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When we look at the state of diversity in technology space the numbers are slim. The same goes for offline events and that’s not just in Silicon Valley but across the country. Along with the growing digital divide communities are falling behind when in comes to the fast past world of technology and startups. One community looking to make a difference is Oakland, CA. Next to San Francisco, Oakland has watched San Francisco become the most innovative city in America but their community leaders are not standing idle and watching their neighbors, they are taking action and hosting Oakland’s first Startup Weekend.

While increasing diversity and empowering the community are great, the team behind Startup Weekend Oakland are focusing on more serious topics and problems as well. Such as if “Could an app have saved Trayvon Martin?” Other topics for the event include:

Diverse Teams – to support the assembly of diverse teams for this event, we are recruiting from organizations like The Hidden Genius Project to ensure that there will be plenty of young Black males excited to work alongside you during this event.  There will be five tracks to choose from:

Education

The education track focuses on issues related to the academic achievement of people of diverse ethnicities and economic backgrounds and can include topics related to college readiness, access, completion and career guidance.

Health

The health track focuses on issues related to the public health of people of diverse ethnicities and economic backgrounds such as improving wellness, increasing diversity in the medical profession, and helping Black males navigate and gain access to quality healthcare.

Restorative Justice

Restorative justice seeks solutions related to preventing the criminalization of economically disadvantaged people, and strategies that empower ex-offenders to transition from the prison walls to successful members of the community, and providing valuable intervention resources to high school dropouts or college dropouts.

Gaming

Gaming is an opportunity to re-think how devices like the Xbox and Playstation and other interactive forms of media can be used to improve the lives of people of diverse ethnicities, economic backgrounds, and especially Black males. The focus isn’t just on gaming (games can be created for all the tracks) but is specifically focused on gaming console apps.

Sustainability

The sustainability track challenges participants to create an app or design solution that preserves our environment and encourage personal practices such as recycling, garment collection and redistribution, food production, resource sharing, energy efficiency, and water conservation.

I’m excited to be a judge for this amazing event and looking forward to seeing the ideas and pitches.

You can rsvp for the Startup Weekend – Black Male Achievement at: http://bmaoakland.startupweekend.org/

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Marriott Hotels for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

In a society that’s part looking for the next “big thing” in terms of apps, social networks split with a society that doesn’t like change, for traditional companies looking to be innovative it came be challenging. Innovation though may come in small increments or in one big swoop. When looking at Marriott Hotels recent  #TravelBrilliantly campaign launch.  Marriott decided it was time for innovation in one big swoop. Before we continue let’s look at the word “innovation” which is the action or process of innovating. Innovating is to make “make changes in something established” source.

 
For Marriott Hotels to become “innovative” they took a look at their established resources; rooms, office space, real estate, staff and customers and started off with a key element in becoming “innovative”. They created a campaing to crowdsource feedback from their customers with the http://travelbrilliantly.com website and continued to offline events such as the future of Tech, Design, Culinary, Travel Marriot and NewsOne event, held October 22, in New York at Location05.  
 
As I attended the event I observed as Marriott transformed Loction05 to their remote Innovation Lab.  Marriott’s Innovation is located at their headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland. “It offers rapid prototyping with instant feedback capabilities, bird’s eye views from Internet-enabled cameras, and multiple avenues for customer participation.
 
Marriott’s Innovation Lab offers a clean slate for any visiting guest – whether architect, designer, employee or customer – to manipulate and make his mark. The lab allows for immediate trial of design ideas and allowing for increased collaboration and participation surrounding design ideas ultimately implemented in hotels globally. “
 
The “remote innovation lab” was part of the experience everyone witness at the event in New York along with a awesome panel and great networking with the who’s who in the New York tech scene. 
 
Let’s take a look.
 
Pitch booth for customer feedback
 
 
 
Marriott’s mobile app check-in
 
 
 
 
 
Workspring space test area
 
 
Feedback / Suggestion Wall 
 
 
For the hotel industry innovation is here, at least for Marriott Hotels. Good luck on their journey to encourage travelers to #TravelBrilliantly
 
“ Travel Brilliantly is a transformative way for the next generation traveler to inspire, create, connect and dream, while seamlessly blending work and play in a mobile and global world.”
 
Overall I had a great experience at the event and stay at New York Marriott Marquis in Times Square. If you follow-me on Facebook then you know I’m on my workout kick and I didn’t miss a day. I was able to go on a jog around central park and workout in the Marriot gym. Also I had a great view of Time’s Square and French street artist JR “Eye Art”
 
 
 
 
Until next time #TravelBrilliantly
 
 
 

 

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This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Marriott Hotels for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Tuesday night I attended online and offline social media mashup event hosted by Marriott hotels and Newsone. The event theme was #TravelBrilliantly which is Marriott hotels “innovation” hashtag of choice. The event featured a panel with Q&A along with a digital atmosphere and integration that you expect to see at a large social media conference.  

The panelist included actor Laz Alonso, fashion designer Natalia Allen, TV Host & Digital Lifestyle Expert, Mario Armstrong, and Imar Hutchins Principal at ShiftCapital.us and Owner of D.C’s Florida Avenue Grill. Leading the conversation was moderator Omar Wasow, Princeton University Professor and cofounder of BlackPlanet.com.

