Most of us can relate to the story of Ejovi Newere. He grew up in the Bed-Sty section of Brooklyn and did not have it easy coming up. After watching a close friend gunned down as a teenager and his mother succumb to drugs, Nuwere began searching for an escape and found it in technology. His uncle was an college educated man who own a computer. Ejovi began playing on the computer which led to a life of hacking. However, the life of hacking ended when Ejovi began to take the ethical approach. Now Ejovi is a self made millionare who is trying to help others become more technologically savvy. Below are the three things you can learn from his story.
Do the right thing
Ejovi broke down a company security access and called them to show them how he did it. He didn’t do it for a reward, he did it because it was the right thing to do. He was offered a career after that which led to him creating his own company.
Mikaila Ulmer is on her way to be a millionare at the tender age of 10 years old. She created a special product called Bee Sweet Lemonade. She started off very small. But now her product is in grocery store chain Whole Foods across the country. Mikaila Ulmer was invited to present her business and lessons she learned at Google in Austin, Texas. With a room full of Google executives, Mikaila present the lessons she has learned from being a entrepreneur since the age of five. Take a look for yourself.
Working hard is a must. Mikaila talks about having to wear a lot of hats when you are starting out. Marketing, Product Development, and etc are areas that you have to work by yourself if you do not have a team behind you. However, it is during this start up phase that you have to remain focused and complete all of your goals in order to become profitable.
In the media, there is so much negativity about how our children murder one another in our community. While this is true, the media never celebrates our children that overcome this and do something that is extraordinary. Therefore, we will celebrate our own at Urban Money. Did you know that Asia Newson is 11 year old kidpreneur that pitches her business and product on the streets of Detroit. Yes, you read that correctly. She is on the streets putting in work in a positive way.
Asia’s mission is to “recognize the true potential in every child and to develop intrinsic security that makes optimum use of their individualized talent “. She is also teaching other children about starting their own business and how to sale their product.
Just stop for a second. If you are not impressed by how this little young lady is changing her community, I’m not sure why. Not only is she fearless enough to approach strangers for capital to fund her business, but she is trying to help other kids do the same thing. Asia Newson, you ROCK! Continue to be a pillar in our community because we need people like you to uplift our community and change it for the better. You can check out more about Asia Newson and her Super Business Girl company here.
Destiny Jones has one ultimate accessory: lip gloss. It’s not your everyday glamazon type of infatuation. She stockpiles it, repeatedly reapplying in the name of beauty. Now the 20-year-old daughter of one of hip-hop’s greatest has launched her own line of shimmering lip colors.
It wasn’t something she decided on a whim. The seed of entrepreneurship was planted by her father, Nas, from childhood. As a girl, Jones recalls him telling her she’d one day be a businesswoman. “He would always tell me that,” Jones says, “even when I was really, really young.”
Although she admits she didn’t always know what he meant about product lines and businesses, she understood the message. Jones says she regarded it as, “OK, I can do both. I can live my dreams and I can be a business woman and that can be a part of my dream.”
But why lip gloss? Other than her habitual application, Jones says, “I’ve always loved makeup ever since I was a little kid playing in my mom’s makeup box.” And although she accumulated an extensive collection, she’d yet to find that perfect color and texture. By creating her own gloss line she was able to create a collection of shades that are neither pasty or sticky — her biggest pet peeves — and which she believes are flattering for all skin tones.
From concept to buyer sample the process took two years, most of which was spent deciding on the dopest name. “I didn’t really take it seriously until I finally settled on the name for it,” says Jones. “From there I just ran with it, and it started to pick up pretty quick.”
The brand’s name, Lipmatic, pays homage to her father’s debut album, Illmatic. And it came to her in a brainstorming session with friends. “When I said it everybody got excited ’cause it just sounded good,” says Jones. “It rolled off the tongue and it just made sense marketing wise.”
It also got her dad excited.
Jones says the personal and creative connection led Nas to think of it as more than just his daughter’s foray into cosmetics. He connected Jones with her business partner, Kiran Goraya, the creative director of his clothing line, HSTRY.
Jones says neither she or Goraya knew much about lip gloss at the outset, but through research and product development they’ve both learned much about a competitive beauty industry.
