All Articles Tagged "black entrepreneurs"
A new crowdfunding site, currently in beta, is focusing on getting funding and capital for African-American entrepreneurs. BlackStartup.com was started by a group of Morehouse College alumni, all Omega Psi Phi fraternity brothers, and is accepting applications from companies and organizations founded by African Americans.
The companies will use the site as a crowdfunding platform, and BlackStartup.com also has resources and a blog to support business owners. CEO Nate Bennett Fleming, who is an adjunct professor of law at the University of the District of Columbia’s School of Law, researched crowdfunding and African-American business, determining that while African Americans have a lot of business ideas, they often lack the access to capital to get the ideas off the ground.
“I wanted to create a solution to address that problem,” he said. “At this point, we do the crowdfunding and address increasing access to capital and as we expand, we’ll create partnerships with on-ground organizations that look to encouraging entrepreneurship and support entrepreneurs to help with mentoring.”
So far, the for-profit BlackStartup.com has received more than 10 applications over the past couple weeks from businesses ranging from technology companies to nonprofits to artistic endeavors.
There has been a lot said lately about how women can rise up the corporate ranks. Well, there are other women who decided to take their careers into their own hands and create their own corporate reality. We have asked nine female business owners what they like most about being an entrepreneur.
From Black Voices
Think HBCU alumni, and a familiar refrain of names usually comes to mind — Morehouse’s Spike Lee, Howard’s Debbie Allen, Tuskegee’s Tom Joyner. They headline a historic list of artists, athletes, politicians and community servants that have shaped American culture, and defined the black American experience.
While historic and lengthy, the lineage of black college alumni also plays a distinct role in shaping today’s negative-trending narrative on these institutions. The best graduates, like their relevance, are things of the past.
But Black colleges continue to produce exceptional talent across a wide-range of industries and professions. Here’s a primer on HBCU alumni you need to watch out for in 2013 –- and those esteemed HBCU alumni whose careers they most closely resemble.
Read the rest at Black Voices
From Black Voices
Black Friday is here and we’re all looking for great gifts for our loved ones. If you’re also looking to spend some of your hard-earned dollars with black-owned small businesses, we’ve got the perfect online fix for you.
Back by popular demand, we’ve compiled another list of amazing Etsy stores all run by entrepreneurs of color. You can buy everything from jewelry to natural beauty products to beautiful prints. All handmade, all black businesses!
If you know of any black-owned Etsy stores we may have missed, let us know in the comments.
Read more at BlackVoices.com.
Brian Shields started IncubateNYC, an educational community and incubation program for entrepreneurs, with co-founder Marcus Mayo in January 2012. “We designed our incubation program specifically to help aspiring entrepreneurs get started the right way and to continue to make progress. We accomplish this through the power of community,” reads the group’s website. The organization currently has 60 alumni who have gone through the incubation program, and is planning to expand more in 2013.
Shields spoke to Madame Noire about diversity within the technology industry and among entrepreneurs, advice for starting a business, and his personal journey with IncubateNYC.
Madame Noire: Tell us more about IncubateNYC and your role there.
Brian Shields: IncubateNYC is an entrepreneurial education organization that provides people curriculum and content through experiences. We’re really big on learning by doing and everything we do is tailored adult education that helps people learn in the most effective way. To learn sales, we make them pitch, which is obvious. Or to teach market research fundamentals, we make participants go out and talk to people. We make people learn things by executing it and we provide content around it.
Marcus and I have known each other for 10 years and tried to start a bunch of businesses, but we weren’t super passionate about any of them. We’ve been angel investing for a long time and decided that, because we’ve seen so many great things through entrepreneurs, learned a ton from working with and advising them, and funding them and seeing great exits, we decided to create an academy that provided people the education they needed to be successful.
MN: What are the goals for Incubate?
BS: From a business standpoint, this year is really about rocking out with the companies that we have. We’ve had about 60 founders come through so far in our six months of existence. So it is about enriching the alumni program and continued incubation.
And for next year, our goal is to roll out a la carte classes for people in three areas: business, product development, and industry expertise. One of the most important things is you have to know the industry you’re in and people who are entrepreneurial really thirst for learning more from people. We bring in new people once a month to talk about different industries. We’re going to be doing music in January.
MN: You said there are 60 alumni so far. What are some of the success stories from IncubateNYC?
