BLNDED’s SXSW 2019 Recap

SXSW 2019 was business as usual with all of the panels, music, parties, and, of course, Austin traffic. However, our team stayed busy by attending unofficial events with community partners. This year also marked BLNDED’s second annual diversity-focused listing which was once again a big resource for those traveling to and throughout Central Texas.

One of our first events from the 10-day marathon was the Titan Generator at Google Austin.

Titan Generator
Activists and entrepreneurs of color at Google Austin for the Titan Generator

Titan Generator, a dream studio bringing together activists and entrepreneurs of color to solve urgent social challenges, brought together 80+ entrepreneurs of color, with 68% of those entrepreneurs being women founders.  

Next up was The Diversity Advocates SXSW Meetup at We Work Congress. We enjoyed hosting a wonderful group of diversity advocates along with The Kapor Center, The Mentor Method, The University of Texas at Austin’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, and Level Up Institute!

Cynthia Overton, Ph.D. (Director of Tech Workplace Initiative for the Kapor Center), Ruben Cantu (Director of Inclusive Innovation and Entrepreneurship at The University of Texas at Austin), Janice Omadeke (CEO of The Mentor Method), and Naji H. Kelley (CEO and co-founder of BLNDED Media)

Take a moment to view all of the photos from the Meetup via our Facebook album.

One reason the BLNDED team enjoys the SXSW madness is due to the amazing people we can connect with, especially people and organizations we admire on social media. An example of this is the below photo featuring B.J. Vann and Kelly Burton. Vann is the founder and executive director of Impact House, an early-stage venture accelerator and support ecosystem with a mission to accelerate and invest in all shades of genius. Burton is the CEO of Nexus Research Group and Founders of Color (FOC). I was formally introduced to Burton on Twitter and we’ve been connected on LinkedIn for a year or so, but it was great to finally meet face-to-face.

BLNDED Media’s Naji H. Kelley with B.J. Vann, founder of Impact House, and Kelly Burton, founder of Founders of Color

Shaq Gould, Principal at Quake Capital, put on an awesome dinner for Black VC’s and Founders to meet up and connect during SXSW.

Dinner with Black VC’s and Founders at Hoover’s Cooking

SXSW brings so many people working on amazing ideas and companies together. Our tribe at BLNDED represents those doing important work in creating more inclusive opportunities in the tech, business, and media space.

We are beyond thankful to have been able to connect with some of them while they were here, especially when it’s as organic as bumping into entrepreneurs in front of the J.W. Marriott. One of those is Thomas Stovall, who is the founding partner of ImBlackinTech. The Chicago-based organization has a 3200+ membership network across 16 countries and is focused on entrepreneurship training for its membership base of Black and Latinx founders.

Our second run-in by the J.W. Marriott was with Karen Fleshman, founder and CEO of Racy Conversations. Fleshman held an event leading inclusive conversational panels focused on increasing awareness of how racism impacts women. The event featured Lakeya Omogum and Ayana D’Aguilar, two students from The University of Texas at Austin. Both students are Black women whose experiences with racism at the University have been made public. You can read up on their experiences and event here.

Karen Fleshman, (founder & CEO Racy Conversations), Kelly Burton (founder of Founders of Color), and Tasha McCarter (founder of BWISE)

Additionally, there was a huge turnout and amazing pitches at the PitchBlack competition. Richelieu Dennis and the NewVoices Fund have done a great job coordinating with Donell Creech and Lahoma Dade to support women of color.

Personally, I have a great feeling about the work diversity leaders are doing around the country to include marginalized communities in the business, tech, and media space. Our collective efforts will help move the needle in a rising tide lifting all boats a true reality.

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