Regina Gwynn, Esosa Ighodaro and Lauren Washington are the brilliant trio behind Black Women Tech Talk, a collective of Black female tech founders who will host their third annual Roadmap to Billions Conference this week in New York City. More than 1,000 investors, tech evangelists and founders are expected to attend the three-day event, Feb. 27-March 1, 2019.
Each of the three is already making her presence felt in the tech space. Gwynn is the co-founder and CEO of TresseNoire, a beauty booking app that allows women to bring professional salon services into their offices or abodes. Ighodaro is the co-founder and president of CoSign, a tech platform that helps brands create, distribute and monetize visual content through social media influencers and brand advocates. Washington is CEO of KeepUp, an app that enables people and businesses to be more productive and action-orienting by better managing their social media platforms.
Leading up to the conference, Washington took time to speak with rolling out on behalf of her Black Women Tech Talk co-founders about the event, what potential tech investors are looking for and which Black women in tech inspire her the most.
Why did you decide to develop a tech conference?
We really wanted to find other Black women tech founders and get everyone in a room together. We had the intention of having about 30 women come together at Google [in New York City] and ended up having over 300 RSVP in two weeks. We knew then a community like ours was desperately needed.
Why is it important for women to network at conferences?
You need to have people around you who understand your experience [and] can provide insight, advice or inspiration.
Why is the concept of scale so important when pitching any venture fund or angel investor?
You have to understand why people or firms invest: to get a return on their money. Oftentimes venture capitalists are investing other people’s money, so the pressure to make that back and then some is even stronger.
What are two key business principles when you’re putting together your team at a tech company?
Hire slow and fire fast. … People can make or break your company, so you want to make sure you have the right people with the right mindset and complementary skills.
Name two women in the tech area who inspire you to challenge yourself, and explain why.
I’m loving Julia Collins, co-founder of Zume Pizza and Serena Williams. Julia is the first Black woman founder to develop a billion-dollar tech company. She has made incredible inroads for our community and changed the idea of what a billion-dollar founder looks like. Serena is obviously a legend on the court, but off the court, she’s committed to investing in startups and guiding large tech companies through their board of directors. She’s using her visibility to make powerful changes in the industry.
To learn more about the conference or Black Women Tech Talk, visit www.blackwomentalktech.com.