Editor's note: Soledad O'Brien chronicles the journey of eight African-American entrepreneurs in "Black in America: The New Promised Land – Silicon Valley" at 8 p.m., 11 p.m., and 2 a.m. ET on February 11 and February 12.
By Claudia Morales, CNN
(CNN) - The NewMe Accelerator first took eight African-American entrepreneurs to Silicon Valley to immerse them in the world of technology startups. But since CNN followed the tech incubator for “Black in America: The New Promised Land – Silicon Valley”, its founders have gone bigger, creating a NewMe Community online. It now has about 465 members in 65 cities.
On Thursday night, nearly 300 minority entrepreneurs met in 10 cities around the country, coming together for the first time and keeping NewMe's momentum going.
NewMe was the first technology startup accelerator for minority-owned businesses. Founders Angela Benton and Wayne Sutton said they felt compelled to expand the NewMe brand to other cities because of the large response from people who watched CNN's documentary.
"NewMe is a brilliant idea! And I would totally love to be a part of the community…" Victor Harrison posted on the NewMe Facebook page November 21.
“We saw the energy, we saw the conversations and we got tons of e-mails asking how can we get involved,” Sutton said.
They designed the NewMe Community to increase local networking across the country and help entrepreneurs come together and learn from one another.
Members of the Durham, North Carolina, community had never seen anything like it.
“They were telling me they’ve never seen this many minorities in a room together, talking about building businesses and tech startup ideas,” NewMe cofounder Wayne Sutton said.
They pitched their ideas, talked about business strategy and some sought out software engineers and future partners for collaborations.
Twitter lit up with positive responses.
This was just the start for NewMe Community. The group is still in its beginning stages, but founders plan to set up more cross-country meetups with the help of local organizers.
“People who may not be able to apply to the accelerator or come to Silicon Valley can get some kind of education, like a speaker series on entrepreneurship or a workshop on programming,” Benton said.“The fact that we were able to get this many people together across the country in under one month, I’m excited about that."
Access to mentors is one of the major goals for NewMe Community, and founders plan to incorporate educational seminars in future meet-up events.
“They were able to learn the proper process to create a sustainable Internet startup, " said Interactive One’s Navarrow Wright, one of the Silicon Valley accelerator’s mentors. They're "taking that knowledge back to the local community, they can teach others who don’t have access to that information."
“I can’t leave my family to go to Silicon Valley," said entrepreneur Lamar Tyler, who organized the fast-growing group in Atlanta,"but the ability to do something here in our community is amazing."
Talisha Hill said she started a group in Washington, D.C., because she wanted her hometown to have the same resources and education the NewMe Accelerator offered.
“I felt like getting them together in an incubator-style meeting would spark some of the same positive results that it did out in Silicon Valley,” she said.