The last weekend in February marked the African-American Student Union’s 47th Annual H. Naylor Fitzhugh Conference and the first-ever Black Tech Masters Series and Black New Venture Competition. What started as an independent project, conceived by Tyler Simpson (MBA 2020) and Kimberly Foster (MBA 2020), evolved into two groundbreaking events focused on facilitating and advancing opportunities for Black professionals in tech, entrepreneurship, and innovation.

The Black Tech Master Series was designed to inspire, engage, and elevate Black tech professionals and aspiring entrepreneurs through interactive workshops, dynamic panel discussions, and networking opportunities. The event featured a lineup of leaders including Jewel Burks Solomon, the head of Google for Startups, HBS Senior Lecturer Jeff Bussgang and Damien Hooper-Campbell, Ebay’s Chief Diversity Officer.

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The Black New Venture Competition was an event designed to offer support to promising early-stage Black entrepreneurs with resources to develop their ventures into dynamic powerhouses. The event served as a launchpad for innovative ventures founded by Black entrepreneurs, providing exposure to capital, mentors, and advisors. The Black New Venture Competition awarded $175,000, thanks to funding from General Catalyst, Google for Startups, and Khosla Ventures – making this event the largest pitch competition for Black founders in the country.

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“These initiatives have been so powerful in advancing the discussion of diversity in tech and entrepreneurship as well as connecting talent to opportunity in these sectors. We’ve heard countless stories of attendees and founders securing funding, building partnerships, and fostering fruitful business relationships as a result of our events. We are honored to be the convening force, connecting key players in the entrepreneurship ecosystem.” Kim Foster (MBA 2020)

“From the beginning, Kim and I have been extremely passionate about providing people of color access to opportunities where they are historically underrepresented. Through the Black Tech Master Series and New Venture competition we were not only able to provide entrepreneurs with $175k in capital, but we were also able to leverage HBS’s powerful network and prominence to shed light on a systemic issue present within one of the most powerful industries of our time. We are honored to memorialize these efforts within AASU and grateful for the HBS faculty, staff, and alumni that supported our mission to inspire, engage, and elevate Black tech professional and aspiring entrepreneurs.” Tyler Simpson (MBA 2020)