*Black unity is a very powerful thing, as an Oregon-based company got a taste of it firsthand to the tune of $7 million.
According to Business Insider, the company, A Kids Company About, raised the hefty funds, which came from a group of black investors. The startup’s founder, Jelani Memory, detailed the investments, telling Insider first-time investors contributed donations as small as $5,000.
Among the companies leading the effort was Pendulum Opportunities, a subsidiary of Pendulum Holdings LLC, the VC firm led by former president Barack Obama‘s ex-financial advisor Robbie Robinson. In addition to Pendulum Opportunities, the investor group also includes Backstage Capital and Emerson Collective, who are known for investing in underrepresented founders.
Launched in 2019 by Memory, A Kids Company About entered the business arena under the name A Kids Book About and operates with the hope of becoming the Walt Disney of real stories and conversations between children and parents, via a series of children’s books addressing difficult topics. For Memory, the objective is to “teach kids reality.” Issues touched on with the A Kids Book About series include racism as well as white privilege, mental health, sexual assault, anxiety, death, activism and gender.
Seeing how far he’s come with A Kids Company About, Memory confessed to Insider that it gave him the “heebie jeebies” to think he would “make all the same white dudes even richer,” with some 93% of cash instead coming from people of color.
The success of A Kids Company About reinforces the power of startup businesses founded by Blacks. Insider cited Crunchbase, which noted that Black-founded startups in the US raised a record $1.8 billion in the first half of 2021. All in all, this amount is a drop in the bucket with it representing just 1.2% of the $147 billion funneled into the wider industry.
The investor’s $7 million investment comes after $1 million was put into A Kids Company About, with the smallest check totaling $1,000.
Memory, a recently remarried father of six, lit the spark to start “crucial but uncomfortable” conversations within his household after A Kids Book About Racism generated a buzz. Once Memory’s children urged him to make more copies of the book, Memory brought it to others in his network, while “obsessing over the book at work. As a result, Memory made the decision to start a company that tells “challenging, empowering, and important stories for kids on the most uncomfortable but important topics.”
“Most kids are totally ready to have these conversations, it’s the parents who are uncomfortable, insecure or don’t know what to say, or afraid of saying the wrong thing,” he told Insider. “For people of colour, we’re having these conversations with our kids, we can’t not. It starts very early because we’re very aware of it. For white parents, you know, they’re not having the conversation for the most part, and are also actively trying to avoid it.”
With the $7 million raised by investors, efforts are being made to rebrand and expand the 25-person staff startup Memory built, with the launch of a podcast and an on-demand learning platform for teenagers. Eventually, the realm of results will result in a TV channel.
Although issues raised in his books are touchy, Memory is hopeful his content will supply information to help children understand real-world situations before they find themselves facing these very issues they read about.
For more information about A Kids Company About, visit www.akidsco.com.