From The Newsletter: Buckle Up: Here’s How This Could Go, Black Innovation Economy Predictions For 2022

Key Insights:

  • The post-pandemic world is already here as communities learn to live with Covid-19 and how to conduct business with the ongoing pandemic. 
  • The Plug has identified four key areas that may shape the Black innovation economy this year. 

Welcome to 2022! With the current surge in a new variant of Covid-19, a post-pandemic world seems to be one in which the virus, and all its upheaval, will be with us for the foreseeable future. 

Communities have now lived through the calamitous effects of the virus for more than two years but we’re only just beginning to scratch the surface of the wider-ranging future implications of zoonotic viruses on our health, way of life and how we conduct business. 

Applying ‘the Covid factor’, The Plug has identified four key areas of growth and challenge that will matter most to the Black innovation economy. 

  • Codifying policy to support communities of color most impacted by Covid-19: The virus has taken a steep death toll in Black and Latinx communities. As a result, more federal funding and policy may come about to usurp the effects of the ongoing pandemic.

  • A testing ground for NFTs, crypto investments, DAOs and a nascent Web3: While the uniqueness of NFTs has come into question investors in this commodity saw gains through 2021. The financial underpinnings of cryptocurrency and mainstream appeal may also provide a crash course into this space for novice investors,but the masses will increasingly want evidence that these tech-enabled solutions are a better alternative to existing systems. The decentralized nature of these technologies has been often associated with advancing marginalized communities.

  • Breaking up with traditional venture capital: The numbers have hardly budged over the years for Black founders seeking venture investments. Increasingly traditional firms, DAOs and new, alternative investment vehicles will emerge, led by Black founders. Even in majority Black emerging markets (think sub-Saharan Africa) the pattern of more male founders accessing funding than women is being replicated, which begs the question, can VC be saved from its propensity toward inequity? The excluded may not wait around for an answer, but build something better instead. 

  • Even more robust digital collaboration tools: As Zoom-fatigue set in and we took to the metaverse to do the same things we did in existing digital spaces, tech that brings us together but integrates more IRL charm will become all the rage. Whether it’s real-time synchronization, which audio-only platforms capitalized on this time last year or more shared digital experiences, business, socializing and life will continue to be lived online in a major way. Rising technologies will need to factor in privacy, protecting against hate speech, and monetization for online community leaders and trendsetters. There’s also room for the next Calendly to emerge and dominate how the enterprise schedules and conducts itself online. 

It’s easy to take a pessimistic view, but with challenge comes opportunity and the Black innovation economy won’t wait for opportunity, so much as create it.

Monica Melton

Monica Melton is the managing editor of The Plug Insights. She previously covered innovation, technology, and venture capital at Forbes. She has also covered politics at POLITICO, entertainment for Time Out New York, but her most fascinating beat has been covering the intersection of technology, finance, and entrepreneurship. She is an alumna of CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Washington.