Google invests in pair of St. Louis startups

A pair of St. Louis startups are getting a cash injection from Google.

Philip Hickman

Sports software startup Athlytic and educational technology firm Plabook have been named to the 2022 cohort of the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund. The pair are among more than 50 companies that will receive $100,000 in nondilutive and other assistance from Google, which unveiled its new cohort Thursday.

This year marks the third cohort of Google’s Black Founders Fund, which aims to combat the disparity in funding provided to Black startup founders.

The two St. Louis startups, Athlytic and Plabook, chosen for this year’s Black Founders Fund cohort relocated operations to the region after winning grants last year from local startup funder Arch Grants.

Led by co-founder and CEO Ashton Keys, Athlytic has developed a software platform to connect collegiate athletes and businesses as they search for name, image and likeness deals. Athlytic generates revenue from a transaction fee on the endorsement deals inked by athletes and through a subscription fee companies pay to be on its platform.

Ashton Headshot

Ashton Keys, co-founder and CEO of Athlytic


PlaBook is led by founder and CEO Philip Hickman and has developed apps designed to help students develop their reading and mathematics capabilities by using natural language processing, artificial intelligence analysis and augmented reality. The startup’s reading app allows students to record their reading, using technology to collect data to create dashboards teachers and parents can use to track and assess a student’s reading skills. PlaBook’s technology seeks to encourage students to practice their learning skills, with its reading app providing students coins when books are read. The coins can be used to purchase arcade games on the app.

In addition to receiving $100,000 in equity-free cash from Google’s Black Founders Fund, Plabook and Athlytic will also be offered $100,000 in Google Cloud credits, technical support and business and mental health coaching.

This marks the second consecutive year in which a St. Louis company has been included in the cohort for the Black Founders Fund. In 2021, Provider Pool, a St. Louis-based startup that created an online marketplace of health care professionals to match with job opportunities, was awarded $100,000 from the fund.


On Key

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