By Aswad Walker
Google and its parent company, Alphabet, recently announced its latest financial support for Black-led startups and venture capital firms. Google for Startups revealed the recipients of its third Google for Startups Black Founders Fund, which provides promising Black-led startups non-equity cash awards to help fuel their businesses.
Two Houston-based founders—ChurchSpace and Enrichly—are among the recipients, amounting to $200,000 invested in Houston startups.
“We are a mission-driven, marketplace design to help churches rent out their under-utilized space,” said ChurchSpace co-founder Day Edwards. “We do that simply because we realize there’s such a heavy burden on church leaders and pastors and all across America. There’s this issue happening where church real estate is sitting vacant and unused. So, we come in and we help churches and communities connect via space.”
In addition, CapitalG, on behalf of Alphabet, announced that it plans to deploy the remaining funds from its $100 million commitment to Black-led investment firms.
“The Google for Startups Black Founders Fund has grown into a flourishing community of 176 founders in the U.S. because of the program’s focus on supporting founders along their journeys beyond a one-time financial award,” said Jewel Burks Solomon, Head of Google for Startups. “The program was intentionally designed to help founders in multiple ways, with non-dilutive funding, tailored mentorship, mental health coaching and more. We are thrilled to strengthen this community by welcoming the third cohort of founders and are excited to see how they continue to grow their business.”
The goal of this $5M fund is to increase economic opportunity for promising Black startup founders in the US, who receive a disproportionately low percentage of investment. In an effort to close the opportunity and wealth gap for Black founders, Google has launched a set of programs designed to open the doors to funding, training for the digital economy and empowering communities.
In addition to the $100K in cash distributed to founders, recipients will also receive hands-on programming and support from Google, deep mentorship from technical and business experts, access to free mental health therapy, as well as a vibrant community of fellow and former recipients.
Houston recipients ChurchSpace and Enrichly represent an integral part of the growing startup ecosystem in the region.
ChurchSpace, dubbed the “Airbnb” for churches, creates space and opportunities for local communities by giving churches the platform to convert their empty church buildings into revenue-generating community resource hubs.
“We applied to Google for Black Startups to have the opportunity to gain perspective on how to build a better product and experience for our customers,” said Edwards. “We believe that being a part of the program will enable us as Black founders to better lead and build a tech-enabled platform that is eradicating church underutilization rates across the nation.”
“We’re really about helping church leaders get back to their mission,” said Emmanuel Brown, ChurchSpace’s other co-founder. “We call that ‘mission over maintenance.’ So, we’re trying to clear the path for church leaders and pastors to make more community impact, to rent out their under-utilized properties and church buildings and to focus on the things that matter most to them.”
Enrichly uses machine learning, gamification and data automation to make self-esteem improvement fun for K–12 while providing an on-site mental health curriculum for schools. They offer youth development courses virtually and in-person to elementary, middle and high school students to increase self-esteem and confidence.
Enrichly focuses on a variety of topic areas including goal setting, emotion and stress management techniques that conflict resolution, etiquette, healthy relationships, resilience and more. Enrichly’s logic model demonstrates that by educating youth in these areas, it will produce a variety of designed outcomes, including changes in learning (short-term), changes in behavior and actions (mid-term) and changes in condition (long-term).
“The Google for Startups Black Founders Fund is an incredible opportunity for the growth of our company. This support will be used to expand our team and awareness in order to reach our OKRs and KPIs,” said Margo Jordan, CEO of Enrichly.
In addition to the two companies from Houston, two other Texas companies—both in Dallas—were selected to join the third Google for Startups Black Founders Fund.
Recently coined the Airbnb for churches by the Washington Post, ChurchSpace is a tech-enabled marketplace that helps churches turn their unused space into on-demand event, meeting and commercial kitchen space. The mission-driven company is focused on disrupting the $14B church real estate industry. To date, churches on the marketplace earn up to $38,000 per year. The platform allows churches to earn extra revenue while remaining compliant with IRS non-profit regulations. ChurchSpace is launching version 2 of their marketplace in Dec 2022. Join the already 6k user waitlist or refer a church. Learn more about ChurchSpace by visiting www.bookchurchspace.com.
Enrichly is a gamified personal development platform committed to helping youth reach their full potential through programs purposefully built to improve self-esteem and boost confidence. We are pioneering the Personal Development Technology (PD Tech) industry by leveraging AI alongside onsite mental health curriculum that makes self-esteem improvement fun for K-12 students. By presenting the curriculum in a personalized and engaging manner, Enrichly makes it easier for schools, youth organizations, and parents to invest in their children’s well-being and overall happiness. To learn more, visit www.enrich.ly.
ABOUT GOOGLE FOR STARTUPS
Google for Startups works to level the playing field for startup founders and communities to succeed by bringing the best of Google’s products, connections, and best practices to startups. Paired with a deep commitment to create diverse startup communities, many of our offerings are designed specifically to provide underrepresented founders with access to resources and opportunities. We support startups everywhere to build something better. Because when startups succeed, we all succeed. To learn more, visit Google for Startups.