Last month I had the pleasure of being a part of the Braintree team who attended the second annual Afrotech conference hosted by Blavity. After months of planning, I counted down the days with anticipation until November 10th. To my surprise, when I arrived at SFO, I stumbled upon a Braintree ad. I thought “Wow, this is a sign! This weekend is going to be amazing!”
I attended the inaugural Afrotech conference last year, and I knew this year I would be in for a treat. Last year’s conference was so encouraging, inspiring, and uplifting; the setting was both intimate and open, and I was able to make meaningful connections that have grown my network over the past year. I left last year’s conference confident that I could achieve anything!
Two things really stuck out for me that year. One, it was very cool to hear talks from the creators of some of my favorite startups, such as Pinterest, TravelNoire, and Uncharted Play. And two, for the first time in a long time, I was in a space where I felt like I 100% belonged! I wasn’t the only awkward girl who enjoys nerding out on tech topics, nor was I the only Black person in a room. I was in a welcoming environment where creative individuals came together to discuss our collective passions for tech and the importance of the Black community within tech.
Upon arriving home in Chicago after Afrotech 2016, I thought not only of how I could channel the best Morgan I could be; I was also convinced that Afrotech would be a great place for Braintree to recruit mid-career level professionals. I came back to the office and started building our sponsorship strategy for 2017.
Fast forward to November 2017. Arriving to Pier 27 on Friday morning and seeing the line of hundreds of people waiting to enter the conference, I said to my colleague, “This is about to be extremely lit. Get ready!” Walking in, I could tell that the conference had grown 10x in size and scale since the previous year. There were so many companies exhibiting this year, all eager to meet the attendees. Braintree’s booth and swag really stood out, and we heard several times throughout the weekend how dope they were!
Here are some of the highlights of this year’s conference:
- Meeting all of the great people who stopped by our booth to learn more about Braintree
- Learning from the amazing speakers on topics such as net neutrality, design thinking, and “Leveraging Your Difference to Scale for Future Growth”
- Seeing some of my favorite celebs, like Bozoma Saint John and Jesse Williams
- Visiting the Black-owned food trucks
- Last but not least, having an awesome Braintree team at the conference and behind the scenes who helped make the event a success! Shout out to Hibben Rothschild, Lauren Okura, Rebecca Tobin, Adam Tonge, Soleil Benavides, Jamar Parris, and Kush Fanikiso.
Overall, it was a great conference attended by inspiring individuals. My hope is that some of the awesome attendees I met who were interested in Braintree apply! It also makes my heart smile to see attendees still excited about our branding even after the event is over, with shoutouts across Facebook and Twitter.
Thank you to the Blavity team for putting on such an amazing event. Until 2018, Afrotech!