas of improvement.

On Wednesday, Co-founders Mandy Price and Star Carter announced the closing of a $3 million seed round. describing it as a “historic” shift toward more equitable backing of Black-owned startups.

The most recent $3 million investment will be used for ramping up technology, hiring, and sales and marketing efforts. The new capital brings the total amount raised to $4.6 million.

Black Owned Tech Startup

Since launching the platform in 2019, Kanarys has grown 2,000% in users on its platform and operates a database of around 1,000 companies, including Fortune 500 brands.

Tony O. Lawson


Subscribe and Follow SHOPPE BLACK on Facebook, Instagram &Twitter


 Get your SHOPPE BLACK Tees and Hoodies!

 

/

Black Owned Venture Capital Firm To Receive $10M From Apple

Harlem Capital, a Black owned venture capital firm based in New York, NY, will be receiving a $10 Million investment from Apple.

On Wednesday morning, Apple announced that Harlem Capital will receive the investment as part of a pledge made last summer to “challenge the systemic barriers to opportunity and dignity that exist for communities of color and particularly for the Black community.” 

The funds are intended to support Harlem Capital’s mission to change the face of entrepreneurship by investing in 1,000 diverse founders over the next 20 years.

Tony O. Lawson


Subscribe and Follow SHOPPE BLACK on Facebook, Instagram &Twitter


 Get your SHOPPE BLACK Tees and Hoodies!

/

Black Owned App for Beauty Salons and Stylists Has Raised Over $3 Million

ShearShare is a Black owned app that works like an Airbnb for hairstylists and barbers. Instead of renting houses, they rent salon and barbershop stations.

The company was created in 2017 when husband-and-wife team, Courtney and Dr. Tye Caldwell discovered that 40% of salon and barbershop space goes unused every day.

Black Owned App
Courtney Caldwell (R) and Dr. Tye Caldwell (L)

ShearShare helps stylists communicate directly with their clients, including about specials they might be offering. Throughout COVID-19, the company has been enabling licensed cosmetologists and barbers to rent a sanitized salon suite, station, or nearby barber chair by the day.

The spaces are provided on demand without having to sign a long-term contract or pay commissions. Salon and barbershop owners make money on their unused space at a time and price that’s convenient for them.

“As the second largest industry for freelancers turns its attention to a new operating normal, many beauty and barbering professionals are taking time to revisit their priorities, including how to better manage operating costs, maximize revenue, and access professional workspace on-demand,” said Courtney.

The company has, in total, raised $3.4 million in funding. According to the company, despite an economic slowdown,  they have experienced a 157% increase in users over the past few months.

Tye and Courtney said they will use the capital to fund product development, invest in marketing, and grow the now 16-person ShearShare team.

 

Tony O. Lawson


Subscribe and Follow SHOPPE BLACK on Facebook, Instagram &Twitter


 Get your SHOPPE BLACK Apparel!

/

Squire, The Black Owned Barbershop App is Now Valued At $250 Million Dollars

In June, we reported that Squire, a Black owned barbershop app and management platform, raised $34 million. On Wednesday, they announced another raise of $59 million in a round led by Iconiq Capital.

With the new financing, Squire has almost tripled its valuation, up from $85 million in June to $250 million today. They plan on using most of the capital to hire new sales and marketing professionals.

According to a LinkedIn post from co-founder, Songe LaRon, they are looking for a VP of marketing to “build out our marketing department and help us continue to fuel our rapid growth.” (Shoot your shot, marketing folks!)

Black Owned Barbershop App
SQUIRE FOUNDERS SONGE LARON (L) AND DAVE SALVANT (R)

The app, which was first developed to help customers book appointments, has evolved and added features such as payroll management, inventory tracking, and automatic rent collection for the barbers leasing chairs.

Squire has also helped barbershops navigate COVID-related restrictions by allowing customers to book and pay for appointments using its mobile app and by creating a virtual waiting room, which lets patrons wait outside or in their cars and enter only when they receive an automatic notification that their barber is ready for them.

According to Tech Crunch, Squire’s revenue went from zero in March, when all barbershops closed, to between $10 million to $20 million in ARR just 10 months later. The growth indicates how the next wave of barbershops will be built atop digital technology, instead of offline processes.

 

Tony O. Lawson


Subscribe and Follow SHOPPE BLACK on Facebook, Instagram &Twitter


 Get your SHOPPE BLACK Apparel!

 

 

/

This Black Owned Payment Platform For Pharmacies Just Raised $1.3M

HealNow is a Black owned payment platform that helps pharmacies to improve patient onboarding and modernize their patient experience.

HealNow was founded by Halston Prox and Joshua Smith in 2018 and has now raised a total of $1.4M in reported equity funding.

black owned payment platform
Halston Prox

This includes the most recent seed funding round of $1.3M from investors that include Softbank Opportunity Fund, Alabama Futures Fund.

black owned payment platform
Joshua Smith

HeallNow allows patients to pay co-payments, schedule deliveries (or express pickup) and enter medical information online. They also enable pharmacies to offer online payments of prescriptions.

Their solution allows healthcare organizations to increase revenue by capturing more sales of prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and other medical products from every discharged patient. Keeping all pharmacy orders in-network.

 

Tony O. Lawson


Subscribe and Follow SHOPPE BLACK on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube Twitter


 Get your SHOPPE BLACK Apparel!