Whether you’re taking a road trip with your college crew or going out to try the new restaurant downtown, Lexus has you covered. With its award-winning designs and advanced technology that anticipates a driver’s needs, Lexus is prepared to make sure you pull up in style, no matter the occasion. And the commitment to excellence doesn’t stop there—2021 marked the car company’s fourth year as AfroTech’s automotive sponsor, and it was the presenter of the pitch competition.
The year’s competition was held on November 12, 2021, on the AfroTech metaverse mainstage. The judges included:
- Meca Asonye, Partner at First Round Capital
- Mercedes Bent, Partner at Light Speed Venture Partners
- Aaron Samuels, Co-Founder and CSO at Blavity, Inc.
Trusted with the incredibly difficult task of selecting a winner from the three finalists, each judge brought massive expertise and insight from their fields.
If you weren’t able to catch the AfroTech Pitch Competition, presented by Lexus, read on to dive into some top takeaways.
The Power of Innovation
The 2021 pitch competition had everyone in the metaverse locked in as the finalists presented their products and services. The finalists were:
- Aurign, founded by Robert Hatcher
- Black Oak TV, founded by Uzo Ometu
- Everlaunch, founded by Michelle Heng
Each finalist brought their A-game as they presented ideas to completely level up the future of the industry. Whether it’s using core technology to help startups mitigate entrepreneurial hurdles, providing a streaming alternative that focuses on quality Black content or helping artists gain more control over their music, each finalist came to the main stage understanding the assignment ahead of them.
All Eyes on Me
Imagine being a business owner and having thousands of people gain access to the products and services you provide. That’s exactly what the partners at Lexus offered during the pitch competition. While each finalist worked to show the judges why their business deserved the grand prize, they were also receiving vast exposure just by making the final round of the competition. Win, lose or draw, each finalist walked away with more eyes on their content than before.
Invest in Black
It’s no secret that Black business owners face systemic challenges that can cause hindrances to their success. To combat this, it takes intentional effort and commitment to balancing the scales of equity. Lexus’ partnership with AfroTech proves that innovation isn’t confined to one group and that diverse voices need to be amplified. Lexus believes in the power of ingenuity and innovation as it relates to its products, and it’s committed to advancing that mutual belief for Black innovators in tech.
Getting to the Bag
When one person from the Black community wins, it’s a collective W! And this couldn’t be truer for the finalists of the 2021 AfroTech pitch competition. While only one of the finalists was able to take home the $40,000 grand prize from Lexus, the communal victory for everyone was felt. Still, no one envied the job of the judges because the presenters for Aurign, Black Oak TV and Everlaunch laid it all on the table. However, a decision was reached, and Aurign grabbed the gold.
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Aurign is the only automated music publishing platform in the world. Hatcher, Co-Founder Kevin Taylor, Jr., and Head of Business Development Mike Norris operate a company that creates and files split sheets for every song an artist creates. This process secures personal, publishing and equity information for all owners in a song.
Huge kudos to Aurign for winning the 2021 pitch competition and to the leaders of Everlaunch and Black Oak TV for advancing to the finals. It’s never easy to start a new business or be vulnerable enough to share it with the world. Competitions like this are amazing ways to help new and emerging Black businesses succeed, and Lexus’ commitment as a partner is proof of the intentional effort necessary to be a champion for diverse business.
To connect with Aurgin and the work it’s doing to help music artists across the world, click here to learn more.
This editorial is brought to you in partnership with Lexus.