While minorities (Latinos and African-Americans) are consumers and producers of the content on new media platforms, why aren’t they creating internet companies as often? A recent article said that only 1% of internet firms are founded by African Americans. Is the number similar for Latinos? Furthermore, studies show that minority teens are beginning to close the digital literacy gap through the mobile web. Will they also soon close the gap in digital entrepreneurship and development? How can we guarantee that minority youth (and adults) will consider digital entrepreneurship and web development as a fruitful career, just as they have done with law, journalism and medicine? In this one-hour conversation, we will discuss how to propel more minorities in new media entrepreneurship and further increase VC funding for them. The ultimate goal of the panel is to shed some light on the best practices for developing minority new media entrepreneurs. This conversation is ignited by the recent pledge by Comcast to give $20 million toward a venture capital fund for new media businesses led by minorities you digital education. It is also ignited by a recent article that said only 1% of Internet Start ups were founded by African-Americans.
The digital journey of Kiratiana Freelon has been a circuitous, but fruitful one. She became a blogger in 2005 when she started writing the Black Girl in Paris blog. The blog became a favorite read for women around the world who wanted to fulfill a dream and live in Paris. As an avid traveler Kiratiana Freelon, has lived in Paris, France, Munich, Germany, and Brazil, and has traveled to more than 25 counties.
When the Harvard graduate returned to her hometown of Chicago in 2006 she sought a job that combined her passions of travel, sport and culture. Unfortunately, she felt compelled to divorce herself from digital media for the sake of corporate America and let her personal blog, and facebook profile go dormant. But she soon snagged a great gig working to bring the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games to Chicago. She worked there from 2006 to 2009 promoting the Olympic movement among Chicago’s youth through marketing and educational programs.
During this time, social media exploded and the Chicago Olympic bid started using social media as a promotion tool. Kiratiana soon returned to her blogging and digital roots and started a corporate blog, opened a twitter account (@kiratiana) and diligently used the Chicago2016.org website, twitter, youtube, facebook and flickr accounts to capture the bid’s every move. The bid’s 95,000 facebook fans, 345 Youtube Videos, thousands of flickr photos and 1200 twitter could not, however, convince the International Olympic Committee to bring the Olympic Games to the United States.
With idle time on her hands after the bid’s end, she dove further into the “social” part of digital media and returned to her passion of traveling. She self-published Kiratiana’s Travel Guide to Black Paris: Get Lost and Get Found. It’s the first book in a series that highlights the African Diaspora. She started, yet another blog, http://kiratianatravels.com, and attended multiple digital conferences (Travel Blog Exchange, SXSW 10, Blogging While Brown, Blogher, Social Development Camp Chicago…). She even snagged a job in the digital field.
She now works as the editor and web content manager for BlackAtlas.com, a multicultural social media travel website sponsored by American Airlines. As the editor and web content manager, she creates and implements strategy to increase registered users and traffic, optimize the brand’s social media, and to manage the site’s community.
Kiratiana still participates in the Olympic Movement, but now on the digital side. She serves on the international advisory board of the #media 2012project, a citizen media network for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
As an entrepreneur herself, she was prompted to pitch the “100% Viable, 1% Visible - Minority New Media Entrepreneurs,” by an article she saw on Black Web 2.0 and the lack of diversity she sees in digital entrepreneurship. She plans to use her 12 minutes in the Future15 to address this issue and inspire minorities to jump into the digital jungle.
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