Black Women Talk Tech, the organization bringing Black female founders together, is launching its first international chapter in London on October 1.
Black Women Talk Tech is a collective of Black women tech founders that originally started in 2017 by Esosa Ighodaro, Regina Gwynn and Lauren Washington, three women who’d already founded their own startup companies. The group has since expanded to hosting an annual conference in New York City and has opened chapters in Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle and Washington, D.C.
JP Morgan Chase is partnering with Black Women Talk Tech to host the London launch in Canary Wharf, the city’s financial district. Ebisiemen Ajayi and Rene Germain, the co-founders of the workplace review website Driverse, will lead the London chapter. The team will take charge of hosting monthly sessions and events for local Black women founders searching for a community.
Founding their own tech company has given Ajayi and Germain firsthand experiences of what it is like to navigate the startup space in the U.K. Ajayi has worked as a creative consultant and website developer, while Germain worked as a project manager. Driverse is a platform where people from underrepresented communities can talk about their work troubles. Whether it is dealing with microaggressions, negotiating salaries or strategizing for a promotion, Driverse aims to give users the space to speak transparently about their professional issues.
“A lot of people will say that you just have to work hard or that it takes resilence, but you don’t get founders speaking about the realities of what that process looked like,” Ajayi said. “People need to see themselves in other people’s experiences.”
Germain said that the events will cover a wide range of topics for founders, not just funding.
“We want to address day-to-day pain points. I think a lot of the founder-related conversations center around funding,” Germain said. “Some of the daily issues of black female founders are not always about money. Sometimes its about finding developers or resources or how to deal with being burned out.”
While building their own online community with Driverse, the pair discovered Black Women Talk Tech. They watched the groups expand in the United States and wanted to bring a chapter to London.
“It just seemed like a natural merge because of the shared vision and mutual understanding of the vision,” Ajayi said. “We think that it is important over here as well, especially as black female founders.”
According to a study by Beauhurst, only 16% of 2018’s equity deals went into female-founded companies in the U.K. The study did not account for black women founders or other women in underrepresented groups. Germain said lack of research is common in the U.K.
“I saw a [separate] report about female founders in the U.K. and there was no mention of black women at all,” Germain said. “We haven’t even gotten to the conversation about race because we’ve only just gotten to a conversation about gender when it comes to VC funding.”
Germain wants her chapter to change the conversation in London surrounding women founders. Although Black women founders experience similar hurdles internationally, Germain said that the U.S.’s willingness to talk about racial disparities and to create initiatives for Black women entrepreneurs has a huge impact on the founder communities in American cities.
She hopes to bring that morale to London as she and her team continue to plan programs for the upcoming year.
Black Women Talk Tech is also opening chapters in Austin, Los Angeles and Miami in November.