In a 2021 McKinsey study, the global consulting firm declared the present market as “the age of the inclusive consumer.” Since 2020, there has been a growing demand for companies to embrace—and back—Black-owned brands, suppliers, and vendors, as a rising number of consumers tie their social values to shopping behaviors. With this shift in consumer spending has come a greater need for Black-led companies to meet new client demands.

For small to medium businesses, readily adapting to an increase in sales is critical, as is streamlining the management of storage, logistics and inventory. That’s why Saltbox—an Atlanta-based, Black-led flexible co-warehousing and small business logistics pioneer – is helping companies do just that. Last week the company announced a $35 million Series B funding round, co-led by Atlanta-based and family-owned Cox Enterprises, and Pendulum, a strategic growth investing and advisory platform designed for founders and leaders of color. The news comes on the heels of the company opening its second Dallas location in Carrollton, Texas, which features 169 flexible warehouse suites, 10 office suites, flex office space, access to loading docks, and a photo studio for entrepreneurs. This Series B round brings Saltbox’s total funding to $56 million.

“As the saying goes, ‘with great privilege comes great expectations,’” says Saltbox CEO and co-founder Tyler Scriven of the company’s latest achievement. “I consider myself and my team incredibly fortunate and privileged to be able to tackle such an important problem from such a well-capitalized position. I've been around the startup game long enough to know that while raising money does not in itself equate to success, it certainly goes a long way towards helping you get there.”

Roughly half of the 500+ Saltbox member businesses are led by women or people of color—a stat Tyler says he is extremely proud of given the systemic lack of access to capital and other entrepreneurial roadblocks faced by Black entrepreneurs. It’s further gratifying because, Scriven tells EBONY, Black founders raised just about 0.43 percent of the nearly $43 billion deployed in the third quarter of 2022, according to TechCrunch—a sign that Black entrepreneurs could greatly benefit from the business model Saltbox offers.

“I believe that our disproportionately high representation in more logistically-driven businesses directly results from the systemic challenges that we face in more capital-intensive forms of entrepreneurship, such as venture capital and private equity-backed businesses,” Scriven says.

While the young CEO is hesitant to take credit for the number of Black entrepreneurs who have found a home at the company, he does say his team will take credit for “fostering a company at every level that is truly welcoming and accepting of everyone, no matter who they are.” He also adds that the mere presence of other entrepreneurs that look like you can have a massive impact on one’s perception of themselves and the confidence that they’re in the right place. This representation is something that Black women find at Saltbox. Despite being the fastest growing demographic of entrepreneurs in the U.S., with nearly 2.7 million businesses nationwide, Black women continue to face disproportionate financial headwinds—something Saltbox hopes to help alleviate with their business model.

Saltbox’s members span numerous industries from fashion to tech, health and beauty to home goods. For each company, Scriven says Saltbox delivers on its mission to democratize access to logistics. “Our end-to-end solutions power the logistics journey of small businesses from startup to scale, and our products and services are approachable, comprehensive, community-focused, and human-centric in their design, reflecting our customers' core values and ethos.”

Its mission is clearly resonating. In 2022, Saltbox more than doubled its growth, expanding its flexible warehouse network to ten locations. The company also opened its first-ever fulfillment hub in Dublin, Ohio. A press release from Saltbox notes that the strategic location in the Columbus, Ohio market allows members to reach 67 percent of the total U.S. population via 2-day shipping. In the near future, Saltbox also plans to expand to new markets including Tempe, AZ and Doral, FL, and add a second location in Tampa.

“Tyler and the Saltbox team have tapped into a strategic and unique opportunity at the intersection of community and shared services in warehousing, inventory management and fulfillment,” says Robbie Robinson, CEO and co-founder of Pendulum, a Saltbox investor. “This is evident in the company’s growth, and its ongoing expansion across geographies speaks to the high demand for this differentiated bundling of services.”

Scriven says Saltbox’s business model is something he’s incredibly confident will contribute to it being an enduring and successful company. “I can't help but feel the growing weight of the shared hopes and dreams that rest on my shoulders. Whether right or wrong, these feelings are further amplified as a Black founder,” Scriven admits. “Recognizing how few of my peers are afforded the same opportunity, I feel a deep sense of responsibility to my customers, employees, and investors and to all of the many talented Black entrepreneurs, especially those who have not been afforded the same opportunities I have to achieve great success.”