BS: One example is a company called The Women’s Age, which is a media business for women to have a conversation about their ages and aging gracefully. This is a woman who is about 33 but most of the people in her family have died really young. She’s created this platform to celebrate women aging gracefully, through a combination of written media and a ton of guest bloggers and video content, like talk shows and interviews.
When she first came to the program she had a business idea that she wasn’t totally connected to, but [the experiential learning] eventually got her to this. She’s been doing this for two months, taught herself HTML and CSS, and started her own website.
MN: What is the percentage of blacks and women in your program?
BS: Our program is about 70 percent minorities, meaning not white males. It’s not by design. We are open to everybody and aren’t minority focused, but it is partially because Marcus and I are minorities and people gravitate to people they know. There are great programs like NewME, which are specifically minority focused. But we have the belief that the best want to work with the best, so we hope to attract the best.
MN: What can be done overall to get more minorities into technology and digital fields? How can the industry attract African Americans?
BS: You have to make tech cool. “Cool” is a relative term and “cool” is different for people who have grown up with two parents or parents who were doctors or teachers or bankers. They understand the fundamentals of business or math and science, and where that can take your career. But for a lot of minorities, in particular African Americans, our culture isn’t defined totally by that, [particularly] if there is a separation in the family foundation.
It would be great to elevate role models who people can relate to. That’s a big part of it. If I were to rewind the clock, I don’t know if I would relate to Mark Zuckerberg. Think about the impact that Barack Obama’s election had on people’s vision of what’s possible in this country, race-agnostic, and I think that can be applied to a business industry that is meritocratic in and of itself.
MN: What about diversity within investors? Is that something that is changing or on the rise?
BS: It’s changing. It’s the chicken or the egg thing when you are trying to get people in. It’s the same thing with women. Do you need more women investors or do you need more women entrepreneurs? Can you have one without the other?
If you look at the way the VC market is going now; it’s going more heavily operational. Entrepreneurs want to work with a funder or investor who understands what they are dealing with and who can help them think through questions, not just somebody who is about money. Entrepreneurs want to work with somebody who understands them and you can cut that down any segment or line: women, minorities.
MN: What is your advice for people who are starting out with their own business and how to jump in?
BS: My general advice is, look, it’s going to be hard and you aren’t going to make the right decisions. There’s a lot of research that says 2/3 of business decisions, either in new business or corporate, is going to be wrong. So just go do it; you’re not going to be right. But being wrong is the fastest teacher and you’ll learn the right answer sooner. And just stick with it. The hardest thing we find is getting started and then sticking with it. We tried to start like eight businesses, but we couldn’t stick with it because we weren’t passionate about it. So find that thing that really matters.
Quote that inspires you: “Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man; But sooner or later the man who wins is the one who thinks he can.” – Walter D. Wintle, “The Man Who Thinks He Can”
Favorite Website: LinkedIn’s News Section
Current Read: The Start-Up of You, by Reid Hoffman
Who Inspires You and Why: My Mom. Whenever I think about where I am today and the viewpoints I have on life, I have always appreciated my mom for that.
America is known for her spirit of inventiveness, and black women have been major contributors in our country’s history of ingenuity. From the resourcefulness of women who rose from the ashes of slavery to the brilliant creativity of modern day geniuses, our lives are immeasurably better because of these 7 sisters and their big ideas.
Marie Van Brittan Brown
Born in 1922, Marie Van Brittan Brown was the first person to develop the patent for closed circuit television security. Her mechanism consisted of a motorized camera and four peepholes. The camera could be moved from one peephole to the next, and the camera’s images were displayed on a monitor. The door could also be unlocked remotely using an electrical switch. Brown’s invention was patented in 1969, and became the framework for the modern closed circuit television system that is widely used for surveillance, crime prevention, and traffic monitoring.
Meet Tia Williams, former beauty editor (Elle, Glamour, Lucky, Teen People, Essence), best selling best-selling author (It Chicks, The Color Of Beauty) and 1/3 of the team behind The Fly Cut, an innovate weekly deal website selling discounted vouchers to hair salons specializing in African-American and ethnic hair. Yes, you heard correctly: discounts to get your hair did. Together with her sisters Devon and Laura Williams, the trio has been working overtime to launch the website, which will not only make it possible for consumers to experience 5-star salon services at some of the most sought-after Black and ethnic hair salons without paying full price, but also offer members of The Fly Cut exclusive information about their favorite salon as well as tips on finding a salon fitting for his/or her specific hair needs.
