Major west coast tech conference focusing on African-American entrepreneurship comes to Detroit

In recent years, various fellowships and initiatives have been launched locally to increase diversity in the tech world. Now, a well-known west coast tech conference is doing its part to raise awareness about the issue in Detroit. 

Called AfroTech Detroit, the one-day event will bring together local and national technology leaders for workshops and panel discussions on a variety of topics related to black participation in tech. Started in San Francisco in 2016, it will also highlight Detroit's role in the tech world, especially its African-American talent. 

"Detroit is the original home of innovation and multiple Fortune 10 companies. [It's] an exciting influx of new energy, talent and investment," says Monica Wheat, executive director at Venture Catalysts, said in a press release. "Michigan has more engineers per capita than anywhere else in the country. As we enter this next stage of Detroit's renaissance, we have the opportunity to do something very few cities can: Capitalize on Detroit's 80 percent African-American population and build an inclusive tech ecosystem from the ground up."

Featured guests at AfroTech include PlayVS Founder and CEO Delane Parnell, philanthropist and entrepreneur Dhani Jones, The Lip Bar Founder Melissa Butler, Detroit Venture Partners investor Aaron McClendon, and more. 

Topics of panels and presentations at AfroTech in the past have been about raising venture funding, combining tech and culture, user design workshops, and growth hacking.

"We are calling on the brightest and most daring CEOs, founders, and leaders from Detroit's vibrant tech community to share their journeys, failures, successes, and best practices," says Morgan DeBaun, CEO of Blavity, Inc., the company organizing AfroTech. "These leaders have crashed through the glass ceiling in so many ways and are shining the light for other Black startup founders and techies."

The event is organized in partnership with Quicken Loans, Venture Catalysts, Google, Duo Security, the New Economy Initiative, TechTown Detroit, and Invest Detroit, among others. 

AfroTech Detroit takes place on Saturday, August 18 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Cobo Center's Grand Riverview Ballroom. You can register for the event here

Read more articles by Aaron Mondry.

Aaron Mondry is the managing editor of Model D and a Detroit-based freelance writer. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter @AaronMondry.
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