We learned so much at Urban Tech Connect // Forward 2020. Dozens of speakers shared useful resources with attendees throughout the engaging three-day virtual conference.

Speakers welcomed new connections — via LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and their company websites — the full list of experts is here. Plus, plug in with all the mentors who participated in Office Hours.

The Plug In South LA team took notes during each session, saved info from the live chat, and compiled several presentations that speakers asked us to post after the conference. We’ve got you covered.

Tools Speakers Use (Besides their Own)

Squad founder and CEO Isa Watson revealed which apps she uses the most. Fellow speakers also weighed in, highlighting their favorite tools. They said that these make collaboration easier: Calendly for meeting scheduling, Whereby for video meetings, Community text messaging, and Clubhouse for project management for software teams. There’s also the vector graphics editor and prototyping tool Figma, and Sketch for collaborative product design.

DeMarcus Williams, director of Silicon Valley Bank’s Early Stage Practice, brought up platforms Adalo and Bubble, which make it easier to build apps without code. Glide can turn spreadsheets into apps. Additional tools that garnered praise: Lunchclub for curated one-on-one professional connections, Substack for monetizing subscription newsletters, and the Ense social platform that connects human voices to listeners.

Learn the Lingo

The prospect of fundraising can be daunting enough, but then there’s all the jargon surrounding it. At Urban Tech Connect 2020, speakers took time to define terms, making sure everyone was on the same page. For example:

  • SAFE stands for simple agreement for future equity and is a great tool for fundraising, says Ying co-founder and CEO Karla Ballard Williams
  • GP is general partner
  • LP is limited partner
  • CDFI stands for community development financial institution

For Your Reading List

Speakers referenced news articles, books, and other long reads:

Insightful Podcasts

Add these podcasts to your list, if you haven’t already listened to them: the Starting Greatness with Mike Maples, Jr. from the VC firm Floodgate, Black Tech Unplugged created by Deena McKay, and the Only Black Girl on Mars, a Black female perspective on navigating corporate America from Andrea Afua Kwamya.

Speaker Presentations

Alexandra Zatarain, the co-founder and VP of brand and marketing for smart mattress startup Eight Sleep, gave a Founder Bite talk about how to navigate these uncharted times: Design and Market Your Startup with Purpose (PDF)

Jordan Patapoff, startup solutions architect at Amazon Web Services, led a workshop for CTOs and engineering VPs on optimizing cloud infrastructure during the pandemic: Six Ways To Reduce Your AWS Bill (PDF)

Zuhairah Washington, SVP of global strategic partners, lodging and vacation rentals at Expedia Group, spoke with Urban Tech Connect co-host and LMB Group CEO Lauren Maillian about leading with humanity and courage to create an inclusive culture for her closing fireside chat. Here are the slides she referenced: HumanKindness Leadership (PDF)

Connect with the Community

In wrapping up the conference, Plug In South LA founder Derek Smith urged us to take a look at where we are and consider how to make a difference locally.

One way to do that is by supporting our community partners and getting involved. If you’re a founder, check out Pledge LA’s Fund for South LA Founders, LACI’s programs, Grid110, Sabio Labs’ free resources for coders, Techstars LA, and Bixel Exchange’s upcoming webinars. For investors, tune in to TedxCrenshaw’s virtual annual conference on Saturday October 3 and Pepperdine University’s Most Fundable Companies Showcase.

Urban Tech Connect 2020 charity partner Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) builds startup skills in young people from under-resourced communities. Learn more about their response to Covid-19 and donate here.

Stay in touch with Plug In South LA and learn about our upcoming programs by contacting program manager Molly Crete directly.

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