New Event Series BLK hack Kicks Off March 21


A new event series looks to provide a comfortable, educational environment to bring black entrepreneurs and small business owners together with a variety of resources. <BLK hack> kicks off Monday, March 21 at Rev1 Ventures from 6:30 – 9:00 p.m.

“The core value of what they are going to get from this event, the key takeaway is the information,” says event organizer Branden Jones. 

The first <BLK hack> will feature three speakers sharing stories and insights and also answering audience questions. Speakers include Jay Bobo, serial entrepreneur and self-taught coder. NCT Ventures Associate Calvin Cooper will share his journey to venture capital and break down the the basics of the industry. Chicago-based Sandee Kastrul will also make a visit to discuss her i.c. stars program that provides an intensive, six-month bootcamp for inner-city adults interested in learning coding.

Branden and his brother Bruce Jones were motivated to give black entrepreneurs a space after their own experiences at various industry events and conferences.

Both have worked in the TV and film industries. Bruce led the way doing freelance work for big names like ESPN and College Gameday, before a mentor influenced him into film. He introduced Branden to the medium where he worked on documentaries and shorts.

Together they created their own startup FLIQS

“We’re basically creating a black Netflix,” Branden says.

Traveling from coast-to-coast and making the rounds and local pitch events and meetups, “We discovered that there was a lack of diversity throughout,” Branden says. “Going to a lot of these different functions and events, more times than not you go into an event and you can actually count on one hand how many people that look like you.”

“There are a lot more entrepreneurs and people that are trying to do what we’re doing,” Bruce adds.

With a focus on technology, entertainment and trends, <BLK hack> will aggregate the resources and people a business owner needs. From technology, to funding, to networking, to startup basics, “We want to break down the A to Z and really work through the foundation of what these core things are,” Branden says. 

<BLK hack> welcomes anyone who wants to attend, but does take a focus on blacks. The brothers stress the importance of bringing different groups together. Many business or organizations say they have a diversity or inclusion arm, but in reality that program only extends minimally. The event series looks to create a space where individuals with a shared background can come together.

“I think this event is going to be good for the purpose of bridging the gap for all of the resources that are out there,” Branden says. “We really want to end up being the urban diversity arm for any organization that’s out there that needs help with providing that type of support.”

They have already rallied a group of support around the monthly event. Ryan Frederick and Chris Slee with AWH were some of the first supporters, making an introduction at Rev1 for space. <BLK hack> has also had support from Warhol & WALL St. in identifying partners and Syr Julian Jones with marketing. 

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