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The Ebba is a Seattle-based startup that aims to help Black entrepreneurs find and sustain their businesses.

Giovanni Iriarte Young (and Andrew McDonald) were students at the University of Washington. They traveled down to Oakland in search of the Afrotech conference. The couple wanted to assist Black-owned companies, but they found it hard to do this with their existing apps.

Then they made one.

McDonald’s, an ex-Navy sonar technie, joined forces with Iriarte Young, an engineer from Boeing who was previously employed as a Navy sonar technician. They teamed up to create The Ebba, a Seattle startup.

Ebba is an essential Black Business App that helps you find Black-owned businesses in the U.S.

It is one of many efforts to promote Black business through the use of filters such as Yelp, or other specialized apps like Official Black Wall Street.

Other Seattle-based initiatives, like TheWMarketplace or the Intentionalist, drive people to women- and minority-owned business.

Ebba has recently released an update to its app that allows customers to explore their community and learn more about history. The app will incorporate augmented reality so that users can see their surroundings and find out more about Black history.

“Our overall goal is to get people to explore their communities, learn along the way and support the businesses within them,” McDonald said.

There are 8,000 business listed on the website; some are added by business owners and others are handpicked by The Ebba’s team. A commission fee is charged to the startup depending on how much business it earns.

In order to evaluate a business, it is important for the team to understand its industry context.

“How Black does the business need to be? How do we make it more equitable depending on the industry of the Black-owned company?” Iriarte-Young said. “The best position is for companies to gain exposure and grow so that the Black community has more representation business-wise across all industries.”

This Startup Spotlight was conducted by Woods, Iriarte Young and McDonalds. We have edited the answers to ensure clarity and conciseness.

What we have in common with our competition and what makes us different Google, Yelp and Seamless powered by Grubhub are our main rivals. They serve a huge audience but they’re not really focused on the Black community to the same degree as we are, because we come from the Black community. Our entire inception is for the Black community, our mission is to accelerate Black growth — no one has to push us in that direction, it’s already incentivized in our business constitution. Our users and Black businesses are also more in touch with us, allowing for a personalized service.

The smartest move we’ve made so far: Don’t try to grow too quickly. As we got deeper into the business, we wanted to grow and to listen to the customers. So we wanted to find out what customers wanted so that the app could be implemented in a way that was different from other companies.

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: Applying for grants too late. There were a lot of grants we could have gotten in the past year that we didn’t because we thought we would have to put ourselves out there and grow fast, but it didn’t seem to be the case. Now we know that money is still available and can go where you want.

Future goals It is clear that we are interested in the supply chain business. We’ve also been contemplating the idea of having a kids version to teach financial literacy and stuff like that to children. We also plan to expand into food delivery and catering.

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