[TechConneXt Summit] Day 1: Investing and Ascending

Welcome to the very first Black Enterprise TechConneXt Summit kicking off today in Silicon Valley, at the Hyatt Regency, Santa Clara, California. Students, engineers, professionals, executives, and tech pioneers have gathered for two days of collaboration, forward thinking, learning, and networking as a means to present a unique occasion to make connections among the brightest of the African American tech community and offer a space for ideas and opportunities to flourish.

Check out what’s on the agenda today:

  • From 2:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. PDT Capital One will be hosting a BE SMART Hackathon where teams of four college students representing Howard University, Johnson C. Smith, Southern University, and Spelman College, will use their creativity to develop apps that will enable users to create budgets, manage expenses, track spending, and develop a savings and investment plan, and more. The teams will be judged on the viability and utility of the app.
  • BE Tech Talk: A Conversation with a Silicon Valley Powerhouse will also begin at 2:00 p.m., featuring speaker David Drummond, senior vice president of Corporate Development at Alphabet and interviewer Carlos Watson, co-founder and CEO of Ozy media. The two will discuss how Drummond has used his vision and legal expertise to help Google transform the world.
  • At 3:00 p.m., AT&T will be presenting a Corporate Showcase with remarks by AT&T Senior Vice President – Compensation, Benefits, and Policy, Tom Moore, presented by Ken McNeely, president of AT&T Services.
  • The corporate showcase will be followed by BE Tech Talk: Investing in Millennial Tech Stars. This exciting conversation features billionaire venture capitalist Tim Draper, co-founder of DFJ and founder of Draper University, and Sequoia Blodgett, entrepreneur-in-residence at Draper University and founder of 7AM. The speakers will discuss Startup U, a Shark Tank-styled reality show for millennial entrepreneurs on ABC Family.
  • TechConneXt attendees may receive direct insight from angel and venture investors on principles used to create pitch presentations that engage investors. How to Deliver a Powerful Pitch to Investors will feature CEO, VC Taskforce, June Riley; Partner, SoftTechVC, Charles Hudson; and Founder, Castleberry & Co., Donray Von. This session will be moderated by Carol Sands, founder and managing member of Angels’ Forum, and begins at 4:20 p.m.
  • COO of TaskRabbit, Stacy Brown-Philpot, and Director, Product Management, Yahoo, Erin Teague will host BE Tech Talk: Ascending to the C-Suite in Silicon Valley, a guide to moving into senior management and making the leap to the executive level. This session begins at 5:25 p.m.

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Taking Black Business to the Next Level

One billion dollars.

In 1973, the year we published the groundbreaking first listing of the nation’s largest black-owned companies (then called the “Top 100”) in the June issue of Black Enterprise, a black business with annual revenues of $1 billion seemed as unlikely as an African American president.

Total revenues combined for the 100 businesses on that first list were less than a half billion dollars, with the largest company, Motown, led by the legendary Berry Gordy, reporting 1972 revenues of $40 million, and several companies making the list with just $1 million in revenues. Fast-forward several years: several black-owned companies have achieved annual revenues of more than $1 billion, beginning with TLC Beatrice International Foods, led by the iconic dealmaker Reginald F. Lewis, in 1988. Today, we take for granted that the largest black-owned companies on our annual listings, now called the BE 100s, will be multibillion-dollar companies.

This growth and evolution of black business has been, and must continue to be, driven by three things: greater access to sources of capital, expansion into broader markets, and participation in dominant and emerging industries. Consider the evolution of the nation’s largest black-owned companies over the past four decades.

In the 1970s and ’80s, my generation of entrepreneurs, including the likes of Gordy, Johnson Publishing Co. Founder John H. Johnson, and haircare moguls such as George Johnson and Comer J. Cottrell, dominated our listings primarily by selling to black consumers. The majority of the Top 100 served regional markets. Our sources of financing were limited primarily to debt financing, with our rankings of financial companies focused on commercial banks, savings & loans, and insurance companies. The definition of success for my generation: stability, slow growth, and steady profits.

