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16 founders with disabilities using technology for good

One billion people globally — including one in four people in the U.S. — are living with a disability, making it the largest minority group in the world. However, this diverse, vibrant and powerful community is often associated with pity and limitations. I have Cerebral Palsy, which, in my case, mainly affects my legs and…

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One billion people globally — including one in four people in the U.S. — are living with a disability, making it the largest minority group in the world. However, this diverse, vibrant and powerful community is often associated with pity and limitations. I have Cerebral Palsy, which, in my case, mainly affects my legs and motor skills. I still remember my elementary school classmate telling me his dad didn’t let him play with “weird” kids. Just last week, someone stopped me on the street asking if they could pray for me. These negative stereotypes can make entering the workforce challenging for many disabled people, who are unemployed at more than double the rate of nondisabled people.

How can we start to change these misconceptions? One word: entrepreneurship.

People with disabilities are innate problem solvers. From the moment we wake up, we have to figure out how to get dressed, how to drive, how to communicate, how to live in a world that is not built to fit our needs. In fact, people with disabilities are almost twice as likely compared to non-disabled individuals to start a business.

I founded 2Gether-International (2GI) to harness this entrepreneurial mindset. As the only startup accelerator run by and for entrepreneurs with disabilities, 2GI provides resources, training, opportunities and a community to help disabled founders create a pathway to funding and success. We envision a world in which disability is recognized as a source of innovation, strength and creativity.

This National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we teamed up with Google for Startups to launch our first-ever tech edition of the 2Gether-International Accelerator. This 10-week program is tailored to support early-stage tech startups around key areas of business growth, including market fit, management, sales, marketing and negotiations. The 16 selected founders work one-on-one with industry experts, accredited business coaches, and facilitators such as Bill Bellows, professor and co-director of the Entrepreneurship Incubator at American University, to leave the program with investor-ready pitches and a network of founders and Google experts.

Congratulations to the founders and startups selected for the inaugural 2Gether International tech class:

  • Adam David Jones (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) of Zeer, a 911 enhancement that uses machine learning and connected devices to create an autonomous safety response system.
  • Arianna Mallozzi (Boston, Massachusetts) of Puffin Innovations, an assistive technology startup focused on developing solutions for people with disabilities to lead more inclusive and independent lives.
  • Beth Kume-Holland (London, U.K.) of Patchwork Hub, an accessible employment platform connecting employers to highly skilled professionals who are looking for work opportunities outside the conventional 9-to-5 office job.
  • Denis Goncharov (St. Petersburg, Russia) of NOLI Music, a smart guitar synthesizer and musical education app that facilitates distance learning and tracks progress over time.
  • Elizabeth Tikoyan (Fairfax, Virginia) of Healp, a health social network that connects patients to community and to crowdsourced health solutions.
  • Gareth Walkom (Ghent, Belgium) of WithVR, an app that uses virtual reality to prepare people with speech disorders for real-life situations.
  • Hua Wang (Alexandria, Virginia) of SmartBridge Health, which aims to democratize access to optimal cancer care to improve health outcomes for patients.
  • Kristy McCann (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) of Go Coach, a business software platform designed to help candidates grow in their careers, unlock their potential and achieve greater happiness at work.
  • Kun Ho Kim (Seoul, South Korea) of Door Labs, a startup aiming to accelerate positive social changes in the real world by creating an inclusive virtual “metaverse” in which all identities are represented and celebrated.
  • Michael Zalle (Phoenix, Arizona) of YellowBird, an on-demand marketplace connecting environmental, health, and safety professionals with corporate needs and projects.
  • Nikolas Kelly (Rochester, New York) of Sign-Speak, an AI sign language interpreter for non-signers to easily communicate with individuals who are Deaf and hard of hearing.
  • Saida Florexil (West Palm Beach, Florida) of Imanyco, a live transcription app for people who are Deaf and hard of hearing.
  • Samantha Scott (Rockville, Maryland) of JuneBrain, a company building wearables and software monitoring solutions to detect and monitor eye and brain disease outside traditional clinical settings.
  • Sheryl Mattys (Westfield, Indiana) of Fetchadates, a social networking app for single pet lovers to connect with fellow animal lovers.
  • Toshe Ayo-Ariyo (Los Angeles, California) of UInclude, a bias mitigation tool that uses machine learning algorithms to identify and eliminate implicitly biased language in recruitment material.
  • Vanessa Gill (Los Angeles, California) of Social Cipher, a social-emotional learning platform offering games and curriculums designed to help neurodiverse youth develop learning skills and construct positive boundaries.

