“If we don’t do it, it’s not going to be done,” admonished one of the expert speakers at Saturday’s “Launch Summit, presented by The BOSS Network. The gathering of more than a hundred women of color in Atlanta composed the organization’s first stop in its newly launched tech series, designed to to educate, empower, and promote minority women in technology.
That particular guest speaker was Kathryn Finney, Founder and Managing Director of Atlanta- based, digitalundivided and recipient of the 2017 BOSS Network Minority Female in Technology Award. Speaking about the greatest hurdle for Black and Latina women with tech start-ups, the founder of the first innovation center focused on investing in the success of Black & Latina women founders, encouraged women who reach a certain level of financial success to reach back and help fund other minority women who are working to start and grow tech companies.
“In 2016, 80% of new businesses were founded by Black and Latina women, yet only .2% of Black and Latina owned businesses received venture funding,” said Cameka Smith, founder of The BOSS Network and convener of The Launch Summit. “This disparity is an issue that we have to take on directly. We have to let the tech community know that women of color are here and that our ideas are both valid and investment-worthy. At the same time, however we have to give women the tools to continue to build and thrive until the market catches up with their potential and that is the whole objective behind the The Launch Summit. We intend to make some noise within the tech community and make stronger, more resilient businesses within our network.”
Over the course of the 6-hour day, attendees heard from a lineup of all-female experts in business and technology including entrepreneur and TV personality Maja Sly, communications strategist Kelly Smith Beaty, personal branding expert and author Emmelie De La Cruz (Building Your Online Brand), Vice President of Digital Product Delivery Customer Office for Prudential Dipali Dalal (Fintech One-on-One), Dean and Professor at Scheller College of Business at Georgia Institute of Technology Dr. Maryam Alavi, Vice President of Human Resources for Prudential Financial Michele Alcazar, Executive Director of CDC Contracts, Advance Systems Design Dawn Riggins, Author and Speaker Alicia Bowens (Leveraging A Career in Tech), life strategist and author Sheri Riley (Exponential Living Keynote), tech entrepreneur Tiffany Fulcher, Career Match iQ Founder & CEO Sarah Buchanan, and Co-founder & CEO of Techturized, Inc. and Creator of Myavana Candace Mitchell (Funding Your Small Business).
In addition, five attendees competed in the small business start-up Elevator Pitch Competition, which awarded more than $5,000 in cash and business support. The winner, Nicole Sanchez, founder of E Credit Hero took home the top prize from The BOSS Network.
Saturday’s summit, which took place at the W Midtown in Atlanta, was made possible through the support of presenting sponsor Prudential Financial, Inc., and media partner Black Enterprise. It was the first stop in a year-long event series, which will host future summits in Houston, TX and Austin, TX.