The founders of Black Tech Week have announced that this years inaugural Black Tech Weekend event, a 3-day spinoff of the 5-day Black Tech Week that takes place in Miami, Florida, will include a $50,000 Startup Pitch Competition designed to help startup founders of color gain access to funding.
The weekend of events will begin on February 23 and wrap up on the 25th. As with Black Tech Week, the weekend will involve networking and engagement with innovators and tech entrepreneurs of color, but say the founders, the focus will be on funding.
Black Tech Weekend, a condensed version of Black Tech Week, will focus on one topic: access to funding. We also have a goal of expanding into some other cities across the U.S. that have a startup community, but are struggling to make sure marginalized groups are included in the startup scene. They are catalysts in getting that activity, conversation and support started around tech startups, but they need help, Felecia Hatcher, founder of Black Tech Week, told TNJ.com.
According to Hatcher, the launch of Black Tech Week was significant to help African American communities become creators of tech – not just consumers of tech products.
One of the biggest reasons we launched Black Tech Week is because we realized that when it comes to startups, our communities are not for a lack of ideas; theyre for a lack of deal flow meaning access to real capital. So, a VC angel that can allow young entrepreneurs to build sustainable companies that scale so that we have more wealth generating in our community is important to us, she shares. The other part is that we lack resource magnetism in our community. Whether or not you get the funding, sometimes the resources are still there to help you catapult what youre doing or put you in the right place to have the right conversations. Its a matter of knowing how to tap into those resources so that you can scale your company. With an absence of both of those, its very hard for the Black community to be active players and financial beneficiaries in the innovation economy.
With the event just a week away, Hatcher and her team are now looking on to the April launch of their VC and Residence Program with Cross Culture Ventures founders Marlon Nichols and Troy Carter. Says Hatcher, Marlon will be in Miami for the entire month and provide office hours, a pitch reception and pitch reviews. He will also bring in other investors from the CCV network with the goal of investing in at least one minority startup.
Powered by Arch Grants, Pitch Day for Black Tech Weekend will take place on February 24. To be eligible for the grant, the startup founder must be willing to relocate his or her business to St. Louis, Missouri.