A local founder looking to make a difference in healthcare is among the 100+ founders across the country selected for the Google For Startups Black Founders Fund this year.
Layo George, based in DC, is the founder of Wolomi, an app to help with pregnancy. Through the Black Founders Fund, she just nabbed $100,000 for her startup.
Wolomi is an app designed to provide companionship and community for women of color along their pregnancy journey, George said. Founded in 2019, she hopes the company and app will not only help women feel safer and answer questions during their pregnancy but also help them find more joy in the process — one that’s riddled with complications and healthcare shortcomings.
Before she became a startup founder, George was a nurse in labor, delivery and women’s health. When she became pregnant a few years ago as a graduate student, she said, one big thought weighed on her mind: that she did not want to die through this experience. The concern is rooted in evidence: In 2020, maternal mortality rates for non-Hispanic Black women were 2.9 times the rate of non-Hispanic white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
At the time, George was lucky enough to be able to quit her job and go on a sabbatical while finishing graduate school. This helped her create a space where she could lower her stress, which she said was important for her health as a pregnant mother.
“I knew through my research that stress was also a big part of having bad outcomes — especially for women of color because just navigating racism in America every day just does something to you,” George told Technical.ly. “So I decided I was going to go on this sabbatical journey, create my own pregnancy team, create what it looks like for me and really own that journey.”
As a graduate student, George felt pulled toward her research about pregnancy and childbirth, which a professor encouraged her to pursue further. Wolomi was born as she finished her degree.
The iOS and Android native app incorporates a group of 2000 users, including a mix of mothers, doulas, midwives, therapists and other health experts. Mothers can ask questions of other community members and experts, read weekly inspirations, attend events such as pregnancy circles and check out “weekly moments” written by midwives to help mothers prepare for their doctors’ appointments.
By providing this information and community for new moms and moms-to-be, George hopes to create a better experience for pregnant women of color.
“I thought, there’s no savior that’s coming to save Black and Brown folks,” George said. “If I have the knowledge and the know-how to do this, and I have experienced it myself, then I really need to jump in and join other people who were working hard on solving this issue.”
With the Google for Startups funds, she plans to hire a sales lead to continue the company’s expansion (it currently has a four-person team). She hopes that the support from such a big player can help validate the work and benefits Wolomi provides.
“We want to continue to learn how to be a community, so whatever product that we bring forward will be in the vein of that,” George said. “Continuing to learn and improve on how we can be a community that’s reliable for the month that we serve, that’s really the general direction we are going.”
Here are the four other DMV-area founders who received funds:
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