Rakia Reynolds is the founder of Skai Blue Media, a multimedia communications relations agency focused on the business, branding, and bragging for an all-star roster of lifestyle, technology and nonprofit clients including Ashley Graham, Dell, Visit Philadelphia, Marley Dias, Grace Mahary and more.
As a leader in the public relations industry, Skai Blue Media provides business development, marketing, and message strategy to nonprofits, tech start-ups, and designers, among other businesses. Rakia’s path to entrepreneurship was led by many creative ventures including a role producing shows for MTV, TLC and Discovery Health networks, but ultimately she wanted to create a company that represented the future of public relations in the digital age.
Rakia has also been recognized as an implementer of great strategy by the Young Entrepreneur Council and was presented the Power to the Community award by PECO for being a community trailblazer. Rakia was also named one of the 25 tastemakers on Dell’s “Inspire 100” list, a list of the most socially influential people in the country.
Rakia has appeared in Lucky, Essence, Entrepreneur, Fortune, Ebony, and Uptown Magazines. She has been a guest editor for Marie Claire and regularly pens pieces for Forbes.com, Small Business Trends, Tech.co, and Business Journals across the country. She also the on-air expert for HSN for Serena Williams’ Signature Statement clothing line.
The Enterprise Development Center – EDC – is a high-tech and life science business development center on the campus of New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). It is their mission to help startups and growth companies become profitable businesses and dynamic participants in the economic life of New Jersey and the nation. Through a broad range of knowledge and resources — from finding the right working space and attracting investment capital to building staff and developing effective business plans and marketing strategies —NJIT’s EDC gives startups a critical edge on their path to commercialization. If you have any inquires, click here.
Steven Gomez is currently the Executive Director at Greater Newark Enterprises Corporation (GNEC) a 501(c)(3) non-profit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that provides financing, small business counseling, and training services to entrepreneurs and small business owners throughout northern NJ. This includes the Urban Entrepreneurs Development Institute (UEDI) and the Technology Business Support Initiative (TBSI) which assists entrepreneurs in developing effective plans for financial success and improving their decision making skills. GNEC delivers programming in both English and Spanish.
Steven holds an MBA from Seton Hall University’s Stillman School of Business, an MA from Seton Hall’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations, and undergraduate degrees in both International Business and Computer Science from Caldwell University. He is also a graduate of the Prudential Foundation Nonprofit Executive Fellows Program and the Ethical Leadership Certificate program from the Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers University Business School. Steven is the Advisory Board Chair for the Seton Hall University Stillman School of Business Market Research Center, a Board Member for the Business Outreach Center Network/BOC Capital in New York City, and an advisory board member for PHAS INC in Paterson, the Collaborative Action Newark Advisory Board at Rutgers Business School, and the Black and Latino Tech Initiative at the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development. Prior to his work with GNEC, Steven held a career in information technology focusing on support services, training, and project management. He has also started, owned, an operated several successful small business ventures and has taught at the secondary and post-secondary education levels.
Christina Bright, also known in the social media community as “Chris Miss”, is a multifaceted creative who was born and raised in Newark, NJ.
Using platforms such as Instagram and Youtube, she openly shares her love for her son, inner beauty, fashion, cooking, and people to inspire others to unapologetically do the things they love. She believes that everyone has a purpose, and only by doing the work within themselves will they be able to find and fulfill that purpose.
Wanting to spread the message of self-love in her community , Chris has organized and executed a number of charitable events. Everyday is Chris Miss is a platform for her to share her journey in hopes that others will find inspiration to pursue the life they deserve to live.
Stephanie Macias-Arlington joined New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Enterprise Development Center in 2013. She leads events and marketing efforts for the center and supports 75+ startups on their quest for commercialization. Prior to joining NJIT, Stephanie was responsible for raising funds for several nonprofits, most recently at Dress for Success Worldwide.
An alum of NJIT and MPA graduate of Rutgers School of Public Affairs & Administration, Stephanie is passionate about economic development and supporting the entrepreneurial community of New Jersey. In her free time, Stephanie sits on the Advisory Board of Sacred Heart School in Jersey City and works on her food startup Cauli Grains, a vegetable alternative to carbs.
