Powerful. Uplifting. Encouraging. Incredible. These, among many others, are words I would use to describe the GoDaddy Open event in Baltimore. At GoDaddy, we describe ourselves as the company that empowers entrepreneurs, but after this event, I’d say those entrepreneurs are the ones who empower us.
As the afternoon of Oct. 19, 2022, arrived, our team at GoDaddy, along with our local partner, Impact Hub Baltimore were ready to host nearly 300 attendees at the historic Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway Theatre. Our collective goal was to celebrate, upskill and inspire entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, and microbusinesses in the Baltimore area through keynotes, educational sessions and the ability for microbusinesses to speak with our GoDaddy Guides.
I had the honor to start the event presenting with Golshan Javadian Ph.D from Morgan State University. I spent my portion highlighting the incredible impact microbusinesses have on not only our country, but the Baltimore community. I shared insights from GoDaddy’s Venture Forward research initiative, like the fact that Baltimore microbusiness owners are optimistic about their business, and many (84%) would like to grow the size of their business. Golshan then offered insights from the Empower Baltimore participants, including their strengths, challenges, and more. Empower by GoDaddy is our global social impact program that equips entrepreneurs in underserved communities with training, tools, and peer networks to accelerate their journeys.
Following that discussion, entrepreneurs broke out into education sessions designed to help participants learn and engage with other Baltimore entrepreneurs. Some of the highlights were sessions on digital and social media marketing tips, building your brand and best practices for website marketing.
Our incredible GoDaddy Guides supported local entrepreneurs throughout the evening by providing advice on their businesses, helping to resolve issues with their websites, and empowering attendees with knowledge about SEO, email marketing, and social media. In referring to their one-on-one guide session, one participant exclaimed:
He changed my life – he told me I was letting others choose my voice and he told me, it’s my business, I determine my voice.
With quotes like that, it’s no surprise that our Guides were busy throughout the evening.
I also shared the stage with Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott as the last keynote to discuss key initiatives he and his team are doing in Baltimore to help people start and maintain a small business, including reforming policies and legislation that historically created barriers to starting a business. In my time at GoDaddy, I’ve spoken with mayors from towns and cities across the country, and after spending some time with Mayor Scott, it is clear that he cares about his city and when he spoke, everyone in that room listened. I am eager to witness where his political career takes him. Prior to leaving the stage, Mayor Scott recognized the graduates of our Empower by GoDaddy Baltimore program.
The night ended in what I think was one of the best ways possible, with a sense of hope and pride for the city of Baltimore. The GoDaddy team screened the newly released season of Made in America. Made in America is GoDaddy’s award-winning episodic YouTube docuseries that tells the inspiring stories of entrepreneurs beating the odds. The series followed two Empower by GoDaddy Baltimore graduates, Susan Clayton, owner of WhitePaws RunMitts and April and Tyron Harper, owners of Harp Vision. We watched their journeys including the ups, downs and obstacles they overcame. Their stories and the story of the City of Baltimore were powerful. Through applause, cheers and tears, the audience was captivated.
As I said, many of us left this event feeling empowered by the entrepreneurs we met and felt a sense of excitement that ‘wow, we get to work with these amazing microbusinesses every day.’ I’ll leave you with this quote from our partner, Bakari Jones at Impact Hub, as I think it truly encapsulates what our team was hoping to achieve from this event.
This event gave voice and legitimacy to a community that often gets left out. It’s exciting to see corporations doing important things, engaging Baltimore at a grassroots level, and changing lives.
You can download the slides from the event here: