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It’s a packed week in Durham by design, with an accent on founders of color and attracting investors. 

Twelve early-stage tech led by black founders arrived last weekend for the first week-long Google for Entrepreneurs Exchange Black Founders hosted by longtime partners Google for Entrepreneurs and American Underground. The intense dose of mentoring aims to prepare founders to seek and close capital, taking aim at the documented funding gap says American Underground's Chief Strategist Adam Klein. The event attracted companies from as nearby as Raleigh and as distant as Los Angeles.

"American Underground is deeply committed to supporting the growth and success of underrepresented founders, and are well-positioned in the community to help bridge the gap between founders seeking funding with mentors and investors,” says Nicole Froker, Partner Engagement Manager with Google for Entrepreneurs. “This is what Google for Entrepreneurs, and the Exchange program, are all about. We are proud to partner with AU on the program, and plug into the BWS Homecoming event that so naturally aligns with this mission."

Yesterday, the second Black Wall Street Homecoming dove into its lineup of company and community focused programs in partnership with North Carolina Central University. 

The intersection of these events and audiences translated into a near-capacity crowd for yesterday’s Helpfest with Brian Brackeen, CEO of Kairos, a venture-backed AI facial recognition and processing software company. 

Jes Averhart founder of BWS along with Talib Graves-Manns Durham’s first CODE 2040 Entrepreneur in Residence and Tobias Rose founder of Kompleks Creative, says that close to 200 attendees have registered, most of them paying ticket holders, an uptick from the number of daily attendees at last year's free events. 

“There’s something about having this critical mass in Durham. These programs have shared missions and work to address challenges black and under represented founders face,” says Averhart. "The density is really key."

Sessions for both events continue through Friday, culminating in a pitch event for the companies invited to the week-long intensive. 
We’ll continue our coverage, day by day. 

Editor’s Note: I’m a volunteer mentor a company for the Google for Entrepreneurs Exchange.