“It’s just great to see how far we’ve come with it because I think at first we were both a little bit lost with how we were going to do this,” says Jones.
Lipmatic debuted in a big way, with support from Nas’s Instagram post, a distribution deal with streetwear retailer Karmaloop and the accidentally strategic timing of Illmatic‘s 20th anniversary.
The collection features four shades, each a play on track titles from Nas’s iconic album — Goraya’s idea to capitalize on the plan to target the rapper’s fan base.
Lipmatic is certified organic, opening it to a market of natural product junkies, though that wasn’t the intent.
If you’ve ever dreamed of starting a fashion business, you want to read this. Seun Olubodun, 32, is the founder Duke & Winston, an apparel brand started in 2009 with a cult-like following. Seun has managed to accomplish what few have in just 6 years, turning a grassroots t-shirt company into a thriving retail business. Seun, an experienced entrepreneur, wasn’t feeling challenged by his job anymore and went search of new opportunities.
While visiting his parents in Boston, Seun walked into Johnny Cupcakes, a t-shirt store that smelled like a bakery. He noticed the store provided a unique experience only making one thing – t-shirts – but selling them over and over with a line out the door. A few weeks later, Seun quit his job and sold his Audi A6 to the first cash buyer for $5,200 to start his t-shirt company. “I needed to move quickly before I got discouraged,” Seun says. “If I take the cash right now, I can get started tomorrow.”
Seun began vending at events all around Philadelphia. His first table at a festival sold 40 of the 50 t-shirts he made. He typically paid $50 a table and made $600 to $2,000 per event. He used the money he earned to buy more inventory. The $5,000 quickly ran out and when he couldn’t pay rent anymore his roommates let him move into the basement on the couch next to the washer and dryer. That didn’t stop Seun; he kept going. Eventually he earned enough to by a van and put the Duke& Winston logo on it. He drove it all around the city and created buzz. “I knew I didn’t have a lot behind me so I wanted to make sure my presentation was above and beyond,” says Seun.
It wasn’t long before he landed his first retail account from Matthew Izzo, a local men’s shop, and Urban Outfitters followed with an order for 300 t-shirts that jump-started the business. But Seun never turned away from his grassroots marketing strategies and averages 100 events during the summer months. Two years into the business, he moved into a bi-level ground floor apartment and turned the downstairs into a showroom that looked like a Ralph Lauren store. Seun opened up his living room on the weekends selling 10 to 15 shirts daily from foot traffic on the block.
Duke & Winston made its first $100,000 in business from web sales and Seun’s apartment. When the city found out he was selling without a storefront retail license, they told him to shut down the showroom. Seun’s landlord thought he was innovative, so he jumped in and helped to renew the commercial license that was previously on the property. The Duke & Winston brand has continued to grow and just opened their first flagship store in downtown Philadelphia. Find more out Duke & Winston at http://duke-winston.com/
Starting a business it tough, staying business is even tougher. The fact remains that about 33% of all new ventures close down within two years, and about 50% are out of business within five years, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Only 1 out of four is still around 15 years after opening. However, studies also show that failed entrepreneurs are far more likely to be successful in their second go-around, provided they try again.
Tyler Perry recently wrote to that effect in an email letter he sent to his fan base. “Do you know how many times I tried to be successful at doing plays before it finally worked? From 1992 until 1998, every show I put on flopped. No one showed up, and I lost all my money. I wanted to give up. I thought I had failed, but the truth is, I never failed. Each and every time the show didn’t work, I learned something new. I learned what not to do and what I could do better,” wrote Perry, whose first staged play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed” was considered a financial failure when it first debuted in 1992 before he revamped it and found success taking it on the road and touring from 1998 to 2000.
The Gospel playwright made his foray into films transposing many of his straight-to-DVD stage productions into screen gems, dating back to 2001 when he introduced his play “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” to wide audiences via DVDs that were sold on his Web site. It was the $50.7 million box office success of his 2005 debut “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” that landed him a lucrative first-look, multiyear distribution deal with Lionsgate Entertainment. The rest is history as they say with Hollywood writer/director/producer powerhouse churning out 17 films in 10 years, which have a lifetime gross of about $845 million worldwide, and six television shows.
