“For most of the last two decades, in particular, the growth of black-owned enterprises has outpaced that of mainstream companies,” says Alfred Edmond Jr., Black Enterprise’s SVP and Editor-at-Large. Indeed, the number of African American-owned businesses is skyrocketing; we are an entrepreneurial people.
Many of these new businesses are technology oriented. Even for those not starting their own business, technology plays a crucial role in furthering ourselves professionally and staying relevant well into the 21st century.
Tech is so predominate now, that Black Enterprise added to its roster of iconic events—such as the annual Woman of Power and Entrepreneur Summits—the TechConneXt Technology Summit.
TechConneXt will be held this year from October 10-11. We are taking our two-day tech fest right to Silicon Valley, at the beautiful San Francisco Marriott Waterfront Hotel. If you think this is a conference you can afford to miss, think again.
Here are five reasons why it’s important to attend:
1. Building Our Own
Whenever we’ve written an article on yet another injustice or slight we’ve faced—such as black people being rejected as guests by prejudice Airbnb hosts or Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence social media bot tweeting, “I hate niggers,” after being hacked due to a security oversight—you, our audience have commented, “This is why we need to build our own tech companies!”
Yes, we need to build our own. However, we all know there are no magic beans to plant that can sprout a successful business. It takes know-how, perseverance, mentoring, and—most importantly—capital to start a business and make it thrive.
At TechConneXt, you will be in the same room with African American trailblazers in Silicon Valley. You can walk right up to them and get advice, seek mentoring, and even discuss investing in your own business ideas and ventures.
If you are content enough just writing, “We need to build our own,” in response to something you read online that made you mad, but don’t take steps to make that happen or support those trying to do so, all you are doing is paying lip service.
2. Let Silicon Valley Know, “We Are Here!”
There is, perhaps, nothing more infuriating than when Silicon Valley tells us that the lack of diversity in tech is due to a lack of talent in the pipeline.
While it’s true that we need to continue to push young people of color in the direction of STEM studies, there are still plenty of us who are qualified and willing to work hard that are looking for our share of the technology spoils as engineers, successfully funded entrepreneurs, members of the C-Suite level, and as board members of the tech industry’s top companies.
With hundreds of African American tech thought leaders, investors, entrepreneurs, IT professionals, and the very best and brightest from HBCU engineering programs all congregating at TechConneXt, it is very hard for tech companies to “blame the victim,” and tell us they can’t find talented black people. We are here, and we are collectively calling their bluff.
3. Put the “Connect” in “TechConneXt”
As President Obama so rightly stated, “If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.” Networking is crucial for success, whether you are launching your own venture or looking for work. TechConneXt is where you will meet like-minded individuals facing the same hopes, frustrations, and challenges that you face. Ultimately, success can be all about the connections you make.
4. Investing in the Future
One of the highlights and pride of TechConneXt is our student Hackathon. We canvassed HBCUs for the brightest young minds in the STEM majors. Up to 40 students across 10 schools will spend close to 48 hours in a coding marathon.
These young people will also have the opportunity to tour some of Silicon Valley’s largest technology companies, as well as participate in recruitment workshops, career training, and other great activities.
When you attend TechConneXt , you are supporting our young people, and therefore, our future. Now, more than ever, it is dire that our children are well versed in science, technology, and engineering, so that they can compete into the future.
5. Gain Access and Familiarity
What if you have a fantastic technology product or app idea, but you don’t know where or how to begin? What is the type of technology investors are likely to fund? Which tech skills are critical for IT pros to know, to remain gainfully employed for years to come?
These are questions that you can find answers to at TechConneXt. The first step to winning any war is knowing the battlefield. You need to have an in-road to Silicon Valley and know who and what is hot in the industry; TechConneXt is that opportunity.
Register now for Black Enterprise’s TechConneXt Technology Summit: The Intersection of Innovation and Opportunity being held on October 10-11, 2016 at the San Francisco Marriott Waterfront Hotel.