Hundreds of entrepreneurs, investors, techies, and aspiring founders gathered in New York City last month for the fourth annual Roadmap to Billions Conference presented by Black Women Talk Tech (BWTT). Held in midtown Manhattan on Feb. 27–29, attendees left the summit with tangible advice, tools, and new connections in the tech industry.
Founded in 2017, Black Women Talk Tech is a collective of black women tech founders created by Esosa Ighodaro, Lauren Washington, and Regina Gwynn. In addition to showcasing the brilliance of black women in tech, the summit aims to empower attendees to build the next billion-dollar business and reshape the idea of what the face of a tech founder looks like.
“If I was to ask [someone to] name a black woman tech founder, many people could not name one,” Ighodaro told BLACK ENTERPRISE before the conference. “Or, if I asked you to name a tech founder in general, most people would name Bill Gates, the late Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Thiel. All of these people are white men.”
The three-day conference kicked off with a retreat that included a dance exercise, a panel for women about balancing romantic relationships and their careers, and a session on conquering anxiety. BWTT continued on Friday with workshops, tech-oriented talks, and panels featuring black women innovators, creators, and business owners. During a session titled “Money In The Bank: Scaling Your Operations with Acquired Funding,” Kristina Jones revealed that she and her husband, James Jones Jr., Esq., stepped down from their leadership roles at Court Buddy, a legal tech company that they founded in 2015.
“I had to come to the realization that I’m going to be a serial entrepreneur. Court Buddy is just my first business,” Jones told the audience. “I learned so many things to this point that I’m going to put into the next business.”
Even though Court Buddy successfully raised $1 million in a seed round followed by $6 million in a Series A round in 2018, Jones told BLACK ENTERPRISE that they parted ways with the company in order to pursue other entrepreneurial endeavors and passion projects, including a children’s book for young people who are grieving from the death of a loved one.
“People know me as being the 14th woman to raise over a $1 million for a tech startup. And I thought it was really important for the audience to know that you are not your company. You can live beyond your company,” she said. She added that she and her co-founder decided to hire a new CEO and new senior management to push the company forward. “It was my first company and I learned so much building Court Buddy. It will still be part of my story.”