82% of ByteChek’s investors are Black angels or Black-led funds
Editor’s note: ByteChek closed down in February 2023.
Today, Miami-based cybersecurity compliance startup ByteChek announced that it has raised a $3 million seed round. The funding round was led by Authentic Ventures, a Bay Area-based seed and early-stage VC firm with an emphasis on empowering diverse talent.
ByteChek has made a name for itself by offering an automated platform to help businesses comply with SOC 2 audits. Instead of having to engage with an external team of consultants, companies can become SOC 2 compliant right through ByteChek. The platform makes compliance happen faster, more easily, and less expensively. Refresh Miami caught up with ByteChek in September, right after a tumultuous few months when a potential exit fell through.
This month, AJ Yawn, ByteChek’s founder and CEO, told Refresh Miami that 82% of participants in their seed round are Black angel investors or are Black-led investment funds.
“I’m very proud of building a company with a cap table that looks the way I want it to look, with a lot of really diverse people that are interested in helping us grow,” Yawn said.
A recent report on racial equity, diversity, and inclusion from the Miami nonprofit venture studio aīre ventures notes that access to capital and funding is the top area where underrepresented founders say that South Florida’s tech scene is lacking. Yawn echoed this sentiment and said that “it’s just different when people understand what you’re going through and say, ‘I know exactly what’s happening – let me be a resource to you’.”
“Before our first term sheet, I got 53 no’s,” recalled Yawn. “I hope the message to Black founders is that you can go raise a substantial seed round from people that look like you. And that should help change the narrative.”
ByteChek’s oversubscribed seed round includes a wide range of major investment firms like Concrete Rose Capital, Level Up Ventures, and Black Venture Capital Consortium. High-profile angel investors include Nick Caldwell, VP of Engineering at Twitter; Omri Dahan, Chief Revenue Officer at payment platform Marqeta; and Tom Stocky, previously VP of Search at Facebook.
Miami also features prominently on ByteChek’s cap table. Both Miami Angels and Black Angels Miami participated in this seed round. Ted Lucas, founder and CEO of South Florida music label Slip-N-Slide Records, also invested. “[Lucas] has been working with Venture Miami and the Mayor to try to make sure that the core of Miami – the kids in cities like Miami Gardens and Liberty City and Little Havana – aren’t getting left behind,” said Yawn. He and Lucas plan to work together to inspire the future generations of Miami-born entrepreneurs like them.
Growth is top of mind when it comes to Yawn’s plans for the $3 million. He hopes to double his team, which is currently made up of 11 employees. The company will start by hiring heads of department across everything from marketing and sales to product and engineering. Once those leaders are in place, Yawn explained that each head of department will start to fill out their team.
“We’ll be looking at a lot of local talent here to build a team,” Yawn said, noting that he already has some local talent on his team, including some Florida International University students.
Once the team is in place, Yawn plans to accelerate product development efforts. While these new offerings are still top-secret, Yawn signaled that the startup plans to expand to offer compliance for HIPAA and ISO 27001 assessments. “HIPAA is really cool for Florida because of the amount of healthcare companies like Papa that have to comply with it,” Yawn said.
Another development in the pipeline is expanding the cloud apps with which ByteCheck can integrate.
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