Lewis’s 1987 leveraged buyout of Beatrice International Foods not only created the first billion-dollar black-owned company, it raised the bar of access and expectation for black business success. This is the generation of black entrepreneurs my son Earl “Butch” Graves Jr., now CEO of Black Enterprise, would come of age as a part of. The largest black-owned companies of the ’90s and into the 21st century routinely deliver hundreds of millions in revenues. Characterized by companies such as David Steward’s World Wide Technologies and Janice Bryant Howroyd’s Act 1 Group, the BE 100s serve national, mainstream markets, not just black consumers, thanks to access to contracts with federal, state, and local government as well as  major corporations—perhaps most notably in the auto industry. Not coincidentally during this period, the insurance companies and thrifts once ranked among BE’s top financial companies have been replaced by our rankings of asset management, private equity, and investment banking firms, reflecting greater access and participation of African Americans in the capital markets. The definition of success for this generation: expansion and diversification.

Which brings us to today, and our increased focus on today’s center of economic growth: Silicon Valley. The next generation of black business leaders—my grandchildren’s generation—cannot take black business achievement to the next level as outsiders to the industries and technologies driving the world economy. This is a primary reason we established our latest event, the Black Enterprise TechConneXt Summit in Santa Clara, California, with a focus on broadening African American participation in technology. The frontier is not national, but global, defined not by race and nationality, but innovation, big data, and intellectual capital. We must break the codes to venture capital access in Silicon Valley and beyond in order to achieve a new standard of black business success: growth and scale.

Now is the time to lay the foundation of the next generation of black business excellence. I challenge today’s black entrepreneurs to raise their expectations of business success, to make multibillion-dollar black-owned companies as common as multimillion-dollar businesses were for my generation. Let’s continue the progress represented by the BE 100s and take black business to the next level.

Earl G. Graves Sr. is the Founder and Publisher of Black Enterprise.

Top 10 Reasons to Attend BE TechConneXt

On October 12-13, Black Enterprise will make an inaugural appearance in Silicon Valley for the much anticipated Black Enterprise TechConneXt Summit. This summit is designed to bring together pioneers and forward thinkers in the tech community with a diverse talent pool of exceptional engineers, educators, innovators, and executives, as attendees look to be granted the access, tools, and relationships necessary to thrive in the tech industry.

[Related: BE TechConneXt: Spot the Trends with Jon Gosier]

Black Enterprise invites you all; career-seekers, mid-level professionals, tech entrepreneurs, and diversity seeking companies, to two days of panels, networking, and discovery as the gap between tech and diversity is bridged at this groundbreaking event.

Not sure if this Summit is for you? Take a look at the top 10 reasons you should head to TechConneXt, and see if this does the trick:

1. You’ll have the rare opportunity to place your expertise and resume in the hands of prominent decision makers and tech companies looking for diverse talent.

2. You will have the space and opportunity to find funding sources for your business.

3. Venture Capitalist, Draper University founder; not to mention billionaire, Tim Draper, will be offering one-of-a-kind insight on Investing in Millennial Tech Stars.

4. Angel and venture investors June Riley, CEO VC Task Force, and Carol Sands, founder, Halo Fund, will give you the principles needed to create a pitch presentation that will increase your chances for funding.

5. Tech Pioneers Ken Coleman, Caretha Coleman, and Roy Clay, Sr. will be in attendance exuding a level of greatness that you’d like to get close to.

6. Expert in gaming, CEO, Sungura Games, Derek Manns will offer expertise on the fastest pathways to well-paying tech and high-growth jobs.

7. Mid-career professionals will learn the tricks to ascending to the C-suite in Silicon Valley by industry executive Stacy Brown-Philpot, COO, Task Rabbit.

8. You will have the unparalleled opportunity to rub shoulders with the best and brightest in the tech industry, right there in America’s tech hub.

9. Throne founder, Emeka Anen, Cannibus Marketing Consultant, Amber Senter, and Rocket Lawyer founder & CEO, Charley Moore will host a lab exploring how investors and entrepreneurs are cashing in on business opportunities and the next big tech trends.

10. If you’d like to know the key to succeeding in Silicon Valley, Founder & CEO, Progress.ly, Clarence T. Wooten, Jr., and CEO, TwitChange, Shelton Mercer, III, will be there to tell you just how.

This is obviously an opportunity you don’t want to miss. Join Black Enterprise at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara, Santa Clara, California, on October 12-13 for the first BE TechConneXt Summit, and watch what happens next. Register now.

For more information on the TechConneXt Summit visit http://www.blackenterprise.com/events/techconnext/. Follow @blackenterprise on Twitter for updates and tech news. 

