Atlanta tech entrepreneur Jewel Burks Solomon has been named head of Google for Startups for the United States — a new position where she will engage startup partners across the U.S., Google reported in an announcement.
She will be tasked with empowering diverse startup founders with connections, advice on best practices, operating procedures, and obtaining funding. And Google is weighing hard on startups as “key priority markets for 2020,” she tells the Hypepotamus website.
It’s a cause Solomon knows well. Way back in 2013 she launched startup Partpic, a way for customers to search for and order parts using computer-identifying technology — similar to facial recognition — on their phones. Basically, snap a pic of what you need and a Google search will reveal all known information about it. Particularly useful for difficult-to-find items.
The idea was born out of necessity: Her grandfather, who has a farm in Alabama, enlisted her help for a part he could not find. After all, Solomon knows a thing or two about Google — she began at the search giant in 2009 as an intern. After struggling to find any information on what he needed, she came up with the novel idea that would touch off a revolution in parts location. Partpic was born.
Solomon has always been a solutions finder. And her drive is helping those who are overlooked succeed. “I am thrilled about the opportunity to do work I’m deeply passionate about, to help level the playing field in the startup ecosystem,” she says. “I have a great opportunity to highlight the work of incredible startups here and in other markets that have historically been under-resourced.”
Solomon has also taken a stand for diversity — a cause that is near and dear to her. As managing partner at the investment fund Collab Capital, she connects African-Americans to the financial and social capital they need to start and build profitable businesses. And she will push for diversity in the startup community as she tackles the responsibilities of running Google For Startups in the U.S.
It’s her drive that got her noticed early on — Forbes spotlighted her in their list of 30 Under 30 when she was just 26.
With all on her plate, it’s easy to imagine she has no spare time. But Solomon is keeping busy — she’s been featured in a Pantene Gold Series national ad campaign for its line of natural hair products. She says the campaign was important to her — she’s proud that black women were consulted in many different aspects of the production, from branding and design, to hair and makeup.
“The concept is about women at work, and the tagline is ‘You mean business.’ It’s about being the only black person in the room, the only woman in the room, but still holding my own,” she tells Hypepotamus.
Her Google appointment is a win-win. The tech giant has found valuable local talent in Georgia, and having Solomon based there, instead of one of its other campuses, will allow her to be Google’s eyes and ears. “Google has been fortunate to call Georgia home for the last 18 years,” a Google rep tells Hypepotemus. “There’s amazing local talent in the area and a strong spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship, which continues to attract companies, big and small to the area, and we’re proud to be a part of the thriving tech ecosystem.”
Solomon was born in Nashville, Tennessee; is an alumna of Howard University; and now calls Atlanta home.