7 of the Most Promising Black-Owned Startups to Watch in 2020

7 of the Most Promising Black-Owned Startups to Watch in 2020

Black-owned startup companies have become more widespread. From scheduling apps to TV production companies, we look at seven black-owned startups that appear to be on a promising trajectory.

1. Predina


Founded in 2016, Predina is an artificial intelligence software company in Islington, London, that was established by Meha Nelson and Bola Adegbulu. The company develops innovative software that integrates AI systems with autonomous vehicles in order to analyze risk.

Predina has been recognized by the UK government as among the country’s top 29 AI startups. To date, the company has attracted $380,000 in investments. In early 2019, Predina received $129,000 in funding from the black-owned venture capital firm Impact X Capital Partners. Predina has since expanded its workforce, launched an app, and outlined ambitious plans to sell to car manufacturers and major businesses around the world.

2. Three Tables Productions

Three Tables Productions

A London-based film and television company, Three Tables Productions was founded by David Chikwe, J.T. Wong, and Himesh Kar. The production company specializes in international TV dramas, and the team is developing projects with the BBC and France.tv.

Founded in 2018, Three Tables Productions received $322,000 in funding in its first year of operations. The team draws on extensive experience in a diverse range of fields. Chikwe is the former head of development of Leopard Pictures, and Wong is an entrepreneur. In addition, Kar has served as an executive with the UK Film Council. Committed to diversity, Three Tables Productions champions emerging and established talent, embracing differences to tell unique stories.

3. Calendy

Established in 2013 by Tope Awotona, Atlanta-based Calendy offers the ability to streamline the online scheduling process for appointments and meetings. Calendy has grown to become one of the market’s highest-rated scheduling apps, providing both free and paid versions.


4. Pace


An AI specialist, Pace develops hotel pricing technology. By leveraging machine learning and real-time forecasting, Pace enables hotel owners to respond quickly to market fluctuations in supply and demand, enabling them to pitch their listings at just the right price.

In 2015, the company was co-founded by Jason Pinto, Jens Munch, and John-Paul Clarke, bringing together a trio with widely different experiences and specialties. Together, they successfully designed Pace from the ground up, driving digital disruption in the hotel industry.

To date, Pace has attracted more than $5.8 million in equity funding from Seedcamp, Amadeus Capital Partners, InterGlobe, and Speedinvest. The company’s latest fundraising round in April 2019 attracted more than $2.5 million in funding led by Impact X Capital Partners.

While Pace is only 3 years old, it has built a prestigious client list that includes a&o, Best Western, Machefert Group, Accor, and Generator. The coronavirus pandemic has significantly impacted the hospitality industry, and Pace possesses algorithms to enable hotels to stay ahead of the curve, adapt to meet changing market demand, and provide a valuable competitive edge.

5. Jamii

In 2016, Jamii was launched by Khalia Ismain. An Ealing, London-based e-commerce company Jamii provides a loyalty card scheme designed to promote African-Caribbean businesses, predominantly focusing on the black British community.

After struggling to locate black-owned businesses, Ismain decided to channel her efforts into promoting them. She created a directory of them and provided a discount card scheme to encourage customers to return.

The Jamii Card confers a variety of benefits, including discounts of up to 40% at participating black-owned businesses. The London-based network encompasses more than 150 black-owned businesses trading in clothing, skincare, haircare and beauty products, as well as greeting cards.

6. Black Ballad


Based in Newham, UK, and co-founded by Bola Awoniyi and Tobi Oredein, Black Ballad is an online publishing company whose mission is to empower black British women through content, commerce, and community.

Awoniyi and Oredein developed the concept in May 2014, after they became increasingly frustrated by the lack of mainstream media representation for black British women.

As the CEO of a relatively small team, Oredein steers the partnership, commercial, and investment-facing aspects of the business, while Awoniyi oversees operations and finances. Connecting more than 150 black female bloggers and creators, the company collaborates with industry giants such as Waterstones and the Financial Times to represent Britain’s black community.

7. Marshmallow


Founded by David Goate and Alexander and Oliver Kent-Braham, Marshmallow is a Camden, UK-based insurance provider that offers insurance products, leveraging data and technology to make insurance more affordable and inclusive.

Founded by David Goate and identical twins Alexander and Oliver Kent-Braham, the company was initially established with the goal of supporting people who had migrated to the UK with a focus on helping them to find affordable insurance. While the company remains committed to this goal, it has since expanded its mission with a commitment to helping a wider pool of consumers, particularly those who have been rejected by other insurers.

About the Author

Joanna RileyJoanna (Jo) Riley is an entrepreneur, investor, and advocate in technology, and is currently the CEO and Co-Founder of Censia. Jo has a highly experienced background in building and scaling companies, which she attributes to her deep passion for people and building technologies that allow people to be their best selves. She brings her wide knowledge of the industry to better transform the way enterprise companies hire talent. You can connect with Joanna Riley at @joannakiddriley on Twitter or on Linkedin. Read her full bio here.