Vator Splash Oakland 2015 highlights Oakland’s thriving tech scene
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By Kia Croom, Contributing Writer
Photo: Kevin Francis Barrett
More than 400 tech entrepreneurs, investors and enthusiasts attended the Vator Splash Oakland 2015 conference April 22, – April 23 at the Kaiser Center in Oakland across from Lake Merritt.
For the second year, the event highlighted Oakland’s thriving tech scene. It featured a series of workshops facilitated by tech leaders and investors giving real answers to real questions on how to succeed in the growing tech market.
Workshops explored a variety of issues that affect rising tech entrepreneurs including: “The Art of Building Billion Dollar startups, facilitated by Jim Scheinman Founder, Maven Ventures. Not only did the workshops optimize opportunities for networking, but also broached best practices for leveraging resources. A workshop entitled “Creatives Conquering Oakland” offered creative solutions for startups in search workspaces in high-cost locales like Silicon Valley and San Francisco. Attendees were given tours of Uptown Station (the former Sears building) that’s being transformed into prime office space for tech firms; Gensler, the Bay Area’s largest architecture firm; co-working space and Impact Hub, a gathering place where crafters, entrepreneurs and urban dwellers create and interact.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf joined a panel discussion on gender and racial diversity in the tech industry along with Freada Kapor Klein, co-founder of the Kapor Center for Social Impact; Kimberly Bryant from Black Girls Code, Lisa Lee from Pandora and Nilka Thomas from Google. The discussion was moderated by Evie Nagy, staff writer at Fast Company.
“I am excited that for the second year in a row, Oakland is hosting this unique event and competition which brings together the essential elements of the tech world – startups and investors,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.
“With our growing tech community, I want to make sure that Oakland’s presence is felt in a big way again this year.” To leverage the opportunities presented by being the host city for Vator Splash, the City of Oakland is partnering with the event’s organizers in several different ways,” she said.
A shortlist of tech startups competed in the Global Splash competition where they pitched their startup before attendees including angel investors and VC’s.
Analysis of data from the State of California’s Employment Development Department indicates as of the first quarter of 2014, Oakland was home to 427 tech businesses employing nearly 7,000 people. Tech is the third fastest growing industry sector in Oakland in terms of job creation.