On Sunday, November 13th as I walked up to the Austin Convention Center in Austin Texas, the first thing I noticed was a giant illuminated sign. The sign simply said “AfroTech 2022: The Place for All Things Black in Tech & Web 3.” Little did I know that I was about to enter a unique conference experience unlike anything I have ever seen or attended in my life.
The first thing that caught my attention as I walked in through the convention doors was the large crowd of people spanning different cultural backgrounds, locations, ages and experiences waiting in a line filled with hundreds of people. Like me, they were trying to be proactive and check-in to avoid the longer lines that would likely occur the first day of the conference. The most awe-inspiring fact, despite our differences, we were all unified as black professionals who were looking to connect through shared experiences, career goals, culture and to uplift one another.
After checking in and getting my badge, the first thing I did was sit down and watch the crowd of people filing into the building to enter the various check-in lines that were forming. After some time, several other conference attendees began to sit around the table with me as we shared our awe and excitement in seeing so much representation in the tech space and seeing peers who looked like us. This experience set the tone for the week, and I wanted to share 5 key reasons why black professionals in the tech and web 3 space should seriously consider attending AfroTech in 2023.
1: The Expo
AfroTech is not a cheap event to attend, but I can attest to the fact that you get more than the value of what you pay for. The Expo alone is worth more than the ticket price of what you pay to attend. The Expo Hall features some of the biggest brands in the world such as Google, Nike, Amazon, Spotify the list goes on and on. Attendees are able to network with recruiters from these companies directly and connect with them via email, phone, LinkedIn and more. It is a more personalized experience, and unlike your traditional job fairs etc., the recruiters at these companies genuinely want to help you and see if there may be an opportunity for you in their organization. Along with this, these companies have some amazing swag/giveaways and much more. American Express set up a complimentary coffee bar, some brands gave away food, t-shirts, lip balms, swell bottles, gift cards and more.
2: The Panel Sessions
The panels feature some of the biggest thought leaders from the investment and tech space. I got the opportunity to attend an amazing session featuring Mark Cuban and Arlan Hamilton, founder at Backstage Capital and also featured sessions related to Investment Opportunities in Africa led by Chidinma Iwueke of QED Investors. These sessions featured invaluable knowledge that is not accessible on a regular day.
3: The Networking
AfroTech hosts a ton of official events. Plan ahead because the networking opportunities are really unlimited. I met a girl whose friends landed two investment partners for their business at the AfroTech Founders Reception that I attended. Can you imagine eating some chicken skewer appetizers, striking up a convevrsation and someone committing to invest thousands of dollars in your startup? These scenarios really happen at AfroTech.
4: Shared Experiences
AfroTech, quite simply put, is an amazing opportunity to connect with people through shared experiences. People who have experienced the same highs, lows, wins and obstacles, It is an opportunityto connect, share, learn and grow with other professionals of color to gain a greater understanding and outlook in your career as well as the tech and investment space.
5: The Brunches, Parties & Happy Hours
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the amazing parties, happy hours, and brunches. AfroTech is like a big family reunion. This year’s event was star studded and featured performances from Bia, Wale, an amazing pop-up lounge by Google featuring Dj’s on the Youtube stage, photobooth installations, food, drinks and more. Make sure to build a plan because the number of events is literally overwhelming (in the best way possible).
If you work in the Tech space, this event is a must for your 2023 event calendar.
Narrative and photos by Jennifer Onwumere for Trendy Africa Magazine