As 2GI looks to involve corporate partners to help us expand our offerings, it is critical we work with leaders who actually understand the impact people with disabilities have on the world. Whether it is by developing accessible products, partnering with community organizations, or hiring more people with disabilities, Google has continuously supported the disability community. I trust that Google’s commitment to founders with disabilities will set a precedent for greater inclusion in the startup world.

Learn more about 2GI and Google for Startups on disability rights activist Judy Heumann’s podcast The Heumann Perspective, and stay tuned for updates from our group of founders over the next three months as they build and grow not only their companies, but also the perception of disabled founders around the world.

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Survey shows how people decide what to trust online

Alex Mahadevan is director of MediaWise at the Poynter Institute. He has taught digital media literacy to thousands of middle and high schoolers, and has trained hundreds of journalists from around the world in verification and digital investigative tools. We caught up with Alex to find out about a recent information literacy survey his organization…

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Alex Mahadevan is director of MediaWise at the Poynter Institute. He has taught digital media literacy to thousands of middle and high schoolers, and has trained hundreds of journalists from around the world in verification and digital investigative tools. We caught up with Alex to find out about a recent information literacy survey his organization conducted in partnership with YouGov, with support from Google. Learn more about how Google is working on information literacy and helping you spot misinformation online.

Why was this survey conducted?

Misinformation isn’t a new problem, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate fact from fiction, especially on the internet. We wanted to learn more about how people across generational lines verify information and decide what to trust and share online. And we knew this research would help us expand on the educational resources MediaWise has to offer.

What were the parameters for the survey?

We surveyed more than 8,500 respondents of various ages in the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany, Nigeria, India and Japan. We asked a wide range of questions aimed at assessing information literacy skills and verification habits. Those include queries about everything from the tools and techniques someone uses to investigate a post they see online, to the reasons why they may have shared misleading information in the past.

What are some of the biggest takeaways?

The survey found that 62% of respondents think they see false or misleading information on at least a weekly basis – that’s a staggering number. And people are aware that it’s a serious issue. Roughly 50% of all Gen X, Millennial and Gen Z respondents (these are people ages 18 to 57) said they’re concerned about their family being exposed to it.

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New ways we’re helping you find high-quality information

AI models are also helping our systems understand when a featured snippet might not be the most helpful way to present information. This is particularly helpful for questions where there is no answer: for example, a recent search for “when did snoopy assassinate Abraham Lincoln” provided a snippet highlighting an accurate date and information about…

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AI models are also helping our systems understand when a featured snippet might not be the most helpful way to present information. This is particularly helpful for questions where there is no answer: for example, a recent search for “when did snoopy assassinate Abraham Lincoln” provided a snippet highlighting an accurate date and information about Lincoln’s assassination, but this clearly isn’t the most helpful way to display this result.

We’ve trained our systems to get better at detecting these sorts of false premises, which are not very common, but are cases where it’s not helpful to show a featured snippet. We’ve reduced the triggering of featured snippets in these cases by 40% with this update.

