Google Black Founders Fund awards $150,000 to Baltimore cybersecurity maven

By Megan Sayles
AFRO Business Writer

Google for Startups recently announced the winners of its 2023 Black Founders Fund, a program that provides equity-free cash awards and wraparound support for Black-led startups to advance their businesses. One winner came from Baltimore.

Cybersecurity maven Tina Williams-Koroma has been awarded $150,000 in equity-free cash for her company, CyDeploy. The business provides other companies and organizations with an automated testing system to discover whether a software update will negatively affect or crash their operating systems.

As part of the fund, Williams-Koroma will be able to participate in sales and fundraising training, one-on-one coaching from a Google mentor and therapy from a team of Black mental health providers.

“I was super thrilled because in this environment, economically, money is even tighter for Black women founders,” said Williams-Koroma. “Getting these non-diluted funds gave me some breathing room, so I don’t always have to be fundraising.”

Google for Startups created the Black Founders in Fund in 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as part of its racial equity commitment.

“In the early days of the Black Founders Fund, we wanted to help founders pay rent and make payroll so they didn’t go out of business,” said Kaili Emmrich, head of Google for Startups in North America. “We saw that the fund did help founders keep their lights on, but founders also told us that this funding from Google had a far bigger impact for them. It helped them create a lot more momentum in their fundraising; investors who had been hesitant before said, ‘If Google is invested, I’m in.’”

In the first round of the Black Founders Fund, Google for Startups deployed $5 million dollars to African-American entrepreneurs in the United States. Those recipients then raised an additional $50 million in less than a year for their various enterprises, according to Emmrich.

In 2021, Google for Startups expanded the Black Founders Fund to Africa, Brazil and Europe, and in 2022, it created the Latino Founders Fund in the U.S. Altogether, the technology company has provided more than $45 million to 547 founders, who have been able to raise an additional $400 million in venture capital.

Williams-Koroma discovered the Black Founders Fund while participating in Google for Startups’ Women Founders Accelerator. She applied for the fund in hopes of gaining resources and capital for CyDeploy, which she created in 2020 after more than two decades of experience in the cybersecurity industry.

According to Williams-Koroma, many companies put off security updates out of fear that they will disrupt their operating systems. This leaves them open to cyber attacks and hackers.

To quell this fear, CyDeploy creates a digital twin of companies’ operating systems. Then companies can make security updates on the twin to identify any issues that may come out of the update.

“We’re proud to fund some of the brightest minds in cybersecurity through our Black and Latino Founders Funds,” said Emmrich. “Founders like Tina Williams-Koroma at CyDeploy are building industry-changing solutions to help keep companies secure and resilient.”

In September, Williams-Koroma expects to commence a seed fundraising round for CyDeploy. With the help of an investor provided by Google, she’s working to nail down a goal for the initial funding round.

In the meantime, Williams-Koroma wants to engage as many companies as possible with her product.

“Google’s funding for Black founders is commendable. I also think the fund is mutually beneficial as well because Google’s getting access to some of the greatest minds and greatest ideas, and they’re associated with the Google brand,” said Williams-Koroma. “I think goodwill is a category on balance sheets, and this is an investment from Google that has and will continue to have great returns.”

Megan Sayles is a Report for America Corps member.

#Google #startups #blackfounders

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