Amid a quarantined summer of 2020, we saw a lot unfold across our television screens: the COVID-19 pandemic, the unjust murder of George Floyd, and a rally of support for Black Lives Matter. The imp...
Amid a quarantined summer of 2020, we saw a lot unfold across our television screens: the COVID-19 pandemic, the unjust murder of George Floyd, and a rally of support for Black Lives Matter. The imp...
The tech world can put a supercomputer in your pocket, but it can’t crack the code on inclusivity. The industry’s workforce is a staggering 95 percent white. And 76 percent of those workers are men. Things aren’t any better for tech founders. More than 77 percent are white and 90 percent are men. That’s obviously not representative of our nation nor its future.
BAM believes that no single demographic group should dominate tech. It’s too much power for an industry with such profound impacts on our world. That’s why we’re committed to inclusivity among our staff, our clients and the startups we support. In that vein, we are celebrating Black History Month with a list of 101 Black leaders in tech who inspire us.
For ease, they’re listed alphabetically. We honestly couldn’t rank them because they're each juggernauts in their own right. These are powerhouse doers. They’re bucking barriers left and right. Ready or not, they’re coming for the industry. These are Black tech titans who stand for greatness. Some left their mark on tech decades ago. Some are shaping it today as founders, investors, or advocates. Collectively, they illustrate a beautiful, important legacy for our modern world, which is something we should all celebrate — and loudly.
1. Sheena Allen is the founder of CapWay, which brings financial services and opportunities to underserved millennials. The company also works to promote financial literacy among its users.
2. Miracle Allums is the founder of Mhoodle, a concierge virtual support service for mental health professionals. She is a licensed master social worker and was inspired to create the service while working in the field.
3. Ivan Alo is the co-founder and managing partner of New Age Capital, which invests in tech and tech-enabled startups founded and led by Black and Latinx entrepreneurs. The firm has deployed $500,000 into 12 companies at the pre-seed, seed and Series A stages.
4. Joshua Aviv is the founder and CEO of SparkCharge, a portable electric vehicle charger company. He launched the company while he was a college student driving an electric car, and realized the nation lacks adequate car charging infrastructure.
5. Chris Bennett is the founder of Soldsie, which lets business owners sell to customers via their Facebook and Instagram accounts. He is also the CEO of Wonderschool, a platform that supports high-quality, in-home child care programs and connects them with local families seeking care.
6. Erica Joy Baker is a senior engineering manager who has worked for several major tech companies, including Google, Slack, and Microsoft. She is a well-known advocate for diversity and inclusion in the tech world.
7. Dr. Patricia Bath was the first Black woman to receive a medical patent. She invented the Laserphaco Probe, a device for laser cataract surgery that helped in restoring and improving the sight of millions worldwide.
8.Shelly Bell is the founder and CEO of Black Girl Ventures, which creates access to capital for female founders of color. Specifically, the company funds and scales tech-enabled, revenue-generating businesses (under $1M) founded by people who identify as Black/Brown and woman.
9. Mercedes Bent is a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, which accelerates startups in the enterprise and consumer sectors. She says she is particularly passionate about the intersection of learning, entrepreneurship, and technology.
10. Angela Benton is a businesswoman and entrepreneur who advocates for diversity in the tech industry and founded NewME, a social enterprise that accelerates early-stage business founders of color through mentorship, specialized curriculums, and venture capital funding.
11. Monika Black is co-founder of DyMynd Angles, which works to increase the number of female-led startups and close the gender funding gap. The organization recently launched an effort to start a $1.92 million evergreen fund to support more than 20 female-led startups.
12. Laura Borland is co-founder of Vyllage, a platform that allows customers to get paid to receive their neighbors’ parcels and deliveries. The company aims to broaden the gig economy while curbing porch piracy.
13. Nicholas Brathwaite is the executive managing director at WRVI Capital, a technology venture fund established in 2019. He is also co-founder and partner of Riverwood Capital and has spent over 25 years developing technology and building technology-oriented businesses.
