Earlier this month, we highlighted three Black-owned businesses that break barriers every day.
When Black-owned businesses succeed, our economy succeeds. In the second part of our Black History Month celebration, we’re telling more of our members’ success stories and encouraging policymakers to continue to support the digital tools that help them thrive.
Kettlebell Kings – Austin, TX
Former semi-professional athlete Chad Price started Kettlebell Kings with two buddies to stay close after graduation. With the help of digital tools, Kettlebell Kings grew from a pipe dream to #639 on the Inc. 5000 list.
Kettlebell Kings wanted to provide the highest quality kettlebells available while bringing people together through a device that is simple, versatile and offers real health benefits. As the company grew, it garnered a tight-knit community across social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram, while offering digital workouts on YouTube.
Aside from being a fitness company, Price describes Kettlebell Kings as a “digital tool company” from the beginning. Price cites digital advertising, organic social content, and digital product offerings (like Kettlebell Kings’ weekly workout list) as ways the company relies on digital tools and platforms in its day-to-day processes.
To Price, the digital space is “still the wild, wild West” – and policymakers have an opportunity to avoid regulations that stifle small business success.
MedHaul – Memphis, TN
MedHaul founder Erica Plybeah Hemphill recalls watching her grandmother struggle with transportation: “I’ll never forget my sadness watching Mom lift Grandma, a Type II diabetes patient and amputee, out of her wheelchair and into the car to go to a routine doctor’s appointment. I’ll never forget my frustration when the doctor’s staff had no idea how to find a medical transport provider that could bring Grandma to appointments safely and comfortably.”
Hemphill describes MedHaul as “the Uber of specialty medical transportation,” connecting patients to vehicles for non-emergency transportation to doctor’s appointments or recurring needs such as tri-weekly dialysis appointments. In 2019, 100% of MedHaul’s patients were low-income, with more than 6,000 rides given.
MedHaul is entirely cloud-based and utilizes tools like Slack, Asana, G-Suite, and Google Ads to communicate with team members and reach facilities and vehicle providers in need of its services.
Digital tools support MedHaul’s mission to meet the transportation needs of healthcare’s most vulnerable communities – and we’re encouraging policymakers to support the digital tools that make MedHaul’s mission a reality.
Make Music Count – Atlanta, GA
“Math and music aren’t really topics that are talked about together.”
Marcus Blackwell first combined math and music to help himself with math problems. When a teacher friend invited him to use his method at an after school program, Blackwell saw an opportunity to make a difference using music as a way to make math “feel better” – and Make Music Count was born.
That was 2013. In one year, Make Music Count expanded as an afterschool program from one to ten schools, moving from physical workbooks to a digital app for scalability. Now, the Make Music Count app operates at 100% – helping school districts from across the country access a 1-to-1 learning experience during the school day.
Blackwell cites PayPal, YouTube, and math typing program LaTeX as digital platforms necessary for Make Music Count’s success. Instagram, Facebook, and Google Ads help spread awareness about the app, and Blackwell plans on venturing into TikTok as a platform as well.
Blackwell calls small businesses “the backbone of our community” – and if tech providers like Google or Facebook were to shut down, “that would really hurt. A ton of small businesses would be out of business, or it would be harder to get their messages across.”