By: Taylor Weiter


CINCINNATI — Tennis great Serena Williams will be serving up business advice when she visits Cincinnati this month for Black Tech Week.

The 23-time Grand Slam winner and founder of the venture capital firm Serena Ventures will be the annual conference’s keynote speaker.

“Excited to be at @BlackTechWeek with (Lightship Foundation) this year as they empower Black founders everywhere,” Williams tweeted Friday morning.

Founded in Miami in 2016, Black Tech Week will head to the Queen City July 18-22 after Lightship Foundation acquired the conference. The company’s CEO, Candice Matthews Brackeen, is a UC graduate dedicated to helping founders who are Black, people of color, LGBTQIA+, women or have disabilities.

“I would like for folks to see what it looks like when someone is high-achieving, when someone can live to their greatest potential,” Matthews Brackeen said.

The conference will host ticket holders at venues in Over-The-Rhine and Cincinnati’s central business district. Williams will speak Thursday, July 21. Other speakers include Black Girls Code founder Kimberly Bryant and Center for Black Innovation CEO Derick Pearson. The schedule includes a comedy show from Roy Woods Jr., a career fair and several workshops.

“We’ll host a women’s brunch, we’ll have an opening night,” Matthews Brackeen said. “Just like many things, you will see a demo day. You’ll see a pitch competition where we will invest in some companies.”

Management consulting firm McKinsey reports only 4% of Black businesses survive the start-up stage. That’s out of the 20% of African Americans who pursue entrepreneurship. Matthews Brackeen said the stats for investment are even worse.

“Less than 1% of venture capital goes to a black-led company,” she said.

Certain ticketed attendees can also get into the Cincinnati Music Festival featuring Janet Jackson, Snoop Dogg, Charlie Wilson and more at Paul Brown Stadium at the end of the week.

For more information on Black Tech Week visit with permission by WCPO.Com/Local 9 News

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