Black women are the fastest-growing demographic of entrepreneurs in the U.S., with nearly 2.7 million businesses nationwide. Despite their growing presence in business, they are more likely than other demographic group to self-fund their ventures. With Black women receiving a mere 1% in venture funding, only a fraction end up running mature high-growth businesses.
In fact, it’s a huge accomplishment for founders to even build a venture that’s appealing to potential buyers. While there are some exceptions, achieving a successful exit is typically a process that requires endless meetings, getting to know, and developing strategic relationships with key stakeholders.
Successful acquisitions often require access to a strong network, funding, company visibility, and insider knowledge. Here is our list of 10 black women whose companies have been successfully acquired. These ambitious go-getters carved their own paths, determined to strive as startup founders against all odds.
Monique Rodriquez founded Mielle Organics in 2014 after her personal haircare regimen became a craze on her social media. Mielle has expanded to 10 collections, with products distributed in more than 87 countries, and can be found in over 100,000 stores across the US. In 2021, Monique became the first black woman to raise a non-controlling nine-figure ($100 million) investment in a deal with Berkshire Partners.
In January of this year, Monique created a Twitter frenzy by announcing the sale of Mielle to Proctor & Gamble Beauty. Talking of founding her own company, Rodriquez said “Being a Black woman starting a company, the banks don’t believe in you. You haven’t proved yourself so investors don’t really believe in you [either]”, and sees the acquisition as “selling up” not selling out. Both Mielle and P&G have pledged $10 million to expand the impact of Mielle Cares, a charity focused on education, economic opportunities, and business relief for Black communities.
Stanford University MBA grad Marla Blow launched FS Card Inc. back in 2014. The Washington D.C.-based credit card venture was designed to move small-dollar loan customers into more consumer-friendly products. Just four years later in December 2018, the company was acquired by Continental Finance, one of America’s leading marketers and servicers of credit cards for consumers with less-than-perfect credit.
Based on advanced analytics and behavioral insight, FS Card aims to responsibly meet the short-term liquidity needs of consumers through an affordable, transparent, and sustainable credit product. FS Card’s inaugural offering is the Build card, a subprime credit card offering low cost-of-credit and easy-to-understand terms at a time when reasonably priced credit options are scarce.
Zim Flores (nee Ugochukwu) founded Travel Noire, a platform that aims to make international travel more inclusive for people of color, in 2013. Travel Noire reached over 2 million millennials a month and has over 180,000 followers on Instagram. In 2016 Ugochukwu was featured on Forbes 30 Under 30 Media list.
In 2017, Blavity, the media and events startup focused on black millennials and black culture, acquired Travel Noire for an undisclosed amount. Ugochukwu remained the Chief Brand Officer of Travel Noire. “Travel and culture is a huge part of the black millennial experience and an important part of how we interact with the world,” Blavity co-founder and CEO Morgan DeBaun said in a statement. In March 2020 Zim founded Italicist, a platform helping women find personalized fashion picks.
Sian Davis is the founder of Cast Beauty, the award-winning, data-driven beauty recommendation platform for women of color. Acquired by an undisclosed buyer in 2017, from its beginnings Cast Beauty was a smash hit. It won L’Oreal’s prestigious Women in Digital award in 2014.
Sian then went on to hold the role of Entrepreneur in Residence at Cross Culture Ventures and in 2022 joined Cool Cats, a leader in the NFT community, as its Vice President of Community. Morson had built out the community at Palm NFT Studio and has developed one of the most diverse Web3 communities via TheBlkChain, where she was the founder and editor.
Rianna Lynn’s food and technology firm Revive was acquired by A Better Life Holdings, LLC, run by CNBC’s Marcus Lemonis of “The Profit”. After the acquisition, Riana continued her development for the hit show. She then went on to launch FoodTrace, a supply chain software company, and served as a Google Entrepreneur-in-Residence.
In 2019 she founded Journey Foods, an SaaS company that supports product management and intelligence services for food businesses. Riana has been featured in Forbes, USA Today, Inc, Ebony Magazine, Silicon Hills News, MIT 35 under 35, and serves as World Economic Forum 2022 Tech Pioneer.
Juanita Lott is the founder and former chair and CEO of Bridgestream Software. The company provided role-based provisioning and access management software. Oracle, one of Bridgestream’s largest clients, acquired the company in 2007. This move made it the first tech company with a black woman founder to be acquired.
Now an investment partner with Portfolio Investments focusing on women and minority-led early-stage ventures, Juanita also serves on the board of Accion Opportunity Fund, the country’s leading non-profit small business lender, and Mercy Investment Services, a social impact investment fund.
Jewel Burks-Soloman is the co-founder of Partpic, an Atlanta-based startup designed to streamline the purchase of maintenance and repair parts using computer vision technology. Partpic was acquired by Amazon in 2016, and Jewel served as Team Lead for Visual Search at 19.com, an Amazon Company. Jewel Burks was a Google Entrepreneur-In-Residence, on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, presented at the White House Demo Day, and raised over $ 2 million. She led the integration of Partpic’s technology and launched it as Amazon PartFinder in 2018 to the over 150M users of Amazon’s Mobile Shopping App. She is now the Head of Google for Startups in the US and Managing Partner at Collab Capital, a $ 50 million venture capital fund.
NewME, the popular accelerator for entrepreneurs of color, announced in 2018 that it was being acquired by LightHouse, the parent company of the Cincinnati-based Hillman Accelerator program. NewME’s founder, Angela Benton, was trailblazing in her creation of an online program geared towards providing support for entrepreneurs of color.
With its headquarters now in Miami, NewMe has helped secure over $40 million in venture funding for entrepreneurs of color. “Lighthouse’s acquisition of NewME is a win across cultures,” said Candice Matthews-Bracken, its founder. “Our accelerator expansion will enable us to reach even more underrepresented founders and their transformative businesses.” Benton stayed on as advisor, before moving on to found Streamlytics, a data ecosystem that provides ethical, human-powered data, in a bid to democratize data collection. The company’s investors include Issa Rae, and The Savannah College of Art and Design.
At the start of 2022, Black Female Founders, a Minneapolis-based community organization and pre-accelerator was acquired by Black Women Talk Tech. “Our communities overlapped so the acquisition made sense to bring more resources and connections to more Black women founders. We’ve known Erin Horne McKinney for years and before this acquisition, she’s always been a big supporter of Black Women Talk Tech,” BWTT said in a statement.
BWTT has built a community of over 1,000 Black women founders and allies and landed $250,000 into the hands of startups. #BFF supports Black-women-led startups, primarily through its 10-week pre-accelerator program #BFF Labs.
Cheryl Contee is co-founder of Attentive.ly, a tool that helps show businesses or nonprofits what their email market list is saying on social media, in order to send targeted messages. In 2016 Attentive.ly was acquired by Blackbaud, making it the first tech startup with a black female founder on board in history to be acquired by a NASDA1-traed company.
Her current gig Fission Strategy merged with 270 Strategies in 2018, and Contee now leads as CEO. One of Fast Company’s Most Influential Women in Tech in 2010, Contee serves on the boards of Netroots Nation, Citizen Engagement Lab & Digital Undivided. In 2019 she also released her book “Mechanical Bull: How You Can Achieve Startup Success.”