EqualSpace (=SPACE)and Fownders are excited to launch their first collaboration Pitch Now, held on December 14, 2015 at 6:00pm. This event is the beginning of a new relationship between both companies which are focused on the success of New Jersey-based entrepreneurs. =SPACE and Fownders together, hope to set a precedent for other businesses to collaborate and create a progressive environment to push the agenda of strengthening the startup, as well as increase the opportunity for more black and brown businesses to obtain funding.
Pitch Now is a great opportunity for both investors and startups to connect with each other. The competition gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to make their businesses known in front of investors who seek to support early stage startups. However, unlike most pitch competitions, entrepreneurs are given immediate feedback, which allows them to gain more insight on how to better present their ideas from an elite group of investors. In addition, newpreneurs are welcome to attend to learn firsthand the process of pitching. This learn and apply method is necessary for entrepreneurs to gain the knowledge they need to effectively launch their businesses.
Pitch Now fills a much needed gap in the Newark tech/entrepreneur ecosystem. We needed a series that addresses and showcases our startup community in a way that provides them with exposure and coaching from season professionals in the industry,” said Medina, Co-founder of =SPACE.
Pitch Now will be held at =SPACE’s new headquarters, 2 Gateway Center, with light refreshments beginning at 5:45pm.
Thursday, October 6th, = SPACE hosted its second annual Tech Town Hall. The theme this year: Progression in Tech. The goal was to continue the conversation around Newark forging ahead as a leading tech hub, as well as expand how technology affects the city’s economic development.
Many many businesses, tech partnerships and programs have developed since the first Tech Town Hall, as well as the emergence of black, brown and women tech professionals. On this evening, everyone reconvened at the table to not only compare notes, but also share their latest ideas and advancements in innovation.
Hosted by Designer and Strategist Medina, Founder of =SPACE and parent company Medina = Citi, the agenda comprised of a Q&A session with Mayor Ras J. Baraka facilitated by Melissa Jackson, founder of Normel Solutions, coupled with simultaneous interviews conducted by Tech Correspondent Lindsey Holmes, Principal and Owner of Propel Media Group.
Additional highlights of the evening included power talks from Anthony Frasier, founder of The Phat Startup and author of the book Don’t Dumb Down Your Greatness, along with Sylvia Wandahwa, Co-organizer of Women Techmakers New Jersey, with a culminating keynote address by Rakia Reynolds, President of Skai Blue Media.
Affiliates from NJIT, Brick City Tech, and Code for Newark got the chance to hear about the progression in tech from Newark’s Chief Information Officer, Seth Wainer, Code for Newark’s Brigade Captain, Isaiah Little and representatives from Newark Venture Partners, the leaders in startup and business incubation in Newark. Moreover, companies such as Sociosmith, Fownders, and Blastchat spoke briefly about their businesses and the new programs they’ve brought to the city.
Have an idea and need capital? Steve Gomez from Greater Newark Enterprises Corporation (GNEC) gave brief tips on how to establish capital, clean up your credit, and additional resources that can be utilized through their offices.
“Tech is opportunity of social entrepreneurs…”
During the Q&A session with Mayor Ras J. Baraka, he discussed how to remedy the lacking access of tech for communities of color and women. He states, “we have to do better at democratizing ownership and access to technology and tech companies.” Continuing the discussion, he briefly spoke of new programming coming to the city, such as a tech academy/lab powered by Panasonic, as well as the success of current coding classes held at = SPACE and other vendor partners.
When asked how Newark is gauge the interest of other cities and companies to do business in the city, the Mayor referenced the city’s ideal infrastructure to enable tech, along with the ability to provide the fastest WiFi on the east coast and the nation. In addition to the infrastructure, Newark has developed a “new and bustling marketing for tech companies, startups, and incubator spaces.” And it’s not just commercial business that makes Newark the perfect city for tech advancement, its educational institutions NJIT and Rutgers, specialize in tech and social entrepreneurship.
Tech literacy is the newest language of the community
Mayor Baraka believes that tech literacy is the key to uniting the community and pushing forward in the tech age. To wrap up the Q&A, Mayor Baraka discussed using tech to create a safe environment for some of the city’s most vulnerable —women. His goal is to create an app that removes the onus of security on the individual and places it back into the hands of society. There are investments on the table for such a tool, and he believes that this step in the right direction will set the precedent for similar technology to make Newark’s communities safer.
