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startup

5 mins read

Black Doctor Owned Startup, CancerIQ Raises $14 Million for Early Cancer Detection and Prevention

Systemic access barriers have created stark inequality when it comes to preventive cancer care in the United States. For example, Black women are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced stages of breast cancer and 41% more likely to die of the disease than white women.

These issues are compounded by the 9.5 million screenings missed during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to an increase in late-stage cancer diagnoses that are more costly and have a greater impact on quality of life and outcomes than early-stage diagnoses.

Enter CancerIQ, the only cancer-focused precision health platform that empowers healthcare providers to detect cancer earlier and prevent it altogether.

“My core belief is that we can drastically change what it means to have cancer if we make cancer risk assessment more accessible and ensure all patients have access to personalized, risk-based care pathways,” said Feyi Olopade Ayodele, Founder and CEO at Cancer IQ. “CancerIQ is driven by the vision to end cancer as we know it. And it is our mission to accomplish this by connecting broader patient populations and providers to the latest innovations in early detection and prevention. ”

Today the company announced that it closed a $14 million Series B financing round.

The new funding comes one month after a report from the President’s Cancer Panel calling for “urgent and immediate action” to close gaps in cancer screening, risk assessment, and timely follow-up care — particularly among diverse, uninsured, or underinsured, and rural populations.

“The cancer research community has made great strides in cancer prevention and treatment,” said Funmi Olopade, MD, Co-founder and Chief Scientific Advisor of CancerIQ. “But now we must accelerate and scale the clinical pipeline, so a diverse population of patients — those receiving care at academic medical centers and community hospitals alike — can benefit from these advances.” Dr. Olopade served on the National Cancer Advisory Board and is one of the field’s foremost authorities on cancer genetics and precision oncology.

“CancerIQ’s vision is to end cancer as we know it by eliminating health disparities and democratizing access to the latest advances in cancer early detection and prevention,” added Feyi Olopade Ayodele, Co-founder and CEO of CancerIQ. “We started by making genetic testing more accessible and connecting patients to the right preventive services at the right time.

This latest round of funding will help CancerIQ reach more patients and connect to more innovations that promise to transform cancer from a deadly disease to a manageable condition.”

CancerIQ’s precision health platform, which is being used by clinicians at more than 180 locations across the country, makes it easy to determine a patient’s individual risk of cancer based on family history, genetics, behavior, and other factors, and then connect them to the corresponding care pathways.

Those pathways range from MRIs, prophylactic surgeries, and vaccinations to at-home screening kits, multi-cancer early detection (MCED) tests, lifestyle interventions and other services such as clinical trials, educational materials, and social resources.

The funding round was co-led by Merck Global Health Innovation Fund (Merck GHI) and Amgen Ventures. McKesson Ventures, OSF Ventures (the investment arm of OSF HealthCare, a current CancerIQ customer), as well as CancerIQ’s Series A lead investor, HealthX Ventures, also participated in the Series B round.

The new funding will help CancerIQ grow its precision health platform, strengthen its partnership ecosystem, and expand its health system network. Following a recent series of key executive hires, the company also plans to hire 50 team members to meet the rising demand for more efficient and innovative cancer prevention services.

Check out their open positions here.

2 mins read

AudioMob, Black Owned Gaming Ad Company Reaches $110 Million Valuation in One Year

AudioMob is a Black owned gaming advertisement company created to help developers monetize their games through audio ads.

Their in-game audio advertising format allows gameplay and connects brands with highly engaged audiences. According to AudioMob, their clients see up to a 2000% increase in engagement when compared to banner ads.

AudioMob has been used in marketing campaigns for major artists like Nas and Justin Bieber, as well as brands such as Intel and Jeep.

Nas himself has commented, “It was interesting to witness the music react in a different landscape. It’s a dope medium for artists to connect with the globe.”

audiomob
AudioMob co-founders Christian Facey (left) and Wilfrid Obeng (right). AUDIOMOB

Founded in 2020, the UK-based company recently announced that it has successfully raised $14m for its series A funding, bringing its total valuation to a reported $110 million.

