This editorial article is a part of Racial Equity in Tech Month of Technical.ly's editorial calendar. This month’s theme is underwritten by Verizon 5G. This story was independently reported and not reviewed by Verizon before publication.
Wearable Tech Ventures is a Baltimore-based network that connects innovators, investors and founders to develop wearable tech products, especially women and people of color.
Leading up to its virtual Wearables Hackathon. scheduled for Sept. 24-26, founder LaKisha Greenwade is hosting free virtual workshops to teach people how to break into the wearable tech industry and prepare to create during the event.
“There is going to be tremendous opportunity in the field of wearable technology,” said Greenwade. “The reason I say that is, in the future we predict that every company is going to need some kind of wearable tech on their balance sheet in order to be profitable.”
For those unfamiliar with what wearable tech is, think Apple Watch, Fitbit or Airpods. In its broadest definition, wearable tech is any technology that goes on your body.
The CompTIA 2021 tech industry outlook expects the IT industry as a whole to reach $5 trillion in revenue in 2021, and continue to grow at a rate of 5% a year through 2024, per data compiled by the International Data Corporation. It isn’t a stretch to think innovation in wearable tech will contribute in that growth.
Greenwade’s goal is to lead communities to a piece of that pie by fostering oppourtunities to break into and innovate in the tech industry. Her company’s goal is to assist the creation of 100 wearable startups led by traditionally underresourced and underrepresented founders by 2030.
So far, the pipeline Wearable Tech Ventures has designed is a virtual series of camps in partnership with University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Through the program, youth become ambassadors of wearable tech, and also gain the skills to help run the Wearables Hackathon.
The same camp will also be integrated into this year’s summer program with UMBC’s Choice Program, a not-for-profit organization through the university’s Shriver Center that has a mission to disentangle young people from the juvenile justice system, and to strengthen youth and family ties to the community through increased educational and vocational opportunities.
“Typically in hackathons when we hear about them they’re at MIT,” said Greenwade. “It’s really not common in Black and Brown communities.”
Greenwade feels training youth to facilitate these hackathons and bring the knowledge and passion of wearable technology to their peers will result in more Black and Brown technologists.
Greenwade said the goal of the hackathon is to help participants “to be able to innovate in a way where there’s support, resources, where their idea can be leveraged and bought.”
“There are a number of tech products and innovators that have launched their careers because they participated or won a hackathon,” she said. “We want to introduce and normalize [hackathons] as a facet of developing and promoting genius.”
For a full schedule of events leading up to the hackathon, visit the Wearable Tech Ventures website.Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.
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