She Is Putting the Black Dollar to Work - OZY | A Modern Media Company

She Is Putting the Black Dollar to Work

She Is Putting the Black Dollar to Work

By Joshua Eferighe

Jewel Burks speaks onstage at WIRED25 Festival.
SourcePhillip Faraone/Getty


Because she's investing in Black entrepreneurs when others won't.

By Joshua Eferighe

As policing policies and Confederate statues tumble amid America’s racial reckoning, here’s a statistic to consider that gets at America’s skewed power structure: A mere 1 percent of companies that secure venture capital funding have Black founders, with Black female founders receiving less than 0.2 percent. Take a look at who is heading these boards, and it makes sense: Only 4 percent of employees at VC firms are Black, according to a 2018 survey by the National Venture Capital Association. 

Enter Jewel Burks Solomon, the new head of Google for Startups, a newly created position designed by the tech giant to help empower a diverse range of startups. Solomon is also a managing partner at Collab Capital, a venture fund that is backing Black-owned businesses — building a path to sustained wealth for a community that lacks it.

Solomon, 31, has seen how these pathways work. The Howard University grad launched her career at Google, then ditched Silicon Valley for Atlanta to found a startup called Partpic that uses computer vision to streamline purchases. She sold that company to Amazon for an undisclosed sum. But she would not have been able to do so without first receiving more than $2 million in seed funding from notable investors like AOL co-founder Steve Case and Comcast Ventures.

The experience led her to start investing in early-stage companies before launching Collab Capital in 2019, tackling the racial wealth gap head-on by connecting African Americans with both financial and social capital.

As if that weren’t enough, Solomon even recently dipped her toe into acting, starring as herself in a TV commercial for Pantene Gold Series hair products. She’s shown at her desk and in the boardroom, as a voice-over intones: “You mean business. And so do we.” Indeed.

Sign up for the weekly newsletter!

Related Stories