Black Tech Week is sold out and in full swing under new leadership with a complete rebrand and a new location in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Thus far, attendees have reported enjoying the shift.
“Been to more than a few tech conferences this year and can honestly say I had the best time at #BlackTechWeek,” Black Girls Code Founder Kimberly Bryant tweeted.
“The energy at @BlackTechWeek,’ tweeted another attendee who is identified as Professor P. of Manhattan College on the social media platform. He also included a meme of a quote that said, “Let’s see what we can do to ‘move the needle’ and make a difference.”
Running from July 18-23, the conference boasts a packed schedule that includes an array of workshops by some of tech’s best and brightest; several networking events and happy hours; and the opportunity to attend recreational events like the “Aida” opera, the Cincinnati Music Fest and a Cincinnati Reds baseball game.
Here are six highlights from the first Black Tech Week conference produced by Lightship Foundation.
Married serial entrepreneurs Felecia Hatcher and Derrick Pearson announced in March that Lightship Foundation acquired Black Tech Week. Lightship is led by another couple, Candice Matthews Brackeen and Brian Brackeen.
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This week, Hatcher and Pearson officially passed the torch and Hatcher expressed how “special” the “full circle moment” was to her.
“Such a special and full circle moment with Black Tech Week. Officially passed the torch,” Hatcher wrote in a Facebook post. “This event is absolutely beautiful! From the community, to the content, speakers, and intentional details.”
“We want to shine a light on the fact that folks in entrepreneurship, especially those that are Black, are amazing at what they do and that we can do things at the same scale or better than others,” Candice told Fox 19.
“What we know is that the return on investment in a diverse-led company is 20 to 30 percent greater than that of a homogenous company,” she continued. “And so if we bring Black techies together, we can shine the light on that for Cincinnati and other areas across the country.”
Tennis champion, entrepreneur and venture capitalist Serena Williams was one of the guest speakers at Black Tech Week. As Managing Partner of Serena Ventures, Williams spoke about why she started a $100 million fund for diverse founders.
Williams also tweeted her appreciation to the conference for having her.
“Thank you @blacktechweek for giving me the stage today. I loved being on that stage and seeing everyone,” Williams tweeted in the caption of a retweeted photo someone took of her onstage. “Let’s keep the support!”
One of the attendees, who goes by @OnlyOnePDrew on Twitter, expressed her excitement at being in the room with Williams. “I AM BREATHING THE SAME AIR AS SERENA WILLIAMS RIGHT NOW,” @OnlyOnePDrew wrote.
People from all walks of life attended Black Tech Week. They ranged from startup founders and employees to entrepreneurs and investors.
Some came in groups, including a group from Tulsa, where Lightship Foundation has a footprint.
Publicist Ayanna Smith said she was so impressed by the opportunities in Cincinnati, she was considering moving there.
“1st day of @BlackTechWeek & I’ve been enlightened to all of the innovation & growth happening in #Cincinnati, to the point where I’m on @zillow checking out properties. Who knew?! #BlackTechWeek,” Smith tweeted.
Brian and other users confirmed Smith was on to something.
“This happened to @mattziegeron his recent visit. Cincinnati is SUPER underrated,” Brian responded.
“Seriously,.. an incredible city, and still so affordable! Brian and Candice are are apparently experts at sussing out world class companies AND CITIES before others are paying attention,” Zieger chimed in.
“So many great business insights from the speakers at @BlackTechWeek. The one that stands out is. “Swap your board out btwn year 3 – 5. The people you need in the beginning of your startup are different than the ones you need later.” -@BrianBrackeen,” Professor P. wrote in a separate tweet.
Professor P. also shared snippets from other talks.
Iwi Fresh founder Yolanda Owens also hosted morning meditation and yoga in the park to help attendees start their days on a positive and healthy note.
PHOTO: A group of Black Tech Week attendees from Tulsa are having a blast at Black Tech Week. (Photo: Twitter / @EdnaMartinson)