We are inspired every day by our clients, the talented Canadian founders who are building smart solutions that are changing the way we interact with the world through technology. That said, we see a lack of representation from diverse communities in leadership roles within the tech community. In Canada, we know that underrepresentation in tech is severe and that it’s leading to a “digital divide.” Our goal is to support and offer opportunities to the next generation of BIPOC-identifying founders who are creating incredible companies and continuing to enhance and enrich the tech community in Canada.
The BIPOC Tech Founder Grant is $30,000 worth of public relations and communications services that will be awarded to one deserving BIPOC-identifying founded, early-stage tech company in 2022. Judges will evaluate applicants based on criteria such as the company’s level of innovation, diversity of its team, long-term viability of the business and interest level of its founding story. The winner will be selected by a judging panel made up of experts in tech and communications who we admire and who are inspiring diverse communities and people across Canada, specifically in tech.
Arati Sharma (she/her) is the co-founder of Ghlee, a ghee-based skincare company based in Toronto, Canada. She recently left Shopify where she was the Director of Product Marketing, having established the craft and discipline from the ground up. Arati spent almost a decade at the tech giant where she was responsible for go-to-market strategy and campaigns for Shopify’s products to a global audience of thriving entrepreneurs.
Arati is an active angel investor, having backed over 30 companies with two-thirds led by diverse founders. Her focus is on supporting Canadian women and BIPOC founders, often leaning towards underestimated founders without access to family and friends’ capital. She also advises and consults brands and leaders on brand, go-to-market, and team building.
Eva is a well-respected entrepreneur-turned-investor and one of the few women leading a venture fund in Canada. She is the Founding Partner of Two Small Fish Ventures, a venture fund that invests globally in early-stage, transformative tech companies with strong network effects. The fund is backed by many high net worth individuals, family offices, institutional investors and the Creator Circle, which is composed of many top product and company creators who can leverage their experience to help Two Small Fish Ventures portfolio companies become successful.
Before starting Two Small Fish Ventures, she was Wattpad’s Head of Community and Content. She helped nurture and scale Wattpad from its infancy to become one of the largest online communities with tens of millions of monthly users around the world. In January 2021, Naver, the South Korean internet conglomerate, announced the acquisition of Wattpad in a transaction valued at more than USD $600 million / CAD $800 million. With a sharp focus on investing in companies with strong network effects as their defensibility, Eva has created the ASSET framework that many entrepreneurs and accelerators have adopted in their developing business strategies.
Jarret Leaman is Anishinaabe (Ojibway) and a member of Magnetawan First Nation. Jarret is currently the Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer for Akawe Technologies and the Co-Founder of the Centre for Indigenous Innovation and Technology. Jarret is also a successful entrepreneur with his business Ayaabe Management, where he works with Indigenous talent in the entertainment industry.
Jarret has been recognized as a national Indigenous leader, as one of the Huffington’s Post’s Top 3 Indigenous Millennials in Canada, Top Ten to Watch by the Indigenomics Institute in 2020 and was selected to participate on the Governor-General Leadership Conference in 2017 and the CivicAction DiverseCity Fellowship Program in 2015. Previously, Jarret was the Senior Administrative Officer at the Aboriginal Institutes Consortium (AIC), a non-profit membership organization that comprises nine Aboriginal-controlled postsecondary education and training institutes in Ontario, Canada. AIC plays an instrumental role in driving and setting the Aboriginal Institutes agenda at the regional, national and international levels through the development of strategic relationships and advocacy.
Tamar Huggins is a multi-award-winning tech entrepreneur, author and education trailblazer. In 2012, Tamar launched Canada’s first tech accelerator for underrepresented founders and helped startups raise over $1.1 million dollars in two years. Tamar realized that in order to sustain the tech entrepreneurship pipeline, BIPOC youth needed to see positive reflections of themselves within the tech industry. In 2015, Tamar launched Tech Spark – a youth-focused tech education and curriculum design company committed to empowering BIPOC youth, women and Canadian teachers through culturally responsive and equitable tech education.
Despite being told a black woman would never be successful in tech, Tamar raised 7-figure investments for Tech Spark, educated over 1500 youth in under two years and is on track to educate 70,000 youth and 2250 teachers by 2023. To scale and expand upon the impactful work Tech Spark has done, in 2019, Tamar led her team to develop Spark Plug, a data-driven cultural customization platform that personalizes learning for K-8 students. The $10 million dollar valued company uses a proprietary assessment and predictive analytics to identify students learning intelligence and curated culturally relevant content customized for each student. The goal of the platform is to enhance the knowledge, rigor and engagement of students across North America.
Candidates can apply through the form below and applications will be accepted until November 15, 2021. The winner will be announced on January 14, 2022.
Applications for the BIPOC Tech Founders Grant are open until November 15, 2021. Finalists will be contacted for a follow-up interview.