The Founders Series

The Founders Series (TFS) is the Midwest’s largest technology panel led by and targeted toward Black & Latinx founders of emerging tech startups.


TFS vol.2 | October 4, 2017 | CHICAGO

What is The Founders Series?

Once a quarter, ImBlackInTech features “The Founders Series,” a 60 minute “behind the red curtain” talk from a panel of all-star minority Founders from all over the country. From Ideation (vol.1), to Beta Launch (vol.2), to Growth (vol.3), to Exit (vol.4), to Legacy (vol.5), we focus on critical turning points in a successful founder’s journey.

With the typical sound bites and political correctness checked at the door, TFS panelists give their raw, real and uncut stories of the wins, the losses, the drama, and ultimately the turning point moments in their companies that forged their success blueprint. Learn the step-by-step process for building a successful startup, directly from award-winning, nationally recognized founders who’ve done it, and are doing it.

TFS panelists have raised + generated over $415MM in their startups.

TFS Moderator

Alicia Stewart

COO, Harvard Alumni Entrepreneurs – Chicago | → Bio

Alicia Stewart is an early stage media entrepreneur who works with leaders on media strategy, presence, and programming. She began her career in broadcast as a reporter/anchor, then worked as a television producer and news leader for networks including PBS, NBC and CNN. At CNN, she launched Engage, a groundbreaking unit that identified and incorporated under-covered stories into network coverage; as a senior producer for the “In America” documentary unit, and editor of its award-winning blog.

Harvard Alumni Entrepreneurs – Chicago

TFS Panelists

Brian Brackeen

Founder, Kairos | → Bio

Brian Brackeen founded Kairos in 2012, and serves as the company’s CEO. His leadership saw Kairos selected by Wall Street Journal as one of 2013’s top 25 startups in the country, and continues to drive growth and innovation within the company and in the face and emotion recognition space.


Paul Cannings

Founder, RPH | → Bio

Paul A. Cannings, Jr., Managing Partner of RPH, has been a pioneer in the seamless integration of technology into architecture and the development of any built environment. He has been a change leader for over a decade, facilitating growth and innovation for stakeholders involved in every phase of each project, from creative planning to successful execution.


Tara Reed

Founder, Apps Without Code | → Bio

Tara Reed is Founder & CEO of Apps Without Code where she helps non-technical entrepreneurs launch startups, build apps, and market their businesses. In 2015, after leading marketing initiatives for Google, Foursquare, and Microsoft, Tara launched her first startup, Kollecto, and was accepted into the 500 Startups accelerator program (Batch 13). Today, she runs her own accelerator for non-technical and underrepresented founders, Apps Without Code Bootcamp.

Apps Without Code 

Keisha Howard

Founder, Sugar Gamers | → Bio

Through Sugar Gamers Keisha been able to monetize her interest in technology and connect women in the IT Community with other women, raise awareness of the under-representation of women in the Gaming Industry, and lobby to ensure corporations factor the needs of female consumers in their new offerings.

Sugar Gamers 

Adam Wisniewski

Founder, EX3 Labs | → Bio

Adam has led major technology initiatives in the financial services sector, healthcare and government. EX3 Labs helps companies use agile and lean methodologies to test and build new software in emerging technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), mixed and augmented reality and artificial intelligence. EX3 gained national attention by building the first ever 3D Hologram of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

EX3 Labs 

Who is The Founders Series for?


Potential founders, still in product development or idea stage of their (tech) business


Current founders with a revenue generating (tech) business


Tech enthusiasts, investors, mentors, media, students and others who want to support the growth of this community

Event Agenda


6:00 pm: Doors to Auditorium Open
• Registration

6:30 pm: Panel Discussion Begins (BETA LAUNCH)
• BUILDING V1: Beta Product/Service Design
• BETA CUSTOMERS: Identify Your Target
• START THE FIRE: Set Pre-Launch Benchmarks
• GET UNSTUCK: Ask the Panel Anything – Q&A Throughout

7:15 pm: Exposure & Opportunity
• Five (5) Founders Have Opportunity for 60 Second Pitch to the Audience

7:30 pm: Panel Discussion Continues (BETA LAUNCH)
• SET YOUR GPS: Define Clear Success Metrics
• DAY BEFORE LAUNCH: Best Practices
• GET UNSTUCK: Ask the Panel Anything – Q&A Throughout

8:00 pm: Panel Ends
• Networking / After Party

All Upcoming TFS Events

october, 2017

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wed04oct6:00 PM8:00 PMFeaturedThe Founders Series | vol.2 – BETA LAUNCH6:00 PM - 8:00 PM CST Must RSVP to AttendEvent Type :PanelsEvent Type 2:The Founder Series

Past TFS Events

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The Founders Series (TFS) is the Midwest’s largest technology panel led by and targeted toward Black & Latinx founders of emerging tech startups. TFS is a 5 event series.


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The Monthly Mixer Series (MMS) was created to bring together ImBlackInTech members, potential members and friends to mingle in a comfortable environment, share ideas, and build trust and rapport.


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French toast, chicken and waffles, cheese grits…who doesn’t love a good brunch? Why wait for Saturday afternoon? At Twilight Founders Brunch (TFB), 20 founders come together and enjoy a high-end, multi-course brunch menu served family style, on a random weekday evening, complete with bottomless mimosas.


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The Corporate Series (TCS) lays out a step-by-step career acceleration blueprint. Led by a panel of seasoned execs, TCS gives entry to mid-entry level technology professionals a clearly defined path toward senior and director level positions and pay.

#The CorporateSeries

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