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Enovia Bedford Discusses Being Black in Tech Upon Announcing Latest Venture

Vett Deck founder wants Black entrepreneurs to know their worth

a portrait of Enovia Bedford smiling behind a podium
Enovia Bedford presenting at the Department of Energy in Washington DC. (Courtesy of Plain Sight)

When people think about the tech industry and its major players, people like Enovia Bedford rarely come to mind. In primarily white-, male-dominated spaces, Black women and other marginalized groups so often see themselves pushed to the background, their contributions overlooked — but Bedford says that’s exactly why she’s here.

“There’s so much room for growth in tech, and I’m excited to be a part of making it a more inclusive and innovative field for everyone,” she said. 

As the founder of Vett Deck, an event marketing platform, she has made it her mission to create inclusive spaces for anyone who needs assistance with raising capital, hosting events or other entrepreneurial duties. She’s also North Carolina’s Grow with Google Digital Coach, a position she’s held for three years, teaching businesses how to grow and scale using Google Tools.

Bedford made waves in the tech field in 2016 as part of the team that launched BLKTECHCLT, alongside fellow co-founders Sherrell Dorsey and Freda Hendley. The idea came about in part as a response to the police killing of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte and the community response known as the Charlotte Uprising. 

“We were like, ‘Let’s see if we can hack this,’” Bedford told Queen City Nerve. “How could we hack a problem of social injustice? How can we hack the problem of police equality? Let’s get the best minds together we know and talk about it.”

What started as a small event series for Black entrepreneurs in the tech industry quickly became a large resource for entrepreneurs. It saw continued growth in the following years and in 2021 sold the company to City Startup Labs. 

Now Bedford has a new venture on the horizon: a partial merger with event marketing and ticketing platform Plain Sight. 

In a June press release announcing the new partnership, Bedford said she is joining the Plain Sight team to help them scale out their work in simplifying sponsorship and ticketing. 

“I am excited to join Plain Sight and contribute to their mission of empowering brands through innovative solutions,” she said in a press release. “By combining our expertise, we can create a more robust sponsorship landscape that benefits all stakeholders.”

Plain Sight will also partner with The Players Company, founded by NFL alumni Richard Sherman and Sheldon Day; as well as former Charlotte Hornets guard Baron Davis’ Business Inside the Game. Both companies curate connections between members by hosting exclusive events, among other services.  

Plain Sight’s role will be to distribute tickets and connect the companies with sponsorship opportunities, capitalizing on Bedford’s expertise in sponsorship strategies to carry out the latter.  

Queen City Nerve spoke with Bedford shortly after the announcement to learn more about her role as a Black entrepreneur in the tech sector.

Beginning in design

While she is passionate about being in the tech industry, Bedford didn’t start out there. She originally worked as a jewelry designer, beginning in 2004, where she observed what styles were already high sellers and added other popular components such as stackable rings, hoop earrings, or materials like enamel. 

a headshot of Enovia Bedford, founder of Vett Deck
Enovia Bedford (Courtesy of Enovia Bedford)

It was a method that worked for her, but she also was aware that her heart wasn’t in the work. 

“I was not a great jewelry designer, but I was a top-selling designer,” she said. “I was really good in that sellable space and not so much a design space. So when I looked at how I performed, I was marketing, I wasn’t designing. I was using a marketing brain as opposed to a design brain to create these collections. And I was like, ‘Okay, let me start looking into this marketing thing.’”

Bedford’s transition wasn’t immediate, however. She remained in fashion design until things became unfeasible for her thanks to fast fashion and the denigration of what were once high-paying jobs. 

She saw senior designer roles and trend forecasting positions get relegated to internships.  

“I started seeing the decline of the high-paying positions that I was eligible for,” she said. “I remember I got an offer for a design position at a company, and it was so low. I was like, ‘There’s no way I’m going to be able to live and do this.’ So I saw fashion start to trend out.”

Tech had always “lingered in the background” for Bedford, and began to play a bigger role for her as she began to venture further into the marketing field. 

In 2011, she took a role as a consultant for a tech company whose focus was designing jewelry, a job that she hoped would serve as the perfect transition out of fashion and into marketing.

It was the use of technology, however, that kept her attention.  

 “Designers would design [with] a drawing or a CAD [computer-aided design], a 3D rendering, and they would upload it onto the website and people would vote,” she said. “And if it got enough votes, they would put it into production. I thought that it was so fascinating that they were making this jewelry company with this heavy tech component.”

When she saw how fast the company grew, she thought to herself, “I think I might want to end up sliding into tech.”

A more equitable tech industry

Anyone familiar with the tech industry will tell you that capital is one of the biggest obstacles for those looking to enter. For some demographics, that can come easier than others, be it from generational wealth or simply fitting the bill of who investors think of when they imagine a successful person in tech. 

For other demographics, it isn’t always that simple; that’s where VettDeck comes in. Bedford’s company focuses on closing the gap in sponsorship dollars for companies that may be lagging in that area. 

It’s a continuing conversation, explained Bedford, one that companies need to get proactive about in order to break ongoing cycles. 

“I’ve worked in-house at agencies, I’ve worked in-house at brands, and there’s always the conversations around budgets,” she said. “‘Well, we have a however-many-dollar budget and we don’t have anything baked in for multicultural markets.’ It’s always an afterthought. So seeing my people always be an afterthought doesn’t feel good at all.”

Bedford focuses much of her work now on showing businesses exactly how much they are putting into marginalized groups, specifically Black people, with a focus on event sponsorships. 

The interactive Sponsorship Calculator on Vett Deck’s website helps event organizers know what they should expect to take in from a given event.

Using her deep expertise in sponsorship strategy, Bedford has helped secure more than 3,000 deals with leading brands across various industries. 

It’s a data-driven approach that’s motivated by her own position as a Black entrepreneur. 

“Our events need the same support, even when it comes down to the sending of assets and swag items and everything,” she said. “It’s really important to me to be in this space, to be heard, and to do what I want and make room for everybody else.”

According to Bedford, it’s the constant opportunity to innovate that keeps her interested in the tech field.

“It’s thrilling to be part of a field that’s always pushing boundaries and coming up with new ideas,” she said. “I love being able to contribute to that and expand people’s views on what technology is and how it can be used. This industry has the potential to impact so many lives, and I’m passionate about making sure everyone feels like they can be a part of it.

“That’s why representation is so critical,” she continued. “Seeing more Black women founders in tech leadership roles, in engineering, design, marketing, sales — across the board — is essential. It breaks down barriers and shows young girls coming up that this is a space for them too. When we have diverse perspectives in the room, we come up with richer solutions and create a more powerful impact.”

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