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The Voice of the Black Community


Tech pipeline BLKTECHCLT sold to City Startup Labs
Goal is to maintain innovation and connectivity
Published Thursday, March 18, 2021
by Ashley Mahoney

City Startup Labs has acquired BLKTECHCLT.

The transition is intended to continue developing talent, as well as to serve as a pipeline for vetted talent, innovations and investors connections.

“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,” BLKTECHCLT co-founder and CEO Sherrell Dorsey said in a statement.

“We’re beyond excited to transition the body of our work to the City Startup Labs team.”

Dorsey, Enovia Bedford and Freda Hendley founded BLKTECHCLT in 2016 to provide a safe space for Black tech innovators and investors through a series of events. The member-based hub focused on fostering black tech entrepreneurship. It connected members of the local tech scene and entrepreneurs with firms such as Google Ventures, which later became GV, as well as Impact America Fund.

The consulting firm also served as a liaison between executives from Airbnb and Twitter, while also creating partnerships with AvidXChange, Carolina Small Business Development Fund and Flatiron School.

Black Enterprise magazine named BLKTECHCLT Tech Champion of the Year in 2018. They created the BLKTECHCLT bookshelf at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Sugar Creek branch, which features over 100 print titles. BLKTECHCLT also helped place Charlotte-Mecklenburg high school students participating in the Mayor's Youth Program in summer jobs to help them develop their tech skillset. They also launched a $100,000 fund for entrepreneurs to establish businesses.  

“To see BLKTECHCLT grow from a conversation to a 4-year-old groundbreaking company is incredible,” Bedford said. “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”.

Said Hendley: “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. It is critical that the work continues. I believe it will with City Startup Labs.”

Henry Rock founded CSL in 2014. His work initially focused on millennial Black men during a two-year pilot, which was in collaboration with the Urban League of the Central Carolinas. CSL moved to UNC Charlotte, where it established the Center of Excellence for Entrepreneurial Competency, Innovation and Leadership. The pilot program expanded to include women in 2017 and the formerly incarcerated in 2018. ReEntry Entrepreneurship Program has become a CSL focal point, helping returning citizens rebuild their lives through career opportunities through the new CSL model called “Learn/Earn/Build.”

“I was excited to hear from Sherrell about this opportunity to acquire BlkTechInteractive and the BLKTECHCLT brand,” Rock said in a statement. “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 with young entrepreneurs within technology fields – especially advanced technologies.”


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