Tech lightning talks, panels, presentations, a casting call for ABC’s Shark Tank, and a block party led to activating the Oakland tech community of color in new ways. That doesn’t sound like your typical tech summit — and that’s on purpose!
Tech x Oak was a two-day tech entrepreneurship summit for East Bay innovators and entrepreneurs of color by innovators and entrepreneurs of color that took place last weekend in Oakland. The goal was to create a forum where Black and Latinx entrepreneurs, aspiring founders, and tech enthusiasts could cultivate relationships, build a diverse tech ecosystem, and thrive.
The Oakland Startup Network and Kapor Center teamed up with Black and Brown Founders to put on a first of its kind summit for the East Bay — one that one participant called “a mini Wakanda”. Click here for a full schedule of the summit!
In 2018 you wouldn’t think a summit like Tech x Oak would be one of the first of its kind, but the event aims to pave the way for people of color who make up just 10% of national technical employees in the tech workforce. In Oakland, Black and Latinx professionals make up less than 20% of the tech community despite being more than 50% of the population.
So what happened at the Summit?
Day one of Tech x Oak kicked off with panels, lightning talks and presentations on building apps without code, fundamentals of law for startups, venture and alternate funding for startups, growing your technical team, social media growth hacks, and much more. Speakers featured represented local organizations as well as national resources — all with the goal to show collaboration in action.
As Lili Gangas, Kapor Center Chief Technology Communications Officer says, it was “intentionally designed with a focus on intersectionality representative of our diverse community”.
We designed experiences for tech, culture, community, and Oakland to come to life by hosting outdoor block lunches and rooftop experiences to name a few highlights. One my favorite experiences, especially as an Oakland native, was the Tech x Oak Lunch Block party — a lunchtime dance party featuring food, and a live DJ on Broadway & 20th with a beautiful backdrop mural showcasing Oakland’s art community. Building on the Oakland celebration of community, we ended day 1 with 100 entrepreneurs of color on the Kapor Center rooftop discussing learnings over music, drinks, and we even had free professional headshots. We’re proud to say that 90% of our vendors were Oakland & East Bay! We wanted to support local businesses while also helping launch new ones.
On day 2 we doubled down on the community building at Oakland’s The Port Workspaces, starting with a brunch like reception and Q & A sessions on nailing your unique selling proposition, designing for scale, one-on-one mentor office hours. The second half of the day went in deep with 1:1 mentor sessions, peer led discussions on self care & growing a family while growing a business and ended with grounding keynotes of inspirational investors of color creating opportunities in our ecosystem locally and nationally. The 2 day summit closed with a rooftop sunset view of the City of Oakland and Lake Merritt, live mural creation, hip hop dancers, games, and local food and drinks to celebrate the intersection of tech, empowerment, and culture.
We’re proud to make Tech x Oakland a reality and we look forward to watching this awesome community of diverse founders grow by taking their startups from idea to revenue. Post the summit, entrepreneurs will continue to receive local support from Oakland Startup Network. We believe that tech entrepreneurship is the pathway to economic security for people of color, and we know that Oakland is going to be the home of tech done right!
We hope to continue being a resource to the Oakland community and beyond. Please join the Oakland Startup Network and subscribe to Black & Brown Founders mailing list to stay connected on future events and ways to get involved with the tech ecosystem.
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PS — we were trending on Twitter to see all the action follow #TechxOak and meet the community who made this happen like Markita!