The inaugural Brooklyn Tech Week (BTW), a gathering of tech leaders, educators, startup creators and investors sharing insights on startup growth in Brooklyn, will take over various Brooklyn venues from Wednesday, November 7, through Saturday, November 10, aiming to put Kings County on the map as "the next" in tech.
In an interview with Nizer Saunders, BTW founder and marketing director of tech company PNG Venture, BK Reader learned why Brooklyn needs a tech week; how the borough has become a global tech player; and what attendees can expect from the 2018 meeting of the tech minds in Brooklyn!
"Technology can't be just in the hands of a few who will control the algorithms that determine how we utilize it. We all need to have a hand in controlling the future of technology."
Brooklyn Reader: What prompted you to launch a Brooklyn-focused tech week?
Nizer Saunders: Why Brooklyn? Because it's time for us to promote Brooklyn as one of the major tech hubs. Growing up in Brooklyn, I didn't have access to the mentorship or tech resources. Today, we have these opportunities and the community needs to have access to the technologies that are emerging right before us.
BTW provides a platform to connect those in the know and those who need to grow. A lot of the tech events are happening in clusters all around Brooklyn: Downtown, Williamsburg and Bushwick, as well as Industry City in Sunset Park. We want to connect our great Brooklyn tech hubs so they share what's happening under their roofs with each other and the community.
Brooklyn Tech Week also brings opportunities to network. Students, startup founders and creatives need mentors. For them, it is crucial to have someone who can share experiences, ideas and best practices.
In a nutshell: Brooklyn Tech Week is where creativity and diversity meet to launch the future of tech.
BKR: What distinguishes Brooklyn from Silicon Valley and the West Coast with regards to innovation and technology?
NS: On the West Coast, particularly Silicon Valley, which is the cradle of technology, the industry's growth started from a single market which was technology hardware. As that hardware community grew, Silicon Valley began attracting more investors. Still, its growth remains primarily related to just hardware technology.
On the East Coast, we come from a multi-trajectory marketplace that fuels our technology and innovation. That includes real estate, advertising, Wall Street and finance, education, and the great culture and art explosion that takes place in NYC. Brooklyn is a vital part of that.
Because we have so many different marketplaces, it becomes easier to get started as a founder or entrepreneur even if you don't have a network. Nine out of ten times you may know someone, who knows someone, that can get you into some network because of the many different markets we have.
BKR: Is there a particular tech area Brooklyn takes the lead?
NS: The number one area where Brooklyn is leading in is blockchain (-- a decentralized technology that allows to jointly manage databases from anywhere on the globe). The technology was first developed for the cryptocurrency bitcoin but has since morphed and is going to decentralize and bring greater transparency not just to the crypto market, but other markets like insurance, health, education, finance and law. It will bring a level of security and access for not just those who are the higher-ups, but those who want to gain some entry-level access to these markets.
The world's largest blockchain company, Consensys, is located right here in Bushwick. They are doing extraordinary work, which is why we partnered with them early on and they are our leading sponsor for BTW.
"On the East Coast, we come from a multi-trajectory marketplace that fuels our technology and innovation. That includes real estate, advertising, Wall Street and finance, education, and the great culture and art explosion that takes place in NYC. Brooklyn is a vital part of that."
BKR: What can participants look forward to?
NS: When you come to BTW, you're going to be engulfed in a world of creativity, diversity and the emergence of technology.
On Wednesday, November 7, we are hosting the Blockchain Crypto Summit where the industry's top leaders will talk about what blockchain is, where we're going and what can we expect. The next day, we present Urban Tech Con which focuses on the future of urban technology and how it will shape peoples' lives, work and mobility.
On Friday, November 9, we'll be embarking on Startup Econ, a whole day for startups to learn, grow and scale their businesses. Tech leaders will share with startup founders the things they need to know: How to do sales, market products, develop a customer base, build and retain a team with strong hr practices.
And then, we'll finally close with a hackathon, a full day of learning and networking, at the Bushwick Generator on Saturday, November 10.
BKR: What are your hopes for the inaugural Brooklyn Tech Week?
NS: Our number one goal is getting tech companies to step out of their silos, look at the community and see what a big role diversity plays in the growth and evolution of our city. It just makes sense that we come together, tear down old barriers and look into doing business and building strong relationships.
Here in Brooklyn, there are so many people from diverse backgrounds and everyone has a special gift. Their talents have to be utilized. And technology can't be just in the hands of a few who will control the algorithms that determine how we utilize it. We all need to have a hand in controlling the future of technology.