Nurturing Cleveland's Tech, Creative, & Entrepreneurial Landscape
In the rearview mirror now, the 2023 FutureLAND Conference has left an incredible mark on Cleveland, Ohio. The conference brought together entrepreneurs, innovators, leaders, techies, and creatives to explore and experience the intersection of tech, art, and culture. The unique flavor of diversity is what sets the overall aesthetics for FutureLAND. You felt the energetic entrepreneurial spirit across the Playhouse Square District for the two-day event! Mas LaRae had the opportunity to provide media coverage over the two days. The Mas LaRae Show popped up for a full podcast takeover. This included connecting and sharing the stories of numerous entrepreneurs. Nearly 20 interviews that produced five exclusive FutureLAND episodes. Let’s delve into FutureLAND 2023.
FutureLAND transcends the boundaries of a typical conference—it's a movement aiming to shape a future where Cleveland stands as a beacon of economic vitality and cultural richness. The hyper focus on entrepreneurship through a diverse, inclusive, and equitable lens is a collective effort that involves public, private, and philanthropic sectors. These efforts support tech entrepreneurs, small businesses, innovators, and creatives throughout Northeast Ohio.
At the core of FutureLAND is the celebration and amplification of diversity in tech, art, and culture. Recognizing Cleveland as an emerging tech hub, the conference has become a platform to elevate BIPOC founders, thought leaders, and creatives. It strives to foster an environment where diversity is not merely acknowledged but is integral to the city's innovation and growth.
FutureLAND's strength lies in collaboration with founding partners such as the City of Cleveland, JumpStart, and the United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland. The movement is led and founded by Cleveland based entrepreneurs including Mas LaRae’s very own, Alysha L. Ellis. In addition, Fellows and Steering Committee members have created pipelines throughout the city to ensure that diverse voices are heard and represented. The movement draws energy from local entrepreneurs that have national reach and global mindsets. These individuals are actively shaping the emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem in Cleveland, emphasizing inclusivity and shared prosperity.
Mas LaRae had the unique opportunity to interview several amazing entrepreneurs and conference speakers.
The mission to broadcast MORE LIGHT included a collaboration with co-host DJ Focus and Breakthrough Sounds. DJ Focus is the Founder and CEO of Da Fixx Radio Show, a faith-infused hip-hop & urban gospel show with spoken word, real talk topics, and mental health awareness, referencing everything from theological dialogue to trending topics. Our production partner Breakthrough Sounds whose team did an excellent job recording, producing, and editing the interviews. Breakthrough Sounds is a Cleveland-based media company and recording studio. They offer a variety of services, including music recording and production, commercial recording, photography and video, podcast recording, and more.
These interviews, led by Alysha L. Ellis and DJ Focus, provided a deeper insight into the thoughts, aspirations, and challenges faced by driving forces in business, power hitters, world changers, and global influencers in the making. An intentionality to highlight purpose and faith behind entrepreneurial minds served as a vibrant thread throughout the conversations.
One of these driving forces is Detavio Samuels, the CEO of Revolt, a Black-owned media company for creators across the diaspora. In an engaging conversation, Detavio discussed the importance of shifting the narrative for black people globally and championing black culture and black people. Enjoy a robust dialogue led by a global network. [WATCH HERE]
Returning speakers from the FutureLAND Conference in 2022 and fan favorites, Tamika Otis and Summer Fitch, are the leaders at KABOD Consulting. These two powerhouses provided amazing insight into trauma in business and the balance between mental health and faith. They stressed the importance of taking a holistic approach and not only looking at the bottom line. [WATCH HERE]
The city’s version of David vs. Goliath story featured The CEO of Digital C, Joshua Edmonds. Digital C is a black-led nonprofit headquartered in Cleveland that provides affordable wireless internet and empowers communities through social innovation. Joshua explained that when a person doesn’t have access to the internet, there is a large gap in terms of equity due to our increasingly digital society. [WATCH HERE]
Lisa Francoeur and Nina Blankenship, co-founders of Crypto Tutors, shared their knowledge of the current state of tech and debunked several misconceptions about the crypto space. Crypto Tutors is an online cryptocurrency education platform that offers tutoring services to businesses, individuals, and communities. Lisa and Nina did a great job of explaining blockchain technology and cryptocurrency in an accessible way. [WATCH HERE]
Cleveland Native Ed "Smallz" Givens, Co-Founder of Layr Official, a lifestyle brand. An effort to express the infinite layers of individualism as it relates to fashion and the actual layers of life in general. The brand has been sported by LeBron James, Krayzie Bone and many other celebrities. Local to global seemed to be the overarching thread as Smallz described his vision to share Cleveland culture with the world. [WATCH HERE]
The focal point of FutureLAND has been its annual two-day conference, made possible by the City of Cleveland and its partners. This conference serves as a showcase of the interconnected sectors, industries, and communities within Cleveland. It's not just about spotlighting existing talent but also underlining the city's potential to attract new companies and talent. All while working towards a collective vision to become a Regional leader in the Midwest.
As the echoes of FutureLAND linger, Cleveland finds itself at the precipice of a future where diversity, inclusion, and equity is rooted in the fabric of its identity. Beyond the conference, this movement signifies a commitment to nurturing a dynamic and inclusive ecosystem. One that uplifts, celebrates, and serves all. Cleveland isn't merely a city; it's a canvas where the collaborative efforts of its diverse communities paint the picture of the Future for the LAND.
Though the event has passed, the conversation continues. Whether you're an entrepreneur, venture capitalist, artist, or someone invested in Cleveland's future, FutureLAND invites you to be a part of the ongoing dialogue. Together, let's contribute to a Cleveland that thrives on diversity, innovation, and shared success.