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8 Black Entrepreneurs Leading the Atlanta Startup Scene

by Jasmyne Moody

Metro Atlanta ranks as the number one city for black-owned businesses, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and the startup scene is no exception. These innovators are shaking up Atlanta’s startup scene one idea at a time.

Celebrate Black History Month with eight of Atlanta entrepreneurial community’s leaders.

Joey Womack — founder, Amplify 4 Good & Goodie Nation

Joey Womack, the self-proclaimed “rebel with a cause”, is in the business of helping others innovate. Amplify 4 Good helps mid-size to large corporations ideate internally with employee hackathons. By encouraging these employees to speak up and be heard, Womack has been able to raise morale within companies and generate ideas that actually work. Goodie Nation has a similar model to A4G, but is aimed at the underprivileged sector.


Ayanna Howard — founder, Zyrobotics

Dr. Ayanna Howard is a female powerhouse, roboticist, and founder of Zyrobotics — a software development company. Zyrobotics develops fun, inclusive games for children with special needs. Their latest, Zumo Learning System, revolves around a super cute stuffed turtle paired with a tablet to enhance users’ motor and cognitive abilities in STEM.

Before founding Zyrobotics, Dr. Howard earned her Ph.D in Electrical Engineering from University of Southern California. She then worked in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory leading in robotic projects focusing on vision and neural network methodologies.

Today she also serves as member of the systems and controls a technical interest group at Georgia Tech.

James Jones — president, RaceIQ

James Jones is driving the automotive cybersecurity industry with the development of RaceIQ. RaceIQ is making internet-friendly “connected cars,” compatible with software that detects, resolves, and protects from data hacks and viruses.

Before founding RaceIQ, Jones worked for many years in the healthcare and IT industries. In addition to his skill set in analytical chemistry, he also flaunts expertise in brand reshaping, marketing, and software development.

Barry Givens — co-founder, Monsieur

Barry Givens is the co-founder of Monsieur, an automated bartending service that takes the anxiety and impatience out of ordering a drink at a busy bar. Monsieur is a machine, not an overwhelmed bartender, and it can take orders and have cocktails ready in seconds. Monsieur has raised over $3 million in capital. The machines can be found in activations and events around the country, including the Kentucky Derby.

Before co-founding Monsieur, Givens was a graduate of Georgia Tech and a Mechanical Engineer for John Deere. He is also an author, with his aptly titled book, “Plan ‘B’ Sucks: Work on Your DREAMS, not your Boss’s.”

Jewel Burks — co-founder, PartPic

Jewel Burks co-founded Partpic with Jason Crain in 2013. Partpic is revolutionizing visual recognition tech, so that identifying finding a car or other machine part you need won’t be such a pain. One of Forbes’ 2016 30 Under 30, Burks can often be found sweeping pitch competitions across the country, including the 2015 SXSW Accelerator, 36|86 and several others. Burks’ flawless pitch has raised over $1.5 million in funding from angel investors.

Rocky D. Williform — founder, MixP3

Rocky D. Williform is a serial entrepreneur — founding companies like Fignature Inc. and Streetcred Media Group. MixP3, a music streaming service, is his latest venture.

MixP3 allows artists, producers, engineers alike to publish their organic mixes as LPs or EPs with a unique patent-pending file format. This allows an artist’s public work to be better protected.

Tiffany Ray — founder, Generation Infocus

Tiffany Ray is the founder of Generation Infocus, a STEM after school and summer learning organization that emphasizes positive social change and academic performance. Ray believes acceleration can be achieved through hands-on STEM-focused programming.

Generation Infocus is currently a part of Atlanta’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative. According to WEI, 48 percent of women cited lack of mentorship as a challenge in starting a business. 


Paul Judge — co-founder, Luma

Dr. Paul Judge is an entrepreneurial phenomenon. He has co-founded a slew of successful endeavors including Pindrop Security and incubator space TechSquare Labs.

Before becoming a force to be reckon with, Judge earned his Ph.D in Computer Science from Georgia Tech and currently holds 30 patents.. He has also received awards for his work, including MIT’S Technology Review Magazine as one of the top 100 young innovators.Luma recently made headlines for raising a whopping $12,500,000 in funding from Amazon.

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