When most people think of Miami, what comes to mind is palm trees, art deco buildings, and of course, South Beach. But there’s a new wave of entrepreneurs and innovators turning the South Florida City into an emerging hub for the tech industry.
Three years ago, Evan Leaphart and his fellow co-founders at Black Men Talk Tech decided it would be the perfect place for the Unicorn Ambition Conference. Leaphart shares with EBONY that the idea for the conference was born out of a desire to create a space much like their sister organization Black Women Talk Tech. At an annual Roadmap to Billions Conference, the founders, which include Leaphart, Abiodun Johnson and Boris Moyston, met and asked themselves why there wasn’t a similar concept for Black men. They decided to create one.
“It’s important for Black men to have this space to come together, converse, and build relationships around tech in order to keep moving the needle forward,” says Leaphart . “Year over year we make strides, continually breaking barriers in tech. Sometimes not seeing those around you that look the same can make you feel like it’s just you. Highlighting those who are crushing it equally can be such a motivational experience. As a founder I feed off others’ successes and challenges. It all inspires me to keep going.”
Leaphart says he knew he wanted to be involved in the building up of the conference and network because he knew firsthand how difficult it was to penetrate the ecosystem as a founder of color. “Sometimes we silently suffer without having our tribe nearby that “gets it,” he says.
This year’s conference will be a hybrid event on Oct. 21. In addition to giving Black men the opportunity to fellowship in-person in Miami, interested participants can also join virtually using the Hop.in platform. Leaphart intimately understands how a tech founder’s journey can feel like a lonely one, but he says it doesn’t have to be. “The Unicorn Ambition Conference is a national tech conference providing exposure and resources to Black tech founders who are building innovative companies and are focused on massive growth, or are interested in becoming the next ‘unicorn’,” says Leaphart. Those in attendance can expect to feel supported while gathering key insights on the tech ecosystem by power players in their respective fields.
Since the inception of the Unicorn Ambition Conference, Black Men Talk Tech have highlighted Miami and South Florida as emerging tech hubs, especially for the Black community, and that will continue this year. Leaphart says that it’s important in order for the Miami tech space to become more inclusive. “Miami has a huge income disparity so what I don’t want to happen is the hype train comes in and widens the gap,” Leaphart quips. “I challenge all my fellow founders in the city to be intentional and inclusive about their first hires. They have the power to have a seismic shift in generating wealth for communities of color in Miami.”