Updated: May 29, 2020
If you’ve been looking for a tech and business conference that speaks to you on a personal level, look no further — AfroTech is known as the “biggest black tech conference” in the United States and not only does it focus on black tech and business, it also looks at how black culture and entrepreneurs intersect with startup culture and community. This year, the event is held Nov. 7–8 in Oakland, California, right in the heart of the Bay Area, and you definitely won’t want to miss it. Attendees rave about how the event is capable of changing not just your career as a black techie or entrepreneur, but your entire life.
AfroTech takes place Nov. 7–8, across several different Oakland locations. The main portion of the conference is held Friday, Nov. 8, at the Oakland Convention Center, kicking off at 9:30 a.m., with the final event of the day taking place at 4 p.m. However, there are events taking place in the AfroTech Outdoor Campus and at the Kapor Center on Friday, too, and there is one event at Jack London Square on Thursday, a South African Tourism Experience that begins at 7 a.m.
You’ll want to fly into Oakland International Airport or San Francisco International Airport, depending on where you’re coming from. Both are serviced by pretty much all the major airlines and you should be able to easily get to either from anywhere in the United States. Once you arrive at the airport, you can take an Uber to your hotel or straight to the conference, whichever your schedule allows.
When to Start Planning
This event completely sold out last year, welcoming approximately 4,000 attendees with its nearly 70 speakers. The event grows in terms of attendance every year (6,000 are expected this year), so if you haven’t bought your ticket yet, you’ll want to do so fast. Tickets can be purchased straight on the AfroTech website. Student, general admission, corporate and platinum tickets are available. Platinum tickets give guests access to separate registration lines and VIP programming and partner events. Group tickets are available for groups of 15 or more people.
Student tickets are currently sold out. General admission tickets start at $475, corporate tickets start at $650 and platinum tickets start at $1,750. Since these tickets might be on the pricier side for your budget, if you’re considering attending, you may want to see if your company may cover the cost. In order to make this task easier, AfroTech has put together a customizable email template to help you persuade your boss that AfroTech is a smart investment.
Where to Stay
Since Bay Area hotels can be on the pricier side, you’ll want to book your hotel as quickly as possible, too. For the most convenience, look at staying at the Oakland Marriott City Center hotel, which is directly attached to the Oakland Convention Center. Otherwise, event hotel partners include the Oakland Executive Inn & Suites and Best Western Plus Bayside Hotel.
As this is technically a business event, keep that in mind when packing your clothing. However, don’t feel like you have to leave style behind. Think business casual and go with professional, comfortable looks that can stand up to a long day of networking. Definitely pack comfy shoes and bring a roomy bag stocked with business cards and your favorite note-taking tools.
What to Expect
Expect a day filled with valuable networking, seminars and speakers who are uniquely qualified to address your needs as a black businessperson in the tech industry. Speakers you might recognize include Charlamagne Tha God, Delane Parnell, Angelica Nwandu and Hannibal Burress. Pros from top-tier brands like LinkedIn, Twitter, Coursera and Zillow will be making appearances, too.
There are three different “tracks” that attendees can take and each track includes sessions, speakers and events that are curated to fit your personal career goals. The Leadership track allows you to connect with colleagues, network as much as possible, learn how to build your personal brand and develop your leadership skills. The Entrepreneurship track will teach you how to scale your business, raise capital and generate revenue. The Engineering & Design track gives you an unprecedented glimpse into the latest and greatest in innovation and engineering, so you can walk away with up-to-the-minute knowledge of your industry.
These tracks should give you an idea of whether or not AfroTech is right for you. Aim to be a great leader or entrepreneur? Work in engineering or design? Are you a mix of it all, with a heavy focus on tech? Then AfroTech is one event that you need to attend this year.