Columbus is full of young creatives with seemingly endless ideas for business ventures. Luckily, these budding entrepreneurs have places to go in the city to present and cultivate their visions. But twin brothers Branden and Bruce Jones, 31, noticed that certain demographics are often missing from these settings.

Columbus is full of young creatives with seemingly endless ideas for business ventures. Luckily, these budding entrepreneurs have places to go in the city to present and cultivate their visions. But twin brothers Branden and Bruce Jones, 31, noticed that certain demographics are often missing from these settings.

At an event last winter at Copious where attendees pitched ideas and gained feedback on their concepts for new startups, the brothers were two of only a handful of African-Americans at the Brewery District space.

"That was pretty much our 'ah-ha moment,'" Bruce said. "Like, wow, we know a lot more black people actually want to get into the tech and startup business, but we don't think they have the necessary resources."

In March the duo launched Blk Hack, an educational and inspirational monthly event series designed to help African-Americans get into the tech industry and startup space. For the first event, they brought in multiple guest speakers: Sandee Kastrul, president of leadership and technology program i.c. stars in Chicago; Jay Bobo, co-founder of local card-game company Cards for All People, and Calvin Cooper, a director at Columbus venture capital firm NCT Ventures.

More than 80 people attended the first event, which also featured food, alcohol and a DJ. The social, casual atmosphere at the events encourages attendees to feel comfortable while networking.

"Some people like wearing suits; some people don't," Branden said. "We want to accept everybody."

The next event, "The Art of Design, Build and Pitch," will take place Monday, Sept. 19 at Rev1 Ventures, a venture development organization that hosts all Blk Hack events. The panel will include user experience and user interface designer Natalie Howard, startup business consultant Robert Nicholson, Soulo Theory Creative Owner and CEO Marshall Shorts and Paul Proffitt, founder of SunDown RunDown, which hosts pitch events and provides resources for entrepreneurs. The September event will focus on getting a concept past the idea stage and in front of investors.

Branden and Bruce know all about that process; they are currently working on their own startup venture, Fliqs, an online streaming platform that will aggregate old African-American TV shows and films not shown by networks or offered on streaming services. They developed a pitch and prototype and also completed Rev1 Ventures' "Concept Academy," a course that helps entrepreneurs determine if their business concepts are viable.

Currently in need of funding and content, Branden and Bruce have their sights set on the Los Angeles market. "That's where all of the studios are and people in the entertainment field," Bruce said. "Not a lot of people here in the Midwest have that access."

The Jones brothers have had an entrepreneurial spirit since their childhood on the South Side, where they worked a newspaper route. One summer their father, a coach, gave them candy and merchandise leftover from his basketball program. "[We] sold all of it to all of our newspaper customers [and] walked away with maybe $800 that day," Branden said.

Their knack for business came in handy later after they failed to make the Ohio State football team and decided not to finish college.

"We took our talents to the club," Bruce said. They got into event promotion, even booking the rapper 2 Chainz at the now-closed Screamin' Willies club, though the results were not ideal. "We brought him too early and it was a flop," Bruce said. "And like maybe three months later he came out with a hot song and everybody was going crazy."

Additionally, Bruce gained experience as a freelance videographer and production assistant, which sparked his interest in the film industry. To make ends meet, the brothers started an office-cleaning company, which they still run today.

Though they may eventually relocate, Branden and Bruce will keep Blk Hack going in Columbus, and they have plans to expand to Cleveland, Cincinnati and other cities nationwide in the next year.

"We just want everyone to come in, have fun, network [and] jump on if you like somebody's idea," Branden said. "That's how they're doing it out there in Silicon Valley."