Urban Tech Connect 2021 recently brought us powerful insights and inspiring stories from across the innovation ecosystem. Momentum from the virtual three-day conference hasn’t let up one bit since.

Currently the Plug In South LA team is developing on-demand video, digital swag, discounts, and other unique benefits for attendees. If you haven’t already, join our mailing list and be first to receive updates.

In the meantime, check out our recaps of the live sessions here: Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3.

Plus, our incredible speakers just shared more valuable advice:

Ryan Nece, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Next Play Capital

The best advice you received when starting out?

The only play that matters is the Next Play.

What initially drew you to the work you’re doing now?

Seeing a need to provide our community the opportunity to have a seat at the table and to invest alongside the best venture funds and tech companies in the world.

When you hit a professional hurdle, how did you move forward?

I spend time reminding myself of the previous 100-plus hurdles that I overcame and that the test I am going through today only strengthens my TESTimony of faith.

Which digital tool or app do you love right now?

I still am obsessed with my camera app…being able to share all those moments in time with the next generation is powerful to me. The most valuable possession I own is a picture of my great-great-grandma, great-grandma, grandma, mom, and me. I only have one and I wish I had more.

How do you stay current on the latest moves in your field?

I spend time reading blogs, books, and most importantly talking to a diverse group of leaders in the game that I respect consistently.

Rami Reyes, Co-Founder and Managing Director, NextEquity Partners

The best advice you received when starting out?

Figure out what you can do better than anyone else and become a leading expert in those areas.

What initially drew you to the work you’re doing now?

I wanted to learn from really smart people and was fortunate out of college to work for tech and private equity legends like Avie Tevanian, Fred Anderson, Rajiv Dutta, Roger McNamee, and Bret Pearlman.

When you hit a professional hurdle, how did you move forward?

I first took time to think and not make an impulsive decision. Then, I thoroughly analyzed all my options and asked for counsel when appropriate.

Which digital tool or app do you love right now and why?

I am biased as one of their investors, but I am a fan of MasterClass as I am passionate about increasing access to education and love that they’ve figured out a way to make learning fun and cool.

How do you stay current on the latest moves in your field?

Google Alerts, reputable news sources, and LinkedIn are helpful. I also talk to a lot of entrepreneurs and early-stage investors about what they’re seeing in the market.

Nasir Qadree, Founding Managing Partner, Zeal Capital Partners

The best advice you received when starting out?

Be your authentic self, ensure your story connects w/ your values and investment mandate, and how you think about Zeal as a new franchise.

What initially drew you to the work you’re doing now?

I recognize multiple missing opportunities, how we have historically sourced, invested, and helped scale early-stage businesses.

Most importantly, recognizing the opportunity it means for economic growth and mobility for the founders we invest in, the communities in which they come from, and for me and my family.

When you hit a professional hurdle, how did you move forward?

Hurdles are indicators that you are learning, I love to learn. I typically reverse engineer what took place and depending on what exactly happened, I bounce this hurdle off my mentors and parents, and grandparents.

Which digital tool or app do you love right now?

Discogs, Pitchbook, Shazam, and Affinity.

How do you stay current on the latest moves in your field?

I meet with members of the Advisory Board weekly and listen to podcasts during my morning run.

David Hall, Managing Partner, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund

The best advice you received when starting out?

In venture — and in business in general — always closely follow the money. It’ll help focus on the true customer journey and where there are gaps or weaknesses in the strategy and execution.

What initially drew you to the work you’re doing now?

I love meeting with entrepreneurs and ideating with them on the future of the industry. Nothing is more exciting than to hear how the world will change because of an entrepreneur’s vision.

When you hit a professional hurdle, how did you move forward?

I think professional hurdles are little reminders to focus on the personal side of life. When things are rocky and uncertain at work, I always dive deeper into family and friends to make sure my life is fully in balance. In doing that, the solution to my work struggle is typically revealed.

Which digital tool or app do you love right now and why?

I have a love/hate relationship with Clubhouse. I think its serendipity is amazing — who’s in the room and what they’ll say, but I don’t have the free time to commit to it as much now and worry about its post-pandemic value prop.

How do you stay current on the latest moves in your field?

Lots of reading and first-person conversations. I love asking people what’s the top thing they are excited about now and tracking their answers.

Photo: UTC 2021 co-host Lauryn Nwankpa, head of social impact at Dave. Credit: Plug In South LA