Atomic Object, a Michigan-based software development and design firm with offices in Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor and Chicago, today announced it has committed $5,000 to TechTown Detroit’s new Startup Fund designed to grow, support and encourage greater diversity in the technological sector.
Donations to the fund currently are being accepted to specifically provide grants of up to $10,000 to Detroit-based Black tech founders to help their companies get off the ground and grow, especially during the sensitive span between the company receiving its first injection of capital until it begins generating revenue. Atomic Object is the largest fund contributor to date.
“Our company is committed to creating meaningful change in the world. We believe we need to steep ourselves in the problem we’re trying to solve to fully understand it,” said Jonah Bailey, Managing Partner at Atomic Object, Ann Arbor. “One of our value tenets is that we don’t believe in letting others carry a heavy burden alone. If someone needs help, step up and help them. If we all do our part, it will make things better for everyone.”
Added Bailey, “The Startup Fund launched by TechTown is the perfect opportunity for us to put our money where our mouth is. TechTown has created the pipeline that is helping foster a diverse tech space. For us, everyone uses software — everyone. And the people who make it should reflect that.”
The TechTown Startup Fund is designed to cover the financial gap many tech businesses experience at the earliest stages between idea validation and tangible products. Without funding that often comes in the form of cash injections from friends and family or bank loans, many business owners are forced to give up on their dreams and walk away from their businesses.
“Black-owned tech businesses often don’t even get the chance to launch, and especially after the challenges of the past 12 months, many are hanging on by a thread. Tapping family and friends simply is not a possibility right now because they may not have the funds either,” said Marlo Rencher, TechTown’s director of technology-based programs. “It is imperative that we all step up because these businesses are an important part of our community and benefit us all.”
The racial funding gap is very real. Federal Reserve numbers show that more than 80 percent of White business owners receive at least a percentage of the funding they request from a bank, while only 66 percent of BIPOC (Black, indigenous or people of color) business owners can say the same. When BIPOC-owned firms do get funding, the amounts tend to be about $30,000 less than comparable White-owned businesses, while their interest rates are about 1.4 percent higher.
“Atomic Object’s gift will go a long way to ease the nearly insurmountable financial obstacles many business owners of color face when growing their startups. We want to help these businesses take flight,” said Danielle Manley, economic development fundraising director, TechTown Detroit. “Contributing to a fund such as the one we’ve created also is a smart way to recognize the power of philanthropy in shaping a company’s own values, and underscores ways in which nonprofits and for profits can work together to show they care for the things that make the world a better place. We need more partnerships like these.”
Applications for the TechTown Startup Fund will be available for eligible businesses beginning in August. Updated information will be shared at techtowndetroit.org.
To give to the TechTown Startup Fund, visit: