Imagine walking into a sea of faces, that resemble YOU.
You hear the latest Migos track in the background, and the sight in front of you includes signs that read “Google,” “Hulu,” “Microsoft,” and almost every other major technology company that you can think of – looking to hire YOU.
If you are like me, spaces like this are a special and rare occurrence. This is what a first look at walking into AfroTech feels like.
AfroTech is a technology, entrepreneurship, and corporate leadership conference held in Oakland, California every November for the 4th year in a row. AfroTech is a space where young innovative Black talent gathers to exchange thoughts, ideas, business strategy, and so much more.
A year ago is when I first heard of AfroTech. I remember googling the event at my intern desk and instantly being in awe of what it would be like to be in a sea of faces that looked like mine, with talents I aspire to have. After seeing AfroTech for myself, I know that a year from today, I aspire to sit alongside those entrepreneurs and speak of how we can build the future of innovation, for us and by us.
In attendance of this Black in Tech conference included venture capitalists, CEOs, creators, inventors, and basically every skill you need to create the Wakanda for the future. Some notable attendees include political commentator, lawyer, and CEO, Angela Rye, radio show host, Charlamagne Tha God, and The Shade Room founder Angelica Nwandu. Every room, lounge area, conference room of this event had workshops, ideas, and information being exchanged.
Representation in tech and in the startup space is so important – which is a major reason why Mogul Millennial exists. In a time when only about 3% of the technology population is black, to be in a space of like-minded individuals, all working towards creating opportunities for our communities, educating one another and developing with one another, was a feeling like no other.
With all that being said, here are the three major takeaways from AfroTech 2019!
Venture capitalists want to fund women and minorities
In attendance at this conference were many venture capitalists that were looking to fund the projects developing innovative solutions. At the conference, there were VCs from firms like Kapor Capital, Cross Culture Ventures, Reign Ventures, and Base Ventures just to name a few. Also, the GOAT Michael Seibel of Y Combinator was in the building too.
You don’t have to be an engineer to be a tech entrepreneur
While we have all heard the narrative of the Harvard boys who dropped out to create what is now the Tech giant known as Facebook, not everybody in tech leadership starts out as a Harvard software engineer.
To the surprise of many, most technology-based entrepreneurs are not of a technical background. While they understand the works, basics and overall flow of the technology, it is simply only one component of running a business. The real talent is in bring in clients, closing deals, creating a consistent paycheck and stability for a team. The concern of lacking technical skills should not hold anyone looking to create a tech-related company from doing so.
We are the future of technology, and ownership is possible
One of my favorite quotes from this weekend was by Charlamagne Tha God. He says ” We are the first generation to have the knowledge and resources to make ownership a reality”. Charlamagne goes on to explain that ownership is and continues to be the reason behind generational wealth. This is an old and known concept, but before the age of the internet, and the accessibility of it, we have been systematically pushed away from accessing the knowledge and resources that make ownership a reality. We do not have to look far outside of our communities to create the solutions, companies, and empires that our community yearns for.