(Photo by Flickr user urbanfeel, used under a Creative Commons license)
The National Society of Black Engineers’ local chapter provided tech entrepreneurs of color with resources to launch their businesses at its first Minority Innovation Weekend.
The Nov. 11 conference featured a dozen speakers total, starting with a keynote Fixt CEO Luke Cooper, and ending with a panel discussion between several start-up founders including Sam Henry, McKeever Conwell (now of TEDCO), William Mapp, and Winston Frazier of Danae Prosthetics. The speakers spoke predominantly about how to advance one’s career in tech entrepreneurship, and how people of color may be shorted on resources in a field dominated by white professionals.
Talk topics included “Defining and Validating Your Idea” by Conwell, “The Minimal Viable Product” by Duane Rollins, and “Funding Your Idea/Innovation” by Patricia Edwards.
The event is the first of its kind, organized by the National Society of Black Engineers’ Baltimore chapter, but organizers Derek Westray and William Redmond, with help from a small collection of volunteers, pulled it all together.
“The point is to give people ideas,” said Westray. They aimed to provide local tech entrepreneurs of color a leg up in the field. Redmond, President of the NSBE-BMAC, said, “The event is so important to help people of color to get into the startup world.”
Calvin Young, vice president of the Harbor Bank of Maryland Community Development Corporation, represented the bank as a sponsor for the conference. The organization’s goal is to open sources of capital to entrepreneurs of color. The CDC will be launching a coworking space specifically for young business hopefuls in the next month.
Minority Innovation Weekend was sponsored by NSBE-BMAC, the National Black MBA Association, Harbor Bank, and more. While this event was held in one day, the organizers fully intend on expanding it to a full weekend.
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