Editor’s note: Black History Month is an opportunity for us all to join and celebrate the diverse outlooks and identities that make up the Black experience. Over the next few weeks, we will profile Black-led startups and how they use Google Cloud to grow their businesses. This feature highlights Mandy Price, CEO and Co-Founder, and Bennie King, Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder of Kanarys, a technology company focused on providing the tools organizations need to create long-term systemic change to address DEIB challenges.
Compared to a few years ago, when people talk to us about DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging) in the workplace, they now often focus on the soft benefits that come from promoting an inclusive environment where employees feel valued and respected.
This shift in perspective is essential and signals that some progress has been made. However, more still needs to be done. Any focus on DEIB in the workplace has to recognize not only the soft benefits, but also the hard data that comes out of strategic, more effective DEIB strategies.
This is what we set out to achieve when we foundedKanarys in 2018. We help our clients and partners solve DEIB issues and inequities in the workplace based on data-driven insights. The Kanarys DEIB Platform includes analysis, dashboards, and benchmarking that measure the impact of DEIB programs on business outcomes. The result is that organizations can more clearly see the positive returns of cultivating more diverse, inclusive workplaces.
This is a personal mission for us as well. Our co-founders all endured the effects of inequities in the workplace before we met. This shared experience, and the desire to create workplaces where everyone belongs, inspired us to overcome the obstacles faced by many Black founders as they seek to build their companies and attract investment.
Choosing Google Cloud for our fast-growing startup
At our core, we are a data and analytics company so choosing the right technology platform for the business was fundamental to our services and growth. We started with a mix of vendors, butGoogle Cloud stood out for its systems and applications. We eventually chose to migrate the majority of our operations to this environment.
Our first Google Cloud application wasLooker, a business intelligence tool, which unlocks data insights and makes them actionable for our clients. The next step was to deployBigQuery as our data warehouse. As well as enormous processing power, it enables our team to create machine learning models using standard SQL queries.
We also useGKE services for our servers, andCloud Armor for network security. We’ve deployedVertex AI to train our machine learning models, as well asCloud SQL,Cloud Storage, andApp Engine for developing and hosting web applications.
Google Cloud Managed Service Provider,Searce, made a vital contribution by configuring a robust, scalable infrastructure for the Kanarys business. The scalable infrastructure ensures that our customers are able to access and use our tools regardless of how much traffic we may have at the time, thus providing the reliability our users expect. As an experienced Google Cloud service provider, they understood exactly what was needed to match our objectives and priorities.
At the same time that we deployed Google Cloud, we were accepted into theGoogle for Startups Accelerator: Black Founders and also became one of the original Google for Startups Black Founders Fund recipients in 2020. This was a great way to get firsthand experience using the latest tools and technologies from the Google Cloud team and network with other founders from similar backgrounds. I would encourage other founders of color to focus on making meaningful connections with everyone they meet because there are tremendous opportunities to learn and support each other on your business journeys.
The Google Cloud team also made a significant contribution to our funding cycle. We received $100,000 in credits, and the Google Cloud team helped introduce us to investors who provided $3 million in seed funding. At a time when the venture capital ecosystem is still largely based on existing networks, Google Cloud does important work helping people of color and women to overcome barriers and fulfill their ambitions. Leveraging our partnership with Google Cloud has helped us get our name out there, receive the funding needed, and get access to networks that have helped our business grow in ways that would otherwise not be possible.
Funding for a flourishing business
Our successful funding rounds have helped us expand our horizons and enter the international marketplace. While workplace inequity is a global issue, they vary depending on jurisdictions and regions. Thus, we need multiple approaches to data analytics and insights that address these differences. Google Cloud allows us to do just that.
In just four years, Kanarys has grown from an idea to a category industry leader in DEIB that serves major customers includingYum! Brands,Silicon Labs,Chuck E. Cheese Corporation,7-Eleven, and several Fortune 500 companies. We’ve also established strategic partnerships with leading national advocacy groups such asProspanica and theNational Urban League.
In addition, our team has been recognized by many awards including the Inc.2021 Female Founders 100, the Entrepreneur100 Powerful Women of 2020, and the Human Resource Executive2021 Top 100 Tech Influencers. Getting to this point hasn’t always been easy, but we never lost sight of our vision and mission. This is the one piece of advice I’d give to Black entrepreneurs: Even when things feel impossible, stay true to your values and goals, and you will eventually reach a turning point.
Looking back with pride and forward with ambition
As we look back on our journey, we are filled with pride. Providing our clients with a data-driven approach to DEIB that delivers measurable outcomes is obviously near the top of the list. However, the most moving messages come from employees who say that they’ve been at their company for many years, but only now finally feel like they have a voice.
We are inspired by the shared values of our partners and clients worldwide. As human beings, we have an innate need to feel like we belong and have the same opportunities as everyone else. Businesses are increasingly aware that treating people differently not only damages their brand but also limits their potential through their inability to tap into a highly-skilled, diverse talent pool. By working with Google Cloud, we can continue to focus on and achieve our goals to make workplaces more open and inclusive environments for everyone.
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