14. Marie Van Brittan Brown was a nurse who invented the first closed-circuit television home security system in collaboration with her husband, Albert Brown. Originally intended for domestic use, the system was gradually adopted by various businesses and is the predecessor of modern home security systems still used by millions today.
15. Candice Matthews Brackeen is the CEO of Hillman Accelerator, the first accelerator in the Midwest providing support to tech companies founded by underserved individuals. The agency works support underrepresented tech-driven startups through mentorship, specialized curriculum, partnerships, and capital investments-- providing them the resources and guidance they need to scale.
16. Jean Brownhill is the founder of Sweeten, an online service to find home contractors. Her company has $1 billion of construction business in the pipeline, dispersed among more than 1,500 general contractors. She also recently launched the Sweeten Accelerator for Women (SAW), which actively recruits female contractors, which are underrepresented in the construction industry.
17. Marques Brownlee, also known professionally as MKBHD, is a YouTuber best known for his technology-focused videos. The channel has more than 10 million subscribers and over 1.6 billion total video views.
19. Lisa Mae Brunson founded Wonder Woman Tech, a nonprofit that works to celebrate and educate women in STEAM industries (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math). To date, it has provided 3,500 scholarships to enable underrepresented groups to attend its events and sponsored more than 2,200 underrepresented youth participants at its STEAM camps.
20. Ursula Burns is a businesswoman who became the first Black woman to lead a Fortune 500 Company when she was named CEO of Xerox in 2009. Today, she serves as the executive chairwoman and CEO of VEON and is a founding member of the nonprofit initiative Change The Equation designed to improve STEM education at the high school level.
21. Kimberly Bryant is a social innovator who founded Black Girls Code, a nonprofit organization that aims to empower young women ages from underrepresented communities in tech by introducing them to programming in partnership with tech giants like Google, Oracle, Salesforce, and Adobe.
22. Majora Carter is an entrepreneur and urban revitalization strategy consultant who serves as the CEO of Majora Carter Group, a consulting firm introducing positive real estate and economic development strategies to low-status communities, and Startup Box, which provides quality assurance services to the software development community of New York City and focuses on bringing in diverse talent.
23. Kesha Cash is the founder and general partner at Impact America Fund, which invests in startups building a more inclusive future. She has nearly a decade of experience in impact investing and the Stanford Graduate School of Business has used her work as a case study for how to form a successful impact venture capital firm.
24. Julia Collins is the first black woman to co-found a company that was valued at more than $2 billion, Zume Pizza. While the company was founded on the concept of using AI to make pizzas, it recently pivoted to producing environmentally-friendly food containers.
25. Dr. Marian Croak is credited as the developer of the Voice over IP technology that made audio- and video-communication using the Internet possible, in which she holds about a hundred patents. She is the former SVP of Engineering and Research at AT&T Labs and currently serves as the VP of Engineering at Google.
26. Jasmine Crowe is the founder and CEO of Goodr, a food waste management company that uses blockchain technology. Her company, which has raised more than $1.25 million, redirects surplus food from businesses to people who need it. She says she started the company because she wants to help end hunger.
27. Mark Dean is an inventor and engineer who revolutionized the personal computer. He led the IBM team that created the first one gigahertz computer processor chip in 1999. It was capable of doing one billion calculations per second, allowing the computer world to take a huge leap forward.
28. Morgan DeBaun is the CEO and founder of Blavity, a media company created by and for Black millennials. Today it is the largest media company for Black millennials.
29. Dawn Dickson is the CEO of PopCom, an automated retail company that uses facial recognition, A.I, and blockchain technology to help retailers collect customer insights. She is a successful serial entrepreneur who has launched four successful cash flow positive companies since 2002.
30. Mandela Schumacher-Hodge Dixon is the founder and CEO of Founder Gym, an online training center that helps underrepresented founders raise money and build successful tech startups. Since its launch in 2018, 385 founders spanning 20 countries and 6 continents have graduated the program and gone on to raise over $40 million in startup capital.
31. Sherrell Dorsey is the founder of ThePlug, which provides in-depth reporting and analysis of the Black innovation economy. She also runs BLKTECH Interactive, North Carolina’s first hub supporting over 2,000 Black entrepreneurs and technologists.
