Empowering, motivating and inspiring…. that describes this year’s 3rd annual Roadmap To Billions Black Women Talk Tech conference, the largest gathering of black women tech founders in the world. The annual conference, held this year at Union West Events in the heart of New York City, was created by three black women tech founders with the goal of creating an environment where women can surround themselves with like-minded founders and entrepreneurs who want to support each other on their way to the top. The conference had over 1000 attendees and was comprised of three full days of workshops, panel discussions, showcases, networking, pampering and celebrating, just in time for Women’s History Month…Creating HERstory!
Black Women Talk Tech (BWTT) is a collective of black women tech founders who have a unique understanding of the challenges black women startup owners face in the industry, but most importantly they understand the contribution of these innovators. The organization seeks to identify, support and encourage black women to build the next billion-dollar business. The network is the host of an annual conference, The Roadmap to Billions, which was developed to provide an empowering experience for black women tech entrepreneurs to learn about business growth strategies and connect with investors and other tech founders. The BWTT network, with over 500 founders, is the largest Black women Tech Forum in the United States. In 2018 BWTT launched chapters in Atlanta, Georgia, New York City and San Francisco, California.
“The conference was developed from the perspective of women, the goal is to showcase the brilliance of black women in tech, create a stage for our experiences, foster deep connections and create real funding opportunities,” stated founder and entrepreneur, Lauren Washington, Co-Founder, BWTT and Fundr.
A phenomenal line up of speakers and experts were showcased throughout the conference. Some of the highlighted topics included establishing an advisory board, creating a culture of strong values to setting clearly defined goals and building a diverse team.
Gayle Jennings O’Byrne combined her 20 plus years of experience working on Wall Street and in the technology, philanthropic and policy sectors, to birth iNTENT Manifesto, a financial education campaign inclusive of capacity building workshops that help to raise the visibility of founders that are also women of color, the fastest growing entrepreneurial sector, empowering them to improve the communities they live in.
As the Founder and CEO of iNTENT Manifesto, O’Byrne is inspired by the many women she has encountered along her journey and “acknowledges the glaring existing financial market gaps” and wants to facilitate self-sustainable solutions for women of color tech entrepreneurs, while simultaneously providing them with support and access to advocates, resources and capital. During the conference, O’Byrne discussed how your experience, network, insight and knowledge are powerful tools when pursuing entrepreneurship. She also acknowledged that women can be profitable, run a business and along with fellow entrepreneurs, invest in those bringing impact to the market.
Keynote speaker, Arlan Hamilton built a venture capital fund from the ground up while she was homeless. Hamilton is the Founder and Managing Partner of Backstage Capital, a fund that is dedicated to minimizing funding disparities in tech by investing in high-potential founders who are of color, women, and/or LGBT. Started from scratch in 2015, Backstage has now invested nearly $5M into 100 companies led by underestimated and underrepresented founders around the world. During her fireside chat, Hamilton spoke about “knowing your own leveraging power as well as the knowledge and information you have to forge partnerships.” She also spoke about the overall concept of success being a marathon and not a sprint and enjoying the process and journey while being true to your core self.
“We believe in learning from those who are paving the way. As business owners we value the opportunity to learn from their successes and failures and gain insight and valuable lessons that will inspire and guide other founders on their own paths to success,” Regina Gwynn, Co-Founder, BWTT and TresseNoire.
This year’s BWTT conference was quite the success. BWTT collaborated with Essence Ventures CEO and founder of the New Voices Fund, Richelieu Dennis, to host a $100,000 Pitch Competition at the Conference. The goal is to provide the selected winners of the competition with an ecosystem of resources, tools and partnerships to help them build, grow and scale their business.
“We encourage all women to embrace Tech as a career and business opportunity. There are so many ways technology is incorporated into everyday life. The BWTT Conference and network provides a perfect forum to learn about industry resources and connect with investors,” Esosa Ighodaro, Co-Founder, BWTT and CoSign.
Throughout the three day conference, women were uplifted and encouraged to display their unique identity and be comfortable telling their stories while being relentless, fearless, connected, global, and authentic.
To learn more about Black Women Talk Tech and the annual BWTT conference, visit www.blackwomentalktech.com and their social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.