YellowBird, a Phoenix-based startup, has been awarded a $25,000 EMERGEAZ Fast Grant which was created to provide financial support for startups that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic.
InvisionAZ and StartupAZ partnered with the Arizona Governor’s Office to create the EMERGEAZ Fast Grant — a $1 million fund to be distributed on a rolling basis until it’s gone. Grant amounts range from $10,000 to $50,000 and will be awarded to entrepreneurs and startups who use emerging technology to address the effects of the pandemic. YellowBird was one of five Arizona startups chosen from more than 150 applications to receive the first round of distributions.
YellowBird is an on-demand marketplace that connects businesses across the country to vetted Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) professionals. These professionals act as consultants, helping businesses with a variety of requests ranging from filling out OSHA reports to helping establish COVID-19 safety precautions. There are professionals in 49 states. Years of experience ranges from 5 years to 40 years.
Co-founder and CEO Michael Zalle initially started the company because he worried about the significant knowledge lost as skilled professionals retired. Zalle references an old adage he heard years ago that says, “When an elder dies, it’s like burning a library.”
YellowBird launched just weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic regulations and precautions hit hard in U.S. cities. While Zalle says YellowBird isn’t a “COVID company,” more than a quarter of the company’s revenue in 2020 came from COVID-19 related requests, like helping businesses create a safe and successful plan for re-opening.
“We doubled down on COVID-19 early on and we’ve gotten a lot of attention for that,” Zalle said.
The YellowBird team consists of investors, executives and board members from a number of industry giants, including former employees of eBay, Intel, Amazon, the United States AirForce, among others.
The other four startups that received the first round of the grant include CYR3CON, Upfront, Dovly and Televëda. Since that first group, there have been 15 grant winners total so far.
Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis until the fund runs out.