JPMorgan Chase Becomes Urban Tech Connect Angel Sponsor

Global financial services firm JPMorgan Chase signed on as an angel sponsor for Plug In South LA’s two-day Urban Tech Connect Conference in May.

JPMorgan Chase provided sponsorship for Urban Tech Connect in the past. By continuing its partnership with Plug In South LA, the firm helps support entrepreneurs from underserved and overlooked communities in and around South Los Angeles.

“This partnership provides high-impact mentorship and business development for the innovative tech founders who are shaping our future,” said Plug In South LA Founder Derek Smith. “JPMorgan Chase is underscoring their commitment to accelerating innovation in all communities.”

Urban Tech Connect, the premier tech conference focused on Latinx and African American founders, expanded to two days for 2020. Extending the conference amplifies the social component and creates a network effect for founders so they can come away with more strategic leads, Smith explained.

Hundreds of attendees are expected to converge at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center on May 20 and 21. The growing speaker roster includes LeaseQuery CEO George Azih, Ying CEO Karla Ballard Williams, Mahmee CEO Melissa Hanna, SoLo Funds CEO Travis Holoway, Squad CEO Isa Watson, Lisnr CCO Rodney Williams, VSEDC and South LA Best Buy Teen Tech Center lead tech consultant Cassie Betts, and OPV partner Austin Clements.

Making the economy work for more people is a key focus for JPMorgan Chase, which has operations worldwide and assets of $2.7 trillion. By leveraging the partnership with JPMorgan Chase markets throughout the United States, Plug In South LA is able to tap into more founders, broadening its outreach nationwide.

“Innovation is at the heart of everything we do at JPMorgan Chase,” said Diedra Porché, California division director of business banking. “We’re excited to support Urban Tech Connect’s mission of identifying the next wave of diverse technology founders.”

Photo: JPMorgan Chase Tower. Credit: Kent Wang, Flickr Creative Commons


Win an Opportunity to Demo Live at Urban Tech Connect 2020

Plug In South LA is challenging early-stage founders to share your best brief pitch or demo on Instagram and tag it #UrbanTechConnect. The strongest entries will get a chance to present virtually at the conference.

Prizes for each winner include three complimentary passes for the team to attend Urban Tech Connect // Forward, September 15 – 17, 2020. Winners also receive virtual one-on-one sessions with venture capitalists, designers, tech resource providers, and fundraising strategists during the conference.

#UrbanTechConnect Pitch Contest Instructions

  1. Record your pitch. It should be no longer than 2 minutes. Tell us the problem you’re trying to solve, what you’ve accomplished so far, and what you still need to scale up your business.
  2. Upload the pitch as an Instagram post.
  3. Tag it #UrbanTechConnect and Follow @PlugInSouthLA.
  4. Then, upload to Google Drive & send as a link to with Subject “ UTC Pitch Contest”

All pitches must be submitted before 5 pm Pacific Time August 20, 2020.

Check out this video example to get started on your own pitch.

Once the pitches are in, Plug In South LA, our partners, and Urban Tech Connect Advisory Committee will select the best 5-8 pitches and invite them to virtually present live at the conference in September.

Speakers this year include LeaseQuery CEO George Azih, Mahmee CEO Melissa Hanna, SoLo Funds CEO Travis Holoway, SLIC Sports / Business Inside the Game Founder Baron Davis, Squad CEO Isa Watson, Lisnr CCO Rodney Williams, Planet FWD CEO & Co-Founder of Zume Pizza Julia Collins, Greycroft Senior Associate Brentt Baltimore, Rapper & Entrepreneur Stix, Ying Founder Karla Ballard, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Mayvenn Founder & CEO Diishan Imira, and much more!

Urban Tech Connect 2020 // Forward is the premier platform to showcase your business, share ideas, and create possibilities. We’ll see you there!


Successful Lunch & Learn Series Returns for 2020

Plug In South LA’s successful Lunch & Learn series is returning for 2020. These sessions cultivate the next generation of startup founders, connecting them to the ever-growing local entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Our free series helps founders and entrepreneurs who have launched and are currently in the process of raising funds. Founders present their business ventures, discuss how their solutions fill needs in the community, and share any major challenges they face. Business and tech professionals, venture capitalists, and investors will listen from the other side of the table and provide valuable feedback in an intimate setting.

