Black Founders in Supply Chain and Retail

By Dominique Reese & Ariana Agrios Published on Jul. 21, 2021

On May 28th, Plug and Play hosted the second of their four-part series featuring Black Founders in Supply Chain and Logistics. Plug and Play first kicked off this series in February of this year with an incredible team focusing on black-led startups in the Supply Chain and Logistics space.

For this second event, Supply Chain teamed up with Plug and Play's Brand and Retail team to spotlight four innovative startups pushing boundaries in these two industries.

It also featured an executive panel of five brilliant, successful black women who discussed how companies can become more inclusive when it comes to working with black-led companies moving forward. Plug and Play is thrilled to have assembled such an engaging group of speakers and honored to learn from their wealth of experience and knowledge.

Rewatch the full event:

The Startups

The Black Founders in Supply Chain and Retail event began with a recap of the previous event and promptly launched into startup presentations.

Rewatch the startups' presentations:

The audience heard from Antonio Barnes, CEO of Fridgio, and Brantly Fulton CEO of LAMAR who are innovating in transportation and packaging respectively.

  • Fridgio has created the largest IoT-enabled refrigerated truck network to save time and money while increasing reliability and quality control.
  • LAMAR is developing smart packaging solutions for the cold chain industry that allows for smart tracking solutions that reduce cost and inefficiencies. These startups are finding ways to increase sustainability in their fields by reducing waste of perishable inventory and working towards a zero-waste planet.

Following this, retail startups Spoon Guru and Klasha demonstrated how they’re revolutionizing aspects of their industry.

  • Seaton Jean, Head of Retail Partnerships from Spoon Guru discussed how his company is harnessing the power of AI-based personalized nutrition to transform food discovery, working to meet consumers’ important dietary and health needs.
  • Jess Anuna, Founder and CEO of Klasha then presented her work in which she is transforming the retail space through Klasha’s app that enables African consumers to easily access goods they want, allowing for borderless payments.

All four of these startups are confronting important needs in the market and Plug and Play is proud to showcase their innovative work.

Overcoming challenges for black entrepreneurs

Plug and Play concluded this event with an outstanding panel consisting of accomplished black female executives working in the supply chain and retail spaces. Michelle Sourie Robinson, Burunda Prince, Ilka Jordan, Mandisa Turner, and Diana Brown joined moderator Sidney Johnson to discuss changes in the corporate world related to inclusivity and equity, and the way new technologies in supply chain and retail affect them.

Rewatch the panel discussion:

The panelists also discussed the unique lens black founders bring to their fields that helps solve difficult problems that include all perspectives. Though too many challenges still exist for black entrepreneurs working to grow their business and capitalize, corporate America is beginning to recognize the value that diversity brings. As the panelists discussed, there is clearly no shortage of talent among black entrepreneurs, it’s an issue of access. Having accelerators and incubators that bring black entrepreneurs to the table and connect them with decision-makers at higher levels is one of the small steps we must make to elevate black talent in the startup world.

Plug and Play’s Black Founders series will continue on August 19th and registrations are already open. We will welcome more startups and executives to join in further discussion.