Information literacy

Beyond designing our systems to return high-quality information, we also build information literacy features in Google Search that help people evaluate information, whether they found it on social media or in conversations with family or friends. In fact, in a study this year, researchers found that people regularly use Google as a tool to validate information encountered on other platforms. We’ve invested in building a growing range of information literacy features — including Fact Check Explorer, Reverse image search, and About this result — and today, we’re announcing several updates to make these features even more helpful.

Expanding About this result to more places

About this result helps you see more context about any Search result before you ever visit a web page, just by tapping the three dots next to the result. Since launching last year, people have used About this result more than 2.4 billion times, and we’re bringing it to even more people and places – with eight more languages including Portuguese (PT), French (FR), Italian (IT), German (DE), Dutch (NL), Spanish (ES), Japanese (JP) and Indonesian (ID), coming later this year.

This week, we’re adding more context to About this result, such as how widely a source is circulated, online reviews about a source or company, whether a company is owned by another entity, or even when our systems can’t find much info about a source – all pieces of information that can provide important context.

And we’ve now launched About this page in the Google app, so you can get helpful context about websites as you’re browsing the web. Just swipe up from the navigation bar on any page to get more information about the source – helping you explore with confidence, no matter where you are online.

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Finding community and customers through Growth Academy: Women Founders

With thousands of highly-valued tech companies, a global-first market approach, and a strong economy dominated by entrepreneurship, it’s clear why Israel’s nickname is ‘The Startup Nation.’However, this thriving startup ecosystem isn’t equally supportive of all aspiring founders. According to the latest Israeli Tech Gender Distribution Report, spearheaded by Google for Startups and IVC Data and…

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With thousands of highly-valued tech companies, a global-first market approach, and a strong economy dominated by entrepreneurship, it’s clear why Israel’s nickname is ‘The Startup Nation.’

However, this thriving startup ecosystem isn’t equally supportive of all aspiring founders. According to the latest Israeli Tech Gender Distribution Report, spearheaded by Google for Startups and IVC Data and Insights, only 2% of startups with a woman founder raised above $50 million between 2018 and 2021. While the number of entirely women-led companies has doubled in the past decade, they still only comprise 6.3% of Israeli startups — and only 13.9% of startups had at least one woman co-founder in a mixed-gender founding team.

I fall into the latter category. My cofounder Gal Benbeniste and I met during college, where we bonded over how outdated the investment world is. What started with trying to figure out a simple way to automate became FinityX, a deep-tech startup that helps investors implement AI tools as part of their investment process to save time and resources, and improve quality.

While I have been humbled by FinityX’s rapid growth and recognition, as one of the very few women in the deep-tech space I’ve always wanted to be able to access the same capital, business networks, and mentorship readily available to my male cofounder.

So I was thrilled when Google for Startups launched a Growth Academy program tailored specifically for the needs of early-stage women founders. Based on the successful Startup Growth Lab curriculum, the program includes leadership workshops with Israeli VCs such as Entree Capital, Ibex and Viola, leadership sessions with top industry lecturers, and one-on-one Google product mentorship. “Ever since Google for Startups opened Campus Tel Aviv in 2012, diversity and inclusion has been an essential focus to our work,” said Marta Mozes, marketing manager of Google for Startups in Israel. “When we discovered this data about female founders in Israel, we knew we had to be part of the change.”

Meet the other Israeli entrepreneurs, representing industries from family vacation-planning to finance, who joined me at Google for Startups Growth Academy: Women Founders:

  • Miri Berger, Cofounder & CEO of 6Degrees
  • Kerri Kariti, Cofounder & CPO of Claritee
  • Vardit Legali, Cofounder & CEO of Clawdia
  • Ronny Schwartz Dgani, Cofounder & CMO of Expecting.ai
  • Inbal Glantser and Naama Yacobson, Cofounders of Homaze
  • Tamar Liberman, Tal Provizor Narkiss, and Lee Winfield, Cofounders of It’s July
  • Mika Kayt, Founder & CEO of Outgage
  • Danielle Shpigel and Yarden Kaufmann, Cofounders of Unika

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