Google selects Canadian startups Node,, HumanSquad for third Black Founders accelerator

All three startups hail from Toronto and have worked with the DMZ.

Google has revealed the 12 startups joining the latest cohort of its Black Founders accelerator, which comprises three companies based in Canada: Node, DNA, and HumanSquad.

All of the Canadian companies in this third installation of the Black Founders program are based in Toronto.

The number of Canadian participants in Google’s Black Founders accelerator has grown slightly. In the previous edition of the program in 2021, only one Canadian startup was selected to participate. Also from Toronto, Mommy Monitor represented Canada among the cohort of 11 startups mostly made up of US-based firms.

Node was created by co-founders Mackenzie Dérival and Armin Faraji in 2018 with the aim to “democratize the creator economy” and make influencer deals more accessible. The influencer marketing startup initially focused on restaurants, but later expanded to targeting all brands and businesses.

With Node’s platform, companies can connect with the thousands of verified micro-influencers to have their products sampled and promoted.

Faraji told The Eyeopener that, as of January, Node has raised about $600,000 in funding from various angel and institutional investors, such as executives at Shopify, Udemy, Shutterstock, T-Mobile and Hershey’s.

Last year, Node made its entry into the United States in an aim to grow its customer base to over 2,000 brands using the platform.

Founded in 2020 by Tunde Omotoye (CEO) and Temilola Adebayo (COO), HumanSquad provides immigration services like HR consultancy, personal branding, cover letters, mock interview coaching, skill audit, and immigration processes for Canada.

HumanSquad reportedly raised a six-figure pre-seed investment in June, which was led by Calm Fund.

Last year, HumanSquad pitched and won the top prize at the DMZ’s inaugural Black Innovation Summit pitch competition, securing $20,000 CAD.

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Led by founder and CEO Zeze Peters, uses artificial intelligence to optimize results of digital advertising, unifying ads, analytics, social, and operations into one tool. The startup said it has automated 13 of 17 workflows related to digital advertising.

Digital Mainstreet and the DMZ selected to pilot DNA last year. DNA is a digital advertising platform designed to help businesses improve their digital advertising efforts.

Funding for this pilot is made available through Digital Main Street’s Future Proof program, with support from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).

Before he created in 2017, Peters worked as the director of product engineering at Verndale, a customer experience agency. As a repeat founder, Peters also co-founded MyLoveGear, a direct-to-consumer brand for baby gear; as well as The Note Company, an edtech startup that connects schools, parents, and students through a cloud-based platform.

RELATED: Toronto-based Mommy Monitor selected for Google’s Black Founders accelerator

Google initially launched the Black Founders program in the US in 2020, then later expanded it to Canada a year later.

Now led by Matt Ridenour, head of startup developer ecosystem USA at Google, the 10-week Black Founders accelerator serves Black-led seed to Series A-stage tech startups based in North America. It provides technical mentorship, including training and strategic counsel through one-on-one mentorships with Google experts.

Programming also includes deep dives and workshops focused on product design, customer acquisition, and leadership development for founders.

Ridenour told BetaKit that the BlackFounders program has graduated 24 startups to date.

Featured image courtesy of Node.

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz is a staff writer for BetaKit.

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