32. Tiffany Dufu is the founder and CEO of The Cru, a peer coaching platform for women looking to accelerate their professional and personal growth. She also sits on the board of Girls Who Code and says her life’s purpose is to advance women and young girls.
33. Clarence “Skip” Ellis was the first black man to earn a Ph.D. in computer science. He worked as a lead computer researcher for many of the nation’s top tech companies, including IBM and Xerox, where he helped create the idea of clicking on a graphic to start a program or issue a command--which later became a defining feature of Apple computers.
34. Muhga Eltigani is the founder and CEO of NaturAll Club, a monthly subscription service that delivers handmade hair products. She was inspired to start the line while visitingGhana, where she learned women there made hair products at home from avocado, mangos, and Shea butter.
35. Ugwem Eneyo is the co-founder and CEO of SHYFT Power Solutions, which is pioneering the use of IoT, software and big data to improve access to clean, reliable and affordable energy solutions in communities that struggle with grid resilience. She is passionate about using tech to create more sustainable, equitable energy solutions.
36. Kathryn Finney is the founder and managing director of Digital Undivided, which works to empower women of color to become entrepreneurs. To date, it has helped founders raise more than $25 million.
37. Kobie Fuller is a venture capitalist who founded Valence, a social network for Black professionals. Specifically, the platform aims to address workplace diversity issues by showcasing high-quality talent.
38. Carina Glover is the founder of HerHeadquarters, a collaborating app exclusive to women entrepreneurs who work in fashion, beauty, entertainment, events, and PR. She says she was inspired to create the app after launching her own event firm and realizing she would be more successful by partnering with other female business owners in her industry.
39. Evelyn Boyd Granville was one of the first Black women to earn a PhD in mathematics and used to work as a senior mathematician at IBM’s Federal Systems Division. She also taught mathematics and computer programming at the college level and was an advocate for women’s education in tech.
40. Lisa Gelobter is the co-founder and CEO of tEQuitable, which provides an independent, confidential platform to address issues of bias, harassment, and discrimination in the workplace. .She also played an integral role in creating Shockwave, a technology that formed the beginning of web animation--which is now used for animated GIFs.
41. Frank S. Greene is considered one of the pioneers of semiconductor technology, as he developed and held the patent for the integrated circuit that made Fairchild Semiconductor’s R&D Labs an industry leader. He was one of the first Black tech leaders in Silicon Valley, and prior to his death in 2009, he dedicated himself to mentoring young Black professionals.
42. Regina Gwynn is the co-founder and CEO of Tressenoire, a beauty booking platform that offers personalized natural-hair care tips to users. She also co-founded Black Women Talk Tech, a collective of Black women tech founders focused on building billion-dollar startups.
43. Arlan Hamilton is the founder and managing partner of Backstage Capital, a fund that is dedicated to minimizing funding disparities in tech by investing in high-potential founders who are people of color, women, and/or LGBT. Remarkably, she started her company while homeless. Today, it has raised more than $7 million and invested in more than 130 startup companies led by underestimated founders.
44. Melissa Hanna is the founder and CEO of Mahmee, a prenatal and postpartum care management platform that connects families to healthcare providers and offers personalized support. She said she created the company because she believes the current healthcare system is failing mothers and their babies and this platform aims to change that.
45. Candace Mitchel Harris is the founder and CEO of Myvanna, which blends customized hair care recipes with patented technology to deliver tailored hair care to women. In addition to running her company, she dedicates her time to mentoring and coaching up-and-coming entrepreneurs.
46. Felecia Hatcher is co-founder of Code Fever, which works to engage Black communities in the tech and innovation sector. She is also co-founder of Blacktech Week, which aims to celebrate and connect Black founders, investors, and innovators in the tech space.
47. Esosa Ighdodaro co-founder of Black Women Talk Tech, a collective of Black women tech founders that identifies, supports and encourages Black women to build the next billion-dollar business. Founded in 2017, its membership now includes more than 500 founders.
