After years of helping small business owners ramp up their digital presence, software engineer Sydney Davis was excited to launch her own Saas (software as a service) company, Tequity in spring 2020.
And then the pandemic hit.
Nervous about the economic impact on startup founders’ bottom lines, Davis was unsure about the company’s reception when she made Tequity official in April of last year. Little did she know, brands would begin flocking as the world realized the importance of digital transformation when we could no longer be in the same rooms with one another. “I honestly thought companies would want to hold on to their dollars because people were out of work, businesses were folding and no one knew what the future help when the world first shut down,” she shared with Essence.
Although Tequity provides a myriad of software solutions, they found their sweet spot with no-code app development services, which solves a significant pain point for non-technical business owners who are low on time.
“The pandemic forced us all to take a closer look at our relationship with technology and the need for mobile viability,” Davis shared.
Although Davis said Tequity’s success came as a bit of a surprise, it shouldn’t have. The Western Michigan University grad has always had an entrepreneurial spirit that not only drove her to take on freelance projects while a student but reaches back to her elementary days when she sold candy out of her backpack to schoolmates.
“I’d always known I’d run my own business,” Davis said. “While operating my early e-commerce platform some years back, people would always comment on how great my digital presence was so I started taking on clients to do the same for them and that’s what led to eventually launching Tequity.”
Davis said she was also inspired to found the company in an effort to merge equity and tech into a platform that’s accessible online with no financial barriers.
“I wanted to provide technology education and give everyone the ability to build new technology to solve problems and make money,” Davis said in an earlier interview. “I wanted my solution to remove the hurdles associated with not having a technical co-founder. Tequity is for those who are not able to code or afford app development. We want to make app development accessible and be a revenue-generating resource.”
And she’s not alone in her mission. Tequity has gone on to win the support and attention of major investors.
In October 2020, the company was selected as the winner of VC firm Harlem’s Capital virtual competition, resulting in $40,000, major social capital via VC mentorship and free marketing services. Forbes reported Tequity went up against 220 other applicants and was judged by Jewel Burks Solomon, managing partner at Collab Capital, Lolita Taub, co-founder and general partner at the Community Fund, and Jenny Fielding, managing director at Techstars and moderated by Mandela Dixon, founder and CEO of Founder Gym to explain why they were going to disrupt the tech sector for the greater good.
Davis’s pitch won them over when she demonstrated that Tequity is doing for apps what WordPress did for websites. “Entrepreneurs have ideas for apps but don’t have the skills they need to create them,” Davis explained. “ Because of this, they assume they can’t take their businesses to the next level. Tequity answers the call.”
The win was especially significant due to a historically high barrier to entry with Black tech founders and VC firms. Although there has been a significant uptick in recent VC investment in Black tech businesses following last year’s social justice uprising, there’s still much work to be done.
Crunchbase data shows that Black startup entrepreneurs still received a small sliver of the pie — only1.2 percent of $147 billion in venture capital invested in U.S. startups through the first half of 2021.
But, Davis said she feels things are going to get better. “Unfortunately, it took the tragic events of last year to pull the curtain back on things that have been overlooked for years, but we’re moving in a positive direction and that’s what matters most.”