CB: So The Fly Cut is like Groupon meets The Daily Candy but with an emphasis on ethnic hair salons. It’s brilliant yet I am surprised that no one else has thought of this before? What inspired the concept behind The Fly Cut, particularly the name and why the focus on African American and ethnic hair salons?
Tia Williams: My sisters and I always talked about working together, and The Fly Cut seemed like the perfect business at the perfect time! The economy sucks, no one has any money, but black and brown women need for their hair to look fierce. As a beauty editor, I have access to some of the top hair salons in the country — so we thought, why not share it with the masses by offering major discounts on top salon services? Gorgeous hair at affordable prices! The Groupons and Living Socials aren’t targeting black women and their hair, exclusively. It seemed like a no-brainer. “The Fly Cut” refers to both a fabulous haircut and a “cut” or a discounted service.
CB: This is basically a family-owned business, founded by you and your sisters Devon and Lauren Williams. What roles has each sister played in establishing The Fly Cut and share with us how the experience has been of building a business and a brand with family?
Part of what makes this venture so exciting is that we each bring something unique to the table. I’ve been a beauty editor for 15 years, so I know the hair industry inside and out. Devon’s a corporate and entertainment lawyer, so she’s the legal genius of the operation. And Lauren’s the deputy editor at TheRoot.com, and knows the online space like the back of her hand. It’s kind of a dream team moment!
Oprah has a way of inspiring people to find their greatness. In 2007, Don Imus’ negative comments about the Rutgers’ women basketball team turned the spotlight on how women of color are depicted in mainstream media. The outrage and dialogue around that on an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show inspired Gina McCauley, 36, to do something about it. “I was convicted in that moment and launched What About Our Daughters with the narrow mission of getting Black women to defund foolishness,” she says. Now, five years later, McCauley’s site receives an estimated 60,000 views a month and continues to fearlessly confront negative images of Black women and the companies that support them, either directly or indirectly, such as Ford, whose spokespersonKevin Hart has been under fire for comments made about dark skin Black women.
Based in Austin, TX, McCauley has geared her career towards blogging and the digital space. She is the co-founder of Blogging While Brown (June 1-2, 2012), an annual conference in its fifth year and serves as a godmother of sorts to dozens of new bloggers building their presence online. Among her many accomplishments, she’s been named 25 Most Influential African Americans of 2007 by Essence Magazine, made The Root’s 2010 list of emerging and established leaders in the African-American community and won Blog of the Year at the 2002 Black Weblog Awards. Now, McCauley adds a Black Blogger Month honor to the list.
Read the rest at Black Enterprise
While most college students scrape for pizza money just to enjoy a decent meal, Theresa Williamson found a more creative way to make ends meet. As a freshman on the campus of North Carolina A&T, her Secret Santa presented her with a gift that would keep on giving.
“Our Secret Santa gift limit was $20,” Williamson recalls. “I told my friend, if you get my name I want a nail kit,” and she got one. Such an inexpensive gift planted a seed of creativity in Williamson and years later blossomed into a successful career in fashion, beauty and her latest venture, Polish and Company.
The winter semester in 1990 found Theresa rushing from class to the dorms offering students nail services for a fraction of the cost. After a few months of applying full-sets of acrylic nails on friends, Williamson quickly gained a name for herself as the resident nail lady. Business was booming. That same year, when Spring rolled around, A&T students were gearing up for the Aggie Festival, and talk of Williamson’s work spread fast. Her services were in high demand.
“During Aggie Fest I offered full sets for $10,” recalls Williamson. ”I was able to get all of my clients by word of mouth. The students would see someone’s hands and my friends would say, ‘oh she’s doing nails and only charging $10′. That weekend I made $1,300 doing nails.”
In 1994, Williamson became a first generation college student, earning a bachelor’s degree in fashion and design. She immediately enrolled in cosmetology school during the Fall of that same year. After racking up the required hours to practice cosmetology, she made the decision to make a career out of doing what she loved. In 2001, with a built-in clientele from her days at North Carolina A&T, she began working as a nail technician at Spectrum Salon in Greensboro, NC. Business was consistent – so much so that she was able to purchase a brand new green convertible BMW 325. That’s when she realized her dreams were bigger than the tiny booth she manicured nails in.
“No one knew I’d bought the car, and when the salon owner saw that I’d bought a new car, he went up on my booth rent,” she says laughing. “So there was a little house across the street from the salon that was vacant, I checked on it and I moved in 60-days later.”