48. Diishan Imira founded Mayvenn, a platform that is reinventing how hair extensions are bought and installed. It allows women to buy extensions directly from their e-store, then it connects them with a local stylist in their network who will install them for free. The company has raised $36 million and early investors include Serena Williams.
49. Anne-Marie Imafidon is the co-founder and CEO of STEMettes, a social enterprise built to encourage young women to pursue careers in STEM. To date, her organization has helped more than 4,000 girls advance in STEM.
50. Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson was the first woman and the first Black American to hold the position of the physicist chairwoman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. She is largely credited with bringing more diversity to MIT, where she was the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. from the institute.
51. Mae Jemison is a physician who holds nine honorary doctorates in science and a former NASA astronaut. She worked as a Peace Corps medical officer before joining NASA’s astronaut corps and later becoming the first Black woman to travel in space in 1992.
52. Netta Jenkins is co-founder of Dipper, an online network where professionals of color can share their workplace experiences. She is also vice president of global inclusion for Mosaic Group and Ask Applications, a network that includes some of the most successful media and internet brands in the world, including Match.com, HomeAdvisor, and Vimeo.
53. Christian Johnson is the founder of Respond AI, an on-demand emergency response drone company that supports public agencies during critical incidents. He is a US veteran and former police officer, which is largely what inspired him to start his tech-enabled public safety company. He is also a managing partner at MultiPass Ventures, which invests in early-stage companies that are creating impactful solutions that will scale globally.
54. Katherine Johnson was a mathematician who analyzed the flight paths of many spacecrafts for NASA, making it possible for astronauts to reach the moon. While working at NASA, she was part of a professional group of female employees who excelled in math and problem-solving.
55. Claude Jones is the founder of the San Diego Tech Hub, which works to strengthen the regional tech market. He is also the senior director of software engineering at Walmart Labs and founder of Elevate Foundation, an organization he started focused on giving back to the community by helping others in need.
56. Dr. Paul Judge is the co-founder of TechSqure Labs, an early-stage venture capital fund that has raised more than $200 million. He also runs Judge Ventures and has invested in more than 60 tech startups.
57. Renee King is co-founder and CEO of fundBLACKfounders, a crowdfunding platform to support black entrepreneurs in tech. Prior to that, she founded TechUrElders, a tech-enabled service offering technology tools and tips to help users care for elders. She was inspired to help other Black founders after discovering first-hand how challenging that was.
58. Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins is the co-founder of Promise, a platform that aims to reduce incarceration rates by working with those who have been arrested but not yet convicted--and the law enforcement managing their cases. She was inspired to start the company after years of working in the justice system and seeing an opportunity to improve it.
59. Gerald A. Lawson was the first major Black figure in the video game industry, who created the first home video game system that used interchangeable cartridges. Remarkably, he was a self-taught engineer.
60. Mariah Lichtenstern is the founder of Cineshares, a platform that exhibits films for crowdfunding. She is also a founding partner and managing director at impact-focused VC firm DiverseCity Ventures.
61. Gregory Lowe created SongBooth, a social video network for user-generated music videos that has amassed over 8 million downloads worldwide. It has also earned major corporate partnerships with the likes of Pepsi.
62. Luis Martinez is the founder CEO of We Tha Plug, which is dedicated to showcasing tech talent in Black and Latinx communities and supporting entrepreneurs. He is also the director of the San Diego chapter of Startup Grind, an online community for more than 3,500,000 entrepreneurs in over 400 cities.
63. Jancita Mathis is co-founder of Dipper, an online network where professionals of color can share their workplace experiences. Her aim was to create a safe space where users could share their true experiences regarding race in the workplace.
64. Jessica O. Matthews invented the SOCCKET ball to provide off-grid power for the developing world at the age of 19. Three years later, she co-founded Uncharted Power, a full-service power technology company that builds, owns, and operates renewable power infrastructure.
65. Madison Maxey is the founder and CEO of Loomia, a company that makes patented e-textiles for medical wearables, automotive interiors, and outdoor gear. Maxey is a member of Project Diane, a database of 28 Black women who have raised over $1 million in venture funding.
