Columbia native receives $100,000 from Google for his startup

Harold Hughes said he never considered starting his own business until about 10 years into his career.
Updated: Oct. 7, 2020 at 2:18 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Harold Hughes was never supposed to be an entrepreneur.

An alumnus of Richland Northeast High School and Clemson University, he said he never considered starting his own business until about 10 years into his career.

“My goal was always to go to school, get good grades and help out my family,” Hughes, the CEO of tech company Bandwagon, said.

Hughes decided to take his love of “all things community based...sports, music, concerts” and turn that into a business.

Based in Greenville, his business focuses on storing and managing valuable consumer identity information, specifically in the world of live events.

Enter Google.

The tech company decided to launch a program as part of a series of racial equity commitments they made in June. The Google for Startups Black Founders Fund, a $5 million initiative to provide cash awards to Black led startups in the US, searched far and wide to name their 76 recipients -- Hughes among them.

“First they send an e-mail saying you are a finalist and as a finalist you have to do a formal interview,” Hughes explained. “Finally Nicole Broker from Google tells me, ‘You know Harold, we all are big fans of you...and so we want to let you know that you’ve been selected to receive $100,000.’”

Hughes said the news “was super mind-blowing because when you think of Google, wow...and then it’s Google coming into South Carolina which you just don’t hear about - but I want to change that stigma.”

The money, Hughes said, will go to several aspects of the company but has already created a new job opportunity.

“That’s really what’s important to me, that Google is acknowledging that we’re an asset class of creators and we can do what we need to when we’re given the resources we need,” he said.

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