Powerful insights, valuable new connections, inspiring stories, transformative workshops, next-level mentorship — Urban Tech Connect // Forward 2021 had it all.

Day 3 of the virtual conference featured office hours powered by Verizon, a networking lunch powered by ChowNow, Expo booths and on-demand videos, a workshop on tightening your pitch, plus a workshop presenting practical CRM tips from SalesForce and the founder of G Photography.

The final day also pulled us right into these live sessions:

Master Class: How I Raised a $1 Million Pre-Seed Round
Beatriz Acevedo‘s platform SUMA Wealth completed a pre-seed round of more than $1 million, all from women and primarily from Latinas. She spoke with Jessica Salinas, VP of investments for New Media Ventures, about how she grew the business from her living room table.

Acevedo offered numerous gems of wisdom from her experience, especially for Latinx entrepreneurs. “Who you take money from or bring on as a co-founder is almost as important as the person you marry,” she advised.

Where Venture Capital Is Headed over the Long Term
TechCrunch reporter Natasha Mascarenhas moderated this fast-paced panel with Precursor Ventures founder and managing partner Charles Hudson, Republic’s head of venture growth and partnerships Cheryl Campos, Next Play Capital co-founder and managing partner Ryan Nece, Vitalize Venture Capital founder and managing partner Gale Wilkinson, and Chanzo Capital managing partner Eric Osiakwan.

The panelists expressed cautious optimism about where venture capital will be 10 years down the road thanks to decentralization, Zoom investing, new types of capital and emerging fund managers. They also anticipate big shifts in VC hubs.

Hudson recounted searching for early-stage startup founders. “My original thought was I’m going to have to go to the ends of the Earth,” he said. “It turns out — and this is the biggest irony — there’s a ton of under-served, un-networked people even in Silicon Valley.”

State of Black Entrepreneurship
Forbes reporter and editorial lead Brianne Garrett moderated this conversation with RareBreed VC investor Amani Phipps, Esusu co-founder Abbey Wemimo, and Arabian Prince, the founder and chief innovator of Inov8 Next as well as the founder and CEO of GGGOAT. Fanbase CEO Isaac Hayes III also stopped by.

Arabian Prince emphasized that Black founders continue to combat stereotypes and bias when seeking VC funding. “Only 5 or 8% of all startups succeed,” he said. “So you’re looking at billions of dollars down the tube just because of perception.”

The panelists delved into how Black entrepreneurs can truly move the needle on moving more Black founders through the pipeline, creating a vibrant, self-sufficient ecosystem.

Call to Action
Urban Tech Connect co-host Lauryn Nwankpa and Plug In South LA founder Derek Smith shared closing thoughts at the end of the conference.

“There are so many South LAs around this country,” Smith said. “That’s why it’s important that we build these relationships, not just locally but regionally and nationally.”

Nwankpa agreed. “We all have a role to play,” she said. “That is my homework for everyone: Keep building the connections, keep building those bridges, and keep after it.”

All the incredible conference content will be available soon. Make sure you’re signed up to receive email updates. Let’s move forward, together.