Last year, Black Enterprise held its first TechConneXt Summit and BE Smart Hackathon. Five student teams representing historically black colleges competed for prizes. The students also went on tours at Google and the AT&T Foundry. The purpose was to expose African American students to careers and opportunities in tech. One of those students has since been awarded a full assistantship to Louisiana State University, where he will earn a doctorate in computer science.
That’s why I was so glad to hear about the 2016 OFC Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program, taking place this week in Atlanta. Hosted by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the Opportunity Funding Corp., this conference provides more opportunity to expose African American students not only to tech, but also to entrepreneurship development and training. Eighty HBCU students will attend the three-day program and compete against their peers in a 72-hour intensive workshop.
Over the last 14 years, OFC has infused entrepreneurship into the HBCU curriculum. With the emergence of economies driven by technology and disruptive business models, OFC recognizes that the next wave of leaders must possess an entrepreneurial mindset that can lead to new venture creation and increased career opportunities.
The OFC Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program provides resources and knowledge necessary to bridge the gap for HBCU students. The program will connect students with the startup ecosystem, and empower them to develop an entrepreneurial mindset through hands-on exercises, coaching, training, and networking.
Two tracks will be offered; Hackathon and Innovation Boot Camp. Hackathon is designed for students to build mobile apps, compete for prizes, and develop and utilize their technical skills to participate in the $30 billion developer ecosystem. This track will provide opportunities to network with other aspiring student entrepreneurs, receive guidance from partners, and be coached by successful entrepreneurs and business leaders.
Innovation boot camp is designed for aspiring student entrepreneurs to take part in an intensive experience in which they share ideas, form teams, build projects, and launch startups to solve real-world problems. Participants will leave this tailored coaching practicum with increased knowledge and experience in such areas as venture ideation/team building, customer discovery, and pitching.
On the final day, students from both tracks will pitch their ideas at the Pitch & Win Competition before a panel of experts. The winning students will take home prizes!
To learn more, visit the Thurgood Marshall / OFC website.