 

Three things that stood out to me other the energy in the room was the panel conversation, the high tech #TravelBrilliantly setup and the passion from the attendees. During the panel Omar asked each panelist thoughts on their industry as it relates to the future of Tech, Design, Culinary, Travel. Some of the answers were “Predictive learning technology & hardware like google now & fit band” via Mario Armstrong, more intelligence travel mobile apps via Laz Alonso and back to the garden vai Imar Hutchins. Natalia talked about her clothen line which makes "modern clothes with robots. She’s already in the future.

 

 

As for the high tech setup, Marriott made sure to encourage everyone to participate in the conversion online and offline via social media outlets with large screen content feeds that showed instagram photos and tweets with the #TravelBrilliantly hashtag. But they didn’t stop there. During the panel Omar live polled the attendees with a SMS powred platform and afterwards attendees could still vote via host walking around with iPads. Speaking of iPads there were iPads posted on a wall to show various ways Marriott hotels are going out their way to be innovation hubs.

Along with iPads there were large touch tables where attendees could design their own hotel rooms. As Marriott continues to listen to their customers with the #TravelBrilliantly campaign they provided  pitch booths were the best pitch idea from the night would win a $500 Marriott gift card.

Prior to the event start it was great to catch up with friends Mario and Omar as we talked tech and education. I enjoyed the panel, took tons of photos and interviewed a couple of attendees about their experience. Overall it was great and inspirational night as the community networked and talked abou the future of tech, design, culinary and travel.

See part 1: I’m going to #TravelBrilliantly and Experience what’s next now with Newsone and the Marriott in NY.

 

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If you look at investment trends we have moved away from the social to more enterprise, hardware, health and fitness. Another vertical on the rise is food. The food vertical is an exciting still unproved IPO market but that hasn’t stop investors. Food and tech companies have seen a 37% increase in investments from 2012 as almost $350 million was raised according to CBInsights.

One venture capitalist who is looking to continue the investment growth in Food and Tech Companies Cynthia Maxey ( is hosting the 4th Annual Bay Area Food & Beverage Investor Fair to do just that. The Bay Area Food & Beverage Investor Fair is an opportunity for investors to meet and evaluate 46 outstanding food and beverage companies seeking investment capital.

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We all know the ED Tech Space is being disrupted. It’s also a very lucrative for both venture capital and founders building new educational platforms. CBInsights provides more data just how lucrative, as it reports that Ed Tech companies received $1.1 billion in venture capital in 2012. The report also provides us with a list of the top 10 companies acquiring and investing in Ed Tech Startups.

edtechcorps

With $1.1B in Ed Tech venture capital financing in 2012, we wanted to take a closer look at which of the larger education companies, both private and public, have been most active in both acquiring and investing in emerging, privately-held Ed Tech companies.

Based on M&A and financing data since 2010, London-based publisher Pearson tops the list with 15 acquisitions or investments in Ed Tech companies and is followed by Providence Equity Partners-owned education software provider Blackboard.

via CBInsights

If you’re in San Francisco on June 20th, join us for the Future of Education panel with founders from Udemy, Coursera and Imagine K12.

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The Future of Education Panel

 

 Eren Bali
CEO & Founder | Udemy
 Andrew Ng
CTO | Coursera
 Tim Brady
Founder and Partner | Imagine K12
 Matthew Wise
CEO & Founder | Cosemble

Date & Time:
June 20, 7:00 P.M.
Location
4th St Studios‎
560 4th Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

 

CoffeeStartups is for coffee lovers, storytellers, geeks, technologist, gourmets, and creative people passionate about sharing stories and drinking coffee. We’re bring together entrepreneurs, thought leaders, technologists, designers, and writers to share a unique story to the group.

Each CoffeeStartups event has a specific theme and we invite two people to present their story orally to the group. For Each participant takes turns acting as the moderator and the storyteller. At the end of the event we all walk away energized, inspired, motivated, and happy to have made some meaningful connections with fellow coffee lovers.

The January Theme for Coffee Startups is Launching and our speakers are:
coffeestartups-logo

</p>
<p>Micah Baldwin

Micah Baldwin
@micah
CEO, Founder, Graphicly

Tony Gauda

Tony Gauda
@tonygauda
CEO, Co-Founder,BitCasa

Our first event kicks off Saturday January, 26, at SOMAcentral, 153 Townsend Street, San Francisco, CA. You can join the CoffeeStartups meetup group to stay connected and RSVP for tickets on Cosemble

If you interested in sponsoring we can be reached at contact@coffeestartups.com

http://www.meetup.com/CoffeeStartups/

coffee anybody??
flickr photo by anvancy

If there are two things I love it’s coffee and startups. You add those two ingredients and you have an awesome community. With that begin said I’m excited to partner with Matthew Wise cofounder of founderly to organize a series of CoffeeStartups events in San Francisco.

coffeestartups-logo

CoffeeStartups is for coffee lovers, storytellers, geeks, technologist, gourmets, and creative people passionate about sharing stories and drinking coffee. At each CoffeeStartups Stories event we bring together entrepreneurs, thought leaders, technologists, designers, and writers to share a unique story to the group.

Each CoffeeStartups event has a specific theme and we invite two people to present their story orally to the group. Each participant takes turns acting as the moderator and the storyteller. At the end of the event we all walk away energized, inspired, motivated, and happy to have made some meaningful connections with fellow coffee lovers.

Our first event kicks off Saturday January, 26, at SOMAcentral, 153 Townsend Street, San Francisco, CA. You can join the CoffeeStartups meetup group to stay connected and RSVP for tickets on Cosemble

I’ll be announcing our first two speakers later this week. If you interested in sponsoring we can be reached at contact@coffeestartups.com

http://www.meetup.com/CoffeeStartups/