THE PROBLEM

Innovation and Entrepreneurship are viewed by many as part of a foundational suite of 21st century skills. The author Thom Friedman has advocated for “innovation ready” high school graduates who are equipped with critical-thinking, communication, and collaboration skills that allow them to facilitate their own careers. Unfortunately, public schools which serve Black students often lack instruction in entrepreneurship or other fundamental enablers that foster these skills.  Self-employment for Black Americans lags far behind that for whites. This is particularly acute for U.S.-born Blacks. Given the significance of the wealth gap, which is a primary source of inequity in the country, this is especially troubling.  It is important to highlight that business ownership is an essential tool for closing the wealth gap. The wealth gap decreases from 13:1 to 3:1 for Black business owners.  Black businesses however skew smaller. This is reflected in the total revenue which for white businesses is $12.9 Trillion as compared to $187.6 Billion for Black businesses. The net effect of which is that every working age white American could receive $102,000 from white-owned businesses.  Working age Black Americans would only receive $7,000 from the revenue of Black-owned businesses.  

 

We recognize that there is an urgent need and opportunity to engage and expose an entrepreneurial talent pool of African American STEM majors to the principles of startup/tech-entrepreneurship.

 

OUR STORY

Since 2012, the BTV founders have collectively and independently been working on inclusion efforts in tech innovation and entrepreneurship.

We have developed innovation programs at HBCU campuses including the HowU Innovate Initiative at Howard University. That effort has lead to the development of an innovation lab, that provides programming, training, and events around innovation and entrepreneurship for faculty, alumni, and the local community. The program has consistently incubated on average 15 student led tech startups per year. Additionally, the team has work that has impacted a variety of HBCU and MSI campuses including Morehouse College, Spelman College, Bowie State University, Prairie View A&M University, Florida A&M University, Morgan State University and University of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez. 

 

The leadership team has also been instrumental in connecting HBCU talent to Silicon Valley tech companies and innovation ecosystems through the HBCU Innovation Summit.  In fact, the foundations for Black Tech Ventures was developed across several of the Summits. 

The goal for our team is to fully develop the tech-entrepreneurial pathway for African American undergraduate and graduate students majoring across STEM disciplines and alumni working in various capacities within the tech-industry. We have spent several years building relationships with various tech companies across the nation, and within the tech innovation community; having hard conversations, mapping the tech ecosystem, and understanding the barriers and opportunities for creating real change.

 
 

MISSION

BlackTech Ventures (BTV) seeks to transform the tech-industry by empowering African Americans to pursue entrepreneurship and venture creation from startup to early stage ventures.  BTV’s mission is to fully develop the tech-entrepreneurial pathway for African American undergraduate and graduate students majoring across STEM disciplines and alumni working in various capacities within the tech-industry.

OUR SOLUTION

BTV offers a multi-stage pre-accelerator program which works to develop entrepreneurial acumen and de-risk nascent ideas and ventures. Our team works with HBCUs and universities across the 246 APLU member institutions, technology and industry professionals, angel groups, venture firms, and government agencies to create an ecosystem and pipeline for talented Black students majoring in STEM with a passion and interest in starting their own tech company.

 
 

MEET THE TEAM

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GRANT WARNER, Ph.D.

Managing Partner & Co-founder

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CHAD WOMACK, Ph.D.

Board Chair, Co-Founder & Managing Partner

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JAYE ESPY

Program Manager

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MICHAEL ELLISON

Board Advisor 

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LEGAND L. BURGE, III, Ph.D.

Managing Partner & Co-founder

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ERIKA SYMONETTE, Ph.D.

Head of Operations

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JOEY WOMACK

Board member

BTV is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and contributions are tax-deductible for income, gift, and estate taxes.

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