(Technical.ly file photo)
D.C. has a ton of tech-focused meetup groups that impact the community, but what are they doing to be honestly diverse and inclusive?
Tonight, Technical.ly will be convening local meetup groups at Super Meetup DC hosted at Mindspace as part of DC Startup Week. In light of the event and Technical.ly’s editorial focus on technologists of color this month, we chatted with the organizers of two larger meetups about how they bring in diverse crowds of technologists.
Since 2011, DC Tech Meetup has been convening technologists, entrepreneurs, investors and the broader innovation scene regularly to learn and share experiences. Each monthly meetup is packed with community updates, tech demos and a networking happy hour. Since surviving a website hack in July, the prominent #dctech group is still going strong, with more than 26,000 members on Meetup.com (it reported having 40,000 members prior to its page being deleted).
DC Tech Meetup organizer Robin Terry told Technical.ly that the group tries its best to maintain a diverse leadership board and keep its stage reflective of the world that we live in.
“Be accountable in person and digitally for actively pursuing representation of people that do not look like you,” Terry said. “Reach out to partner with other Meetups that focus on uplifting people of color, as well.”
As for the group’s most successful event ever? A women in tech presentation during the summer of 2014, because it brought in over 800 attendees, Terry said.
Startup Grind DC Director Brian Park mentors at Black Female Founders, where he invites all the startup cohorts to attend Startup Grind events for free. He said the group also tries to recruit diverse speakers, but that has been challenging at times in D.C.
The local chapter of the international organization promotes entrepreneurship through speaker events. Park said the annual Startup Grind global conference in Silicon Valley each year brings in a diverse crowd of speakers and attendees from its more than 600 worldwide chapters.
“Being a minority myself gives me perspective on how to attract more people who wouldn’t normally attend our events. In tech, it’s probably the most difficult to engage other minority groups (female, black, latino, LGBTQ) which is why it’s important to center your topics that matter most to them,” Park wrote in an email. “Stories of grit and prevailing against the odds are themes anybody can relate to, so we try to stick to founder stories.”
He said Startup Grind DC’s best event was when “Shark Tank’s” Daymond John spoke to a crowd of 300 elementary school kids from DC Public Schools. John is a businessman known for founding the clothing line FUBU and he serves as an investor on Shark Tank, where entrepreneurs present their ventures to potential investors for funding and support.
“It was amazing to see the energy and enthusiasm of the kids looking up to a role model like Daymond and knowing that anything is possible for them,” Park said.-30-
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