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Beta, Companies to Watch, Innovation, People to watch, Spotlight, Startup, VC, Women In Tech

Investor: Shaun Maguire

shaun maguire sequoia capital

Shaun Maguire has left GV,  a subsidiary/investment arm of the tech giant ‘Alphabet’ to join the legendary Sequoia Capital and head up their seed and early-stage investments.  In his duties with GV he was known for his focus in science based technology and startups. He is also the founder of a cyber-security company called Expanse. In his career he has helped pioneer everything from Quantum computing, autonomous cars and the list goes on. Read more about the talent grab here  

Accelerator: V1 accelerator

V1accelerator is a brand new accelerator out of Los Angeles, CA who focuses on non-technical founders and getting an MVP (minimal viable product) whipped up quick and into beta as fast as possible. The rumor is they can get founders the first version of an app in roughly 30 – 60 days and for a fraction of the cost. This program is also mentoring their cohorts, doing demo days and introducing founders within the program to potential investors. We will be following this one and see what kind of startups graduate from the program. I believe the inaugural group is made up of 20 – 25 companies. 

Startups: IDnow + Octopus Ridesharing Ads

Both of these companies recently closed some pretty significant funding rounds and are a fresh breath of air within both of their industries. IDnow is a digital ID verification plafform and Octopus is putting tablets on the back of Uber and Lyft car seats ushering in a whole new wave of entertainment and ad friendsy. We’ll be keeping an eye on both of these startups especially IDnow as it is in a similar space as Zypp. Read stories about each of their funding rounds below. 

IDnow closes $40 million in funding

Octopus closes $10 million in funding


Convention, Events, Innovation, POC, Technology

So a quick disclaimer about Afrotech, I actually never made it to the conference but I did make it to a dinner that my friend from Blavity (the parent company of Afrotech) invited me to and it was a great experience. I also made my way to some of the surrounding events and festivities around the conference which was fun and gave me a chance to meet some great people. I have to say that I’m impressed to see this conference that launched in 2016 with about 600 attendees grow to about 6000 in just a 3 year span. 

If you don’t know about Afrotech or didn’t assume from the name that it had something to do with black people and technology then you would have been correct. In fact it’s the largest tech convention for people of color in the country. Now before you jump to conclusions and think of how that could come off as exclusionary or biased let me provide a few stats from an article I read by Crunchbase: 

  • 77.1 percent of founders were white—regardless of gender and education.
  • Just one percent of venture-backed founders were black.
  • Women-funded startups received only 9 percent of investments.
  • Latino founders made up 1.8 percent of those receiving funding, while Middle Easterners totaled 2.8 percent.

What Afrotech represents to me as a POC in tech is a community of willing and able people that have and will continue to be overlooked taking the bull by the horns and creating opportunity for themselves in a very ‘good oh boys’ industry. 

The event had a lot of substance, was diverse within industry which displayed in the panels and had plenty to offer entrepreneurs, techies and attendees of the conference. Most of the household tech companies we’re all familiar with also play a role by either having reps speak on a panel or throw a pop-up event at their own at their HQ for convention goers to explore. Below are a few of the notable speakers from this years conference: 

Delane Parnell – Founder & CEO @ PlayVS

Angelica Nwandu – Founder @ The Shade Room 

Charlamagne Tha God – TV & Media Personality

John Zimmer – Co-Founder & President @ Lyft

Angela Rye – CEO & Principle @ IMPACT Strategies

Hannibal Burress – Comedian, Writer, Podcast Host, Actor 

If you haven’t had a chance to see anything from the conference, here is a quick recap of the 2018 conference as there isn’t much quality footage that I could find online.