Find your people

“A fisherman recognizes another fisherman, from afar.”

On both November 11th and 12th I was a part of something so special, that my life will forever be altered. I’m not being dramatic here, if you too were in attendance I’m positive you’d feel the same. On that weekend I went to an incredible event that. Well, let’s just say I was part of history. An historic weekend that, at least for me, almost didn’t happen.

The event that I went to was and is called AfroTech, hosted by a startup called Blavity. I didn’t know anything about AfroTech, let alone anything about Blavity, two weeks before the conference. When a friend who is much more “in the loop” than I, told me about the conference I knew I had to get-in where I fit-in. A little recap, Blavity is the buzzfeed for black millennials and AfroTech 2016 was their first Tech Conference to be hosted in the epicenter of technology; San Francisco. I can’t lie, at first I was bit sceptical. Like ok, another “conference” where we discuss ways to gain employment in silicon valley. How, cool. But when I learned that this was an actual conference hosted by startup founders of the community. Who didn’t have discussions of employment on the agenda, but rather they were going to discuss funding, brand building and entrepreneurship! I was in. I couldn’t miss this, I’ve finally found my people! 

Life as a startup founder is quite like being stranded at sea, knowing there’s land afar but just not sure in which direction or how far.

When you meet other founders, you find comfort in that you are not the only one in the ocean trying to assemble a sail. At AfroTech I met many other founders, all lost at sea just as much as I and totally happy about it. It was incredible. The first day was little more of an introduction to the weekend and what we were to expect at AfroTech. It was jam packed with so much positivity and grade A quality speakers that at the end of the first day, I couldn’t wait until the following morning so I could do it all over again. I was like a kid on Christmas Eve who got to open just one present the night before and it was a REALLY good gift. I couldn’t sleep.

The second day was much like the first day, but on steroids. More Tech entrepreneurs, more stories, more free food, more innovative ideas, more advice and way-way more people who were just so excited to be there. To be a part of history. The speakers were carefully picked, the guests were inspired, the vendors were fun, the vibe was so perfect and the only thing that I could say would’ve made it better is if there were a third day. At the end of day 2 of the conference I was honestly, truly -- inspired. As I mentioned before, life as a startup founder is a lonely one. You find true comfort in finding other startup founders because you know you aren’t the only one out there waiting for a gust of wind.

What’s better than finding other startup founders? Finding other startup founders from your community. 

That weekend I realized the value of finding “your people”. An entrepreneur is a member of a small group of people. While there’s a lot of value in communicating with other people within that group to discuss best practices and shared struggles. There’s an infinite amount of value in communicating with other people from your community who are entrepreneurs. Not only are you going through a similar process of developing an idea into a thriving business. You are more than likely operating under similar perspectives, with both similar internal and external struggles which may be unique to your community. (I sounded like a politician there). But seriously, your community is unique. Whether your community is built around your shared gender, culture, ethnicity, religion or any of the other thousands of factors that determine a community. You can gain incredible value in finding the people in your community, your people, who have similar entrepreneurial goals. I found my people on November 11th and 12th in San Francisco, California. I encourage you to do the same. Hopefully I'll see you next year at AfroTech 2017!

Much love and a huge thank you to the people of Blavity who took out time to coordinate such an incredible weekend. I will forever be grateful.

Chadwick Burnaw

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