Visit Us

Data & Trends, Minority Businesses

Black Entrepreneurs are Emerging as Innovators


The surge in black-owned businesses is changing the face of innovation in the U.S. In fact, it’s even changing the faces of Silicon Valley startups. It’s no longer just the stereotyped non-minority graduate from schools such as Stanford; now African American graduates are ascending the ladder to success right alongside of them.

But this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Historically, people of color in the U.S. have been innovators and trailblazers. Even today we continue to benefit from the great inventions created by black inventors. Here are some of the great innovators of the past:

Garrett Morgan – The genius inventor behind the traffic light and the patent that provided the blueprint for the World War II gas mask that shielded soldiers from toxic gases.

Vivien Thomas – The surgical technician who developed procedures used to treat blue baby syndrome in the 1940s.

Dr. Charles Drew – He revolutionized the understanding of blood plasma and developed techniques for blood storage that lead to the invention of blood banks, which saved thousands of lives during World War II.

Lewis Latimer – He was the draftsman behind the Bell telephone. Although Alexander Graham Bell received credit for the telephone, it was actually Lewis Latimer who was the genius behind the creation. He also received a patent for the improved method of carbon filaments, which led to the invention of the light bulb.

Sarah Goode – The first African American woman to receive a patent in the United States. She created a folded cabinet bed that gave people who lived in small spaces a way to utilize their space more efficiently.

George Crum – He invented the potato chip. While working as a chef in 1853, a customer complained about the texture of his french fries. George Crum decided to make the fries hard by frying them, and in the process he created potato chips.

Digital advancements have not only improved business applications, they have also created a lower barrier of entry for entrepreneurs and sparked an entrepreneurial revolution. Take a look at some of the new companies led by brilliant black innovators:

Tristan Walker – Founder and CEO of Walker & Company Brands, Tristan has been featured in USA Today, Fortune, Business Insider, and Fast Company. He was formerly the head of business development at Foursquare, where he was responsible for putting the company on the map by landing hundreds of partnerships with merchants and brands. Under his direction, Walker & Company has launched the innovative flagship brand called Bevel, the first and only end-to-end shaving system for men with coarse and curly hair.

Janet Bashen – She is the founder and president of the Bashen Corporation, a human resources consulting firm. She patented LinkLine, a compliance and case management system used for equal employment opportunity investigations. The software is currently used by the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission to track claims.

Angela Benton – Founder and CEO of NewMeAccelerator, an innovative accelerator that helps entrepreneurs grow sustainable businesses. So far, the accelerator has raised close to $17 million from investors. The program consists of a 12-module curriculum, weekly group office hours and coaching sessions, and connects entrepreneurs with startup experts from Silicon Valley. NewMeAccelerator also publishes B20, an online publication for African Americans interested in technology and new media.

Matthew Burnett – Founder and CEO of Maker’s Row, an online marketplace that connects American manufacturers with small, medium, and product-based businesses. The innovative site lists more than 1,400 manufacturers.

Kimberly Bryant – Founder of Black Girls Code, a company that teaches computer programming languages (such as Scratch and Ruby on Rails) to girls seven to 16 through after school programs and workshops.

Charley Moore – Founder and CEO of RocketLawyer, an online legal services company. Charley Moore took his knowledge of corporate law and created a simple way to handle any legal situation, including business formation, estate plans, legal health diagnostics, and legal document review. The site allows do-it-yourselfers to create legal documents and gain access to attorneys.

Charles Hudson – Serial entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and co-founder of Bionic Panda Games, an Android focused mobile game studio. He is a familiar face in Silicon Valley and has extensive experience in the gaming industry. He is currently a venture partner with Softech VC, one of the first super angel funds for internet and mobile startups.

Kathryn Finney – Founder of Digital Undivided, an incubator and accelerator hybrid that provides training in startup methodologies, access to experienced mentors, and seed funding. The purpose of the program is to identify, train, and support high-performing black women founders of tech companies. Kathryn has received praise from Wired, Bloomberg, Business Insider, Fast Company, and Inc.

Brian Brackeen – Founder and CEO of Kairos, the developer of facial recognition software used by businesses to confirm identities and fight fraud. The company was named 2013 Startup of the Year by the Wall Street Journal. Brian and his team have simplified business processes for companies in the healthcare, events, retail, security, and government sectors.

Kellee James – Founder and CEO of Mercaris, a market data service and online trading platform for organic and certified agricultural commodities. In 2009, Kellee was appointed by President Barack Obama as a White House Fellow and was named in Crain’s Chicago Business Magazine as a 40 under 40 rising leader.

Although some continue to debate if bias exists for black entrepreneurs, it appears that the country is moving in the right direction. What do you think?

Share your story with us @KabbageInc.


Kabbage Team

Kabbage is here not only to provide access to the small business funding you need, but to also help you grow your business through free marketing tips, webinars, tools and more. Is there something you'd like us to cover or want to get your small business featured on our blog? Send us a note at