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6 Highlights During Sold Out Black Tech Week in Ohio


Black Tech Week is sold out and in full swing under new leadership with a complete rebrand and a new location in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Thus far, attendees have reported enjoying the shift.

Running from July 18-23, the conference boasts a packed schedule that includes an array of workshops by some of tech’s best and brightest; several networking events and happy hours; and the opportunity to attend recreational events like “Aida,” the Cincinnati Music Fest and a Cincinnati Reds baseball game.

Here are six highlights from the first Black Tech Week conference produced by Lightship Foundation.

1. The original founders of Black Tech Week officially passed the torch to another entrepreneurial couple.

Married serial entrepreneurs Felecia Hatcher and Derrick Pearson announced in March that Lightship Foundation acquired Black Tech Week. Lightship is led by another couple, Candice Matthews Brackeen and Brian Brackeen.

This week, Hatcher and Pearson officially passed the torch and Hatcher expressed how “special” the “full circle moment” was to her.

“Such a special and full circle moment with Black Tech Week. Officially passed the torch,” Hatcher wrote in a Facebook post. “This event is absolutely beautiful! From the community, to the content, speakers, and intentional details.”

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2. Candice said Black Tech Week is critical to showcasing how outstanding Black entrepreneurs and techies are.

“We want to shine a light on the fact that folks in entrepreneurship, especially those that are Black, are amazing at what they do and that we can do things at the same scale or better than others,” Candice told Fox 19.

“What we know is that the return on investment in a diverse-led company is 20 to 30 percent greater than that of a homogenous company,” she continued. “And so if we bring Black techies together, we can shine the light on that for Cincinnati and other areas across the country.”

3. Serena Williams was a keynote speaker.

Tennis champion, entrepreneur and venture capitalist Serena Williams was one of the guest speakers at Black Tech Week. As Managing Partner of Serena Ventures, Williams spoke about why she started a $100 million fund for diverse founders.

Williams also tweeted her appreciation to the conference for having her.

“Thank you @blacktechweek for giving me the stage today. I loved being on that stage and seeing everyone,” Williams tweeted in the caption of a retweeted photo someone took of her onstage. “Let’s keep the support!”

One of the attendees, who goes by @OnlyOnePDrew on Twitter, expressed her excitement at being in the room with Williams. “I AM BREATHING THE SAME AIR AS SERENA WILLIAMS RIGHT NOW,” @OnlyOnePDrew wrote.

4. People came from all around the country to attend the conference.

People from all walks of life attended Black Tech Week. They ranged from startup founders and employees to entrepreneurs and investors.

Some came in groups, including a group from Tulsa, where Lightship Foundation has a footprint.

5. Some attendees were so impressed with the opportunities in Cincinnati, they said they are considering moving there.

Publicist Ayanna Smith said she was so impressed by the opportunities in Cincinnati, she was considering moving there.

“1st day of @BlackTechWeek & I’ve been enlightened to all of the innovation & growth happening in #Cincinnati, to the point where I’m on @zillow checking out properties. Who knew?! #BlackTechWeek,” Smith tweeted.

Brian and other users confirmed Smith was on to something.

“This happened to @mattziegeron his recent visit. Cincinnati is SUPER underrated,” Brian responded.

“Seriously,.. an incredible city, and still so affordable! Brian and Candice are are apparently experts at sussing out world class companies AND CITIES before others are paying attention,” Zieger chimed in.

6. Some attendees participate in the health and wellness offerings like Yoga in the Park.

Iwi Fresh founder Yolanda Owens hosted morning meditation and yoga in the park to help attendees start their days on a positive and healthy note.

PHOTO: A group of Black Tech Week attendees from Tulsa are having a blast at Black Tech Week. (Photo: Twitter / @EdnaMartinson)

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