Hi! It’s me, Spiffy, the interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with the latest scoop on entrepreneurs making a difference. Today’s rockstar is Tyrance Billingsley II, the founder and executive director of Black Tech Street. Let’s hear his story!
Spiffy: Tyrance, thanks for joining me on Spiffy’s Blog for this chat. What challenge are you addressing with Black Tech Street?
Tyrance: It’s my pleasure to be here, Spiffy! Black Tech Street's mission is to rebirth Black Wall Street as a premier Black Tech Ecosystem and catalyze a movement that sees Black people embrace STEM and entrepreneurship to build wealth and impact the world. In the day to day, we serve as a liaison between the Tulsa ecosystem and Black-Tech-focused opportunities as well as the chief storyteller for the rebirth of Black Wall Street through technology.
Spiffy: What motivated you to do it?
Tyrance: I am a born and raised Tulsan and a relative of Tulsa Race Massacre survivors. This work keeps me going because I am doing it in and for the community that I was raised in and because I believe that the Greenwood narrative and legacy is the key to solving the projected Black wealth crisis of 2053. I think technology will be the core medium through which this happens and I believe Black Tech Street is the perfect narrative to see this mission through to fruition.
Spiffy: Can you elaborate on how Black Tech Street is working towards a more equitable world?
Tyrance: We are changing the narrative around the tech industry and creating more equitable pathways through which Black people can break into the tech industry. By creating a new narrative, powered by the story of Black Wall Street that says Black people should look in the mirror and see the next CEO of a billion dollar tech company or the technologist who helps to solve climate change, we believe we can shift the narrative for generations to come. We are having conversations and brokering partnerships with some of the largest tech companies and most influential institutions in the world to create initiatives and pathways for Black people into technology.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent company initiative and the impact it makes on your community.
Tyrance: We partnered with HP to launch a Tulsa-specific cohort of HP Teaching Fellows! The HP Teaching Fellows is a network of educators across the U.S. and Canada working to close the digital learning gap and advance a more equitable learning system. This fellowship allows educators to grow through professional development opportunities by connecting to a top-tier network of educators across North America and through access to new technology. This program has limited spots that are typically made available to teachers from across the country and have thousands of applicants each year. This year HP is partnering with Black Tech Street to offer all of those spots to Tulsa teachers! This will help teachers better teach STEM to Black student populations!
Spiffy: That’s fantastic! Now, I’m equally inspired by how entrepreneurs such as yourself deal with and learn from failure. Can you talk about an experience?
Tyrance: Before Black Tech Street I founded a company called Citifora, a platform that was to serve as a one-stop shop for administering city services to citizens. I was 20 when I started the company with my co-founder. There was so much I didn't know about entrepreneurship and myself at the time, and a combination of these factors and others led to the company failing. However, what I learned about the entrepreneurial process helped me when I decided to create Black Tech Street. I persevered and I am here today.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Tyrance—it’s been an honor!
Tyrance Billingsley II is a Tulsa entrepreneur, ecosystem builder, and community leader. He is the founder of Black Tech Street, an initiative to rebirth Black Wall Street as a Black tech capital and catalyze a movement that sees Black people embrace technology as a means to build wealth and impact the world. Tyrance has been featured in Forbes, CNN, Blavity, and the Wall Street Journal. He was named to the inaugural Forbes’ Culture 50 Champions list and is passionate about using technology to improve lives. (First published on the Ladderworks website on March 16, 2022.)
© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Corner here.