“You have to understand that what you may perceive to be a failure may very well be an opportunity to learn, grow, get better, and prepare for the next level. If you find the lessons in what you perceive to be failures, then you won’t ever fail at anything,” said Perry. “Everything I learned during the “learning” years (that’s what I call them now) has helped me in the “harvest” years (that’s what I’m living in now). Don’t be hard on yourself. You haven’t failed. Find the lesson so you can use it when you get to your harvest.”
As a child, Cortnie Hutchinson spent countless hours watching her grandmother sew, but she never connected the dots and realized that she was being prepared for a career as a handbag designer.
The owner of Love, Cortnie, a handmade collection of oversized clutches, leather, and calf-hair bucket bags recalls, “My grandmother was super handy so I always wanted to learn how to sew, but never found the time. During the summer of 2011, I was between jobs, so I asked my grandmother to teach me how to sew. While sitting in her kitchen playing around with scrap fabric on her machine, which she later gave to me and I still sew on today, I came up with the idea of making a clutch.”
Now, four years later, Hutchinson has transitioned from employee to entrepreneur and her business continues to thrive. She is completely free from corporate america and owns herself 100%. This is a true testament to how following your passion and finding a way to monetize it can give you a life of fulfillment and purpose. Not to mention a family business that you can pass on to the next generation. This is what entrepreneurship is all about. Use your resources and talents to employ yourself so that you can live, not merely exist.
Cortnie’s grandmother gave her the skill, but it was Cortnie’s vision that allowed her to turn a skill into a income generating business. Below are some clutches that she has designed. You can check her our at http://lovecortnie.com/
Every 90 days, Khadijah and Charles Adams, founders and owners of Marijuana Investment and Private Retreat (MIPR), hold marijuana investment conferences that give inside information on the marijuana industry. With medical marijuana legalized in 23 states and four passing recreational use, MIPR is mobilizing Black investment on a national scale.
Each event, which Khadijah says will soon be taking place in major cities across the country, are geared towards the average person with presentations, and panel discussions that feature experts, analysts, and entrepreneurs that give information about legal marijuana companies, and tips on how to avoid fraudulent stock investments.
Khadijah, who has invested in multiple marijuana-related stocks like Totally Hemp Crazy, says the time is now to invest.
“African Americans and minorities were the ones that were being locked up and imprisoned on marijuana charges after its ban in 1937. I feel like outlawing cannabis was a form of discrimination once people saw that Black people were making money that way. My husband – an African-American man – spent 11 years in jail on marijuana and other drug-related charges and while we have put that behind us, we are now flipping it and embracing the opportunity to build wealth through the very charges that put him behind bars,” Khadijah says. “This is absolutely a movement and these conferences will addressing the fears and the realities that have affected African Americans and the opportunities that they can now be involved in.”
To put things in perspective, Khadijah likened the current cannabis movement with prohibition in the United States, which was a nationwide constitutional ban on the sale, production, importation, and transportation of alcohol, which remained in place from 1920 to 1933. She feels that entrepreneurs like Joseph Kennedy were smart by moving in before the official nationwide legalization of alcohol, which helped the Kennedy family make a fortune. She hopes she can help others do the same in the case of marijuana.
“Some may call Joe Kennedy a bootlegger but I call him a smart man. He invested in alcohol before its federal legalization and he didn’t just invest in the drink – he invested in everything around it like distilleries, and bottling companies, which created wealth, fame, and political power for his family over time,” Khadijah says. “The same can be said for marijuana. We are not saying to invest in the flower, we are teaching people how to invest in companies that support the cannabis industry through stocks. Some of these stocks are selling for literally pennies. Those prices will begin to go up as marijuana becomes legalized across the country. It’s our job to educate our communities of color how to create legitimate portfolios before it’s too expensive to buy shares.”
According to Khadijah, the popularization of the cannabis industry is on the upswing – especially in Denver – with the state bringing in $790 million in the last year. Because of this financial success, she predicts that federal legislation will pass marijuana in the next two to five years, and hopes Black Americans are ready to “get a piece of the pie before its cooked.”
Most companies start out selling one product, but this can be tricky when trying to grow a business.
There are positives, however, to having one main product. You really focus in and create a great and superior product.
“You have the ability to be incredibly niche, and instead of building a product that serves all, you can build a product that is serving an underserved market exceptionally well. Targeting the long tail of the market can lead to great success because you will be able to easily capture most of those who feel underserved,” reports ReadWrite.
