Austin Locals Welcome Black Startups to SXSW

Dell and Austin's Capital City African American Chamber of Commerce (CCAACC) host pre-SXSW welcome reception to kickoff the annual festival

Dell representatives LaToya Collins-Jones and Belinda Matingou flank an attendee who won a Dell laptop (Images: Clark Patterson)

The Capital City African American Chamber of Commerce kicked off a pre-South by South West (SXSW) reception last night to welcome black techies and entrepreneurs who have flown in from across the world for Austin, Texas’ massive film, music, and technology conference.

Amidst the sophisticated ambiance of the III Forks Seafood and Steakhouse restaurant, more than 60 chamber members and constituents of SXSW’s black tech elite gathered with executives from the event’s sponsor, Dell Computers. In the background, Dell showcased a number of new products and played video from Black Enterprise Magazine’s Small Business Technology Makeover, featuring The Clean Dog, an Atlanta dog groomer who received all new Dell hardware.

“Austin is very attractive to a diverse audience. I’m excited to be partnering with Dell for this event,” said CCAACC President and CEO Natalie Madeira Cofield in her welcome address. “Dell is a major Austin institution. It has been a catalyst for helping to attract additional tech companies to this area. As a chamber that is looking to support black tech entrepreneurship, having a relationship with them is very important. Our relationship with them further demonstrates their commitment to diversity in Austin and beyond.”

At the CCAACC SXSW pre-reception Natalie M. Cofield speaks about the unique qualities of Austin, TX for people in technology.

Austin is one of the youngest cities in America, with an average age of 32. It’s been listed as one of the top two centers for IT startups and the venture capital community in Texas is one of the largest in the country, Cofield remarked. Because of these attributes, as well as the CCAACC’s strategic relationships with companies like Dell and institutions such as the University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business, she believes Austin is probably the most viable destination for young black tech startups.

In attendance at the CCAACC event, were young black entrepreneurs like Chris Bennett from social e-commerce startup Central.ly;  Cheryl Contee of Fission Strategy, which helps nonprofits with social media, and NewMe Accelerator participants Wayne Sutton and Hajj Flemings. The latter two are hosting the launch of Flemings’ Gokit at SXSW on Sunday.

The CCAACC has partnered with a number of large tech companies including Samsung, HP, and Dell, hosting receptions and forums about how to do business with these corporate titans. Austin is quickly becoming the epicenter of technology development in this country, and Cofield wants to make sure black startups get in on it.

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