We are delighted to announce the 30 companies selected for the inaugural Libra programme, set up to support tech leadership teams with at least one Black or multiracial founder, and promote diversity and equal opportunities in the sector.
A significant proportion of the companies contribute to ‘tech-for-good’ or impact tech, working to democratise mathematics education, ensuring responsible supply chains for creative businesses, assessing business sustainability standards, analysing anti-racism and inclusion in the workplace, mitigating biases in recruitment, developing flexible diagnostic tools for disease outbreaks, providing resources for parental wellbeing, creating digital safe spaces for peer-to-peer support, and promoting product reuse and resells.
The Libra programme has been designed to support underrepresented founders overcome challenges directly linked to biases, disadvantages and poor representation. A 2020 report by Tech Nation, Extend VC and Impact X – Diversity Beyond Gender report – highlighted that between 2009 and 2019, 76% of VC investment went to all-white founding teams, whilst only 23.36% went to multiracial founding teams and 0.24% went to all-Black founding teams.
Tom Adeyoola, co-founder of Extend Ventures and judge for the Libra programme, said: “I am hopeful that Tech Nation with this new Libra programme can help drive for Black and multiracial founders the virtuous cycle of visibility, connections, and success through the power of the cohort that we have seen in the rest of the startup ecosystem.
“Having had the honour of taking part in the judging for the Libra programme, it is clear that there is a healthy and competitive pipeline of Black and multiracial founders that just need fair access to financial and social capital to succeed.”
To overcome such challenges, founders on the six month programme will each receive over 60 hours of support and mentoring from world-leading scale coaches. Expert-led workshops and peer-to-peer sessions will cover topics such as raising series A, selling into corporates, scaling your operations and expanding internationally.
The cohort will also be introduced to key stakeholders and decision-makers at corporates, investment firms, government bodies and others during networking events.
“At Tech Nation, we are working to build a future where anyone with a vision and drive can access the skills and support needed to scale and succeed as a game-changing leader,” commented Abi Mohamed, Libra lead at Tech Nation.
“We have furthered our commitment to this by launching our first programme designed to tackle some of the unique challenges faced by Black and multiracial founders in the UK. The 30 scaleups joining the Libra programme represent some of the most exciting, innovative, and resilient tech companies in the UK today, and are tackling some of our biggest challenges.
“By helping to support our future Libra alumni to reach unicorn status and beyond, we hope to play our part in strengthening the UK’s position as one of the best places in the world to start and grow a business – for everyone.”
The Libra judges include: Tom Adeyoola, Daisy Onubogu, Dama Sathianathan, Nakai Jirira, PhD, Anika H., Margaret Sheyindemi, Maria Francisca Jorge (Kika), Blake Bower, Tanya Williams, Sebastiaan Bruinsma, Kevin Simmons, Saloni Bhojwani, Audrey Handem, Olivia Sibony,, Leo Chandler, Evgeny Shadchnev, Pam Sheemar, Harriet Saunders, Elias Suliman, Lisa Lambie, Kaitlin Fritz, Liam Gray and Abigail Iyin Osundun.
Meet the Libra 1.0 cohort
- Air Maths Tuition , London
Founder: Michael Olagunju
Air Math Tuition is an online maths education platform, curating personalised learning materials and tutoring services for GCSE and A-level students. It aims to democratise education with the power of machine learning, providing a personalised learning journey with minimal human involvement to drive costs down and make top-quality tutoring affordable to less privileged students. The company also aims to level the playing field for learning maths and mitigate elitism in the UK education system.
- Baselime, London
Founder: Boris Tane
Baselime makes it easy to identify and troubleshoot defects in serverless architectures. With Baselime’s tools, identifying bottlenecks and resolving incidents is painless, and IT teams can stop aimlessly firefighting when there’s an outage.
- Boxx, London
Founder: Anna Samuels
Boxx is a boxing-inspired fitness brand with both a digital content platform and a physical studio. The company is currently developing ‘the peloton of boxing’, a connected product designed to blend in beautifully at home.
- Brijj, Bristol
Founder: Adrian Mitchell
Brijj is a project management tool built for data and analytics teams to collaborate with their stakeholders so they can deliver high-quality, actionable insights, together.
- Chanodil, Nottingham
Founder: Chathura Sudharshan Athuluwage
Chanodil is an automated sourcing platform that helps brands build faster, leaner and more responsible supply chains. Its mission is to create the world’s most trusted supply chains, offer the most responsible and innovative sourcing solutions and provide the most seamless experience for both brands and manufacturers. Through the platform, brands are matched with the required suppliers for their business and can then use the platform to communicate, share tech packs, receive quotes, request samples and manage production from design all the way to delivery – all from one dashboard while tracking all the actions in the supply chain.
