Top 10 US-based Black business founders to watch in 2023

Arian Simone (left) features on Business Chief's list of the top 10 Black founders to watch in 2023. Picture: Fearless Fund
To mark Black History Month, Business Chief takes a look at the Black business founders who are set to make a big impression throughout 2023

The US is awash with inspiring Black businesspeople, each making a big impression in their respective fields. 

Here, we rank the nation's top 10 Black founders to keep an eye on this year. 

10: Ama Marfo

Ama Marfo is co-founder and CEO of Airfordable alongside Emmanuel Buah

The firm's goal is to make air travel more accessible by allowing users to book flights for a small fraction of the usual upfront price, and pay the rest later in way that suits them. 

As a college student in the US, Ama herself faced paying in excess of US$2,000 to fly home to Ghana and visit her family, thus inspiring her business venture. 

09: Lo Toney

In years gone by, Lo Toney has held a variety of positions at big-name companies including eBay, Nike and Zynga

Today, he is a Founding Managing Partner of Plexo Capital, an investment firm which emerged from Google Ventures.

The aim of Plexo is to invest in emerging venture capital fund managers and early stage venture-backed companies. Partners include some of the biggest names in technology, financial services and family offices.

08: Johnetta MacCalla

Johnetta MacCalla is co-founder and CEO of Zyrobotics, a developer of inclusive, educational technologies for children in early education. 

With a focus on interactive STEM games and learning tools, the firm's coding app caters for children of all ages and abilities. 

Dr MacCalla is a serial entrepreneur with 35 years' experience in managing tech companies, as well as the project management of high-tech projects with the Port of Los Angeles, NASA and the US Military. 

07: Jordan Walker

Jordan Walker is a founder of Yac (Yelling Across Cubicles), a pioneering, voice-messaging app designed to cut down on the need for meetings and calls.

Yac was originally created as a a walkie-talkie for Mac to win a hackathon in 2018, but is now positioned to be a world leader in audio-first, keyboard-free voice messaging at work.

Walker has also co-founded Backtrack, which can save local audio that the user forgot to record up to five hours in the past. 

06: Michael Broughton

Michael Broughton is the man behind Altro, a unique service helping people to build their credit through recurring payments. 

Broughton himself struggled to get a loan to finish college due to his lack of credit score or history, and was inspired to lend a helping hand to the next generation. 

Altro's free app allows users to link their subscription services to the company's subscriptions card, thus building a credit score. 

05: Maya Hardigan

Black women in the US are 49% more likely to give birth prematurely and an estimated 60% of Black maternal deaths are avoidable.

It's statistics like these which have inspired the work of Maya Hardigan, founder and CEO of Mae, a digital platform aimed at driving positive pregnancy outcomes among Black women. 

Harnessing her significant experience at Pfizer, Hardigan is committed to addressing the disparities in maternal health outcomes seen across the country. 

04: Arian Simone

Arian Simone is a co-founder and CEO of Atlanta-based Fearless Fund, which bills itself as a venture 'built by women of colour for women of colour'.

According to a 2021 study carried out by Deloitte and NVCA, just 3% of venture capital investors were Black, while Black founders received a tiny fraction of VC funding in Q3 last year

Fearless Fund's mission is to bridge the gap in VC funding for women of colour founders, with a view to building scalable, growth-aggressive companies.

03: Chandler Malone

The talent gap in the US technology sector is estimated to be between two and five million people. 

That's where Chandler Malone and his company, Bootup, come in.

Bootup is aimed at supporting individuals looking to break into tech, as well as helping technology companies trying to solve their impending talent crisis. 

Thus far, Malone and his team have helped more than 2,000 individuals get their first jobs in tech, securing them a total of US$150m in annualised salaries.

02: Lisa Dyson

A serial entrepreneur and problem solver, Lisa Dyson's influence in the field of sustainability apparently knows no bounds. 

Earlier in her career, while a Management Consultant at the Boston Consulting Group, Dyson worked with top executives to help Fortune companies develop high-impact strategies and execution plans.

Around a decade ago she co-founded Kiverdi, a company using NASA-inspired technologies to convert CO2 into eco-friendly, bio-based products. 

More recently she founded its subsidiary, Air Protein, which harnesses technology that was used by NASA scientists in the 1970s to feed astronauts by transforming carbon dioxide into protein. 

01: Morgan DeBaun

Morgan DeBaun is the founder, Chairman and CEO of Blavity, a successful media company which continues to grow in reach, popularity and size. 

Having been launched in 2014, the firm now looks after seven brands aimed at informing, entertaining and engaging communities of colour.

Its business division, AfroTech, also provides a professional network and talent acquisition solution for some of the world's largest companies, thus "economically and creatively supporting Black millennials".


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