Founders Of Upcoming “Black Women Talk Tech” Conference Talk Tech, Money, And Sisterhood
Normally, Black women are invisible in the tech world, which remains predominantly white and male, although several Black women are making things happen in the industry. But imagine a room full of Black women tech founders only?
That dream doesn’t have to be a fantasy. That’s exactly who will be gathering at the 2018 Black Women Talk Tech Conference, “The Roadmap to Billions” edition. The event will take place in New York City February 28 and March 1 at Microsoft Headquarters.
Black Women Talk Tech was created by Black women tech founders to assist other Black women tech founders, with the aim being the launch of the next $1 billion dollar technology company. To achieve that goal the conference will focus on expert panels, access to funding, and workshops such as “Intersectionality In Tech: The Ignored Diversity” and “Managing The Mental Health Roller Coaster.” There will also be a $10,000 pitch competition.
“Black Women Talk Tech was important to create because there is nothing like this out there in the tech industry,” said co-founder Lauren Washington, who is also co-founder and CEO of KeepUp, a cloud-based platform that uses social listening to help businesses create real-time, hyper-personalized ads. “There are a lot of resources to learn to code and how to start but once you are in the thick of it, those resources tend to fall away.”
The other minds behind Black Women Talk Tech are Esosa Ighodaro, president of COSIGN, a platform that allows users to earn money by turning their photos into digital storefronts; and Regina Gwynn, co-founder and CEO of TresseNoire Beauty, the leading on-location beauty booking app designed for women of color in 2014.
The house will be packed with dynamic tech women. Confirmed keynotes, speakers, panelists, and hosts include: Angel Rich, Wealthy Life, Founder & CEO; Lauren Maillian, Don’t Quit Your Day Job, Host; Sequoia Blodgett, Black Enterprise, Tech Editor; Jean Brownhill, Sweeten, Founder & CEO; Richelieu Dennis, Sundial Brands, Founder & CEO; Heather Hiles, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Deputy Director for Postsecondary Success; Candace Mitchell, Myavana, Cofounder & CEO. Sponsors for this year’s event include: Microsoft (the title sponsor), Loeb Enterprises, Ebay, Target, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Project W, Cosign, TresseNoire Beauty, Jopwell, Republic, Red Bull, and Robinson (+) Consulting Group.
Ighodaro, Washington, and Gwynn decided to do a second Black Women Talk after their first event received an overwhelming response. “At the first event at Google last year we had 30 slots but got more than 300 requests to come,” said Ighodaro. “So this year is going to be very exciting. We are bigger and better than before. We will be full of Black Girl Magic!”
This year the event will take place in a larger space and have expanded activities and networking opportunities. There will also be events open to others beyond tech founders.
“Day one will be solely for founders and investors,” said Ighodaro. “The first half of day one is about your business, and the second half is about you. Sometimes being an entrepreneur is very lonely if you don’t have a community to talk to. We are creating a community you can turn to.”
Day two, however, is for any and everyone Ighodaro said. “Black, white, male, female, child–anyone who wants to come out to witness and experience what Black Girl Magic is. The founders will talk; there will be real talk about things like what it’s like being a female and a person of color in tech because we have very different challenges. We will hear from the government about tech transfer and how you can get money to scale up your business. Then we will end it all with a party!”
Even though there have seen some strides made to diversify the tech sector, an event like Black Women Talk Tech is still more than necessary. “The whole idea is to pool the resources. The conference is all about access and getting funding,” noted Gwynn. “There are a lot of Black women in tech doing kick-ass work and we want to help them get the visibility. The investor community does not see these women we want to make sure they are seen.”