- Compare Ethics, London
Founder: Abbie Morris
Retail tech / sustainability tech
Compare Ethics verifies businesses’ sustainability credentials using patent-pending technology and ensures clear returns on investment for businesses increasing their sustainability standards. For consumers, it provides a trusted source of sustainability information.
- Definely, London
Founder: Nnamdi Emelifeonwu
Define optimises the contract drafting and reviewing process by allowing users to quickly access key information – all defined terms and references – in legal documents without ever having to leave the provision they are working on and therefore lose their context of review. Define acts as a risk management tool and efficiency software that has helped lawyers saved 30 mins to 1 hour a day when working on legal documents. Customers are some of the world’s largest law firms and corporate legal teams including Allen & Overy, Barclays and Deloitte.
- Beautonomy, London
Founder: Kiemu Salmon
Beautonomy is a marketplace where beauty content creators can monetise their expertise with customisable products creators can design and promote, helping them to monetise their social media channels.
- Eccobell, London
Founder: Daniel Ojeme
Eccobell is a “contactless as a service” provider, building an ecosystem of on-demand web applications using contactless technology to innovate how people access, communicate and interact with each other. The first product in the ecosystem is a “video doorbell as a service” for houses, apartments and commercial buildings, enabling anyone, anywhere to communicate with guests at just a tap. The product replaces redundant intercom systems allowing visitors to simply scan a display code outside an entrance to talk directly with residents wherever they are on any smart device or mobile.
- Finders Force, London
Founder: DeAnna Forbes-Sanchez
Finders Force provides shift-booking software to connect, hire and interact with agency staff across the entire traffic management industry. The platform connects depots with quality operatives using artificial intelligence and is designed for systemising the hiring of operatives, monitoring performance stats and automating every component of staff management.
- Flair Impact , London
Founder: Nii Cleland
Flair Impact is a people analytics company with a survey-based product that helps organisations measure and build anti-racist cultures. Flair Impact’s mission is to create a world in which all ethnicities can thrive.
- Framework, London
Founder: Asha Haji
Framework is the world’s first on-demand business school, especially made for the people building the businesses of the future. After successfully launching Founders Academy – a 9-month alternative MBA programme for startup joiners in partnership with Founders Forum – Framework is now productising their curriculum into a mobile learning experience that can scale globally.
- Happaning, London
Founder: Andrew Eniwumide
Happaning’s service is like Google street view, but with video. Happaning lets you watch an event from any perspective, at any time and from anywhere in one immersive, navigatable experience.
- Herbybox, London
Founder: Yemi Awopetu
Herbybox is a direct-to-consumer luxury herbal tea brand, with natural benefits. The company is at the intersection of herbal tea and the supplement world, offering tea that is more than just tea. Herbybox is now stocked in Selfridges.
- Hutano Diagnostics , Oxford
Founder: Atherton Mutombwera
During the 2014 West African Ebola outbreak, Zimbabwe-born founder and CEO Atherton Mutombwera was shocked to learn how many deaths could have been prevented through wider availability of diagnostics, and that across the African continent there were only 14 centralised laboratories that could diagnose Ebola, the lack of which contributed to the 70% fatality rate. In response, Hutano Diagnostics is developing a modular configurable Lateral Flow Device (LFD) platform. This platform is modular and configurable for either single disease, or simultaneous multiple disease diagnosis, on the same LFD strip. Once developed, the platform reduces the time to LFD development in preparation for future specific disease outbreaks from 2 years to 6 months.
- ICI CARE , London
Founder: Samantha Kidjo
ICI CARE is building machine-learning software to create personalised hair care products with natural raw ingredients. It uses plastic-free packaging, building a company that will benefit the community.
- Jobseekrs , Manchester
Founder: Jamaal Brathwaite
Jobseekrs is the world’s first video interactive job site that mitigates bias at the screening and sourcing stages of the hiring process with a particular focus on screening for culture fit and matching for company culture-add through a series of psychometric-type questions.The company’s mission is to become the primary and most unbiased job-search and matching engine on the internet while ensuring that everyone is better engaged with and has more equal chances at all job opportunities. It also aims to further scale the platform to use cognitive data and AI to help make hiring more predictive and even less biased.
- Legal-Pythia, Glasgow
Founder: Jeremy Bormann
Legal-Pythia uses an explainable AI, web-based software to organize, categorize and search through legal information (especially legal evidence) to find duplications and contradictions. Through these services, lawyers will have more time, increase their productivity and achieve a true work-life balance. In addition, lawyers will understand how and why the software came to certain predictions, made possible by the explainable AI.
- Loopcycle, London
Co-Founders: Lugano Kapembwa & Chandan Rajah
Sustainability tech / asset management
Loopcycle connects an ecosystem of product manufacturers, end users and other stakeholders to redefine asset management, recovery and resale. It does this via a user-friendly platform that provides product lifecycle traceability, digital inventory and a reuse marketplace, building trust and integrity among its members. The platform facilitates visibility and direct interactions between its users, unlocking shared commercial and sustainable value. By extending the useful life of products and encouraging circularity, Loopcycle improves supply chain resilience and sustainability.