The funding will be used to expand the team in London and Abu Dhabi and develop more experimental audio technology. The company will also continue to file patents in more countries, build out its team and open up opportunities in other regions and markets.

Lead investors Makers Fund and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Additional investors include Sequoia Capital and Google which are known for producing unicorns including Snap and Epic Games alongside some music artists which takes total investment to date $16million.

Christian Facey, CEO at AudioMob told TechCrunch, “We’re thrilled to see investors’ excitement for AudioMob’s vision for long term success and our future. We’re on the precipice of innovating a whole industry with audio and now we’re able to build out our tech and team to ensure we’re disrupting the industry in the right way and ensure we eventually become a future tech industry unicorn.”

Wilfrid Obeng, CTO at AudioMob said, “We understand that consumers don’t want to be interrupted, advertisers want their ads to be heard and game developers want to ensure monetization does not affect retention. And now we have built products which meet all three needs.”

Tony O. Lawson


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13 mins read

This Black Owned Health Tech Company is Disrupting The Multi Billion Dollar Elder and Disability Care Industries

Due to the rising aging population and increasing prevalence of chronic diseases, there is a growing demand for home healthcare services. The US home care services industry was estimated at $96.9 billion in 2020.

Empathy is a digital health tech company that helps home health agencies streamline and improve all their administrative and care delivery tasks.

We spoke to founder Keziah Njuguna to learn more about her business.

Empathy founder, Keziah Njuguna

What inspired you to start Empathy Algorithm

I first started out in aeronautical engineering at the University of Central Missouri and stumbled upon home health as most of the people in my immediate social network were either agency owners or knew someone who worked at an agency.

I was quickly drawn into how selfless and fulfilling the nature of providing care was, but also in time discovered how venerable life as a senior receiving care could be in our society.

As someone who believes in finding solutions to problems in a practical and demonstrative manner,  I realized my life was fulfilled by changing the world one person at a time in one of the most selfless professions which is providing care to our aging population.

So what is Empathy exactly?

Empathy is an end to end home health platform that aims to revolutionize the entire care delivery process in elder and disability care. Basically, we provide a web and mobile software solution that empowers providers who provide home health services to deliver care that improves the quality of life for their clients and at the same time streamlines their entire care delivery and administrative tasks.

We also provide home health agencies with their own branded agency, caregiver, and family portal web and mobile apps that keep them connected 24/7 365 to their business. Whether you have a small agency with a few clients and caregivers or a big agency – we are at your service.

What are some of the stats in the elderly industry that show there’s an opportunity to help make money in this market?

Before looking at the numbers on a page, I think it’s important to internalize that each and every one of us will become of senior age if we are fortunate. It’s inevitable that your parents, your brothers, your sisters, your husbands, your wives and yourself, will need some sort of care. You can’t escape it.  And the amount of care needed will increase as time moves on.

In the United States, elderly age is considered anyone age 65 and above and the demand/need for care begins and increases from this point on. There are 10,000 people turning 65 every single day in the USA and there will be over 2.5 million elders in one year who will need care at some point in their lives. Now compound that by 10 or 20 years and the numbers are staggering and opportunities endless.

According to Congressional Budget Office, elder care needs will increase to 3% of GDP by 2050. This means for the next foreseeable future, the home health business will be one of the most stable careers that can guarantee upward mobility especially for minorities who are at the front lines as caregivers and agency owners. Entire communities could directly benefit from ownership in home health businesses.

Can you tell us about your plans to help others create their home health business?

As I mentioned before, there are 10,000 people in the United States turning 65 every day, which means 10,000 potential clients that will require care needs from caregivers and home agency owners. The potential as a home agency business owner or independent caregiver is huge.

Most people in our community have considered starting entering the home health business either as a home health agency or independent caregiver but do not know where to start. There are also a good number of existing agency owners who are having issues running and growing their home health agency business to the next level. Our goal is to create an information pipeline for both.