This is what Jill Riley is hoping to do with her line of beauty products. She opened her company Alapure Cosmetics in 2013, and the products are centered around one unique ingredient, Marula oil. Marula oil has been used by African women for thousands of years for healing and as a sunscreen. It is extracted from the kernels of the Marula tree. The protein-rich oil is also an antioxidant, has anti-aging properties, and can reduce the appearance of scars.
Riley actually discovered Marula oil while on vacation in South Africa.
“In 2012 we were in South Africa and it was my husband who actually discovered the Marula oil. It was in the hotel soap. He came running out of the bathroom so excited by this soap, you know. And I thought this was strange. He’s a man who doesn’t usually notice such things, but he was like ‘You have to try this soap!’”
That she did and was impressed as well. So impressed they started researching Marula oil on the Internet.
“We found that this stuff was amazing, It was packed with nutrients, fatty acids, and in doing research we realized it wasn’t common in the U.S. at the time so we came back and decided to start this company using Marula oil,” says Riley, who has always been intrigued by beauty, inspired by her extensive travels and her days as a model in Trinidad.
Alapure Cosmetics, an all natural skincare and cosmetics company, offers a variety of products, all based on Marula oil. The products are sold online.
Riley is hoping Marula oil will take off like Shea butter did. And a quick Google search will show more products popping up with Marula oil than when Riley first started her company. “I feel the same will happen with Marula oil as did with Shea butter,” she says.
Still, it will take a lot of marketing to get Marula oil into the same realm as Shea butter products. “Despite coconut oil being the new ‘it’ ingredient, Shea butter remains the old faithful and for good reason. It packs a lot of the same benefits, especially for gals who are transitioning to natural hair. It has a way of getting rid of frizz without weighing down the tresses,” explains Brown. “Although Marula oil is quite expensive, I see beauty brands taking its ‘luxurious’ appeal and infusing it with more affordable products. Hair and makeup junkies love nothing more than finding something that feels ‘designer’ for cheap.”
While Riley may have centered her business thus far around one ingredient, she has found other ways to expand her brand. She has created the “Alapure Lifestyle,” which promoted a healthy living mind, body and spirit as well as uplifting and empowering women to be not only beautiful but confident. This lifestyle, according to Riley, is achieved by using Alapure products, from body lotions, body butter to botanical hand-made soaps, all infused with Marula and other essential oils. “There are a lot of oils and ingredients in Africa that have not been tapped, so there are many more avenues for us,” says Riley, who self-funded her startup and still works a full-time IT job.
She also partners with women’s cooperatives in Africa, where the Marula fruit is harvested, as a way to help empower local women and their families. “We are looking to expand our efforts on this end. In October we are planning to go to Namibia to meet with a women’s cooperative and maybe Botswana,” says Riley.
We all the know the health concerns that comes with drinking alcohol. It can ruin your liver, put a hurt on your kidneys, and quite frankly, it can flat out kill you. However, in moderation, have a cocktail can ease the pain of trying to have a great night. We often celebrate the Jay-Z’s, Diddy’s, and artist like Ludacris when they promote liquor that they owned. However, there is a new vodka that is black owned that can have some positive affects on your body.
Introducing Bou’Jae Vodka
Founded in January 2015, Stephania Lauger created Bou’Jae Vodka to accommodate her gluten free lifestyle. She also noticed that her friends would reduce the amount of calories they would eat in order to accommodate the high calorie drinks they would consume. Bou’Jae was created with health in mind. Consumers can enjoy Bou’Jae and not have to worry about allergic, inflammatory, or autoimmune responses. According to Lauger, her vodka, “reduces your blood pressure as well as the possibility of having a heart attack. It also decreases inflammatory problems in the body, stress, and does not negatively affect your immune system in the way that regular vodka does.” Below is some information that we found off of her website that shows what her vodka is made out of.
Origin: Bou’Jae Vodka is proudly distilled and made in the United States of America.
Composition: USDA Certified organic corn vodk
Fermentation: USDA certified organic without the use of GMOs, or Gluten. It is also allergen free.
Distillation: GNS (grain neutral spirits) is derived from a single, four- column continuous distillation and filtered only once through a micron paper filter.
