Chicago is known for it’s amazing food and copious number of conferences amongst many other things, but where the city would like to grow? Technology. One way to grow the technology scene in Chicago is to expand the demographic of who is building it. CPM sat down with Fabian Elliott, Founder & CEO of Black Tech Mecca and Advertising Technology Consultant at Google to talk about his plan to make Chicago the the vanguard for collaboration and innovation in technology.
How did you get involved with technology?
I was not a “Tech Boy Wonder” like many people would expect. There are no legendary stories about how I fixed the family computer. As a matter of fact, that was my older brother’s job. In school I joined INROADS, an organization that got me an internship on the business side with Google. I didn’t know the software side and I didn’t think I was interested in technology until I started working for Google. Digital advertising was my gateway to technology and was fueled by my burning passion to positively impact and reach as many people as possible. I always advocate for people struggling to engage in technology to simply find a way to build off of an existing passion or skill.
What is Black Tech Mecca and where did the idea come from?
Black Tech Mecca is a non-profit organization and it is an ecosystem with the purpose of providing an online resource network, research study along with branding to position Chicago as place to work in technology.
The global scale and conviction for the concept emerged from my experience engaging with the African Diaspora across 4 continents while serving as Global Co-Chair of the Black Googler Network.
Silicon Valley is currently the undisputed heart of the tech world right now. I would like Chicago to be that, specifically for the black community. The reason that I ended up at Google is a rare story amongst people in the black community, especially black men. Stars don’t just align – there needs to be deliberate and intentional increases in resources and options for black people in the tech community. The resources I was given and the opportunity I was given to do an internship at Google is far too rare for members of the black community. There needs to be deliberate advancement in resources and options for black people in all the niches of the tech ecosystem.
What would you say to those who feel that building an organization geared specifically towards black people is just an non-inclusive as Silicon Valley being predominately white? Some people may say that is reverse racism – how would you answer that?
It is impossible for any initiative focused on serving underrepresented groups such as blacks, latinos, or women to be “non-inclusive” because they are fighting for inclusion. When you remove all the social noise, our initiative is just a movement to create an inclusive tech ecosystem that enables blacks to thrive in technology. We do not exclude other races in this pursuit – in fact we rely on people of all races to execute on our mission. We are no different than any other organization – most businesses, companies or organizations have a target demographic that they look to serve. For us, our target market is people of African descent. We feel that as members of the black community, we best understand what our community needs and can best help.
At this point, do you think once the organization grows that you will re-focus on other racial communities?
At this point, I don’t plan to waver on our demographic. I believe the state of the community will require significant efforts to change and that is the goal of what we are setting out to do. We want to be consistent with in growing the ecosystem available to the black community.
How can people get involved with Black Tech Mecca?
Of course, any fundraising help is important. We will be having our fundraiser celebration, Chi-Tech2.0: Welcome to the Mecca on Tuesday June 21 at Fremont. We are creating an experience that brings the community together to feel and re-imagine a new Chicago tech ecosystem a.ka. Chi-Tech 2.0.
Our goal is to engage the community and rally support for the necessary resources required to execute on our 3 Big Bets. We are expecting over 350 attendees that are champions for an inclusive tech ecosystem including current Black Tech Mecca supporters, black tech community members and partners, and loyal community allies. It would be a great opportunity to find out more and figure out how you can support.
We have early bird tickets for $25 through EventBrite while they last:
Also, connect with us on social media and sign up for our newsletter through our website.
Twitter & Instagram: @BlackTechMecca
If you are interested in working with Black Tech Mecca, you can email: