South By Southwest (Austin, TX)

    Please see the blog post from Scholar Shambrekia Wise:

    To sum the conference up in one word would be a disservice.  We were blessed to have received an Interactive Badge for our duration (she received hers from a friend while I received mine from The Gates Millennium Scholars Program -THANK YOU!), so we were able to really work together in attending game-changing workshops and informative sessions that could only set us on a path for greatness.  While our ventures are very different, our fundamental structures are very much the same and as early tech starters, we absolutely appreciated the knowledge gained from our various sessions.  A few presentations that stood out for me were talks highlighting the start-up process, a panel that gave amazing advice on dev shops and a truly unique session done by Jessica Matthews and how she is changing the world with a soccer ball.

    SXSW reiterated the fact that you have to be crazy to be an entrepreneur, but that’s ok!  I loved the panels with the young start-up CEOs as well as the Dev Reps from The Valley who had a wealth of information that was nothing short of critical for first-timers to know.  Leaving those panels, I was reassured that it’s ok to start over, your ideas will change and a strong team of people who share your passion is ESSENTIAL to your success.  From the ideology in the blueprint of how your idea will be shaped to pricing out professionals who will be bringing your ideas to life, these SXSW sessions gave me a professional perspective on how I need to take my next steps forward so I won’t be forced to fall back.

    Jessica Matthews presented on why Harlem could be the new frontier for tech starters, especially of color.  At just 19 years old, Jessica invented the Soccket Ball, which is an energy generating soccer ball that provides off-grid power for the developing world.  Only three years later would she found her own energy company (Unchartered Play) and currently she serves as an Ambassador of Entrepreneurship for Nigeria.  She highlighted how she’s able to not only flourish on the East Coast, but how she draws an inner strength by being around those who she can more than identify with.  It’s amazing to see such raw talent in an individual who looks like me and has successfully accomplished what I am trying to do.  From a Brownstone in Harlem, Jessica Matthews is changing the world one “kick” at a time.  

    As a single parent in this industry, my journey will be a little different than most of my counterparts, but I am ok with that.  I am so dedicated to my vision and what my company will be to so many that I’m looking forward to each and every step.  I have the perfect team in place and with the help of a respected accelerator, I know I can make my dream a reality.  SXSW showed me that I had a place in those rooms but most importantly, a seat at this industry’s high table.  I can’t wait to see where I am a year from now.  THANK YOU, GMSP, FOR CONTINUING TO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN IN MY LIFE!!!

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