A few years ago, sparked by her mom’s ALS diagnosis, Renee King set out to change the world by building an artificial intelligence platform that would help improve disabled people’s quality of life. While she still believes the idea was solid, it failed when she couldn’t secure funding. This experience inspired Renee to find another opportunity that serves a real need and honors her mom: she started a community capital platform to ensure that local Black founders and black-owned businesses didn’t face the same issue raising capital.
“As I meet dozens of founders, I learn how much we have in common. Nearly all are passionate, under-resourced, and need more sleep. Luckily, affordable digital tools and services exist to help them power operations, efficiency, and growth on a tight budget,” says Renee.
Her team advises all their founders to take full advantage of free and low-cost digital tools. Google Workspace includes email, documents, spreadsheets, chat, and video chat, and it’s virtually free. Facebook and Instagram offer free business accounts that can be great marketing and e-commerce engines. TikTok generates new customers and revenue. They’ve also encouraged founders to optimize their social media presence by connecting with influencers to promote their products and services. And the combinations of Facebook/Instagram and Google Maps/Search deliver extraordinary value to small businesses.
Renee has seen firsthand how digital tools and services have helped Black startups and small businesses grow. She’s worried Congress’ new efforts to pass anti-tech legislation will backfire on Black entrepreneurs who utilize digital tools from large tech companies to succeed.
“Black-owned businesses receive less than one percent of venture capital funds, and bank loans and SBA loans are still hard to get. If Congress is serious about giving black-owned businesses a fair shot at success, they should focus on making digital tools more widely available, not passing laws that make digital tools more expensive,” says Renee.