Highlighting Innovative Black-Owned Apps
Isadora Teich wrote this article
Historically, the tech industry is a globally diverse effort, yet today, there is a distinct lack of coverage for Black creators and technologists.
For this reason, we want to highlight some Black-owned apps and tech startups that are doing some pretty exciting things.
Let’s take a look!
The Rise Of Black-Owned Apps: Social Media Platforms
Before we dive in, we need to explore the current state of apps for the average Black user.
It’s no secret Black and queer cultures’ lifestyle and slang, music, and fashion are often what define the culture permeating throughout the social media of the moment in the West.
However, Black and queer social media users can often face abuse for participating in the very culture they themselves created. They also rarely reap the rewards of their innovations to quite the same effect as their creator counterparts.
One notable example of this is white American TikToker Charli D’Amelio. She became the most famous person online and built a lucrative social media empire by copying the viral TikTok dances created mostly by Black creators.
But this is far from the only example. The Black originators of these trends received almost no recognition, no fame, and no money for their creative outputs.
Indeed, the latest Forbes list of TikTok’s highest-paid stars didn’t include a single creator of color, despite Khaby Lame being the platform’s second most-followed account.
This is likely partly due to TikTok’s algorithm, which is known to boost the posts of people who fit Eurocentric beauty standards and suppress the posts of everyone else. There are also growing whispers of shadow bans and censorship to control who’s going viral via Tiktok.
Social media platforms themselves, as corporations, also make billions off of the creative outputs of their Black users, while seemingly doing nothing to protect them from harm.
Recently, TikTok was accused of letting white creators ‘take over’ a scheduled Black History Month Zoom event with Nicki Minaj. There were reports of verified Black creators with more than 2 million followers who didn’t get invites, while white users with under 1,000 were in attendance.
“I feel like there’s no due diligence and really catering to the Black creators on their app even when it comes to something as simple as setting up an event, paying respect to the culture, the architects, and the people who run the trends,” creator Erik Louis said.
Perhaps in spite of these shortcomings, entrepreneurship in the tech space is blooming, as Black creators now turn their eyes towards their own communities, who are currently underserved when it comes to apps catering to them.
The Cookout App and Others
The Cookout App is an invite-only social app for the black community.
It was founded by three black queer women: Kiki Bryant, Cassandra A Osei, and Atiyya Hassan. The app began in 2019 with just $3,000. The apps says that it’s where “Blackness is celebrated, not tolerated.” According to founder Kiki Bryant:
“It has over 7.5k users on our MVP in a year with organic, word-of-mouth promotion from a small community of loyal followers.”
Another one of these exciting black-owned apps is MelaninPeople, founded by Adeyinka Adegoke. The platform’s mission statement is this:
“A socio-business media platform connecting Melanin People from all over the world using short form videos, pictures and messaging application . Our vision is to connect people of color from different parts of the world, share the culture and increase our socio-economic awareness. Join us and promote your personal or business brand on MelaninPeople.”
The Fanbase App was founded by Isaac Hayes III.
It is different from other black-owned social media ventures in that it allows users to monetize their posts with paid subscribers. Users can gain both free followers and paid subscribers by posting photo, video, live stream, and long-form content. As of this month, Fanbase raised over $1 million.
🥳 $1.8 Million Dollars Raised! Thank You!
You’re watching history in the making. Become part of it.
invest at https://t.co/sDWo6E9zjn
The minimum to invest is $250 pic.twitter.com/XiMWHZ2d3w
— Fanbase (@fanbaseapp) February 15, 2022
WeBuyBlack: A Gamechanging Black-owned App for e-commerce
This massive e-commerce marketplace was founded by Shareef Abdul-Malik in 2015. It has been called “The Black Amazon.” Today, it is the largest online marketplace featuring black-owned businesses.
On top of being a marketplace, it is a business development and resource center. It offers monthly grants starting at $2,000 and builds relationships with black organizations, donors, and non-profits.
In less than a decade, WeBuyBlack has created an entirely independent economic ecosystem that promotes and supports black entrepreneurs. It has helped to launch companies and careers with black community support.
ANJEL Tech is a black-owned app that turns a smartphone into a personal body cam. This has become an unfortunate necessity in the US for Black Americans for a number of reasons. These include:
Between 2017 and 2022, Police fatally shot about 1000 people a year. Black Americans have the highest rate of fatal police shootings amongst all groups in the United States, at about 38 fatal shootings per million people.
Also, when it comes to other types of deadly crimes, there is little help for Black Americans. Nearly 40% of all the reported missing people in the US are POC. Yet, Black Americans are only about 13% of the total US population.
Overall, missing-person cases involving people of color in the U.S. are less likely to be solved. When a person of color or a child of color is reported missing, they are classified as a runaway. Many will automatically assume they did something to deserve it, even in the cases of young children.
Cases involving African Americans remain unresolved four times longer than cases involving white and Hispanic people.
When it comes to Black American women, things are especially stark. Black women make up less than 7 percent of the total population, yet are about 10 percent of all missing Americans, according to the crime information center.
Behind ANJEL Tech
ANJEL Tech was founded by James Samuel, Jr., a Black military veteran, and his wife, Evelyn. The app live streams video in real-time and can also directly share a user’s location with loved ones.
One interesting feature of the app is that, even if the phone loses connection from the server or is discarded, the audio and footage captured automatically go to the cloud.
The company plans to expand its software by providing more discrete methods to enhance the safety of its users, like wearable technologies. This will allow users to have an alternate action plan in the event they do not have access to their smartphones.
You can learn more about ANJEL Tech here!
On Second Thought
Have you ever sent a text and regretted it instantly? On Second Thought founder, Maci Peterson, has your back.
After sending her ex a regrettable text, she searched the app store for an app that would let her retract it. When she realized it didn’t exist, she decided to create it.
On Second Thought is now backed by over a million in capital and has expanded its product offerings. When you use the app, you can cancel or edit a text for up to 60 seconds after you press send.
It also stops drunk texting disasters. There is a curfew mode, which holds all of your texts messages until the following day when you can give them a sober review.
Final Thoughts On Innovative Black-Owned Apps
There are a lot of exciting things happening in the world of app development right now.
Black creators are working to improve the lives of people within their communities and across the globe in so many ways.
Although the road does seem to be longer for underestimated Black founders, who received just 1.2% out of $147 billion in venture capital during the first half of 2021, through the growing online movement to support Black enterprise and these founders’ pure tenacity, we will see more apps like these succeed.
It is clear that in the face of adversity and a lack of Black representation in today’s social media realm and other apps, entrepreneurship will prevail.
Do you have a favorite black-owned app that you have discovered recently? Comment below.
About ChopDawg.com: Since 2009, we have helped create 350+ next-generation apps for startups, Fortune 500s, growing businesses, and non-profits from around the globe. Think Partner, Not Agency.
Follow us on Twitter
Like us on Facebook
Double-tap us at Instagram
Connect with us on LinkedIn
Find us on social at #MakeItApp’n®