South LA Best Buy Teen Tech Center opens June 2

The South Los Angeles Best Buy Teen Tech Center is the third of 12 to open in Los Angeles, and is part of a bold effort announced last year by Best Buy, in partnership with the Annenberg Foundation and Greater LA Education Foundation. The centers are safe, after-school spaces for students to have access to the latest technology and develop critical skills through hands-on activities.

The new South LA Best Buy Teen Tech Center on S. Western Avenue features a mural by South LA artist, Mike Norice, commissioned by VSEDC. (photo credit: Adam Dominguez)

“The education, training and hands-on access at the Best Buy Teen Tech Centers prepares teens for tech-reliant careers of the future,” said Andrea Wood, Head of Social Impact at Best Buy. “This is a collective effort. We’re honored to collaborate with committed partners like the Annenberg Foundation and VSEDC to build brighter futures for young people in South LA through tech.”

The grand opening celebration for the South LA Teen Tech Center is slated for the afternoon of June 2, when community members, civic and education leaders, and partners will gather to formally launch the space.

Read more.

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Founders showcase their startups at PISLA’s Demo Day

Last Thursday, go-getters and trailblazers in the tech industry gathered for Plug In South LA’s  (PISLA) founder’s showcase, also known as Demo Day. The event held at YOUBE in Los Angeles featured a host of tech founders from the PISLA Accelerator Program who gave dynamic presentations on their startups.

Founders from the cohort included Zef Neemuchwala (Be A Maker Club), Serge Amouzou (Finpro), Ashley Williams (RIZZARR), Dr. Nana Afoh-Manin (Shared Harvest Fund), Dr. Steven Moyo (Welfie), Leonard Tatum (Tatum Games, LLC), Mitchella Gilbert (Femtech Apparel), Kyra Peralte (The Traveling Diary) and Kameale Terry (ChargerHelp). 

Each presenter captivated the audience with their powerful pitches and strong business models which led to intriguing discussions and valuable connections. Support and encouragement among one another was felt in the room with the event concluding on a high note. PISLA is extremely proud of these rockstar founders and grateful for those who have come alongside us to champion the success of black and brown founders.

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How to get funding: The “dos and don’ts” of raising capital from investors

Nearly a decade ago, we saw less than one percent of startups with the option to successfully secure VC financing. Flash forward to 2022 and the landscape has dramatically changed. Do you know how to navigate the fundraising landscape in the modern world?

Here are a few do’s and don’ts to follow:

Do start the conversation early.

It’s never too early to snag an investor geared towards your product/service. The sooner, the better. This may also work in your favor as funds evolve strategies and look to deploy capital at new stages through new structures and across new verticals.

Do ask questions of your prospective investor.

There are no stupid questions. Not only will asking questions inform you, but it will show that you are interested in the investor and you’re passionate about what you do.

Don’t let valuation get in the way.

When you’re first starting out, it’s ok to not hold yourself to a high valuation. You will grow, but you need to have patience when shooting for the top.

Don’t start a company with the idea of selling it in a few years.

You are doomed for failure if you only think about the bottom line. As stated above, you need to have a passion for what you do, and part of that involves sticking to your endeavor through good and bad times. Especially the good. Imagine if Steve Jobs sold Apple in the late 90s. 

These are just a few pieces of wisdom to use when securing funding from capital investors.

For more, read here


Jobs for the Future survey exposes blockades for Black professionals in tech

Recently, Jobs for the Future (JFF), a national nonprofit for the transformation and economic advancement of the American workforce and education for all, shared results from a survey on more than 1,000 Black Americans that unveiled systemic barriers for Black people seeking careers in technology. Here are some of the findings:

  • STEM careers are viewed as out of reach. About 45 percent of those who did not study STEM considered it, but 21 percent believed it would be too challenging while 14 percent believed the cost would be too high for them.
  • Gender gap compounds the racial equity gap. Per the survey, most Black Americans working in tech are men between the ages of 16 and 34. Black women are more likely than men to report exiting high school with basic technology skills with no access to advanced opportunities.
  • Young Black workers are more likely to see tech as an exclusive sector. Most careers in tech are viewed as well paid, but Black Americans don’t believe they have access to high-earning careers.
  • Black workers view mentorship as key to career success, but don’t have access. Almost half of those in the survey had a formal or informal mentor with 77 percent sharing the same race or ethnicity—which has proven to be helpful. However, 55 percent of Black Americans reported never having a career mentor.

The purpose of the survey stems from JFF’s aims to push racial economic equity and boost the amount of Black Americans in profitable careers. Learn more about the survey findings here.