By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer,
Report for America Corps Member,
msayles@afro.com

Startups are popping up across the country in a variety of different industries– each one with a new, innovative product or service to offer. Some even grant patrons the opportunity to seize their stake in the company in exchange for equity. 

Here’s a look at some of the latest ventures to follow and invest in: 

Noirbnb  

If you’re hoping to travel for the holidays or getting a jumpstart on planning a summer vacation, Noirbnb pairs Black travelers with culturally-conscious and inclusive hosts. 

The travel company was launched in 2016, a year after founder Stefan Grant experienced racism and discrimination while staying at an Airbnb in Atlanta. The neighbors presumed Grant and his friends were burglars and called the cops. When police arrived, they saw that the group was just renting, and Grant took a selfie with the officers to tweet about his experience. The photo went viral, and now, Noirbnb is on a mission to make discrimination obsolete during the travel and vacation experience. 

Appdrop

During the coronavirus pandemic, small businesses scrambled to move their operations online, calling attention to the importance of offering e-commerce options to customers. Appdrop, created in 2019 by Georgetown University alumni Adrian Abrams and Kamar Mack, allows users to design their own apps with no coding required. The platform then publishes the user’s creation to Android and Apple’s app stores. The platform boasts a drag and drop app-builder, saving innovators time and money. 

EnrichHER

Right now, the fastest-growing segment of entrepreneurs in the U.S. is Black women. In the current business climate, start-up founders only receive a fractional amount of funding from venture capitalists. Launched just two years ago, EnrichHER is the only Black woman-owned financial tech (“fintech”) lender supporting businesses owned by women and people of color. 

Fintech expert and gender advocate Roshawnna Novellus created the company after years of running a tax and accounting firm and witnessing numerous women of color struggle to secure the capital required to grow and scale their businesses. You can support these underestimated entrepreneurs by lending to EnrichHER, which pays your loan back in full plus five percent interest after a year. 

Rubitection 

This healthtech company created a software platform for skin health assessment and skin care management. Manual and visual skin inspections – the current clinical standard– leave room for error, especially in people with darker skin tones. To address this biotech founder Sanna Gaspard established Rubitection to roll out a comprehensive system for skin concerns. The platform offers risk analytics and alerts for skin health, severity progression monitoring and remote monitoring and telehealth services. The company currently has a waitlist for those interested in purchasing the Rubitect Assessment System. 

Sideline SOS

Ensuring children are on time and present for practices and games is no easy feat, which is why mother of three, Shaki Varado, is developing a community-based ride-hailing app. 

Sideline SOS stands for “Sideline System of Support” and allows users to create a network of personal contacts to request support when they can’t take their athlete to practice or a game. It also lets users set their availability to provide rides and sends reminders for upcoming pick-ups and drop-offs. Sideline SOS is currently accepting pledges to fund the app’s development. 

Calyxeum 

In a few years, the global cannabis market is projected to be valued at more than $26 billion, and with more states legalizing recreational and medical marijuana, the industry is only expected to expand. 

Detroit-based Calyxeum, founded by Rebecca Colett and LaToyia Rucker, offers its own line of edibles, dry herbs and concentrates for consumers to purchase or invest in. More importantly, the cannabis company designed a social impact program that includes rehabilitating vacant homes, tutoring youth on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects and training individuals to join the cannabis workforce. 

PopCom 

Today, vending machines aren’t just used to snag your favorite snack. Small businesses, especially those without brick-and-mortar locations, use them to sell apparel, books, toys, beauty products and more. 

E-commerce entrepreneur Dawn Dickson founded PopCom in 2017 after struggling to find a vending machine that would sell her ballet flats at frequented places, like airports. The platform is now taking orders for its artificial intelligence-powered PopShop Digital Pop-Up Shop, which provides storefront reporting, crowd metrics and biometric tools for age-restricted products. Popcom recently opened a new round of public investment, which closes in a few weeks.

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