Lunch & Learn meetings and workshops take place in South LA and around Los Angeles at leading VC firms, corporations, and entertainment and digital media studios. The Los Angeles Urban League will be hosting us as well.

“Founders come away from Lunch & Learn with stronger business models and fundraising strategies,” says Plug In South LA Founder Derek Smith. “We accelerate their growth.”

Past attendees have realized significant investment for their businesses. Ade Adesanya, a 2018 participant, went on to raise several million dollars in venture capital funding for the company he co-founded, Moving Analytics.

“The series is an amazing avenue to share, collaborate, and empower the community in South LA,” says program manager Molly Crete. “Whether you just have an idea or have been in business for years, the Lunch & Learn Series offer a safe space to not only connect, but create possibilities for driving your business toward success.”

New 2020 Series Dates:

  • February 20
  • April 16
  • June 28
  • July 23

If you’re a founder who is interested in presenting, please fill out the form below to tell us about yourself and your business. We’ll follow up directly.

Apply to present at Lunch & Learn here.


Mahmee CEO Melissa Hanna Joins UrbanTech Connect 2020 Speaker Lineup

Plug In South LA is proud to announce that entrepreneur and innovator Melissa Hanna joined the speaker lineup for the Urban Tech Connect // Forward 2020 conference. The co-founder and CEO of maternal and infant health tech company Mahmee will be taking the stage in Los Angeles this May.

Hanna co-founded the company in 2014 with her healthcare expert mother Linda and the veteran tech exec Sunny Walia. The three of them built Mahmee to prevent moms and babies from falling through the cracks of a fragmented healthcare system.

The HIPAA-secure care management platform delivers care coordination and support to new moms, filling the gaps. It has a network that includes more than 1,000 providers and healthcare organizations such as UCLA and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Mahmee links health records and provides comprehensive guidance around pregnancy, nutrition, childbirth, lactation, emotional health, and returning to work. Predictive analytics provide personalized on-demand support to new mothers and infants, Melissa Hanna explained in a Q&A with the Helm.

In 2019, the company closed a $3 million round of funding from investors that included Mark Cuban, Arlan Hamilton, and Serena Williams. “Given the bleak data surrounding maternal death and injury rates, I believe that it is absolutely critical right now to invest in solutions that help protect the lives of moms and babies,” Williams told Forbes. “Mahmee’s data-driven approach is the right solution to one of the most significant problems in the system: that of fragmented care.”

Los Angeles native Hanna has worked in operations and on strategy at healthcare, education, digital media, and consumer goods startups. She received an MBA from the Peter F. Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University and a JD from Southwestern Law School, where she’s an adjunct professor of corporate and technology law. Publications featuring Hanna include Entrepreneur, Forbes, Business Insider, Cheddar TV, Black Enterprise, and USA Today.

Last year Inc. Magazine named Melissa Hanna to its Female Founders 100 list, and the Huffington Post put her on their inaugural Culture Shifters list for 2020 as one of the people “shaping today’s culture in exciting ways and setting the tone for what is possible for our future.”

Register to attend Urban Tech Connect 2020 so you can be there when Hanna shares her remarkable experiences as an entrepreneur.


Sign Up for the 2020 Lunch & Learn Series

Sign Up for our first 2020 Lunch and Learn Series! We welcome Founders and Entrepreneurs who have launched and are in the process of raising funds to apply to present at one of our sessions. Founders are encouraged to apply here.

Lunch and Learns are designed to help cultivate the next generation of founders in Los Angeles and connect them to the ever-sharing, ever-growing entrepreneurship ecosystem. Our meetings and workshops take place in South LA and around Los Angeles at leading VC firms, corporations, entertainment, and digital media studios. The Lunch & Learn Series invites experts from the field to speak on an array of topics & challenges that all new founders face when starting a business, as well as new founders sharing their personal stories. Feel free to reach out to with any questions!