The HUE Tech Summit took place in Philadelphia earlier this month, kicking off Philly’s 9th annual Tech Week. Launched in 2018 by technologist Jumoke Dada, HUE brings together women of color for a full day of keynotes and breakout sessions under the theme ‘No More Hidden Figures.’ The purpose according to Dada is to “educate, elevate and empower women of color in tech.”
Now in its second year, the annual event offers attendees a variety of topics to dive deeper into, from blockchain to intellectual property and artificial intelligence. The convening of black girl magic aims to empower women of color working across all sectors in the tech industry.
The conference kicked off with a keynote from Former Department of Education Chief Digital Officer Lisa Gelobter who provided insights on how she grew her career, from getting her degree in Computer Science to taking her startup tEQuitable through the highly competitive Y Combinator accelerator program. There were panels as well, all featuring women of color, something rarely seen at other tech conferences across the country.
As the only tech conference of its kind in the area, in addition to informative panels and dynamic speakers, the daylong event offered attendees free headshots and a beauty bar where the women could get their makeup done just right before taking their photos. Although most of the participants were from Philadelphia and surrounding areas, some made the trek from across the country.
The lineup, in particular, was a great draw. Panelists and speakers included Melinda Emerson, also known as the Small Biz Lady who offered advice for small business owners looking to take their business to the next level. She was featured on the panel titled “She’s got GRIT (Grind, Resilience, Influence & Talent)” along with entrepreneurs Kalilah Wright, founder of Mess in a Bottle and Nichelle McCall Brown of Bold Startups. The panel was moderated by The Latinista’s Yai Vargas.
Footage from the inaugural HUE Tech Summit in 2018: this month HUE hosted its second annual event
Another panel titled “Artificial Intelligence: Calculating Our Culture”, included Annalisa Nash Fernandez who weighed in on how artificial intelligence (AI) is rife with implicit bias due to flawed data. The panel discussed ways in which the lives of people of color are affected by artificial intelligence – particularly in ways that aren’t altogether positive.
The conference concluded with a fireside chat with venture capitalist Arlan Hamilton of Backstage Capital who, in her conversation with Dada, spoke candidly about the challenges of raising a venture capital fund and offered words of advice for founders seeking funding. The conference concluded on Saturday with a brunch and expects to continue for its third annual conference next year.
Main Photo by Rashida White
Sian Morson is an investor, entrepreneur, and startup advisor. She writes UrbanGeekz’s ‘Ask A VC’ Column and participated in HUE Tech Summit as a featured speaker.
Follow Sian on Twitter @sianmorson