Black-founded neighborhood startup Kanarys recently raised $3 million from venture capital funds. With this chunk of change, Mandy Price and Star Carter, two of the three founders, join 91 other Black women that have raised over $1 million in venture capital funding this past year.
The investment, which was announced on Jan. 6, was made by Zeal Capital Partners, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, Morgan Stanley, 100 Black Angels Fund, Segal Ventures and Jigsaw Ventures.
Founded in 2018, the Lake Highlands-based company aims to create inclusive work cultures through anonymous feedback and data. More than 1,000 company profiles are featured on their site, including Fortune 500 companies. It was also recently selected to be a part of Google’s startup accelerator program, which was created to give Black-owned startups a boost.
Through their system, employees can discuss work-related issues surrounding discrimination, and then artificial intelligence aggregates that data so that companies can pinpoint areas of improvement.
“The reason most DEI initiatives fail is because they use a one-size-fits-all approach, and this is where data and measurement is really important,” Price says of their product. “Before companies start spending money for a quick fix, like hiring a DEI consultant or scheduling diversity training, companies need to utilize data to determine what areas within their organization actually need attention.”
The company also works with diversity and inclusion consultants who help corporations to understand their data, as Kanarys’ work is just the beginning.
“It’s critical to drill down and not stop until you find your “Kanarys” in the coal mine, the employees whose voices have been silenced, because those employees hold the insights that lead to real systemic change,” Price says.
For Price, this investment is also a huge moment for both the company and the business world. In October 2020, Pitchbook, a data firm, reported that venture capital investments for women hit their lowest level in three years at $434 million, and beyond that number, Black women only made up 0.27 percent of startup funding in 2018 and 2019, according to CNN Business.
“We firmly believe that this lack of representation in venture capital funding is unacceptable, and we hope to continue reinforcing that diversity, equity, and inclusion are vital to the economic growth and success of society,” Price says. “Our aim is that our historic fundraise and forward-thinking mission will inspire underrepresented founders to continue breaking barriers and chasing their dreams. Our fundraise is a step in the right direction for underrepresented founders.”
While Kanarys is made for mid-sized to large corporations, diversity and inclusion is at the forefront of their work environment. Beyond offering full insurance benefits for employees and families, the company also works to create an inclusive environment through weekly one-on-one check-ins, accessible C-suite executives and inclusion building practices, like encouraging employees to put their pronouns in their email signatures.
“Our team is constantly working to build an even better workplace, and our hope is to be the model of inclusivity for all companies. We look forward to the day when our growth will allow use of the Kanarys platform internally,” Price says.
With this investment the Black-founded company does hope to grow their team, moving one step closer to that goal. They hope to hire individuals in business development, customer success and technology.
“Right now, companies across the globe are looking for a partner to help ensure their workplace is fair and equitable,” Price says. “Kanarys is that partner, and this round of funding will help us increase our capacity to work with even more companies in 2021.”
Kanarys offers free resources for all companies to use. These resources can be found here, and interested parties can learn more about Kanarys here.