September 30, 2019

‘Google for Startups’ Announces Black Founders Exchange Demo Day Winner


Annual Immersion Program Hosted for Companies with High Growth Potential at American Underground Startup Hub


(DURHAM, NC) – September 30, 2019 – American Underground and Google for Startups are excited to announce that Courtroom5 from Durham took top Demo Day honors at the 2019 Black Founders Exchange. The company’s platform enables people to act as their own lawyer (i.e. a pro se litigator). It provides litigation tools such as document assembly and legal research, and hosts courses and live workshops. (You can contact Courtroom5 through Sonja Ebron at [email protected]). 

The win earned Courtroom5’s leadership an all-expense-paid trip to the San Francisco area to meet with potential partners and investors. 

At Demo Day on Friday, September 27, each of the 11 participating companies presented for three minutes to a packed auditorium crowd at the historic Carolina Theater as to their mission, vision and investment potential. A group of select experts chose the ultimate winner.    

Black Founders Exchange is an intensive immersion program founded in 2016 to further American Underground and Google for Startup’s shared goal to support founders of color. Programming focused on how to navigate obstacles that are often faced by attendees – everything from what to do when facing racial bias in fundraising or how to build an effective network even if a startup is based in a so-called ‘entrepreneurial desert.’ Photos and other images are here.

From 2016 to present, 19 participating companies have collectively raised over $10.8M in funding since completing the program. This includes the 2016 cohort graduate SpokeHub, that completed a historic raise of $2M from primarily Black investors and 2017 cohort graduate Partake Foods, which raised a $1M seed round led by Jay-Z’s Marcy Venture Partners. The goal of the program is for at least half of the startups to be funded within nine months of the program’s conclusion. In past years, many startups reach that goal or have gotten well on their way, thanks to the week’s grand finale event – a Google for Startups Demo Day event where founders pitch to a room of investors and community leaders. 

This was also the first year that programming included an Alumni Summit designed to continue support for founders from past cohorts with the knowledge, connections, and resources as they look to expand their businesses to new markets. Alumni schedules included one-on-one sessions focused on operational feedback from regional and national business experts, technical insight from Google employees, and opportunities to connect with investors from around the country. 

The 11 companies selected for the 2019 cohort (from an application of 160) came in with varied and diverse missions – focusing on, among other fields, health care, wealth management, property tech, supply chain software, social media, and renewable energy:

Relevant social media handles and hashtags include: #BlackFoundersExchange: Instagram: @AmerUnderground, @GoogleForStartups, Facebook: /AmericanUnderground, /GoogleForStartups, Twitter: @AmerUnderground, @GoogleStartups.


About American Underground

Dubbed the “Startup Hub of the South” by CNBC, American Underground [AU] is one of eleven Google for Startups Tech Hubs in North America. Based in Durham, NC, and supporting 325+ startups and scaleups across the Triangle Region, American Underground designs for any founder building a product towards scale, with an emphasis on those currently underrepresented in tech. Today, over 50% of American Underground companies are led by a woman and/or persons of color. With over $211 million in funding raised and 3,100+ and counting net new jobs created, American Underground companies continue to exemplify that startups increase and diversify economic opportunity, but require cultivation. Through connections, content, and workspace that tap the region’s ecosystem of experts, American Underground’s community of 32,000+ is the Triangle’s front door to the resources startups, founders and their employees need.

About Google for Startups

Google for Startups brings the best of Google’s connections, products, and best practices to startups to help them grow. Through six international campuses, 11 tech hub partnerships in the United States, and 50+ partner organizations, Google for Startups builds thriving communities of top startups and connects them to each other and to Google, recognizing that having the right connections is key for success. To learn more about Google for Startups, visit or follow us on Twitter (@GoogleStartups).