(Photo by Lalita Clozel)
Technoir 2.0 — the second iteration of a gathering for black D.C. entrepreneurs — was a success in many more ways than one.
First off, it drew some important VIPs. In a short speech, Mayor Vincent Gray suggested with usual bravado that Silicon Valley should become the D.C. of the west. “One of the things that is now attracting people to Washington, D.C.,” he said, is the “technology community.”
The aim of the event also struck a chord with the public, during a time of heightened solidarity, just days after the Eric Garner grand jury decision sparked fresh outrage and protests.
What black entrepreneurs need first and foremost, explained organizer Steven Jumper in between endless handshakes and pats on the back, is “resources and access to capital.”
But, he added, black entrepreneurs also have another challenge to grapple with. “A lot of times in our community, we don’t believe enough in ourselves,” Jumper said.
Mentioning those living in Ferguson, Mo., he added: “This is about showing them that they aren’t [alone].”
It’s a sentiment Jumper sought to overcome personally as he entered the D.C. tech bubble himself.
Jumper is president of strategy at Ghost Note Agency, a digital consultancy founded in 2010. When the company joined 1776 last year, he was startled. Out of 250 companies there, “maybe six were black-owned,” he said.
That’s why he created Technoir, which made a splash with a write-up in the Washington Post its first time around in August.
At 1776 on Friday night, more than 600 entrepreneurs were there to celebrate, and reflect.
Radial, which seeks to plug in African and Caribbean countries with a service similar to Pandora, won the pitch contest, going home with a $5,000 cash prize plus $15,000 in services from Fish & Richardson; IP Legal Counsel; Fleishman-Hillard; Strategic Communications; Ghost Note Agency and the General Assembly.
The other contestants were:
After the winner was announced, Friday night kicked into gear.
There was music from local band the Black Alley.
And some pretty amazing glowing art:
And some video games, too:-30-
DC’s Collective Liberty is a finalist for the 2020 SXSW Pitch competition
Quorum launched a pledge to help organizations build diversity and inclusion programs
Learn about the challenges founders face in ‘today’s data-driven world’ at SEED SPOT’s next meetup
How this software engineer’s career change has helped her make change in the world
This month’s Startup Social event will include a pitch competition
Mayor Muriel Bowser awarded $175K to Street Entrepreneurs
These DC-area universities made a list for top entrepreneurial programs
Introducing ‘Off the Sidelines,’ a new podcast series about startup investing
Sign-up for daily news updates from Technical.ly Dc