Ignite, Imagine and Innovate!
On November 3, 2018, the National Society of Black Engineers – Baltimore Metropolitan Area Chapter, hosted a Minority Innovations Weekend 2018 (MIW) at the University of Baltimore. The weekend summit consisted of two conference tracks: Startup Fundamentals and Emerging Technologies.
Leading tech entrepreneurs, students, scientist and engineers discussed tech trends and business strategies helpful for launching tech-focused startups. Participants attended panel discussions and solo speaker sessions that addressed: augment reality, cyber security, blockchain, artificial intelligence, women in the startup world, pitching your business, and more.
“MIW is part of the National Society of Black Engineers – Baltimore Metropolitan Area Chapter’s (NSBE-BMAC’s) Minority Innovation entrepreneurship Program. The main objective of MIW is to provide minority innovators with knowledge to launch science and technology startups in Baltimore and to attract capital providers to aid in supporting their success (miw.org, 2018).”
The Emerging Technology track featured a very informative Blockchain panel discussion. Blockchain is an open-source encrypted ledger that allows information to be stored without being manipulated once a new block of code is added to the chain. Blockchain technology initiatives are now being piloted in the healthcare industry in order to improve the lives of patients.
Dr. Tiffany Grey, Co-Chair for the United Nation (UN) Blockchain Commission for Sustainable Development, stated “one of the goals of the committee is to create blockchain based initiatives designed to help patients interact better with the healthcare system and providers.”
She spoke along side 3 other participants during the blockchain panel discussion. Alston Clark, Co-Founder at Howard University Blockchain Labs, spoke about tokenization and local farmers markets. “Tokenization is the concept of transferring a physical asset into a digital asset,” Clark said. Clark, referenced a youtube video produced by the Howard University Blockchain Lab.
The video features Clark, transferring cash into farmer market tokens. Johan Greene, Founder at PixelBloc and Co-Founder at Howard University Blockchain Lab, referenced an article he wrote on linkedIn. “What we now call the Blockchain is a socio-revolutionary framework that creates a disruptive decentralized paradigm,” Greene wrote.
The Startup Fundamentals track featured the following workshop and speaker presentation: Competitive Analysis, Minimal Viable Product, The Pitch, Going to Market and more. Sherika Wynter, Co-Founder &CFO of Thomas & Wynter R&D, discussed “The Minimal Viable Product” model. Wynter expressed the importance of understand your products true “fit” in a desired market.
McKeever Conwell, Co-Manager of the MD TEDCO Pre-Seed Builder Fund, gave a strong and detailed presentation on how to perfectly “pitch” your product to potential investors. Conwell stated, “try to tell a short story about your venture, make good analogies.” DeShuna Spencer, Founder & CEO of kweliTV, was the keynote speaker and she gave a very powerful presentation. Spencer is the head of a video streaming network that curates award-winning content of the global black community. She spoke very transparently about her startup journey. Although she faced many set backs and trails, she endured her struggles in order to reach success.
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