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Meet NOLAvate Black, a New Orleans tech collective that uses Hopin to make its industry more accessible

Meet NOLAvate Black, a New Orleans tech collective that uses Hopin to make its industry more accessible
PLANNING A NEW KIND OF EVENT

Forging new pathways in tech

NOLAvate Black is a New Orleans tech collective dedicated to improving racial equity and inclusion in the tech industry. Their aim? To create accessible pathways into the sector for the Black community. Founded in 2018 by Sabrina Short, NOLAvate Black is committed to driving advocacy, education, and community.

Beyond providing avenues into technology, the organization is on a mission to bring people together. Their annual Black Tech NOLA Inclusive Innovation Conference serves to connect people for a meaningful shared experience.

Ordinarily held in person in vibrant New Orleans Black Tech NOLA has experienced impressive growth since its first edition in 2018. NOLAvate Black welcomed 200 attendees that year, then 400 in 2019. Sabrina predicted an even bigger turnout in 2020. Then, the pandemic hit. For the conference to survive, Sabrina needed a virtual events platform that could provide attendees with the same incredible experience they’d come to expect from the in-person event.

That's when she found Hopin.

"Hopin's customer service team was stellar. They responded quickly, they answered our questions, and they met with us whenever we needed. So early on, I was looking for not just a high tech platform, but I was looking for a high touch platform, and Hopin allowed us to really feel like we were an organization that they invested in and wanted us to be successful." –Sabrina Short, Founder and CEO, NOLAvate Black

Beyond Hopin's extensive customer support, Sabrina loved that she could fully customize the event platform to feature Black Tech NOLA's branding in an authentic way. Other key selling points included the ability to run multiple stages simultaneously and the ability to successfully replicate the buzz of a physical expo area.

Black Tech NOLA features sponsors that champion the importance of DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion), including Microsoft, Entergy, T-Mobile, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. With Hopin, these sponsors had new opportunities to connect with attendees online via breakout sessions, virtual expo booths, and content on the main stage.

PLANNING A NEW KIND OF EVENT

"I strongly believe that our mission is in direct alignment with Hopin in the fact that we both want to bring people together. We both want to create these experiences where people can be connected, share information, learn from one another, and build each other up."

Sabrina Short
Founder and CEO, NOLAvate Black
IT’S SHOWTIME

Live from New Orleans

To fulfill Black Tech NOLA's primary goal of bringing people together, Sabrina used Hopin's expo area to connect recruiters with job seekers and other people interested in breaking into the tech space. She also leveraged Hopin's community building and engagement features, including the chat functionality in sessions and stages as well as the platform's one-on-one and group video networking features.

The decision to go virtual provided Sabrina and her team with new opportunities to wow attendees. Black Tech NOLA is famous for its interactive experiences, including an annual virtual reality exhibit made possible through a partnership with Microsoft. For the 2021 event, Sabrina brought in Dawn Richard, an accomplished musician from New Orleans, to host a worldwide virtual reality album launch party. 

Sabrina and her team also curated an incredible lineup of speakers who delivered presentations on a range of topics. Featured speakers included Maurice Jones, CEO of One 10, who is aiming to get 1 million tech professionals in tech jobs in 10 years. Actor and star of “The Wire,” Wendell Pierce, also spoke on the importance of self-preservation in the Black community.

Hopin's backstage helped give these speakers the same sense of support and camaraderie they'd usually enjoy at an in-person conference. Speakers had a chance to connect before the show, meet their moderators, and prepare for their talks before heading onto the live virtual stage.

Sabrina also ensured sponsors made the most of their virtual expo booths and they were able to easily connect with attendees and capture leads.

"I think that was a really big selling point for our sponsors – not only did they have a booth, but they could also walk away with a list of people to follow up with, whether for jobs, products, or services." –Sabrina Short, Founder and CEO, NOLAvate Black
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The Hopin features that helped make Black Tech NOLA a success

  • Stages: Sabrina and her team used Hopin's multi-stage functionality to deliver a packed schedule of more than 100 speakers. All of them delivered on one key thing the conference is known for: incredible presenters and content.
  • Sessions: Live breakout sessions allowed attendees to engage with speakers and one another while discussing tech topics. 
  • Ticketing: Hopin's ticketing and registration features allowed attendees to easily register for the sessions that excited them, giving Sabrina deeper insight into her attendees' interests.
  • Expo area: Sponsors enjoyed all the same benefits of a physical expo area with their virtual booths. In addition to hosting their own content and engaging with attendees, they received detailed reporting on key metrics like views, engagement, and leads generated. 
  • Customization: Thanks to Hopin’s customizability, NOLAvate Black could easily integrate their branding into every area of the virtual conference.

3

Day event

100+

Speakers

8

Countries

5

Stages

40+

Sessions

"I love that we were able to have our brand present on the platform and make it look and feel authentic, just like who we are as an organization."

Sabrina Short
Founder and CEO, NOLAvate Black
HOW IT TURNED OUT

A new global reach delivers a record-breaking event

Going virtual helped Black Tech NOLA break several previous records. The event ran for three days, across five stages, delivering 40 sessions to almost 400 attendees in eight countries. This global reach wouldn't have been possible without Hopin. 

The event's virtual format also helped boost total reach. NOLAvate Black used their app to generate 40,000 unique impressions of conference content post-event. The conference also drove an average of 3,000 users per day to NOLAvate Black's website in the week after Black Tech NOLA, and the tech collective doubled its revenue from the previous year. 

Attendees said they felt seen, valued, and connected to something bigger than themselves. They felt part of a global community that's making a genuine impact in the tech world. 

"We did a follow-up survey, and people had such great things to say - they loved the platform, and they loved our content (as always). People actually said to us that this is the model for tech conferences online. We're very proud to be able to have that as our legacy." –Sabrina Short, Founder and CEO, NOLAvate Black

Next year, Sabrina plans to build NOLAvate Black's first hybrid conference on Hopin, further supporting the organization's core goal of creating accessible pathways into tech for the Black community – on a global scale.

400

Attendees

Doubled

Annual revenue

3,000

Average additional website visitors per day post-event

7.5

Hours average attendance 

"Creating this hybrid event for 2022 with Hopin, we know that we're going to do some things and reach people that we haven't been able to reach before and make an impact in tech that meets our mission of mapping the accessible pathways to the technology."

Sabrina Short
Founder and CEO, NOLAvate Black

Lots of virtual audience buzz

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