May of 2003 marked the grand opening of Hints, Williamson’s high-end boutique with a beauty and nail salon attached. “One room was for nails and one room was for the boutique,” she says. Hints continued to grow forcing her to relocate the boutique to a bigger location in downtown Greensboro. Nine years later all three legs of Williamson’s businesses proved to be successful.
Riding on the wave of success, Williamson realized she could service her clients better if only she had a better quality product. Williamson says she felt that most polishes weren’t durable on natural nails and were full of toxins, so she invested her own money and began working with a group of chemists to create a polish that was safe, environmentally friendly and free of toxins. In November 2011 she launched Polish & Company, a line of $12 per bottle nail polishes, which she says were inspired by her love for fashion and beauty. She works as the creative mind behind the branding and creation of the fun contemporary colors.
“I just know polish from doing nails for 22 years,” says Williamson, who still does nails full-time. “Most of my customers have been with me since I was 24. I wanted to do something fun, so I said, why not (polishes).”
Now, forty-years-old, Williamson is thrust into a no-so-word-of-mouth world of building business. She has taken to Twitter to promote Polish & co., and although she says that social media is “not her era”, the new media platform appeals to the format of the unisex nail line. Her vision is to see both men and women of this generation rocking Polish & co., namely Chris Brown.
“If I could create a color for Chris Brown, I would name it “Cutie Pie”, because I think he’s the cutest ‘lil thang,” she laughs. “It would be something on the wild side, something between a fuchsia and an orange.”
As for the future of the fast drying, exquisite, matte colors, which finish with a top quality shine, “I would like to branch out and do mass production. I see my products in Target, or a local drug store, but I would like to keep Polish & Co. as the higher end brand,” Williamson shares.
“It’s funny because women who visit my clothing store will be like, ‘I can’t wear these jeans. These jeans are too tight’. So you think blue, denim, a bold color,” Theresa says, speaking of the inspiration for the polish named “Jeans Too Tight”. A bright yellow is labeled “Caution!” and “Text or Email” goes on as a smooth sherbet. If you want to rock minty green, tell your manicurist to polish you up with “Cash Only”.
In today’s fast-moving times, we’re all looking for a little support and validation. In that regard, Lauren deLisa Coleman just may be one of this new era’s powerati-to-watch. Coleman, who also writes for Madame Noire Business and profiles fellow tech professionals, is well-positioned as a rising, formidable information source and media personality for the new digi-speak era. She runds a new social site venture and leading podcast under the umbrella of SmartPower.
Prior to her current work, the Columbia University graduate founded Punch Media Group (PMG), a strategy and consulting company with offices in the U.S. and Europe specializing in digital space whose clients ranged from Microsoft to Snoop Dogg and was responsible for at least $1 billion worth of goods sold via clients. Prior to PMG, Coleman held several positions at MTV Networks in New York City.
With the release of her first eBook, The Rise of the SmartPower Class, we turned the tables on the media maven. Check out what she had to say, her first eBook and was included in its first week on Amazon’s “Hot New Releases – Best: Media Studies” so we thought we’d check in with her to see what all the fuss is about….
What inspired you to write this book?
Well, it sprang from just watching what is going on in the world today coupled with my consulting work on a number of projects. I’ve always been very curious about people and their behavior. I think a lot of that started in my music industry days and dealing with hip hop. As I moved further into the tech space as a mobile strategist after that, however, and looked both the benefit and disruption that brought to people, I decided to analyze, write and speak further about it – particularly from the importance of adding a female perspective to the mix. I wanted to help people better navigate and make sense of turbulent times and somehow my book and other media assets have unfolded. What has been missing in helping people is a more hip, organic analysis of what’s going on today and a nurturing/respect of each individual. That’s what I’m bringing – something totally new and a result of my unique background and work experience.
How has your book been received so far?
It’s just getting started, but it’s been received very well so far. I was thrilled be listed the first week on Amazon’s Hot New Releases: Best – Media Studies” just under Andrew Breitbart’s book .
What’s the major take away?
That we need to be very much aware of a great shift that is happening in our society and not be left behind, particularly as Black women. We out index for example, in social media frequency from mobile phones but we can benefit from being more savvy about the power that this represents and how to best use it! This book will help people while also being pretty entertaining. I’ve included quotes from a variety of notables such as Chuck D and the HBO executive for “Real Time with Bill Maher.”