$ 1 Million Black Ambition Award Positions Detroit Tech Company For Aggressive Growth
Detroit-based black-owned tech company Livegistics LLC just won the grand prize in the Black Ambition competition.
Now, armed with a million dollars, Livegistics plans to expand aggressively.
Black Ambition “provides mentorship and access to capital to high-growth startups founded by Black and Latinx entrepreneurs,” according to a press release. It is backed by musician, entrepreneur and philanthropist Pharrell Williams, who launched it last December.
Its efforts include reducing barriers to capital and closing the country’s wealth gap through entrepreneurship. The non-profit organization is committed to helping entrepreneurs of color succeed in tech, design, healthcare, and consumer product / service start-ups.
Launched in 2017, Livegistics is a cloud-based materials management operating system that takes all paper processes found in civil engineering and transforms them into digital with real-time tracking. The company mainly targets civil engineering, demolition and trucking companies, among others, in the construction waste management industry. Livegistics helps customers eliminate lost revenue loss due to lost tickets and provides data analytics to give them a competitive edge over rivals among its offerings.
“Winning this competition is more important than the cash prize,” said Justin Turk, co-founder and CEO of Livegistics, in a press release.
“When we first entered the tech startup world as two black entrepreneurs, we didn’t know how to navigate that space. Now we are being taught not only to navigate, but also to dominate in an industry that has only just made the decision to grant access to people of color. The information, skills and tools taught to us will not only help us thrive in our business, but will also open doors we never even knew existed. We don’t just want an invitation; we want to create the guest list.
Livegistics was reportedly chosen from around 1,700 applicants for the top Black Ambition award. Dosso Beauty won the nonprofit’s $ 250,000 HBCU Grand Prize.
At Livegistics, Turk runs the business with Andre Davis, co-founder and CFO.
African Americans make up less than five percent of the tech industry’s workforce in Silicon Valley. And the percentage of African Americans in leadership positions in industry can be as low as 1%, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Turk and Davis shared with BLACK COMPANY by email what the million dollar reward will allow their business to do. Turk says the company can now improve its software in several areas, including improved user interface design, collaborative platform improvements, data analysis. He added that the company is currently at five waste management facilities in three states.
“These resources will allow us to aggressively deploy our software in more than 100 installations over the next few months. “
Davis added that the funding will accelerate the company’s ability to grow and condense the improvement schedule for products under development. “This access to capital will put us on the fast track to capture the locked-in demand that we are seeing in the market. “
He added: “Looking at our roadmap and timing of what we had planned over the next few years as we received more resources faster, it is a huge benefit for us to grow and evolve. . “
Davis reflected on how the company has grown since its inception. He says Livegistics was founded at the end of 2017 and got its very first client in 2018. He says around $ 150,000 in capital was initially raised from friends and family, with all the development of software. Since 2019, Davis says more than $ 650,000 has been raised in convertible debt financing to grow the business. “You will see a lot of tech companies take big losses before they generate sales. It is therefore no small task to start generating income as a SaaS solution.
Davis says that last year Livegistics made $ 150,000 in revenue. In late 2020, the company received a grant from TechTown Detroit. This allowed him to generate revenue from large companies like Waste Management starting in early 2021. Davis says the company’s recurring revenue exceeded $ 150,000 in the first quarter of 2021, and he expects the company will achieve over $ 1 million in revenue this fiscal year.
Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has fueled some growth for Livegistics as people began to work remotely with a growing need for digital solutions. Davis says providing a secure digital platform for contractors, landfills and carriers in the environmental construction industry was a natural backbone for the firm’s largest customers, which has helped accelerate growth.
“We have the team, the product-market fit and now the capital we need so badly…. for an industry in desperate need of change. An emerging actor in its profession, Livegistics has found a niche by finally solving a big problem in construction. Davis says the digital (truck) ticket for civil and demolition companies, landfills, recycling and metal processing facilities, and aggregate suppliers is really at the heart of everyone’s issues in this construction phase. Livegistics, he says, uses technology to consult with companies, impact their bottom line and provide transparency in an industry that has been lacking for so long.
Turk pointed out that Livegistics has a 97% retention rate with customers.
“Construction technology is still a fairly new term in this area, so there was obviously some anxiety on the part of the early adapters,” he says. “While carriers, contractors, scale workers, etc. started to get acquainted with the technology, we started to see an increase in volume as well as an increase in the average number of users per company. “
Davis says solving the paper problem for the construction industry is not a question of if … it’s a question of when.
“With our industry expertise and our environmental focus, we seek to help pioneers change,” he explains. “Landfills, pits, quarries, demonstration and civil engineering contractors, heavy truck carriers and other construction contractors can all be clients of our platform. We will start to integrate more landfills across the country and as these landfills go live we will be able to connect with local contractors and truckers in those areas who need to use our software at the destination site.
“But like most start-ups, especially black-owned businesses, running Livegistics has not been without challenges. Some of these barriers include accessing capital, gaining market share with large, established tech companies, and increasing brand visibility or recognition.
“We are very grateful for the words of Felecia Hatcher, CEO of Black Ambition and Pharrell Williams (who) said the numbers don’t lie,” Davis said. He noted that statistically trillions of dollars are invested in venture capital firms and startups, but very few are minority-run companies.
“And that trickle down effect, even though we have thick skin, we never wanted to accept that the reason was race related, but we know it’s out there.” He adds: “We have so far over 40 different investors on our capitalization table and we owe them as well as being a founding group to achieve the things that we are committed to. Every dollar has been counted and our goals are reasonable so that we don’t run out of money. This cash injection is not only changing our outlook and timing, it is also changing the tone of investors. “