Google-Hosted Startups Compete At American Underground

By Zachery Eanes
The Herald-Sun, Durham, N.C.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The Google for Entrepreneurs (GFE) program isn’t just a chance for entrepreneurs to learn but also a moment for Durham to build upon its reputation as a diverse technology hub.

DURHAM

The basement of American Underground was standing room only Friday as 12 startup companies competed in a pitch contest at the Google for Entrepreneurs Exchange Program for Black Founders, which has been hosted in Durham for the past week.

The pitch contest was the culminating event for the Google for Entrepreneurs (GFE) program, as well as for Black Wall Street Homecoming, which have been held concurrently this week.

GFE selected 12 startups out of an applicant pool of more than 160 companies. Two Durham companies participated in the GFE exchange: social media platform RantRoom and travel website RewardStock.

Google has been a partner with American Underground since 2015, and the GFE program for black startups, which is the first of its kind for Google, was born out of the relationship.

For the past week, the 12 startups have taken part in classes and lectures on how to effectively raise capital, and received mentoring from business leaders and exposure to venture capitalists.

The pitch was a chance to take all the companies had learned during the week and bring it in front of dozens of venture capitalists from across the country.

“If you look around the room, it’s not just black people in this room,” said Jesica Averhart, director of community partnerships and new business development at American Underground. “This is the community that is supporting this work… It shows that people want to invest in these companies, they just need to see them. It’s about access.”

The winner of the pitch contest received $5,000 in cash and $8,000 in computer equipment from Lenovo — but it was a also chance to get live feedback from large investors.

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