A large number of caregivers and agency owners in the home health business are women and specifically women of color. As a woman and business owner with over 10 years of experience in the home health industry, I believe there’s a massive opportunity for women to be the guardians of providing care to the vulnerable in our communities and as such, should be the beneficiaries of the benefits that are accorded to business owners – upward mobility, job satisfaction and the betterment of their community.

To that end, Empathy not only provides you with the tools to run a successful home health agency but a wealth of education that caters to providers regardless if you are new or seasoned in the industry. I write a weekly blog that guides your home health business journey from how to get your first client, to how to run a large major home health agency with multiple clients.

We try to focus on the tiny details that would typically get lost such as how to create a professional client payment sheet that helps agencies submit a form to clients showing their agency care rates. We provide a wealth of free information on how to successfully run your agency which can be found on our blog at www.empathyalgorithm.com

We know how steep the learning curve can be in the home health industry, so I try my best to provide years of my knowledge free to our users so they can focus on what’s important which is providing care and growing their business.

Why did Empathy come up with a mobile app for agencies?

We wanted to make running your home health business not just easy but accessible from anywhere and at any time. The advent of Covid has forced us to rethink how we view the workplace and it is no different in the home health industry where remote working is not just essential but is a necessity.

As someone with a background in home health especially in the care delivery process, we have to be on site and on our feet. It became apparent to us that the care delivery process i.e the taking care of your client and administrative tasks eg invoicing and payroll, must be seamlessly connected and accessible on site and remotely.

For example, if you have to create a note or make changes on a client medication reminder, that information needs to be shared in real time with your caregivers as opposed to going to your work desk and sending an email. We knew that it is important for agencies to have their own branded portals that connect them to their caregivers and their clients on the web and mobile app.

The mobile app allows agencies to have 3 branded apps under their business which are an Agency, Caregiver, and Family.

We also wanted to help every single agency to maintain a high standard of professionalism for their business that is consistent from day to day. From clinical documentation such as care notes and administrative documentation such as invoices, timesheets, and payroll, our mobile applications help agencies maintain a consistently good quality of service for their clients and this was very important to us.

So if I just want to start or considering starting a home health business or even have an agency already how do I get involved?

If you currently do not have a home health business I recommend subscribing to our blog and follow my posts on how to start and grow your home health business. We try to give you an overview of the business but also the little details that will guide you along the journey.

If you are an existing agency owner l please download our app and request a tutorial on how to get your business up and running with empathy. Empathy agency is available on the Apple App Store as well as Google Play for agencies, caregivers, and family members.

At Empathy, we try to reduce the learning curve when it comes to running and growing your home health business.

Where do you see empathy in the future or in years to come?

I see Empathy as a vehicle for women’s empowerment in business ownership and especially for women of color like myself who have benefited from this industry. I also see Empathy algorithm as a healthcare tech company that can simultaneously address some of the issues in the eldercare industry

We have seen the conversation around health equality and from the perspective of access to care, but we have never really had the conversation around health equity from the perspective of access to upward mobility. We try to address that by providing a pipeline for new and existing home health agencies to thrive.

Similarly, There’s also a myriad of issues facing the home health industry, especially in the elder care segment. These are fragmented collective national issues that we believe Empathy can tackle not just from a business perspective, but for our collective greater good.

I believe Empathy algorithm is positioned to address these issues head on not just now but also in the future.

Any parting advice for people in or wanting to get into the home health industry?

The opportunities in the home health industry are massive and will only continue to grow for the next 30-40 years. You can replace or outsource people in the general workplace with machines and all sorts of automation but you can’t replace care provided to you by another human being…well at least for now. The Empathy and compassion that come with the human touch are irreplaceable.

No one said it would be easy – but once you get into the groove of it, things really get moving.

Watch the interview here:

 

Tony O. Lawson


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2 mins read

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


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3 mins read

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


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3 mins read

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


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2 mins read

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


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4 mins read

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

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Step 3: Log in

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Tony O. Lawson


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1 min read

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


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1 min read

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


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