66. Justin McLeod is the founder of Square One Startup School, an online resource that aims to train and support first-time founders on their path to product-market fit. The bigger goal is to make for more “inclusive innovation,” something he has a long history of working toward.
68. Marlon Nichols is the co-founder and managing partner at MaC Venture Capital, a VC firm committed to counter the diversity problem in venture capital. Marlon and his venture partners are focused on backing founders and emerging innovators from diverse backgrounds and have partnered with Silicon Valley Bank to create a VC apprentice program tailored for women of color in tech.
69. Brandon Nicholson is the executive director of The Hidden Genius Project, which mentors Black youth in technology creation, leadership, and entrepreneurship. He says he is driven by a desire to help marginalized youth reach their full potential, and dispel any negative preconceptions.
70. James Norman is the founder and CEO of Pilotly, a platform for media focus groups that prioritizes user experience to generate high-quality data. By circumventing typical focus groups, it makes for a more inclusive and accurate process when exploring a target audience’s true sentiments.
71. Dr. Roshawnna Novellus is the founder and CEO of EnrichHer, which connects women entrepreneurs with lenders. The company is dedicated to helping women-owned businesses because it believes in inclusive economic growth.
72. Damola Ogundipe is the founder and CEO of Civic Eagle, a software company that helps organizations quickly identify, track, and analyze legislation and regulations. He says he started the company in hopes of bringing government and businesses together to tackle real-world challenges.
73. Abadesi Osunsade is a co-founder of Elpha, a private online community for women in tech. She says she was inspired to start the company after feeling like an outsider in her own workplace.
74. Jamila Parham is the founder of The Tech Unicorn, which works to increase diversity and inclusion in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) related industries through mentorship, actionable impact-driven projects and partnerships. As a Black woman leader in tech, she has dedicated her life to empowering more underrepresented leaders in the industry.
75. Delane Parnell is the creator of PlayVS, a VC-backed startup building the infrastructure for high school esports. Before that, he worked at IncWell Venture Capital, where he became the youngest Black venture capitalist in the nation.
76. Maci Peterson Philitas is co-founder and CEO of On Second Thought, a messaging app whose patented technology lets users take back text messages before they get to the other person's phone. She says she’s passionate about helping build businesses that help people be the best version of themselves.
77. Tinia Pina is the founder and CEO of Re-Nuble, which converts food waste into plant-based technologies for soil-based and hydroponic cultivation. She was inspired to start the company while working as a volunteer teacher in Harlem, where she saw the direct link between food quality and her students’ performances.
78. Shauntel Poulson is co-founder and general partner at Reach Capital, which invests in early-stage tech tools, applications, content, and services to improve educational opportunities for all children. She was inspired to start the fund by her mother, a college professor who taught her education can lead to greater social mobility for all.
79. Laura Weidman Powers used to serve as the senior advisor to U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith under the Obama Administration, where she focused on issues of diversity and inclusion. Today, she channels her passion for equality in tech to Code2040, a nonprofit organization she co-founded to bring inclusivity and equity into the tech industry and to empower the next generation of tech leaders of color.
80. Robert Reffkin is the co-founder and CEO of Compass, a real estate platform that specializes in high-margin, luxury homes in upscale, coastal markets. He is also the founder of America Needs You, a nonprofit that provides mentorship to first-generation college students.
81. Angel Rich is the founder and CEO of The Wealth Factory Inc., which designs financial literacy and workforce development education technology games. Her company’s mission is to reduce poverty by providing equal access to quality, easy to understand financial literacy across the world.
82. Michael Seibel is the CEO and partner at Y Combinator, which takes a fresh approach to funding early-stage startups by investing small amounts of money ($150K) twice a year in a large number of budding companies. He has advised hundreds of startups and has been active in promoting diversity efforts among startup founders
83. Lyndsey Scott is the first Black model to sign an exclusive contract with Calvin Klein, and she is a successful app developer. In addition to acting and modeling, she builds apps for clients such as Susan G. Komen Foundation, AIDS Walk, and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in her role as the lead iOS engineer for Rallybound, a fundraising platform.