Size: 750 ml
Taste Profile: Smooth and clean taste Alcohol by Volume: 40% 80 proof Color: Colorless
Packaging: 8 bottles per case
Flavors: Original, Strawberry, Peach, Pineapple, and Kiwi
Reading is fun-to-mental, that’s an old-school mantra that applies to existing business owners and those just starting out. Learning about business is an never-ending process. Books should be used as part of that learning. Having a successful business is about the actions you take. You need to know the how, what, and when of building a business–delivering a viable product or service, managing employees, growing a customer base, and bettering yourself. Checkout out five books that are helping black entrepreneurs become successful.
The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard. This book helped me completely rethink my management style, especially with remote workers. All the principles that the author describes are critical for successfully running a remote company: encouraging employees to think on their own, refraining from micromanaging, giving praise and quickly correcting problems. Everyone should read this book, and then work on fixing their own managerial style.
Although Abaynesh Jembere created her business only a short year ago, Jembere Eyewear is doing quite well as a black owned eye-wear designer. Abaynesh Jembere has over a decade of experience in managing, designing, and merchandising in they eye-wear industry.
Check out entrepreneurial advice that comes from Jembere Eyewear:
Organizing is essential: It is important to have a business plan that includes your finances, daily operations, short and long term goals. When launching a business, you want to avoid confusion and frustration due to being unorganized.
You timing is key: Is your product or service solving someones problem and is it timely for your market? For example, Uber was perfect timing due to frustrations with cab services. Therefore, if you are solving someone’s problem, capitalize on the opportunity.
Set realistic goals: Make sure to set goals that are obtainable. Remember that every business is different, therefore your goals may be different than the next entrepreneur. However, challenge yourself based on your skillset and abilities.
Understand your market: Be smart and research the needs of your market. Understand what they are looking for. Research who has been successful in your market and who has failed in your market. This should help you with goal setting.
Your passion must drive your business: It is impossible for you to show your passion for business as consumers, investors, others in the industry feed off of it. You must have faith in yourself and your business idea, even when times are rough. Your passion will attract the right people to your business.
Although there is a huge lack of diversity in the tech industry, black women are starting to make a splash in tech. Most venture-backed companies in the United States are mostly white while 1% have African-American founders. Black women are less than .2% when it comes to receiving venture funding. However, with some guidance and the right coaching, black women are starting to find some success in the tech industry.
Here are 5 tips from some of the top black CEO’s in the tech world.
Get a coach with connections: You want to have a mentor that can help you create an investment-ready tech company. Unfortunately, we do not have a lot of people in the black community that have developed successful tech startups. Therefore we do not know how to build an attractive tech startup that will attract investors on our own.
Failure is how you learn: It is important for you to understand that entrepreneurship will have a lot of temporary failures. The key word is “temporary”. There is no perfect time to launch your business. You have to dive out there and see what happens and adapt to your surroundings. It is important that you fail early and fast and be sure to learn the lesson in that failure so that you can make changes.
Surround yourself around other entrepreneurs: Support is something you will need through the bad times. People with traditional jobs have a traditional way of thinking. Therefore, they will not understand you. You need to be around those who understand the entrepreneurial journey. They will be able to give you insight on solutions to your issues as they may have already faced them.
Find seminars and events: It is important that you get out and meet other tech entrepreneurs. The reason why is because you will meet people that can help you along the way during your journey. You can use their sound advice that can hopefully prevent you from making critical mistakes.
Always protect your confidence: You skillset is the reason you are breaking into the industry. Do not let failures and people discourage you. You will consistently be in an environment of learning new things. Make sure you apply those things to enhance yourself and your product.
Two sisters are continuing to break new ground in the wine industry with their second installment of vino inspired by sisterhood.
Robin and Andrea McBride recently launched Truvée Wines, which is the formation of their love for the wine business and their sibling story of discovery.
Sharing the same father and raised by different mothers, the McBride sisters were unaware of each others existence for nearly half of their lives. The two were finally connected by a family member in 1999. One thing the McBrides found that they shared, however, was their love for wine and appreciation for winemaking, having both grown up in emerging wine regions.
Now the McBride sisters–who have 10 years of experience in the business–are now the proud founders of an affordable luxury wine company, and are the first African-American sisters to do so.
