This year’s Google for Startups Black Founders Fund cohort was just announced, and one of Pittsburgh’s most prominent entrepreneurs is on the list.
Jim Gibbs of parking payment software company Meter Feeder is one of 50 new recipients of the fund, which includes up to $100,000 in non-dilutive funding per founder, along with Google Cloud credits, ad grants and other support resources. Gibbs said in an email that the company received the full $100,000.
“As a Black founder, this selection from Google is particularly significant to me. Many companies and investors are happy to mentor Black founders, but few are willing to put in actual dollars,” Gibbs told Technical.ly. “Google committed on both ends.”
Founded in 2015 and launched in Pittsburgh city limits earlier this summer, Meter Feeder has raised $2.3 million and has a fleet parking payment program operating in over 500 locations across the country. Beyond fleets, the software is also available to individuals parking and to municipalities for parking enforcement and payment management. Meter Feeder was also a member of Y Combinator’s W16 batch and is a portfolio company of Innovation Works.
“We’re beginning to sign larger contracts at an increasing rate. That being said, we’ll be using the funding to hire developers and build out customer support,” Gibbs said. “We will continue to expand the Meter Feeder team, further adapt to the future of autonomous parking and develop new features within the app as well.”
On Tuesday, Pittsburgh Twitter erupted in congratulations for Gibbs and his company, including notes from Black Tech Nation’s Kelauni Jasmyn, 412 Venture Fund’s Ilana Diamond and RustBuilt Pittsburgh’s Kit Mueller.
— Kelauni Jasmyn (@Kelauni_Jasmyn) September 21, 2021
Recipients of the fund are typically past participants of other Google for Startups programming or are nominated by previous recipients or members of partner communities, per the program’s website. In a video posted announcing the winners, Sonja Ebron shared with Gibbs over video chat that he was named as a member of this year’s fund cohort after she nominated him. Ebron, who is the cofounder and CEO of North Carolina litigation support business Courtroom5, was a member of the Black Founders Fund 2020 cohort.
“We went through Google’s Black Founder Exchange together and it was an incredible experience overall,” Gibbs wrote of Ebron. “She’s an absolute powerhouse, breaking down all the typical stereotypes of what we often assume when we think of a tech CEO.”
In less than one year, our first group of Black Founders Fund U.S. recipients went on to collectively raise $50M+ in additional capital. 🤯
— Google for Startups (@GoogleStartups) September 21, 2021
Gibbs himself got on Twitter to show appreciation for the congratulations, writing, “These people making me tear up,” in response to a tweet promoting the news from his company’s account.
The news of Google’s investment into Meter Feeder puts yet another spotlight on the city’s growing tech industry — this time from one of the big tech companies whose presence helped launch innovation in East Liberty over a decade ago. An announcement from the fund shared that the 2020 cohort went on to raise over $50 million in additional capital in less than one year. With Meter Feeder’s official Pittsburgh presence and continued expansion, similar financial success may not be too far off.
“This is a signal for us — a reminder to the startup community that we’re worth investing in,” Gibbs said. “Now that we have the backing of Google, we can focus on scaling the company at a parabolic rate.”
Sophie Burkholder is a 2021-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments. -30-