Love may unexpectedly find you at AFROTECH Conference 2023, and Courtnee Futch can attest to that.

On Nov. 16, 2022, Futch, 29, who boasts having titles such as chef, marketing director, and creative producer, crossed paths with her match made in heaven while attending the tech mecca in Austin, TX.

What Prompted Her Attendance

Futch’s attendance was made possible through her role as a marketing director at EatOkra. There she was invited as part of a “Chime in for Changemakers” event in partnership with the Black Founders Fund. It was expected that she would be intentional about seeking marketing and partnership opportunities. Within the first two days of the AFROTECH conference, Futch says she felt fulfilled in her delegated responsibilities and the professional connections she formed there.

“We talked to the Ubers and DoorDashes of the world, and I was kind of done with what I had come to the conference essentially to do, which was to support and get the founder through his speech at the event and also partnerships,” Futch explained to AFROTECH.

Intentions To Meet A Partner

With extra time on her hands, Futch wanted to act on another desire that attracted her to the conference: to find a boo.

In a TikTok video Futch expressed, “Hi, I’m Courtnee. I’m the host of a podcast called ‘With Love and Butter,’ a chef’s podcast on dating and relationships and all the food and drinks to get us through. I’m also a quite chronically single girly for the last two years until last November, at which point I met my partner at AfroTech, the largest Black tech conference.”

She continued, “I went to this conference with two very specific goals. One, I wasn’t looking for a job last year because I was a marketing director for a tech app…in the food world. I’ve since pivoted full-time and into content creation and entrepreneurship, but that’s neither here nor there. I went there for the vibe and I went there to meet a husband. That’s why I went.”

@courtneefutch #stitch with @RaquelMartinPhD AfroTech is happening in Austin TX this year from Nov 1-5! You can come for the conference or just the social events and parties, but either way, it’s a great way to meet great people. More details coming on my matchmaking event soon! Follow to stay tuned! #afrotech #professionalconferences ♬ original sound – Courtnee Futch

Futch says throughout the conference she booked six dinners. These blocks were used to go on dates and network with like-minded individuals she met at various events.

“I was making reservations for myself to go to dinner for two pretty much every night from the first night that I got to Austin, and I was inviting people as I met them. So some of those things ended up being dates. Some of those things ended up being catch-ups with girlfriends or other content creators who were also out there. And it was just a great tactic,” she expressed.

Cupid's Arrow

Ironically, Futch did not meet her current partner, Femi B., product strategy lead at a FAANG company (Facebook/Amazon/Apple/Netflix/Google), during her week-long dating spree. Instead, their paths would cross on the conference floor while speaking with her long-time friend, Ron. Femi had approached the pair in mid-conversation. Later on, Futch received a direct message from a mutual connection on TikTok, saying there was someone she wanted Futch to meet at the conference.

The signs were beginning to make themselves clear. That individual was Femi.

Hinge Sealed The Deal

Ultimately, their romance began months after the conference. In February 2023, Futch saw Femi on the dating platform Hinge, and they planned a date in Atlanta, GA. By this time, Futch was already making monthly trips from Charlotte, NC, to Atlanta for her job.

“After we reconnected on Hinge, and what was supposed to be an hour-and-a-half-long date, ended up being a four-hour date, and we have been together ever since,” she told AFROTECH.

Now fast forward to the present day, and their relationship is on the upswing. The couple ventured away from being in a long-distance relationship and moved into a townhouse together in Atlanta, GA.

Learning Lesson

Futch says she will always credit AFROTECH for meeting her partner and hopes that her experience can be a learning lesson to not feel shame for seeking romantic connections at the conference.

“You could be going in for the networking, you could be going in to build community,” she said. “It’s okay to also be going in with the hopes and aspirations of connecting romantically with someone. I think we gotta step away from the shame about it. So many other communities know where to tap their romantic resources, and I wish that that was something that we as a community talked about more without shame of being perceived as quote unquote gold diggers or being perceived as doing something that’s inappropriate or feels taboo. I think we have to release ourselves from the shackles of respectability politics on this one and let it be okay that we are people who feel things and want things, and maybe want and aspire to partnerships for ourselves.”

She added, “I think that AFROTECH is such a full experience. You would be surprised about the other connections that will come to you.  I’m going to encourage people to be intentional about connecting with someone if that’s what they want to do romantically. It will also come if you are making the most of the rest of your AFROTECH Conference experience, which is what I feel like was happening with me.”

'SpeakEasy To Me'

For those who may be looking for a helping hand, Futch will be returning to the AFROTECH Conference as an official partner. On Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023, “With Love & Butter,” will host “SpeakEasy To Me,” a three-hour event with music, wine, and refreshments for date-minded individuals who are looking to form intentional connections.

@courtneefutch Replying to @itsjustjeeks HERE ARE THE FULL DEETS FOR MY MATCHMAKING EVENT!!! AHHHH! @AfroTech ♬ original sound – Courtnee Futch

“‘SpeakEasy To Me’ will begin with a brief icebreaker activity to help everyone get comfortable and start mingling,” per information on the event’s landing page. “Then, participants will be paired up for a series of short, timed conversation based on the questionnaires you completed at RSVP. These conversations will provide an opportunity to get to know each other and see if there is a connection.”

Tickets begin at $40 USD and can be purchased here.