Some Miami entrepreneurs want their city to be the U.S. gateway to the African diaspora, and they hope to sell that idea at the inaugural Black Tech Week, scheduled for Feb. 23 to Feb. 28, according to the MiamiHerald.
Black Tech Week Miami aims to change the narrative surrounding the black community and replace it with innovation, technology and creativity, said Derick Pearson. Pearson and his wife, Felecia Hatcher, came up with the idea for Black Tech Week . They are co-founders of Code Fever, an organization that teaches minority youth how to code, create technology and become entrepreneurs.
Black Tech Week will bring investors from Africa and around the world to South Florida to celebrate black innovation with black tech entrepreneurs and innovators, MiamiHerald reports.
Here’s some of the speakers who confirmed they will be at Black Tech Week, according to MiamiHerald:
– Chinedu Echeruo, Nigerian founder of HopStop, which Apple bought for $1 billion in 2013. Echeruo also founded Tripology, an interactive travel referral service bought by USA Today, according to Forbes. HopStop is a mobile and online app providing mass transit directions and directions for taxi, walking, biking and hourly car rental in U.S., Canada, U.K, France, Australia, New Zealand and Russia. Forbes listed Echeruo one of the 10 most poewerful men in Africa in 2014.
– Eric Osiakwan, an angel investor, Angel Africa advisor and TED fellow.
– Kanyi Maquela, venture capitalist with the New York-based early-stage Collaborative Fund.
– Justin Washington, a music producer, songwriter and an engineer for Snapchat.
– Jon Gosier, founder of Appfrica, Apps4Africa, and co-founder of big data company MetaLayer.
– Brian Dixon, social impact venture capitalist with Kapor Capital based in Oakland, Calif.
– Ingrid Riley, founder of KingstonBeta and Startup Weekend Jamaica.
– John Lewis, global chief diversity officer for Coca-Cola.
– Executives from New York-based Maker’s Row, an online platform connecting designers to U.S. manufacturers.
– Miami entrepreneur Stonly Baptiste, co-founder of Urban.Us, a fund for urban tech solutions.
– Miami entrepreneur Brian Brackeen, founder of facial recognition software company Kairos. Brackeen was recently selected to join Endeavor, a global nonprofit that supports “high-impact” entrepreneurs.
– Miami entrepreneur Pandwe Gibson, founder of EcoTech Visions, an incubator supporting green businesses in underserved communities.
Black Tech Week events will include a a hackathon, pitch competitions, a two-day summit at Miami Dade College North Campus, and other networking events around the area.
Black Tech Week is being supported by a steering committee of community leaders as well as Accelerate Google, Baptist Health South Florida, the Knight Foundation, Miami Dade College North Campus and others.
“We want to tell those stories that aren’t being told,” Pearson told MiamiHerald.
Organizers hope Black Tech Week will help accelerate Miami as the U.S. gateway to the Caribbean and the entire African diaspora — much as the city has become a gateway to Latin America, Pearson said.
During Black Tech Week, the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce will announce a trade mission to South Africa and the Canary Islands planned for later this year, Pearson said. After Tech Week is over, the committee plans a monthly speaker series to keep the conversations going.
Regional tech experts say bringing minorities into technology careers has been a challenge, according to MiamiHerald. Black Tech Week wants to change that.
After Google, Twitter and Facebook said black employees made up less than 3 percent of their workforces, Hatcher hosted a community conversation on the topic. “That’s one characteristic of Silicon Valley that Miami does not want to emulate,” Hatcher said at the time, MiamiHerald reports.
Michael Hall is on the Black Tech Week steering committee. He co-founded Fort Lauderdale-based marketing firm Mediumfour and Digital Grass, a social awareness campaign for inclusion in innovation and a diversity-led
“All of us have different projects but we are working together for the bigger cause,” he said.
Hall told MiamiHerald he will soon launch W3RTech, an international campaign uniting inclusion and innovation.
Attendees at Black Tech Week will be able to network with global entrepreneurs and investors, and attend sessions such as “Tapping into Africa with Tech,” a hackathon and pitch competitions.
“Black Tech Week is also an opportunity to see there is a different Miami … as we further extend the story of Miami with its new tech and startup scene,” said Fabiola Fleuranvil, a marketing entrepreneur who is on the steering committee.