Urban Tech Connect Conference Expands Big Time for 2020

Plug In South LA’s annual Urban Tech Connect Conference will be bigger and better than ever in 2020. For the first time, this can’t-miss event is expanding to two days.

Founders, entrepreneurs, angel investors, venture capitalist, corporate executives and stakeholders in South Los Angeles are invited to connect, collaborate, create, and receive counsel on May 20 and 21 at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center. The largest gathering in SoCal of African-American and Latinx founders has become known as the premier conference for the next generation of tech entrepreneurs.

Urban Tech Connect offers an opportunity to fine-tune your fundraising strategies, target angel investors and venture capitalists to raise money, vet alternative funding options, consider automation technologies, overcome insecurities — and keep it all moving even when the odds feel like they’re against you.

“We packed a lot into one day. Expanding to two days amplifies the social component and creates a network effect for founders so they can come away with more strategic leads,” said Plug In South LA Founder Derek Smith. “It also allows us to include additional workshop, education, and learning components that serve founders’ needs.”

The 2020 conference kicks off on May 20 with co-working and supportive office hours followed by breakout sessions, workshops, demos, and a specific focus on tech opportunities for Gen Z. Day two of Urban Tech Connect continues with insightful panels, illuminating fireside chats, and powerful talks.

Over the course of the event, attendees will have a chance to meet angel investors, venture capitalists, successful entrepreneurs, fellow tech and digital media founders and executives, city officials, and local nonprofit and philanthropic stakeholders who want a more diverse innovation economy in Los Angeles.

In 2019, Urban Tech Connect featured speakers that included Talent Venture Fund founder Kendra Bracken-Ferguson, rapper and technologist Arabian Prince, Christopher Lyons, the leader of the Cultural Leadership Fund at Andreessen Horowitz, Anastasia S. Tarpeh-Ellis, managing director of Backstage Los Angeles, Joymode CEO Joe Fernandez, and Karim Webb, the CEO of 4thMVNT.

Register to attend Urban Tech Connect 2020 right here.


Nike Fund Supports New Plug In South LA Accelerator Program

The Nike Community Impact Fund has awarded Plug In South LA with a grant to accelerate local entrepreneurship. Administered by the global grantmaking organization CAF America, this new funding provides a boost for up-and-coming founders in and around South Los Angeles.

Led by Derek Smith, Plug In South LA is a membership organization that mentors entrepreneurs through programs and workshops as well as networking events designed to support founders from underserved communities.

The Nike-funded accelerator program evolved out of Plug In South LA’s Lunch and Learn mentoring series, which is designed to give founders an inside perspective on how to improve and enhance their fundraising efforts, Smith explained.

Since launching in 2010, the Nike Community Impact Fund has awarded more than $4.5 million in grants to grassroots community organizations in the United States and Europe. Now the fund is spurring business development in South LA.

“It is brilliant for Nike for to recognize the importance of entrepreneurship in under-served communities around the country,” Smith said. “It’s an innovative approach.”

Verizon and Silicon Valley Bank are also providing funding for Plug South LA’s new accelerator program, Smith added.

Over the past two years, Plug In South LA has supported more than 115 founders through tailored business development training, networking opportunities, and access to capital. Currently the organization is working with five founders from the  virtual reality, content, and social media fields.