[March 16, 2021] Charlotte, North Carolina
“I was excited to hear from Sherrell about this opportunity to acquire BlkTechInteractive and the BLKTECHCLT brand,” said Henry Rock, founder and CEO of City Startup Labs (CSL). “For one, I’ve been a fan of her and Enovia right from the start with their interest in addressing what they felt was a gap in developing Black tech talent. This acquisition now makes it possible for us to focus our activities on young entrepreneurs within technology fields – especially advanced technologies.
Following the murder of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte in 2016, Sherrell Dorsey, Enovia Bedford, and Freda Hendley, came together amid city-wide protests and discussions on equity, to create a safe space for Black techies, innovators, and investors to convene and discuss the future they wanted to see for the City of Charlotte. The first event attracted over 150 people and launched a subsequent series of high-profile events, attracting investors and connecting local entrepreneurs and techies to firms like Google Ventures (now GV) and Impact America Fund, tech leaders from Airbnb and Twitter, and partnerships with AvidXChange, Carolina Small Business Development Fund, and Flatiron School. In 2018, Black Enterprise named BLKTECHCLT the Tech Champion of the Year. Through the Mayor’s Youth Program, students were handpicked and trained for tech internships and the ladies worked to launch a $100k fund for entrepreneurs to start and grow their business.
“We’ve spent the last four years building one of the most substantive ecosystem support companies in Charlotte that focused on data-driven programming and support to the most overlooked group in the city: well-educated Black techies and budding high-growth tech entrepreneurs,” said Sherrell Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of BLKTECHCLT. “We’re beyond excited to transition the body of our work to the City Startup Labs team.”
“To see BLKTECHCLT grow from a conversation to a 4-year-old groundbreaking company is incredible”, said Enovia Bedford, co-founder and VP of strategic partnerships and sponsorship. “Henry was one of my first connections in Charlotte which makes this acquisition momentous. He’s always supported our work individually and what we’ve built with BLKTECHCLT and we are pleased that the work will continue with City Startup Labs”.
City Startup Labs intends to continue to develop talent and capacity, to become a pipeline for vetted talent, innovations and deal-flow to investors. The purchase gives the ability to add value to serious entrepreneurs who are intent on building scalable technology companies as well as employers looking for well-prepared Black tech talent, and can also serve as that pipeline. The acquisition has been finalized, however, the teams will work together over the next few weeks to finalize details.
“The acquisition is special to us, we made a point to leave an impact that will last for our community. We built the first black business and innovation library, housed at Sugar Creek Library, introduced hundreds in the community to unrealized tech access through tech talks and events, and over the past year we provided free virtual tech events and classes”, said Freda Hendley, Community Relations Director and co-founder of BLKTECHCLT. “It is critical that the work continues, I believe it will, with City Startup Labs.”
BLKTECHCLT was launched in December of 2016 to equip entrepreneurs and technologists of color with the resources, mentorship, and support to build strong teams and leverage local assets to grow and sustain businesses that create jobs and transform communities. It is Charlotte’s only inclusive tech and startup community supporting entrepreneurs and technologists of color to the tune of over 2,000 members.
About City Startup Labs
Since 2014, City Startup Labs (CSL), a Charlotte, NC-based nonprofit, has been the preeminent accelerator program for aspiring African American millennial entrepreneurs, through its Center of Excellence and more recently returning citizens (formerly incarcerated persons), through the ReEntry Entrepreneurship Program (REEP). CSL creates these new classes of entrepreneurs by providing a robust, culturally relevant, progressive and disciplined approach to developing entrepreneurial talent, on-trend, business-ready skills, new venture creation and deployment.