“I invest in people, not products…”
In the keynote address by Rakia Reynolds, she spoke of her humble beginnings as a media and tech professional and the difficulties she faced being a woman of color. It was through her frustration with restrictions and the need for creating digital content for PR, that she created her company. With close to a decade in business, Skai Blue Media provides full-services media relations for tech companies, lifestyle brands, and social entrepreneurs. She’s even positioned herself to become an Angel Investor for tech startups. Her latest client Marley Dias, is currently Editor-in-Residence at Elle Magazine and the creator of Marley Mag housed within the Elle brand.
“If there’s a way you can be smarter, faster, better, you do that with technology,” says Rakia as she encourages participants to think outside of the brick and mortar concept. During her brief Q&A, she broke down the importance of using high performing social platforms, no more than two, to implement storytelling, create an authoritative voice around products, and build communities.
The overall gain from the second annual Tech Town Hall is that technology in Newark is moving at a rapid pace. Black, brown and women techpreneurs are at the helm of digitizing the business world, changing the landscape of economic development, and creating opportunities to merge, grow and scale, multiple industries with the use of tech.
Newark tech is indeed progressing forward and continues to validate its seat at the table.
NEW CO-WORKING SPACE, =SPACE DOWNTOWN OPENS IN THE GATEWAY CENTER
Newark, New Jersey (Monday, August 15th, 2016) =SPACE and GATEWAY PROJECT SPACES have announced an exciting, new collaboration to create premium co-working space in the heart of Newark’s Downtown Arts and Business district, The Gateway Center. =SPACE Downtown will be nexus of the two collaborators yielding an environment that fuses amenitized, technology-driven workspace and a creative, nurturing environment, both affordable and accessible. The space will open to the public Friday, September 9th, with a party from 5 – 7 pm.
=SPACE Downtown will live on the storefront level of Gateway Project Spaces in Gateway 2, directly connected to Newark Pennsylvania Station (NJ Transit, PATH, etc.) Gateway Project Spaces is a 30,000 sq.ft. creative hub that is comprised of a non-profit gallery, additional event spaces, an art supply store and 56 rentable workspaces. The 24/7 facility has carved out a 2,000 sq. ft. space that will host membership based desk space, creative meeting space and private conference rooms with tech equipment and a design aesthetic to greet users with comfort, convenience and resources.
=SPACE Downtown will be the perfect workspace for creative professionals, freelancers, writers, techies, startups, small non-profits, commuting students and more. “The joint venture is an opportunity for = Space and Gateway Project Space to create an ecosystem of creatives of all types with the goal of growing within the city of Newark.” said Medina, Founder of = SPACE
“We’re thrilled to bring another level of participants to our space. Gateway Project Spaces is currently the home to over 50 visual and performing artists from the surrounding areas. Developing a larger, diverse group of on-site creative professionals and cultural practitioners will continue to make Newark a destination to work, network and live.” said Jasmine Wahi and Rebecca Jampol, Founders of Gateway Project Spaces
In addition to the memberships and new space options, the partnering organizations plan to work together on a series of programs that cater to the community and onsite audience.
=SPACE is a magnet for intellectuals, techies and entrepreneurs of New Jersey. It will be headquartered in the City of Newark a share space and incubator = SPACE will provide resources for startups, coaching for tech companies. We believe providing access and resources will equal space for opportunities. Our = SPACE(r)s are the risk takers, the pushers and game changers, and the next wave of innovation will be born from them.
About Gateway Project Spaces
Founded in 2012, Gateway Project Spaces is a hub for multidisciplinary creative engagement. The three-level facility is split between a highly competitive and curated residency program, a project-based gallery in collaboration with Project For Empty Space, and rentable artist studio/ work spaces.
= SPACE is a place for entrepreneurs, creatives and leaders to come together, share stories and empower each other to move forward. Our fireside chat is meant to bring innovators and mavericks doing amazing things in their respective industries.
Our Spring 2016 Join us for a fireside chat with Kimberlee Williams, Founder & CEO of FEMWORKS. Williams is a Senior Fellow at the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). She is a community builder and has launched several small business advocacy organizations. Our Chat will focus on Marketing and Local Engagement. The conversation will focus on hyper local messaging and what it means.