This Is Beyond Black Women Talk Tech. It’s About Scaling A Billion-Dollar Opportunity
There aren’t enough spaces where Black women founders can come together and feel safe to share their challenges, learn from their peers and be inspired.
The 2019 Black Women Talk Tech conference is helping to turn that around. Going into its third year, the conference is scheduled for Feb. 27 to March 1 in New York.
The annual Black Women Talk Tech event was created by Black women founders for Black women founders. Its “Roadmap to Billions” conference is the brainchild of Regina Gwynn, co-founder
This year’s event is expected to reach around 1,000 founders, tech supporters and investors over a three-day period of workshops, panels and showcases. Attendees will hear from Arlan Hamilton, founder
Sponsors include Sundial Brands CEO Richelieu Dennis’ New Voices Foundation, Microsoft, Nike, and Facebook.
We are focused on technical founders that are working on algorithms, AI, VR or are using technology to apply blockchain to solutions.Regina Gwynn, co-founder of Black Women Talk Tech
Speakers and panelists at the event will provide information on growing $1-billion companies. In addition, 10 black female-owned companies will get to compete for prize money at a pitch competition.
The New Voices Foundation is offering $100,000 in prize money for the pitch competition as a part of its New Voices Fund, launched by Dennis. The $100,000 prize is a part of New Voices’ $100 million-dollar fund.
“We are so thrilled to be partnering with New Voices Foundation this year to award $100K to our pitch finalists. That’s 10 times higher than what we were able to give out last year and I think it’s due to the quality of the startups who are members of Black Women Talk Tech,” said Lauren Washington, Black Women Talk Tech co-founder.
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In 2017, Angel Rich of The Wealth Factory (formerly WealthyLife) won the pitch contest. In 2018, Kobi Wu of
There are thousands of Black women creating amazing technology. They are just hidden figures and no one heard of them yet. I do (Black Women Talk Tech) because it’s bigger than me.Regina Gwynn, co-founder of Black Women Talk Tech
What started as a discussion a few years ago has morphed into more than a conference — it’s an organization.
Black Women Talk Tech co-founder Gwynn told Moguldom, “We did not know this was even going to become an organization. That was never our initial intent nor our goal. We just wanted to get a bunch of Black women founders together to share resources.”
As an organization, Black Women Talk Tech has members in three chapters located in Atlanta, New York, and San Francisco.
In a recent interview, Gwynn shared how Black Women Talk Tech grew and what makes the organization different.
We definitely have speakers where we just reached out and asked, “Hey, are you available” and they said, “Yes.” Would we like to have Oprah or Michelle Obama? Sure. When the stars align it will happen.Regina Gwynn, co-founder of Black Women Talk Tech
Moguldom: How did Black Women Talk Tech launch?
Regina Gwynn: We did not know this was even going to become an organization. That was never our initial intent nor our goal. We just wanted to get a bunch of black women founders together to share resources. My co-founders, Lauren, Esosa and I would keep running into each other at various events. Often, we were the only black chicks in the room, and we would gravitate towards each other. During our conversations, we realized we were having the same issues with fundraising, finding a developer or other resources. It made us realize if we’re having these problems other women are probably experiencing the same thing.
Moguldom: How did it grow into a highly anticipated annual event and organization?
Regina Gwynn: In 2017 we got a small room at Google. We said to ourselves, “Hopefully we can fill this room with 50-60 people.” We had over 300 RSVP. We realized then this was what women wanted and we needed to figure this out. It just took off from there. We had our next conference at Microsoft with standing room only. That’s when we really realized we needed to not only build the conference but also build out additional programming around it. We launched our chapters last year and they are in New York, San Francisco, and Atlanta so we can continue the conference conversation in local communities. We also want to be able to tap into the resources in those markets and not have to solely rely on Silicon Valley and New York. You know there’s more people and more opportunities than in just those areas. More people are coming out of the woodwork to want to host chapters in Washington, D.C., Austin and Chicago and we’ll go where it makes sense. We’re only getting started and we’re really just scratching the surface of where we can go with this organization.
Moguldom: Is Black Women Talk Tech open to women who are not tech founders?
Regina Gwynn: We are geared toward tech founders. If you are working on what’s considered a lifestyle business, this organization is probably not the best fit. We are essentially working with founders that are at a stage where they’re about to raise their Series A or they are up and running their past MVP stage and are generating revenue on a business that uses technology to achieve massive scale. The name of our conference is “Roadmap to Billions” because we are trying to resource and support the next billion-dollar company. In order to do get to a billion-dollar company, that has to be some sort of technical model that you’re using in order to feel that fuel that growth. We are focused on technical founders that are working on algorithms, AI, VR or are using technology to apply blockchain to solutions and everything in between.
To be a member you have to have a scalable business that you’re working on full-time. Our group is really meant for founders that are past the ideation phase. You have completed your market validation and now you’re ready to take it to the next level. It is all about scaling and creating a billion-dollar opportunity.Regina Gwynn, co-founder of Black Women Talk Tech
Moguldom: Did you have to prove the importance of the event to people in the industry like Arlan Hamilton and Luvvie Ajayi or were they immediately open to being a part of it?
Regina Gwynn: Probably a mixture of both. I mean we’re still young and there’s definitely plenty of people who never even heard of us. There is an ongoing effort to raise the awareness not only about the organization but just to raise the awareness of these Black women doing amazing things. One of the pillars of the organization is to raise the profile of a Black female founder. When you think of a tech founder, who do you think of? Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Peter Thiel, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos. That alone shows how we think when we think of the founders. Yet there are thousands of Black women creating amazing technology. They are just hidden figures and no one heard of them yet. I’m OK with where we are right now given that I didn’t plan on doing this in the first place. Clearly, I do it because it’s bigger than me. I absolutely love the fact that there has been such amazing support put behind it. But it is unfortunate that it is 2019 and we still have to do this. We definitely have speakers where we just reached out and asked, “Hey, are you available” and they said, “Yes.” So, it wasn’t too hard. Would we definitely like to have Oprah or former first lady, Michelle Obama? Sure. It’s not outside the realm of possibility, we just have to just continue to do the work. And when the stars align it will happen.
Moguldom: What makes Black Women Talk Tech different from other organizations promoting women in business or in tech?
Regina Gwynn: To be a member you have to have a scalable business that you’re working on full-time. That doesn’t mean you have to be literally not working in another business, but you need to be working 35-40 hours a week on your business. You can be pre-revenue if you are in an accelerator or incubator and you’re about to launch. However, our group is really meant for founders that are past the ideation phase. There are a lot of organizations that already serve people with how to create a business plan and how to think about your business. We want you to already have your business idea and product market fit. You have completed your market validation and now you’re ready to take it to the next level. We find that’s where so many founders get stuck. Because what you did to get to this point can’t be the same thing you do to get to the next point. So that’s really what we’re here to do. I feel like I’m a broken record, but it is all about scaling and creating a billion-dollar opportunity. We love what all the various organizations are doing. There’s room for all of us to help move us all forward.
Moguldom: How many people are you estimating to attend this year’s event?
Regina Gwynn: I think we’re going to hit around a thousand people this year. We are definitely growing and expanding. We’re working with more community groups and we’re having our sponsors bring out their executives. Attendees are definitely in for a treat with the programming and environment the team has created.