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Amazon Announces First Cohort For 'Black Founders Build With Alexa Program'

Amazon Announces First Cohort For 'Black Founders Build With Alexa Program'

They’re creating innovative tech integrations!

Amazon just announced its first cohort for the Black Founders Build with Alexa Program. 

Alexa Startups is looking to support Black entrepreneurship through a new program entitled Black Founders Build with Alexa. Recently, the company announced its first cohort, selecting seven North American startups founded by Black entrepreneurs who will be working towards innovating with Alexa and creating the next generation of voice, artificial intelligence (AI), and ambient experiences. 

Alexa Startups Solution Architect and Business Development teams will work with each startup, offering individualized technology support while also giving founders opportunities for increased visibility through various networking events, panel discussions, and showcases. Each business will also have a shot to receive up to $100,000 in financial backing from the Alexa Fund. 

The first cohort of startups includes Candace Mitchell Harris’ MYAVANA, a tech company using AI technology to develop an Alexa Routine guide that will recommend haircare steps and products after taking into consideration personal characteristics and external variables like the weather; Romy Antoine’s One Stop Wellness Inc., a company geared at identify chronic health risks and teaching people to build healthy habits, working on utilizing Alexa to promote health equity and improve physician-patient interactions; Evan Leaphart’s Kiddie Kredit, a financial education tech company that is looking to use Alexa to launch a child-focused experience that helps children and parents focus on responsibility tasks like chores to learn financial education and Bobby Bryant’s DOSS Group Inc., a real estate company looking to integrate Alexa into its service through a smart assistant that improves customer experiences in the real estate sector.

Other startups included in the cohort are Tiasia O’Brien’s Seam Social Labs, a public sector communications company that is working on building an Alexa integration that will tackle reducing the workload of community interviews while building focus group data for analysis; Megan Gray’s, an AI company using biometrics and physiological data to improve driver safety is using Alexa Voice Service to maximize customer productivity while encouraging them to keep their eyes on the road, and Neji Tawo’s PayTalk, a tech company using AI to encourage easier and more secure transactional e-commerce that is currently building an Alexa integration to core transactions like parking, ticketing, and bill payments. 

For many of the founders, being included in the inaugural cohort is a dream come true, allowing them the critical community and funding necessary to make it as a Black founder in the tech sector. The program is Amazon’s latest attempt to empower Black entrepreneurs, building on their previous partnerships to highlight Black women-owned businesses with Keke Palmer, their mentorship program with HBCUs, and their career development track which provides free technical skills training for Amazon employees. 

“The biggest challenge as a founder of a technology company has been raising funding, especially as a Black founder without connections to venture capital firms. On my journey, I learned that my diverse background is my superpower because differences from the established norms lead to change and innovation,” said Antoine, founder of One Stop Wellness Inc. 

“I’m incredibly honored for our team to work with these startups on Alexa innovations and support these talented founders with advancing their companies and creating amazing new customer experiences. It’s no secret that entrepreneurs of color are underrepresented in the tech industry, and we hope that initiatives like these will lead to more diverse perspectives, new ideas, and the development of products and services across voice, AI, and ambient computing that will better enrich the lives of all customers,” added Alexa Startups’ head of business development, Liz Myers.

The 2022 inaugural class all share Amazon’s commitment to inventing with customers in mind and it is Amazon’s goal to help the founders build products and services that will contribute to a more healthy, productive, and equitable customer experience. 

To learn more about Alexa Startups, click here

Photo Courtesy of Amazon