It was just ‘about a week ago, week ago’ on Monday morning in New York City. Booming, bustling with fast cars, millions of people in motion – moving with purpose towards their daily lofty goals. #Tech808 was no different. Lots of bright shining faces, ready to be inundated with tech tidbits of knowledge and ways to advance their goals to make their mark in the technology sector.
From hoodies to suits and ties, each of the attendees had a different background, a different mission but all were equal in one aspect – the belief that advancing their network at the #tech808 conference would ultimately lead to acquiring new tools and skills to build their net worth. Partnering with the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University, the Phat Startup built the #tech808 conference around a colorful pool of startup founders and thought leaders all impacted by Hip hop to educate its attendees on navigating through the ups and downs of Entrepreneurship.
Started from the Bottom Now We’re Here
The conference opened with excitement and a rundown of expectations for the day, from one of the cofounders of the conference, Anthony Fraiser. Fraiser is no stranger to navigating through tough situations. The Newark NJ native knows a thing or two about the ‘hustle and flow’ it takes to build a startup having previously participated in the nine week NewMe accelerator program for minority entrepreneurs in Oakland, CA for another company he built, a video game website called TheKoalition.com.
Best-selling author of The Path Redefined; entrepreneur and investor Lauren Maillian opened the conference bringing vigor and vigilance to her conversation on successful fundraising for your startup. We had a chance to catch up with Lauren behind the scenes. Lauren told Innov8tiv that she came to “keynote the morning session and kickoff the event as a voice of reason and inspiration for people of color in the music industry looking to break into technology space or people looking to break into tech space in general.” She also noted that to her technology means “innovation creating opportunity and the ability to scale. Hip hop means culture, energy and collaboration.” Lauren has a show launching on Oxygen/NBCU in February with costar Randi Zuckerberg called Create Your Dayjob.
Made with grind/Filled with dreams
The idea behind the #tech808 conference is to bring together entrepreneurs from all backgrounds that can relate to the hustle and methodology behind hip-hop, the empowerment of the people, the steady 808 heartbeat behind each song; and apply it to their strategies for their own startup(s). In true hustle form, after viewing Fraiser in a program showcasing “Blacks in Silicon Valley” on CNN; James Lopez, 35 reached out to him on Twitter and immediately found a shared bond in hip hop and technology.
This tweet connect eventually transitioned into the backdrop for Lopez cofounding the #tech808 conference with Fraiser that since 2012 has brought out hundreds of like-minded individuals to multiple cities including: New York, Washington, DC and Oakland CA to see who’s ‘got next ‘on tech.
Many speakers throughout the day shared their candid experiences on how they took a concept to content to an actual company. The panel on How To Become a Content Marketing Expert included: Aubrey Flynn: VP of Digital, Combs Enterprises, Brandon Hixon: Founder, We Make Music, Ross Simmons: Founder, Hustle Grind Co. Janel Martinez: Founder, Ain’t I Latina and Alexandra Wolf: Founder, Bossbabe Inc. We had a chance to catchup with Alexandra Wolfe behind the scenes at the conference.
Alexandra (Alex) Wolfe is the founder of Bossbabe Inc. – a lifestyle brand that educates inspires and empowers millennial glamorous women who are ambitious to keep going for their dreams. Although they focus on women, Alex believes that everyone needs empowerment, especially in the millennial generation. For Alex the niche audience and swirl of hip hop, tech and entrepreneurship at one event makes #tech808 very unique. Hip hop means a lot to the millennial founder, because it embodies not only a culture; it shows what happens when you bring people together who can create something from nothing.
Transform to Transcend
Much like the hip hop world, technology ventures aren’t a guaranteed success, especially when you are considered a “minority” in the field. Through dedication, mentorship and self-awareness many entrepreneurs find a way to overcome the obstacles and eventually cultivate pathways to success. Amos Winbush III is no stranger to navigating the entrepreneurship ecosystem.
In his afternoon talk on How I Made the Switch from Music to Tech the Founder & CEO of CyberSynchs gave a shorthand blueprint of altering habits and mindset in order to be able to truly transcend into new careers. “Transition is the key word when you are seeking transformation. The universe will say ‘yes I will meet you where you are right now’.” We were able to catch up behind the scenes with Amos following his talk.
It’s Called a Startup Because You Start It
Kazeem (Kaz) Famuyide, Founder & Editor-in-chief of Stashed.com spoke on the Digital Media Starter Kit panel which was moderated by MentorMaven Founder, Tani Chambers. Kaz shared how to breakthrough and disrupt people’s conditioned behaviors to editorial content they read. Stashed.com was built in 30 days after Kaz was invited to build an online platform for Steve Stoute’s Translation LLC.
Kaz also noted how difficult it is build a new media brand in 2015, when everyone has access to any social media platform like WordPress, Twitter or Medium etc. His guidance for success included: meet a lot of people, be personable, know what you’re talking about, and become a source people can learn to trust. We were able to connect with Kaz after his panel.
Bring the Noise
Other panels throughout the event included Go 0 -100 Real Quick w/ Your Startup featuring entrepreneur Tristan Walker. The Founder of Walker & Co. just closed a $24 million round of fundraising for his men’s grooming line – Bevel. Walker shared his insight on sustainability in business “Build a company that this generation and future generations will be proud to support.”
Also on the panel was developer Jahde who is also a cofounder of the #tech808 conference. Other speakers throughout the event included Frans Johansson Author of The Medici Effect and The Click Moment, CEO of The Medici Group and international speaker; who spoke on navigating the evolution of tech and creating opportunities within the ecosystem. J. Erving VP, of Atom Factory & Smashd – provided insight on incubating entertainment companies in Los Angeles and creating successful pipelines.
Jessica Santana cofounder of New York on Tech moderated a panel on Navigating Silicon Alley featuring Minerva Tantoca CTO of New York City and Anthony Onesto VP, of Razorfish. The panel focused on the multiple opportunities that exist within the tech sector including nontechnical roles and investing in our kids now. Many of the special guests showed excitement to hear a talk on Turning Tragedy into Triumph – Success through Extreme Failure from one of the most celebrated speakers, entrepreneur and author James Altucher.
Founders from Cewebity, Jameson Bennet and Great Scott Mckenzie, debuted and launched during their pitch session. They are a free publishing platform that turns your every day social content into cash. BAE app founders & brothers Brian and Justin Gerrard also participated in the pitch session showcasing their bridge to bringing unique dating opportunities to the minority community.
From Crack to Rap to Tech
A hip hop infused tech conference wouldn’t be complete without a live performance. So it was only fitting to bring in hip hop artist and tech entrepreneur Divine the 4th letter to close out the event. Divine has a fintech company called BLAK Financial Technology Inc. BLAK (Building Leverage Acquiring Knowledge) is a prepaid visa debit card attached to a real bank account looking to solve financial exclusion problems for the unbanked, under-banked, and ill-banked. Right before he hit the stage to debut his animated video for VC Life we snagged a moment with Divine.
#Tech808 conference welcomed so many talented and well-informed thought leaders in technology. Whether you are a millennial setting the standard for the next pipeline for disruption or a GenZ’er taking notes for action to come – you left with more than you came for. Hip hop as so many of the speakers noted, is the heartbeat of today’s fight for equality in all sectors.
It has surpassed expectation of being a passing fad, and demonstrated that in less than half a century; a culture can become an international phenomenon relating people from all backgrounds, demographics and locations to unite. One beat, one voice, one purpose – to break down all stereotypes and glass ceilings. #tech808 brings the power of hip hop and converges with the endless possibilities within the technology sector. Until… #anotherone