The second cohort of a Google for Startups program focused on high potential ventures from Black entrepreneurs features a high-profile founder who built her company in Kansas City before relocating to Tulsa in 2020.
The Black Founders Fund announced the selection of Edna Martinson, co-founder of Boddle Learning, Tuesday in a rollout of the 50 founders chosen to receive $100,000 in non-dilutive funding — meant to help them keep their doors open, pay their employees, and focus on building their businesses.
Founded by Edna Martinson and Clarence Tan in 2018, Boddle is an impact-focused gaming company on a mission to create interactive experiences that inspire learning both inside and outside the classroom. By integrating classroom technology and education into real 3D games, Boddle makes online learning fun and personalized for students while saving teachers a ton of time on homework, practice, and assessments.
Click here to learn more about Boddle’s gamified education platform.
The Black Founders Fund is a $10 million initiative designed for Black founders, who are building great companies yet are often locked out of access to the funding that is critical to their success. Founders do not give up any ownership in their company in exchange for funding
Selection also includes technical support from tools and teams across Google, including as much as $120,000 in donated search Ads from Google.org and up to $100,000 in Google Cloud credits.
Martinson called the program transformational for Boddle.
“Getting direct access and insights from Googlers has helped solidify our internal processes, and strengthened our marketing strategy,” she said. “Our entire team is honored to receive this funding from the Google for Startups Black Funders Fund at such a pivotal time for our company; this continued support and investment will help further our mission to help kids grow their love for learning and helping connect teachers to engaging, effective and transformative educational experiences.”
The $5 million investment in the second cohort of the Black Founders Fund aims to mirror results seen in the first group of 76 Black-led startups to participate in the program in 2020. Last year, founders who received awards went on to raise more than $50 million in capital and 80 percent of recipients used the funding to create jobs.
“The Google for Startups Black Founders Fund embodies our mission of helping underrepresented founders grow their businesses,” said Jewel Burks Solomon, Head of Google for Startups US. “We are excited to continue the fund and contribute funding to Black founders, with no strings attached.”
“Black founders currently receive less than 1 percent of total VC funding,” she continued. “We heard loud and clear from the 2020 fund recipients that Google for Startups and Goodie Nation have been crucial to their success not only through funding, but through community, mentorship, network connections and technical expertise.”
Click here to check out a roundtable conversation about who’s missing from Kansas City’s venture capital-funded ecosystem.
Goodie Nation provides community, relationships, and accountability through the program. They are focused on helping founders develop relationships with coaches, decision-makers at large organizations, and capital providers, Martinson said.
The Google for Startups announcement is the latest in a series of developments for Boddle. The startup also recently was selected for the Oklahoma-based ACT Tulsa accelerator, a partnership between ACT House and i2E, alongside Kansas City-based Bodify.
Boddle already had relocated to Tulsa, after receiving a $350,000 investment from Atento Capital in summer 2020. The company was named one of Startland News’ Kansas City Startups to Watch in 2020.
Its momentum is a testament to the startup’s resilience, Boddle said.
“Boddle Learning’s fun and engaging platform shined through the learning challenges of the pandemic, presenting an effective way for teachers and families to keep remote learning students engaged in math education,” the startup said in a press release. “Today, sustained growth and interest in its model suggests Boddle Learning’s new and thoughtful approach to teaching math is moving to a large-scale implementation across the country.”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.