Dallas-based Kanarys, a technology startup that aims to foster collaboration between companies and employees on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), has closed on a $3 million seed round, bringing its total funding to $4.6 million.
Officially launched in July 2019, the Kanarys platform uses anonymized data to develop targeted, actionable insights that can assist in diagnosing, prioritizing, and optimizing a workplace’s DEI efforts. It’s lauded as the first Black- and female-founded DEI-focused tech company—and has achieved fast notoriety in its first few years, growing 2,000 percent in users since its initial launch.
In 2019, Co-Founders Mandy Price (CEO) and Star Carter (COO) joined the previous 50 Black women in the United States who have raised more than $1 million in venture capital funding. Though that number is now 93 Black women, according to CNN, venture capital trends still have a ways to go when it comes to an equitable playing field, the women say.
That’s why the co-founders are calling their newest seed round “historic.” Price and Carter are among just 25 Black female founders to have raised at least $4.6 million in venture capital, according to Crunchbase data.
In general, Black entrepreneurs receive less than one percent of VC funding. And, statistics show that Black women are only 0.6 percent of that.
“The COVID-19 pandemic highlights inequities among specific demographics, specifically Black, brown, and those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged,” Carter said last year. “And, we’ve seen a second pandemic, a racial pandemic, that really has shone through the inflection point of George Floyd.”
The funding comes at a time when more companies are strengthening workplace culture, especially through DEI efforts, the co-founders say. Transparency and accountability are being embraced, and Kanarys wants to be at the forefront of that.
The Kanarys platform aims to bring about lasting change with its long-term feedback mechanism for companies to continuously improve diversity, equity, and inclusion. Users can log on to anonymously review their workplace, and employers are able to use that feedback to make informed decisions and changes.
Kanarys measures the insights, currently on around 1,000 U.S. companies, through verified employee reviews, company policies, and organizational data. This makes it the largest DEI data-driven platform of its kind in the country, according to the startup.
“We know that a focus on DEI in business is not just the right thing to do for employees, it also makes good business sense,” Price said in a statement. “Kanarys’ DEI data arms companies, for the first time, to make precise, immediate, and informed decisions using real, intersectional metrics around their diversity goals and inclusion programs that ultimately drive bottom-line business objectives.”
Price and her team will use the new funding to improve product features, make key hires in tech and business development, and accelerate sales and marketing. The round was led by Zeal Capital Partners’ Inclusive Investing fund, and included Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, Morgan Stanley, 100 Black Angels Fund, Segal Ventures, and Jigsaw Ventures.
“We are proud to back Kanarys because the founders are enacting real change, and their use of advanced technology and data is redefining how corporations measure and analyze the impact of DEI initiatives,” Nasir Qadree, founder and managing partner of Zeal Capital Partners, said in a statement. “There is a sense of urgency among corporations and organizations to do better by their employees and Kanarys is a trusted solution that will lead to improved workplaces and enhanced outcomes.”
Last year, Kanarys also received funding from the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund as part of Google’s commitment to supporting racial equity. The startup was also one of two from Dallas-Fort Worth to be chosen for the inaugural Google for Startups Accelerator: Black Founders Class.
“We are encouraged by the commitment of our investors and customers,” Price said, “in our shared vision to help every person Work Where They Belong.”
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