84. Jewel Burks Solomon is the US head of Google for Startups — the first Black woman to hold the position. She works to empower diverse startup founders with products, connections, and best practices.
85. Amanda Spann is an entrepreneur and media strategist who co-founded tiphub, an investment fund supporting entrepreneurs in Africa and Spann & Company, a consultancy that provides resources for aspiring Black founders.
86. Sydney Sykes is co-founder of BLCK VC, a firm that advances Black venture investors by providing a focused community built for and by Black venture investors. She says she was inspired to launch this because she believes network support is critical to an investor’s success.
87. Simmone Taitt is the founder of Poppy Seed Health, a platform that connects expectant families and women with medical advocates, including doulas, midwives, and nurses. It also provides them with 24/7 online support. In addition to being a tech founder, she is a birthing doula, which is what largely inspired her to start the company.
88. Lisa Skeete-Tatum is the founder and CEO of Landit, a platform that aims to increase the success of women in the workplace and to enable companies to attract, develop, and retain high-potential diverse talent. She says she’s driven by a passion to help more women reach their full professional potential and dreams.
89. Corey Thomas is an angel investor, and the president and CEO of Rapid7, which provides security data and analytics solutions. He has extensive success in leading tech companies, including Microsoft and Parallels, a virtualization tech company.
90. Valerie Thomas is a scientist and inventor who was patented for developing the first illusion transmitter during her time working as a data analyst for NASA. Her invention was an early form of three-dimensional technology, the uses of which NASA continues to explore to this day.
91. Davinia Tomlinson is a fintech entrepreneur who founded the Rainchq, an app designed to inspire women to invest and achieve their financial goals. It aims to help women take control of their financial futures through a program that consists of financial education, expert financial advice and community events.
92. Lo Toney is a founder and managing partner at Plexo Capital, which invests globally in emerging venture capital fund managers and early-stage venture-backed companies. The agency strives to bring diversity in all that it does, stating that “diversity is not just good progress — it’s good business.”
93. Maria Velissaris is a managing partner at SteelSky Ventures, a platform that provides consulting and fundraising services for companies with female founders. Specifically, the company supports startups dedicated to women’s health.
94. Paris Wallace is the co-founder and CEO of Ovia Health, a platform that offers maternity and family benefits solutions for employers and health plans. He is also the founder of Good Start Genetics, a genomics technology company focused on fertility and reproductive health, which was recently acquired by Invitae.
95. Alex Wolf is the founder of BossBabe, a subscription-based online community for millennial female entrepreneurs. Though she has since sold the company, she is still largely considered a well-respected tech philosopher.
96. Rodney Williams is co-founder of LISNR, which improves connectivity between electronic devices with speakers or a microphone. The company’s clients include NBC, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter’s entertainment company ROC Nation, the Dallas Cowboys, Sony Music, and Jaguar/Land Rover.
97. Ryan Williams founded Cadre, an $800 million real estate tech company that lets qualified investors view details on apartment and office properties, with video walk-throughs, maps, lists of tenants, and data.
98. Sevetri Wilson is the founder and CEO of Resilia (formerly ExemptMeNow), which simplifies the creation and maintenance of nonprofits. As a Louisiana entrepreneur, she was inspired to start her company when she witnessed nonprofits helping to rebuild communities in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
99. Jessie Wolley-Wilson is the president and CEO of DreamBox Learning, an online software that focuses on K-8 math education. She has worked in the education tech space for more than 20 years, and she recently secured a $130 million investment in DreamBox from The Rise Fund, a global impact investing fund
managed by TPG Growth.
100. Monique Woodard is the co-founder of Black Founders, which works to support more Black entrepreneurs in the tech industry by connecting them with mentorship and funding. She is also an early-stage investor in startups.
101. Karen Young is the founder and CEO of OUI the People, a high-end, direct to consumer shaving brand that aims to celebrate beauty in its natural form. She recently pivoted her company a bit to be more gender-neutral, in an effort to be more inclusive of those who identify as non-binary and cisgender.
September 19, 2023