The wine’s name, “Truvée,” is fittingly derived from the French verb “to find” and is their second wine offering following their debut wine eco.love.
“Truvée embodies the spirit of our story, while naturally reflecting our signature winemaking style. We’ve created a high-quality wine that is approachable and sophisticated,” said Robin McBride in a press release. “Truvée stylistically combines old world and new world winemaking philosophies to bring affordable luxury to contemporary wine drinkers, and creates the foundation for our wine company.”
Truvée offers a lightly oaked Chardonnay and a Rhone Style Red Blend.
“We believe our story of empowerment will resonate with women worldwide as they discover the delicious flavors of the Central Coast grapes in their glass of wine. Truvée appeals to the wine lover intrigued by undiscovered and high quality wine,” Andréa McBride said. “We’re excited to share our story and amazing wines with wine lovers across the country. And we hope you’ll share a bottle with those who matter to you most.”
“The McBride sisters’ story of friendship, sisterhood and passionate commitment to winemaking is one that we feel all wine lovers and wine drinkers will relate to,” said Stephen Rust, President of Diageo Chateau & Estates wines. “Bringing their story to life through the creation of Truvée wines has been an exciting challenge in that we’re presented with the rare opportunity to marry a strong emotional story with truly exceptional liquids.” Truvée is available nationwide for consumers of legal drinking age with a recommended retail price of $15.99 for a 750 mL bottle.
Few entrepreneurs can say they’ve grown their business into multi-million dollar enterprises in just a couple years. Far fewer can say they’ve done so all before even graduating high school. Jaylen Bledsoe, 16, of Hazelwood, Mo., however, is just that rare breed of high school sophomore. He started his own tech company that specializes in web design and other IT services, Bledsoe Technologies, when he was just 13 years old and worked toexpand it into a global enterprise now worth around $3.5 million, Fox 2 in St. Louis reports.
The local news station followed up with Bledsoe on Monday after first interviewing the teen back in March 2012. Since that first interview, Bledsoe has grown his company from two workers to about 150 contracted employees in order to meet demand.
When Frederick Hutson landed in prison at the age of 24 on a drug trafficking charge in Florida, he was surprised to learn that it cost $17 to make a 15-minute interstate phone call, according to the Huffington Post.
The exorbitant rate made it difficult to stay in touch with family. That’s when the seeds were planted for the Air Force veteran, who spent four years behind bars in eight correctional facilities, to figure out a better way for inmates to stay connected with friends and family, the Post writes. Indeed, research shows that keeping inmates in touch with family and loved ones on the outside helps reduce recidivism rates.
So, he began working on the idea when he left prison. In 2013, he launched Pigeonly, a $3 million tech company specifically tailoring products for underserved communities, particularly the incarcerated and their families, the report notes.
The Huffington Post reports:
Hutson launched Pigeonly in 2013 after receiving coaching and input from the NewME Accelerator in San Francisco, which helps support underrepresented entrepreneurs. Pigeonly’s products to date include Fotopigeon, a prison-friendly photo-mailing platform, and Telepigeon, a service that drastically reduces the often cost-prohibitive price of phone calls to and from correctional facilities.
“Most people don’t have life sentences, so the real question we have to ask ourselves is, what type of person do we want to release?” Hudson, now 31, told The Huffington Post.
“Someone who’s isolated from everyone they know and lost touch with everyone who could support them who, when they’re back on the street, are way more likely to go back to the previous activity they were doing before prison? No.”
In just two years, the Las Vegas-based company is already experiencing a great deal of success. Congratulations, Frederick.
In 2007, Allen Lau stepped into a coffee shop in his hometown of Toronto to meet with his business partner, Ivan Yuen. The topic of discussion that day: Decide what to do with Wattpad, their struggling business. When Lau sat down, he pushed his coffee to the center of the table and said to Yuen, “I just spent our total revenue from last month on this coffee, so we have to share it.”
The moment was a low point for Lau, one that stood in sharp contrast to the optimism he had felt a year earlier on a flight home from Vancouver. Earlier that day, he had met with his friend Yuen in the food court of the Vancouver airport to talk about their mutual interest in mobile reading platforms. That conversation gave birth to Wattpad, which the two men envisioned as an online community where people would share their writing–stories, poems, fan fiction, serialized novels, etc.–and readers would consume the user-generated content on mobile devices. It would be a place where writers and avid readers could find one another and interact.
