Ever just be in the right place at the right time? After a successful LinkedIn event in Cincinnati, I was catching up over coffee with Anisha Bailey.
Black Tech Week became the forefront of conversation. As we discussed further, we wondered, is this local event or is it happening across the nation? Only Cincinnati? Why? After this and other such questions, I quickly secured a press pass to see this for myself.
And I’m glad that I did. Walking in to the iconic Music Hall of downtown Cincinnati, it was sort of like a black SXSW wonderland. And a clear showcase of what black excellence can be.
Candice Matthews Brackeen and Brian Brackeen have been helping the region blossom in more ways than one. In addition to founding Lightship Foundation, they purchased the Black Tech Week event and brought it to Cincinnati. According to Brian, attendance reached an impressive 2,000 conference goers. In his words:
“I have to say, Black Tech Week was well beyond even our team’s expectations. The energy was palpable. People are still telling me, 2 weeks later, how they met their CTO, COO, new investors, and tribe.”
It was wonderful to see a significant black tech contingent representing Tulsa, Oklahoma, given how Tulsa had been home to a prosperous black community known as Black Wall Street some generations ago. (For those of you unfamiliar with the story, this resource may be helpful.)
What's inspiring is that my new friend Tyrance Billingsley II, the Founder and Executive Director of Black Tech Street, is on his way to rebuilding Black Wall Street as a tech innovation hub.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Tyrance about the event. In his words:
“I have been to Black Tech Week before, but this one was my favorite. Being able to meet with tons of Black Innovators and Founders from across the country in a city as beautiful as Cincinnati was a special experience. I got a ton of new perspectives on my work and how I can leverage the Black Tech Week platform to support the Black Tech movement nationally!”
Being a long time resident of Louisville prior to moving to the Queen City of Cincinnati, it was like a tech family reunion, getting to see such friends particularly Demetrius Gray who recently came out of stealth, with Captain raising $104 million, Kela Ivonye, and Dr. Kwane Watson of Kare Mobile.
Dr. Watson commented: “It is an honor to be among so many amazing entrepreneurs, it is refreshing to hear their stories and learn from their experiences. Black Tech Week exceeded my expectations, and I look forward to attending them in the future!”
Going full circle, I reached back out to Anisha Bailey for her perspective on how the event transpired:
"Black Tech Week brought to Cincinnati the kind of excellence and opportunities that can help black and brown communities reimagine what's possible. A relatively small subset of the African diaspora descended upon Cincinnati with the kind of energy that infuses confidence and collaboration within our naturally ambitious and innovative culture, and I am proud to have been a part of such an incredible experience. I am excited to see the growth in attendance next year, with more of our local students and professionals having an opportunity to be inspired into the kind of action that enhances our collective growth within Cincinnati and beyond."