Money and momentum

3 Austin Black-owned startups secure $200,000 in funding from tech giant

3 Austin Black-owned startups secure $200Kin funding from tech giant

Austin skyline night downtown
Three local startups have received funding from Google. Photo by Stuart Seeger/Flickr

Three Austin tech startups have picked up some big bucks from the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund. 

The companies — Laundris, Tankee, and Varuna Tech — received a total of $200,000 from the Google fund. In all, the fund supplied cash awards of at least $5 million to 76 of the most promising Black-founded startups in the U.S., the company announced October 6.

Laundris automates linen services for the corporate, hospitality, and healthcare sectors. The startup’s technology offers ordering and tracking capabilities for cleaning of linens and clothing, and helps reduce the use of water, electricity, and detergent.

Don Ward, founder and CEO, says the money “will have a considerable impact on the growth” of his company. The funds will go toward adding tech, sales, and operations employees, and expanding Laundris beyond Austin.

Tankee provides a parent-approved platform for children to watch video games. Gerald Youngblood is co-founder of the company, which is part of Austin’s Capital Factory business accelerator, a Google for Startups partner. Youngblood says the Google funding will help Tankee launch its redesigned website, expand distribution on mobile and “connected TV” platforms, and build its portfolio of original programming.

Another Capital Factory member, Varuna Tech, delivers an AI-powered platform that helps cities measure and analyze water quality. Co-founder and CEO is Seyi Fabode says the Google funding will enable his company to expand its real-time monitoring and tracking software, and grow its customer base in New Jersey and Louisiana.

“We are committed to helping Black founders who have been deeply impacted by COVID-19 and who are disproportionately locked out of access to the funding they need to succeed,” Jewel Burks Solomon, head of Google for Startups U.S., says in a release. “By combining cash awards with Google for Startups mentorship and programming, we hope to help create a more level playing field for these founders, who are building amazing companies and making an impact on their communities.”

This isn't the only commitment Google has made to local business. In August, the tech giant named Austin-based startup Upswing to its inaugural 12-member class in the Google for Startups Accelerator: Black Founders program. Upswing, founded by Melvin Hines Jr., provides a technology-powered platform designed to help non-traditional and online college students achieve success.