Jyrance Billingsley II grew up in Tulsa. He will admit that he was an average student but had big dreams. His love of the Tulsa community kept him close to home, attending Tulsa Community College followed by OSU-Tulsa. During this time, he continually thought about his main dream of helping other Black Tulsans. It took years of work to refine his ideas, but it paid off when he launched “black tech streeta name honoring Tulsa’s Black Wall Street.
Billingsley’s new venture serves as a support system for black entrepreneurs. And people everywhere are starting to notice it. Billingsley recently received Tulsa’s Young Professionals Legacy Award and was shortlisted for the first For(bes) Champions Culture 50 and classified as a “Rising Star”. Get to know this bright star that shines in Tulsa and beyond!
TK: Tell us about your childhood in Tulsa.
Tyrance: I was born and raised in North Tulsa. I attended Tulsa Public Schools. My teachers helped raise me. I met some really impactful teachers, like John Waldron, who believed in me and tried to push me into who they thought I could be.
Regardless of not growing up with a ton of resources, my parents always told me I could do whatever I wanted to do. When I was little, my father bought me Forbes magazine. Even at a young age, I knew I wanted to be in the magazine one day; I didn’t know how I was going to get there. After high school, I first thought of going into politics.
TK: Share your experience at Tulsa Community College – what did you do after TCC?
Tyrance: After high school, I knew I still had a long way to go. TCC was a great place to study. I got involved on campus and served as student government president. This opportunity led me to become president of the Oklahoma SGA, where I chaired the Oklahoma State Regents Advisory Council for Higher Education. From there, I interned for Mayor GT Bynum, helping with economic policy and civic engagement. While there, I apprenticed to State Senator Kevin Matthews and State Representative Regina Williams.
TK: How has your experience in politics helped shape your career path?
Tyrance: I loved politics, but realized that my path to helping transform the world would be through technology and entrepreneurship. I went back to my roots thinking about entrepreneurship. I got a scholarship from the George Kaiser Family Foundation, which helped me understand start-ups and their scale.
TK: Tell us why you founded Black Tech Street.
Tyrance: Being born and raised in Tulsa and being a relative of the survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre, I asked myself the question, “What would Black Wall Street have been like if it had been sustained and not destroyed?” I admired the level of tenacity and resilience it took for these black entrepreneurs to build businesses during Jim Crow laws. They really used original thinking. That’s what I’m trying to do again, and I believe technology is key.
TK: Why do you see technology as key?
Tyrance: The tech industry is an industry where you can create incredible wealth in a short time – that coupled with the need for jobs in this industry. It is the central support of global innovation. I saw an incredible wealth creation opportunity for black people. Our mission is to try and revive Black Wall Street and it’s through black embracing technology and STEM
TK: How do we solve the black wealth gap?
Tyrance: I believe the answer is technology, but it also opens the door to so much more. Opportunity in the tech industry needs people with different skill sets. I don’t want them to think it’s just computers; the ecosystem involves people from different industries to help it thrive, including creatives.
TK: Tell us about your hope for black kids in Tulsa.
Tyrance: I want black people to look in the mirror and know they can do anything. I want all young black talent in Tulsa to know that Black Tech Street and a whole host of other organizations are working to ensure you grow with access to resources that allow you to reach your full potential and live up to it. of your ancestors. names.
TK: What does it mean to you to receive the Forbes award?
Tyrance: It was truly a highlight of the past year! In this inaugural list, I was one of the 50 champions of For(bes) The Culture, which focuses on black and brown people doing amazing work in their communities. It was a huge honor! This award is for everyone, especially those north of Tulsa who think they can’t do it, because they absolutely can!
TK: You’re also a co-founder of Tulsa Creative Engine – tell us about your interest in that.
Tyrance: We want to support local artists and make Tulsa a music hub, but also combine it with the tech industry. Arts and innovation are intimately linked. So when you have both in the same area, explosive growth occurs. We are preparing to host an accelerator for artists to follow the program and then receive money to further their career as an artist.
TK: What are you passionate about right now?
Tyrance: I’m passionate about this vision and I have a vision of life that says human beings are here to do two things: love others and find ways to be positively creative. Working with Black Tech Street allows me to do both.
To learn more about Black Tech Street, visit blacktechstreet.com.
You can listen to Nancy’s visit with Tyrance on the Sharing Passion and Purpose podcast: partpassionandgoal.com.