At the time, Google had just bought YouTube, which was just over a year old, for $1.65 billion. Lau and Yuen believed Wattpad had similar potential. After all, as Lau saw it, human beings have been sharing stories for thousands of years–around fires and in town squares prior to the written word. Wattpad would tap into this basic, human drive, but on a massive, global scale. Lau imagined millions, eventually billions, using the platform.
Because of his initial optimism, Lau decided to leave his full-time job and focus on building Wattpad for a year. Considering what YouTube had been able to do in a year, Lau expected that at the end of 12 months he would be able to raise capital–lots of it–for Wattpad.
But a year later, Lau and Yuen could only muster enough revenue to buy a single cup of joe, and they had only around a few hundred people using Wattpad. With a product that wasn’t gaining traction, they stood no chance of raising money. But both still believed in Wattpad’s potential, and both badly wanted to realize their vision of a global storytelling community.
As they considered what to do, Lau thought about the prevailing wisdom of startup success, which was all about focus. Unless you were laser focused on building your product, evolving it, driving users to it, and quickly creating critical mass, the startup would never get off the ground. YouTube, which had inspired Lau and Yuen, had achieved its success through the relentless focus of the founders. There was no point limping along.
Or was there?
Shunning Conventional Wisdom
As Lau thought more about Wattpad’s problem, he began to feel that focus might not be its best bet. Rather, limping along for the time being might just be the road to success for Wattpad. As he saw it, the company was where it was because its timing was off. The Motorola Razr, one of the most popular mobile devices at the time, only let you read eight lines of text. Lau knew that Wattpad would never take off until mobile device makers caught on to the idea that people wanted to consume content on their devices and built them for that use. If Lau and Yuen chose to keep focusing, they would both struggle to survive financially and quickly burn out, and then they’d have nothing to give to Wattpad when the timing was better.
So Lau decided to shun the advice to focus. Instead, he and Yuen would dabble in Wattpad in their spare time, while they turned the majority of their attention to starting a consulting company and founding another startup. The revenue they generated from both ventures would allow them to support their families and keep the lights on at Wattpad.
Over the ensuing months and years, Lau and Yuen would tinker with the product, adding new features, and slowly, gradually, people started to sign up. Then, as Lau suspected, as mobile devices evolved to make the reading experience easier, Wattpad’s number of users grew. Two years later, limping along had finally paid off. By 2009, Wattpad had a million monthly users. Lau and Yuen left the new startup they were working on at the time, jumped back into Wattpad full time, and went looking for investors. The pair would raise $600,000 that year, and by the following year more than five million people would download Wattpad’s mobile app. In 2011, Lau and Yuen would raise $3.5 million from various investors, including Union Square Ventures.
Less than a year later, Wattpad would raise another round, with participation from Khosla Ventures and AME Cloud Ventures, which was founded by Jerry Yang, the co-founder and former CEO of Yahoo. The monthly users would continue to grow and so would the amount of money investors poured into Wattpad. By the end of 2014, the site had 35 million monthly users who would share close to 100,000 uploads a day, and the company had another $46 million from investors, bringing the total funds raised for Wattpad close to $70 million.
Today, Wattpad is the largest community in the world for reading and sharing stories, with 40 million users each month. The company employs more than 100 people. As Lau says, “We would never be here if we hadn’t followed the right strategy for Wattpad during the crisis in 2007. Focusing was not the right thing to do. Buying time was.”
Lau’s advice to other entrepreneurs: “There’s always a prevailing wisdom. ‘Focus’ or ‘Pivot’ or ‘Bootstrap.’ You have to be careful not to follow the wisdom blindly. Look carefully at what’s happening and why, and prescribe the best solution. It might not be what others suggest you do.”
If you’re a fan of the show Shark Tank, then you know convincing the “sharks” to invest in your business is not an easy challenge. The unfiltered investors, especially show favorite Mr. Wonderful, have been known to crush a few dreams on the national TV show.
