Grammy Award-winning Pharrell Williams and his nonprofit initiative, Black Ambition, has awarded a total of $300,000 in seed money to a pair of Tulsa-based start-ups.
Quirkchat received $250,000 and Boddle Learning $50,000.
Black Ambition is designed to provide a bridge to success for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs who are launching tech, design, health care and consumer products and services start-ups.
A singer, songwriter, record/film producer and entrepreneur, Williams has won 13 Grammy awards.
Founded by Bee Law, Quirkchat is a social video and collaboration platform for self-proclaimed geeks and hobbyists that emphasizes community moderation and community building. Its mission is to be the industry home of geek fandom conversation and data while also adding social responsibility to social network by focusing on community self moderation tools.
“Compared to the other cities that we’ve worked in, Tulsa’s start-up ecosystem feels free and exciting,” Law said in a statement. “The budding energy of entrepreneurship is very evident when working out of 36 Degrees North, and we are excited to be a part of it. After only being here for a month, we’ve been able to connect with both potential technical talent and capital resources to support our venture.”
Boddle Learning, founded by Edna Martinson and Clarence Tan, is a gamified education platform that helps content providers such as teachers and publishers transform digital learning content into interactive and personalized experiences using 3D games and adaptive technology.
More than 25,000 classrooms use Boddle Learning for math practice, revision, homework and assessments.
“To be selected from hundreds of other companies to receive this finalist award is an honor,” Martinson said in a statement. “We’re excited to put the investment to good use and leverage the connections made available through Black Ambition to further our mission to inspire learning and improve student outcomes.”
Both Martinson and Law relocated to Tulsa as members of the Tulsa Remote program. QuirkChat and Boddle Learning are both members of 36 Degrees North, Tulsa’s basecamp for entrepreneurs, and Boddle joined 36 Degrees’ state-certified incubator that opened this month.
36 Degrees North has generated more than $375 million in economic impact in the Tulsa region since 2017, according to its 2020 economic impact report.
“This kind of recognition is huge for our member companies, and validation for the Tulsa start-up community as a whole,” Devon Laney, 36 Degrees North CEO, said in a statement. “The talent flourishing in our city is unmatched and we are so proud to be a part of the journey. QuirkChat and Boddle Learning are amazing examples of the diverse and creative founders actively making 36 Degrees North and Tulsa the best home for tech start-ups in the region.”