Pharaoh's Conclave received $100K from Google for Startups Black Founders Fund
"The summer was marked by the collision of the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest over racial injustice, prompting the creation of the $5 million Google for Startups Black Founders Fund. The tech giant has now announced the startup Black businesses that will be the benefactors of the grant.
Pharaoh's Conclave, founded by Jakita and Erich Thomas, was created to provide career pathways for Black and Latinx youth in esports. The Atlanta-based brand is one of the 76 startups selected by Google to buoy and provide more resources to underrepresented communities with cash awards up to $100,000.
"You're really seeing the need from our founders and particularly zeroing in on the layering of problems that came upon this year related to COVID-19 [and how it] had an outsized impact on Black-owned businesses," Jewel Burks Solomon, Head of Google for Startups in the U.S., tells the theGrio exclusively.
"And then you layer on top of that the egregious instances of racial injustice that we saw earlier this year, starting in June with George Floyd and continuing with Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and the list goes on and on."
Burks Solomon also cites Google's $175 million commitment, championed by Google CEO Sundar Pichai, towards economic opportunities for Black business owners.
"We wanted to show up in a meaningful way for Black-owned businesses," she continues.
Google notes that less than one percent of venture capital going to Black businesses is another reason for their involvement in the U.S. Their investment into Pharaoh's Conclave has enabled the company to make new hires. Additionally, they have amplified their message and allowed the youth to develop skills, network, and build their resumes.
"We've been preparing young people for esports careers for the past four years. And so, this $100,000 dollars and non-diluted funding is really critical for us. We've actually already begun putting it to awesome use," Jakita, a passionate gamer along with her husband Erich, shares with theGrio.
"For one, it has allowed us to move Level Up Academy from MVP (minimum viable product) to production quality. So, we've been generating revenues on an MVP that I actually designed and implemented, but it allowed us to hire a professional software designer."
Erich adds that Pharaoh's Conclave is named after their first-born son and will serve as a testament to what is possible. They wanted to plant the seeds of generational wealth to find roots in the future.
"His name is Pharaoh and so we named the company after him with the thought of creating generational wealth and opportunity for our children to be able to go into whatever they wanted to do, and be supported if they want to do these courses," he states.
"If they want to go into the gaming they can, but the company could support them in whatever endeavors they wanted to do. So, we were very intentional in naming something that was going to be long-lasting, you know, with our family name attached to it."
Erich is adamant that his success will help to create a blueprint for other businesses and not just theirs. He is also involved with Morris Brown College, using some of the family's own personal money and the funding to create an esports program.
"We're creating, again, opportunities not just for generational wealth inside of our family, but this is going to be a complete program that's going to allow other young people to start their own companies by getting the degree at Morris Brown in this area for them to start their generation wealth," he says.
"So, this is going to be give them scholarship opportunities to help them pay for school so they won't have that kind of debt, and they'll have a foot forward in the industry."
Google will be using traditional figures to measure the success of the initiative, but company wants the dollars to be leveraged beyond just those selected. They are pleased thus far by the endeavor's reach.
"We measure success by everything that Erich indicated, just mentioning regarding how they've been able to go full time on the business, hire people to help them get their product from independent production quality," Burk Solomon maintains.
"Success for us is being able to grow our community," Erich agrees.
The complete list of the recipients for the Black Founders Fund can be viewed here."