A groundbreaking inaugural conference celebrating innovators of color kicks off Monday in South Florida.
Black Tech Week, Feb. 23-28, the brainchild of Miami-based nonprofit Code Fever, promises to be a weeklong series of events giving a platform to entrepreneurs, tech innovators, startup founders, venture capitalists, seasoned investors and other thought leaders.
Speakers include Chinedu Echeruo, tech entrepreneur and founder of HopStop.com, which was reportedly sold to Apple in the “billion” dollar range. Other notables are Brian Brackeen, founder of facial recognition software, Kairos; Stonly Baptiste, founder, Urban.us; and rapper/producer David Banner.
At least 250 registered attendees from across the globe are scheduled to join the tech conference, which takes place at Miami Dade College North Campus and various locations across the city.
Felecia Hatcher, one half of the husband-wife duo who founded Cover Fever, says the event was inspired to change the narrative surrounding African-Americans and replace it with innovation, creativity and technology during the last week of Black History Month.
“We partially felt that the same kind of things go on every Black History Month,” says Hatcher. “Not to take away from those things because they’re definitely equally important.”
“But we wanted to create something that was almost like a Black History Month 2.0, where we’re always injecting creativity, technology, innovation into the month, and activities that take place and really try to stretch it.”
She adds that the convention will serve as a platform that supports thought-provoking dialogue about how to move the needle forward to grow multicultural entrepreneurship and propel minorities from being consumers of social media and technology to creators. Events include a two-day summit, pitch competitions, a hackathon and other networking opportunities.
“Ever since the big companies released their diversity numbers last year there’s been a lot of conversation around those numbers and of course the lack of diversity in the tech space,” says Hatcher. “We really wanted to create something that was more focused on creating solutions to solve that problem.”
Founders, Hatcher and her husband Derek Pearson, expect Black Tech Week to propel Miami as the U.S. gateway to the Caribbean and the African diaspora, much like the city has become a gateway to Latin America.
Their goal is for Black Tech Week to turn into a global movement similar to Global Entrepreneurship Week, where every year they offer programming around the four pillars of Black Tech Week: culture, innovation, technology and vertically integrated communities.
“People don’t really think of tech and Miami,” she adds. “But a lot of people are now saying why not South Florida, why not the South. The cost of living is much cheaper and there is a pool of talent for major corporations and startups.”
“It’s very important for diversity inclusion but also to bring a new perspective to Black History Month,” says Michael Hall, co-founder & CEO of Digital Grass, one of the event sponsors. “We have a lot of history that’s being made now. With history being made now, it gives us the opportunity and it also puts us in a position to currently move forward.”
Above: Co-founder Felecia Hatcher at The LAB Miami. Photo Credit: Carolina Wilson.
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