Project NorthStar tech conference aims for minority leaders of industry to be the norm

Organizers hope to narrow the poverty gap with education and connection.

Antionette Lee
October 04, 2018 - 7:09 pm
Arlan Hamilton, founder of Backstage Capital, speaks at the Project NorthStar tech conference.

Antionette Lee | KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A three-day tech conference for black and Latino entrepreneurs and professionals is underway in South Philly this week. 

The Project NorthStar conference invited tech and start-up moguls from across the country to educate and connect. The City of Philadelphia and Black & Brown Founders partnered with the project, which organizers hope will help narrow the poverty gap by way of education and connection.

Shememe Williams, who owns a business in Washington, D.C., added that experiences like Project NorthStar should be the norm. 

"It should be a regular, everyday experience of seeing yourself in the industry and seeing yourself running businesses and not always working for someone," she said.

"It's really important to see people in front of you that look like you that have similar experiences as you and are doing the same thing as well," said Ian Grazette, a small business owner in New York.

Grazette and other attendees said they were looking forward to hearing from Arlan Hamilton of the highly praised venture capital firm Backstage Capital. The firm is offering $100,000 to diverse start-ups in Philadelphia and three other cities.

Hamilton's advice to those underrepresented in the industry is to take advantage of free information: "Be the most valuable person in the room — because of what you know, because of who you are, because of insights." 

"It's about tapping into that ecosystem that already exists," she continued, "and providing some of the tools that wouldn't have had access to before." 

The last day of the conference is free and open to the public.