- NxSteps , Hatfield
Founder: Alecia Esson
NxSteps is a digital healthcare solutions company focused on maximising human performance through the knowledge of biomechanics. It operates a blended economic model of both traditional product revenue and SaaS-based app-delivered technology. Its IoT-powered wearable smart insole, application and AI voice coach aids professional and everyday athletes to achieve their health and fitness goals by optimising performance whilst preventing injuries in an objective, understandable, actionable and repeatable way to ensure physical longevity.
- Optimum Health, London
Founder: Erika Brodnock
Optimum Health has developed Kami, a parental well being data company building a first-to-market emotion detection and digital support system solution for working parents. It has secured grant funding from Innovate UK and investment from Google, signed two pilot partners, built a 20+ client pipeline and established a distribution partnership with a group of day nurseries. it is now advancing to market with the beta product.
- Ruka Hair, London
Founder: Tendai Moyo
Ruka Hair’s vision is to become the definitive hair brand for black women, globally. Ruka started the journey with extensions, combining a conscious, digital-first brand and community with a product refined through a scientific and user-led approach. Beyond providing textures that truly match Black women’s hair textures, Ruka is completely reshaping the experience through the personalisation in the RUKA quiz, helping people texture match and find the right extensions for them.
- ScreenHits TV, London
Founder: Rose Hulse
ScreenHits TV is a streaming video aggregator app that provides audiences with a single place to stream across their new and existing services. ScreenHits TV is addressing the current fragmentation and subscription fatigue challenges in this new and exciting world of app TV. It creates a one-stop guide to search libraries across platforms and live online TV without switching platforms or signing up for new services. The service is particularly relevant given that 2020 was the year when global subscriptions for streaming services passed 1 billion.
- Shwap, Exeter
Founder: Kalkidan Legesse
Shwap is a software solution to help fashion, homeware and lifestyle retailers monetise the secondary market of their products, and earn revenue from products they’ve already sold. Shwap’s technology leverages peer-to-peer resale in order to give the UK’s 200,000 retailers a means to monetise the secondary market of their products without incurring operational costs. Shwap developed software that retailers can integrate into the e-commerce stores, or point-of-sale systems that enables Shwap to identify and then manage the lifecycle of products as they move between different owners. Using this software Shwap has created a frictionless resale platform that creates product listings in real time as users shop.
- Talley, London
Founder: Wale Yusuf
Talley provides a safe space to share experiences by anonymously connecting members on-demand, via in-app audio conversations, to everyday people (trained Listeners) who have experienced or are overcoming the same challenges as those members and can empathise with them. Talley aims at being the first line of defence enabling users to address those day-to-day emotional distress issues (e.g. anxiety, depression, loneliness, toxic relationships, grief) which may lead to severe mental health problems if left unchecked.
- ThrillXR, London
Founder: Alex Erinle
ThrillXR is a gamified virtual world for digital fashion. With gaming and blockchain technology, ThrillXR created a virtual world for fashion retail. Users can visit this virtual world via a PC or VR headset, enter 3D versions of real stores with other users and buy the digital version of real clothes for their avatars. ThrillXR is backed by Epic Games, creators of Fortnite, and mentored by Unity, Rise (Microsoft for startups) and the University of Cambridge Innovators for sustainable fashion.
- Trapar, Edinburgh
Founder: Aldin Wilson
Trapar connects customers to quality local transport operators. It gathers comprehensive requirements and shares these with vetted operators. In this way, Trapar can provide quality assurance for customers and efficiency for operators.
- Voltric, Bristol
Founder: Julian Mensah
Voltric is a mobility-as-a-service provider dedicated to making the growing demand for all forms of mobility practical, sustainable and efficient. The all-inclusive electric vehicle subscription service allows consumers to access a range of road-ready, electric cars all for one price per month without the concerns of managing insurance, tax, MOT and everything needed to get onto the road.
- White Label Loyalty, Leeds
Founder: Achille Traore
White Label Loyalty believes that loyalty is broken and makes it the company’s mission to fix it. 75% of loyalty programmes fail because they are built as one-size-fits-all, are not data driven, do not involve no personalisation and mostly only reward based on transactions. Instead, the company offers a data-driven technology platform that helps businesses increase revenue and retention by understanding, predicting and influencing customer behaviour.
- Your FLOCK, Manchester
Founder: Dan Sodergren
Your FLOCK is a SaaS platform that uses data and science behind what motivates people at work to enable teams to be more productive and engaged. Your FLOCK is working on machine learning-driven software that helps managers coach their teams by providing users with activities tailored to their motivations and designed to help them be more ‘in-sync’ and work more effectively as a team.