Over 1,500 founders, investors and professionals ventured to the Brooklyn Navy Yard for the 6th annual Roadmap to Billions conference presented by Black Women Talk Tech. The conference was built from the perspective of women, in an effort to showcase the brilliance of Black women in tech. The secondary mission of the conference is to create a stage for their experiences while fostering deep connections with other entrepreneurs and creating funding opportunities.
The three-day online and in-person conference featured several large sponsors such as Microsoft via its Microsoft for Startups program which introduced the new Founders Hub for entrepreneurs building technical solutions. Bank of America promoted its Breakthrough Lab and Start Engine had a contest for founders to win an opportunity to pitch for Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary. A large section of the venue was dedicated to on-the-spot recruiting. Companies at the booths included Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Hinge, Citi, and more.
The Plug spoke with representatives of the Technology Transformation Services (TTS), a part of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). TTS was there recruiting technologists, fellows and designers. They told The Plug they want people to know they shouldn’t shy away from TTS, as a government job. It was TTS that also designed the CDC’s Covid-19 website.
One area that drew a lot of buzz was the NFT + Crypto Corner presented by VaynerMedia. One of the panels held in this section, the “State of Cryptocurrency,” featured Armando Juan Pantoja and Daniele Jean-Pierre who spoke about how they are building the future of finance through a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) with the HBAR Foundation and Hedera.
The pair was asked by a member in the audience who works in K-12 education what type of skills she should be teaching the children she works with. Both Jean-Pierre and Pantoja agreed that coding is key, so if you have children in your life, a Minecraft and Roblox subscription may be more valuable than initially thought.
At another popular panel, “What You Need to Know About CannaTech,” the panelists shared that very few Black people have cannabis selling licenses and gave tips on how to get more people in the Cannatech industry. This included recruiting from high schools and colleges for a new generation of would-be Cannapreneurs.
Many attendees stopped by the “Melanin Station” throughout the day, a seating area where coffee was served by Black By Demand, a specialty coffee and catering company. Across the room was a “Wellness Lounge” where attendees could participate in meditation or get a massage, as well as a “Beauty Lounge” where gel manicures were in full swing. Summer “Bunnii” Robbins of Nailed By Bunni showcased how she has integrated tech into her nail services by putting NFC chips in her gel manicures. Targeting “corporate women,” Robbins programs the chips so clients can link their websites, socials, etc. to their nails.
At the end of day 3, a pitch competition was held. Tisia Safford, the CEO of Cleare, received $20K in funding. The top three pitch competition finalists will be entered into the 43North annual accelerator as semi-finalists and receive tech from Dell.