*Information is subject to change.

BE TechConneXt: Spot the Trends with Jon Gosier

Tech lovers and entrepreneurs—software developer, investor, and philanthropist, Jonathan Gosier, will be moderating an exclusive panel on Spotting the Next Big Tech Trend in a mere few weeks in tech mecca, Silicon Valley, for the very first Black Enterprise TechConneXt Summit. Gosier will be contributing to a panel that will explore how forward-thinking entrepreneurs and investors are cashing in on latest technology and business opportunities.

Jon Gosier is a serial tech entrepreneur whose main focus is in the tech world lends toward outcome design (the intersection of data science and outcome driven user experience). Throughout his career, Gosier created a successful model for inclusive investing that allowed for middle-classers to throw their hats into start-up investing.

Currently, Gosier is founder of Cross Valley Capital where he is revolutionizing several areas of venture capital. He also serves as CEO of Appfrica, a technology firm responsible for several initiatives promoting Africa’s technology sector, as Gosier advocates largely for investing in tech companies in emerging markets. Gosier’s Appfrica firm is also responsible for helping Google Africa translate its page for Ugandan audiences.

As a data scientist, Gosier’s technologies have been utilized by The US Army, US Department of State, United Nations, Red Cross, FEMA, and Ushahidi, a Kenyan disaster response company.

You may know Gosier as a TED Senior Fellow and his TED Talk on “Trickle-Down Techonomics” where he explored probable consequences of technical innovation and the responsibility he challenges innovators to have to design products that not only have great features, but also provide better social outcomes. Gosier is also one of Black Enterprise’s 2013 Innovator of the Year recipients for his work with MetaLayer, a Comcast backed data startup.

To learn more from Gosier, including his tips and insight on investors, be sure to bring your tech talk to the BE TechConneXt Summit,Octorber 12th-13th at the Hyatt Regency, Santa Clara, California. For more information on Jon Gosier be sure to check him out at gosier.org and follow him on Twitter @jongos.

Register now for TechConneXt and prepare to get your game on. For more information on the TechConneXt Summit visit http://www.blackenterprise.com/events/techconnext/. Follow @blackenterprise on Twitter for event updates and tech news.

BE TechConneXt: Spot the Trends with Jon Gosier

Tech lovers and entrepreneurs—software developer, investor, and philanthropist, Jonathan Gosier, will be moderating an exclusive panel on Spotting the Next Big Tech Trend in a mere few weeks in tech mecca, Silicon Valley, for the very first Black Enterprise TechConneXt Summit. Gosier will be contributing to a panel that will explore how forward-thinking entrepreneurs and investors are cashing in on latest technology and business opportunities.

Jon Gosier is a serial tech entrepreneur whose main focus is in the tech world lends toward outcome design (the intersection of data science and outcome driven user experience). Throughout his career, Gosier created a successful model for inclusive investing that allowed for middle-classers to throw their hats into start-up investing.

Currently, Gosier is founder of Cross Valley Capital where he is revolutionizing several areas of venture capital. He also serves as CEO of Appfrica, a technology firm responsible for several initiatives promoting Africa’s technology sector, as Gosier advocates largely for investing in tech companies in emerging markets. Gosier’s Appfrica firm is also responsible for helping Google Africa translate its page for Ugandan audiences.

As a data scientist, Gosier’s technologies have been utilized by The US Army, US Department of State, United Nations, Red Cross, FEMA, and Ushahidi, a Kenyan disaster response company.

You may know Gosier as a TED Senior Fellow and his TED Talk on “Trickle-Down Techonomics” where he explored probable consequences of technical innovation and the responsibility he challenges innovators to have to design products that not only have great features, but also provide better social outcomes. Gosier is also one of Black Enterprise’s 2013 Innovator of the Year recipients for his work with MetaLayer, a Comcast backed data startup.

To learn more from Gosier, including his tips and insight on investors, be sure to bring your tech talk to the BE TechConneXt Summit,Octorber 12th-13th at the Hyatt Regency, Santa Clara, California. For more information on Jon Gosier be sure to check him out at gosier.org and follow him on Twitter @jongos.

Register now for TechConneXt and prepare to get your game on. For more information on the TechConneXt Summit visit http://www.blackenterprise.com/events/techconnext/. Follow @blackenterprise on Twitter for event updates and tech news.