14 Nigerian startup founders selected for Google's Black Founders Fund Europe

14 Nigerian startup founders selected for Google's Black Founders Fund Europe
Founders of Propel, one of the selected startups for Google Black Founders Fund Europe 2022

Google has selected 40 startups for its Black Founders Fund Europe. Twelve out of the selected startups have Nigerian founders. One of the startups, Propel, has three Nigerian founders, thereby, bringing the total number of Nigerian founders to 14. Two out of the 14 Nigerian founders are female.

Please note that this list is different from the Black Founders Fund Africa —which is strictly for founders based in Africa.

About the Google Black Founders Fund

Established in 2020, the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund (BFF) provides cash awards—without requiring equity in return—and hands-on support to help Black entrepreneurs build and grow their businesses. It has awarded more than $20 million in Europe, Brazil, Africa, and the U.S. to help Black-led startups secure funding.

In addition to up to $100,000 (approximately €89,000) in non-dilutive cash awards, Black Founders Fund recipients receive ongoing Google mentorship and product support to help them navigate every stage of their startup process—including up to $200,000 (approximately €179,000) in Google Cloud credits.

The previous recipients of the Fund have raised over $63 million (approximately €59 million) collectively in funding and hired more than 100 people within six months. "We can’t wait to see what this next group of founders achieves – because given the right opportunities, Black founders thrive," Rachael Palmer, Head of VC and Startup Partnerships, EMEA, and Marta Krupinska, Head of Google for Startups UK wrote in a joint statement.

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Meet the Google BFF Europe Nigerian founders and their startups

The Nigerian founders are:

James Omisakin, Co-Founder and CPO at Compare Ethics

James is a graduate of biomedical science at the University of Warwick. Prior to co-founding Compare Ethics, he worked as a chemistry teacher and a marketing consultant in China. His company, Compare Ethics connects ethical shoppers to ethical brands by using the latest online and offline experiences.

Osas Omoigiade, Co-Founder and CEO at Deep Meta

Osas has a Ph.D. in metallurgy from Imperial College London with expertise in novel manufacturing steel methods and a Masters degree from the University of Cambridge in Material Science.

His startup, Deep.Meta is an AI software that predicts production defects in Metals. "We identify problems in metals production by harnessing manufacturing data to predict when defects will occur before they do," an excerpt from its website reads. The products help in time management, reduce scrap rate and lower CO2 emission.

Samuel Adesanya, Founder, and CEO at Devo

Samuel's Devo is an end-to-end operating system for convenience stores. Its intuitive and comprehensive solution enables stores to operate more efficiently, with tools and capabilities including a broad online presence, omnichannel Point of sale, reporting and analytics, and more.

Daniel Ojeme, Founder and CEO at Eccobell

Daniel is a graduate of Information and Communication Technology from Covenant University, Nigeria. Founded in 2019, Daniel's startup—Eccobell is a 'Contactless as a Service Provider'.

"Our first product is an Intercom system for houses and blocks of apartments. By simply scanning a QR code at an entrance, guests can communicate with homeowners -wherever they are." Daniel stated on his LinkedIn profile. This product eliminates the hassles that come with installing entry systems. It does not require wifi, battery power, or hardwiring.

Damilare Ogunleye, Co-Founder and CEO at FoodLama

Damilare is a graduate of the University of Lagos. Prior to founding FoodLama, he worked at several companies in Nigeria, including; Nestle Nigeria, Verdant Zeal. FoodLama is a Browser Extension that helps users easily find food that matches their preferences when shopping for groceries online.

Gabriel Makinwa, Founder and CEO at GigBridge

Gabriel is an MBA Graduate of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Queen Mary University of London. In 2016, he was selected as a Mentor for the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme.

GigBridge is a recruitment platform that connects experienced construction workers to construction companies.

Gabriel Makinwa

Nnaemeka Obodoekwe, Founder and CTO at Lenkie

Nnaemeka is a graduate of the University of Johannesburg, where he read information technology, software engineering and computer for his BSc and MSc programmes. He worked at several South African companies including Standard Bank before he founded Lenkie.

Founded in 2020, Lenkie provides an embedded lending infrastructure to enable online platforms to become a source of funding for their business users.

Sunkanmi Ola (CEO), Seun Owolabi (CCO), and Abel Agoi (CTO), Co-Founders at Propel

Propel is a multi-layered infrastructure designed to power the tech talent economy. Basically, the startup enables European companies to access African tech talents. Propel also partners with African-based tech communities to train these talents.  

Seun and Sunkanmi are graduates of Covenant University. Meanwhile, Abel graduated from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta.

A screenshot showing Propel's founding team 

Silas Adekunle, Co-Founder and CEO at Reach Industries.

Silas is a UK-based robotics engineer who created MekaMon, the world's first intelligent gaming robot. In 2018, Adekunle was named among the top 100 minority ethnic leaders in technology by Financial Times. That same year, he made it to Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe.

He is also co-founder and CEO of Awarri, a company focused on enabling robotics and AI in Africa, starting with education. Silas, who studied at UWE Bristol, graduated with First Class Honors (BSc) in Robotics Technology and has an Honorary Doctor of Technology.

Meanwhile, Reach Industries aims to help developers quickly and securely implement the cloud infrastructure needed to remotely monitor, manage and control their robots, industrial automation, and IoT devices.

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Ugo Agbai, Co-Founder & COO at Ruka

Ugo read biomedical engineering at the Imperial College London. She and her Zimbabwean co-founder, Tendai Moyo started Ruka to build an ecosystem of hair solutions for black women. "Our hair is sourced ethically from partners based in South East Asia, specifically India and Bangladesh. This hair comes from women who sell their hair after cutting it and often rely on selling hair as a source of income." Ugo writes.

Simi Lindgren, Founder and CEO at Yuty

Simi is a third-generation British of Nigerian heritage. She is arguably the 10th Black female founder in the UK to successfully raise venture capital for her business. During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Simi launched Yuty, an ethical beauty marketplace that leverages AI technology to match shoppers to their desired beauty products.

Oladimeji Joseph, Founder at Zest

Oladimeji read civil engineering at The Federal Polytechnic, Ado-Ekiti. He is a European immigrant—born in Nigeria, a naturalised Finnish citizen, and a resident in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

His company—Zest is a healthtech startup that empowers patients, providers & payers to address the root cause of diabetes, hypertension, and other chronic conditions while lowering the cost of care.

Editor's note: Out of the 40 selected startups, we carefully studied the identities of the founders and arrived at this 14 individuals of Nigerian origin. We will review the list in a case where we need to add or remove any of the individuals. Also, even though there are other Africans on the list, this listicle is focused on only Nigerians. Please reach out to us if you have any recommendations for us.

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