The challenges founders of color in the U.S. face when raising funds for their companies is often overlooked. Now, that is starting to change. Today, we're proud to announce that Podpal CEO Aaron P. Woods was selected as 1 of 50 Black founders to be awarded with $100,000 in non-dilutive funding from Google for Startups. This award is part of Google’s second consecutive $5M Black Founders Fund: a highly-esteemed cohort of Black entrepreneurs solving problems in education, healthcare, sustainability and more, through technology.
The Google Black Founders Fund provides non-dilutive cash awards, Google Cloud credits, and Google Ads grants to Black led startups that have participated in Google programs or have been nominated by its partner community.
In 2020, Podpal was selected to participate in the Google for Startups Atlanta Founders Academy, which focused on product development, sales, team building, fundraising, and the like. Podpal hit key milestones during the 8-month pre-accelerator including hiring developers, building the working MVP, testing it with users, and launching our podcast management product by the end of the program. Completing this program, made Podpal eligible to apply for the Black Founder’s Fund award.
“Going through the Google for Startups pre-accelerator was as valuable as the $100,000 award that we’re being honored with through the Black Founder’s Fund. While access to capital is absolutely needed, it’s not just money that we can benefit from. The mentorship, training, and community of black founders are just as valuable, if not more!” Aaron shares.
Google partner, Goodie Nation, continues to build on the community and networking components of the pre-accelerator by facilitatings weekly meetings with the BFF founders to strengthen their relationships with each other while sharing experiences and resources. These moments, albeit virtual, allow for the insightful and meaningful connections with tech founders that look like them.
“I’ve made connections and bonded with several other founders in this program. We discussed how to leverage each other’s services, and create product bundles that benefit all of our customers. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to be a part of a group of founders who look like you and share similar journeys in business and tech,” Aaron says.
Since the inception of the Black Founders Fund in the U.S., its reach has expanded across Brazil, Europe and Africa to support a larger group of Black founders globally, investing a total of $16 million in more than 200 founders. Considering the work Podpal does to help people, brands, and businesses everywhere with podcasting, Woods is proud to be aligned with Black founders in every corner of the globe.
The 126 founders who are now a part of the Black Founders Fund alumni in the United States have seen that the program has a catalytic effect for founders when raising capital after they receive these awards. In less than a year, Google’s first group of founders went on to collectively raise more than $50 million in funding. In addition, about 80% of the founders used the cash awards to hire employees and reported the fund has helped grow their revenues. Additionally, they have consistently shared the necessity of giving back and paying it forward in the Black community. A fund like this, where founders can nominate their peers for the upcoming cohort, is where it starts.
“Once we got word that we were an award winner, we immediately put plans in place to give back to the Black community. With the funds provided by Google, we sponsored the Podcaster’s of Color event at Podcast Movement 2021 in Nashville, TN, where we hosted over 250 black and brown podcasters. Attendees enjoyed music, drinks, and multiple raffle prizes including an entire podcast studio— all while getting to know and trust the Podpal brand to help them plan, publish, and promote their podcast content,” Woods notes.
As Podpal joins this distinguished group of Google for Startups Black Founders, we’re excited to utilize this funding to further our mission and vision of making a greater impact on society by increasing the diversity of voices and content in podcasting.