One little girl, however, managed to impress the sharks with her southern sweetened lemonade. 10-year-old Austin, Texas native Mikaila Ulmer is the founder of BeeSweet Lemonade. When she was only four-years-old, Ulmer was brainstorming what she would contribute to the Action Children’s Business Fair and Austin Lemonade Day.
After two bee stings, her parents encouraged her to research why honeybees were critical to our ecosystem. The young mind grew fascinated. Not long after, Great Granny Helen mailed Mikaila a 1940s cookbook containing Granny’s flaxseed lemonade recipe. The light bulb went off and little Miss Ulmer was inspired to make something that would help honeybees and use Great Granny Helen’s delicous recipe. BeeSweet Lemonade was born.
Mikaila’s recipe is unique from other lemonade recipes because instead of using lots of sugars, she sweetens each batch with honey from local bees. Today, she travels selling BeeSweet Lemonade at youth entrepreneurial events, and a portion of the profits is donated to organizations fighting to preserve honeybees.
Shark Tank investor and FUBU CEO Daymond John was sold on the BeeSweet story, and the mogul ivested $60,000 for a 25% stake in the beverage company. John is working closely with Ulmer as her mentor and helping to push her brand through his professional network. “Partnering with Mikaila made perfect sense,” he said in a statement. “She’s a great kid with a head for business and branding. She’s got a great idea and I’m happy to help take BeeSweet to the next level.”
The investment will allow the company to make larger batches of the lemonade and meet customer demands. “I’m so excited to have someone with as much experience as Daymond on my team,” the young business girl said. “This is a great opportunity to have more people try my lemonade and save even more bees.”
Order Mikaila’s BeeSweet Lemonade and try all of the flavors here.
Original article posted by Black Enterprise @ www.blackenterprise.com/small-business/ten-yr-old-gets-60000-investment-shark-tank/
From relationships to the workplace, when things go wrong, the first thing a person does is criticize the other person. Although this seems like the natural thing to do, it is not necessarily the right thing to do. B.F. Skinner, the world-famous psychologist, proved through his experiments that an animal rewarded for good behavior will learn much more rapidly and retain what it learns far more effectively than an animal punished for bad behavior. Later studies have shown that the same applies to humans. By criticizing, we do not make lasting changes and often incur resentment. So think about this when it comes to your relationship with your spouse or work relationship with your employee or employer. Lets take a look at how criticism can destroy things between you and another person.
1. Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment.
Sabrina Peterson, founder of Glam University and Girl Power Sleep Over, is changing the face of technology with her newest venture, Glam U Apps. The Glam University founder noticed that a significant amount of young black women in business were missing the mark when it came to incorporating technology into their companies. Sabrina founded Glam U Apps as an affordable technology solution for small business owners and startup companies who would like a mobile app to complement their businesses.
Peterson, now celebrating her one-year anniversary from her release from prison, used her life-changing experience to inspire her to build a tech company focused on women’s empowerment. “When I was in prison, I realized that a lot of women were incarcerated due to a lack of resources. A lack of resources will push you to do things that you wouldn’t normally do,” Peterson says. Upon her release, she vowed to become a resource to help women build successful and profitable businesses. “Now that I have come home, the biggest resource that I could be is by moving into the tech space,” Peterson says. She teamed up with Atlanta-based mobile and Web development company, Nuracode, to bridge the technology gap for women in business.
She remembers when she first came into business having to pay $20,000 to $30,000 just for a Website. “Websites will soon act as only a complement to mobile apps and Internet powered software, all of your favorite stores and Websites have apps,” says Peterson. “You spend so much money on lead nurturing, email campaigns, and on social media building your following, but if you were able to take that same following and have them download your app, you are able to quickly communicate and convert your following into paying customers,” Peterson says.
“Lets say you own a bakery, it’s five o’clock, and you still have quite a bit of cupcakes left for the day. You could send a push notification letting your customers know that the cupcakes are on sale for $1. I can’t do that on social media or in an email marketing campaign, and know that at that particular moment I am able to engage with my customers. That can drastically cut down your marketing dollars if you are able to offer an app that consumers can benefit from,” Peterson says.
Sometimes, success or failure depends less on external factors and more so on an entrepreneur’s mindset. Indeed, as economists have noted dating back to the 1930s, psychological factors have major impacts on economic behavior.
Here are the three biggest psychological impediments to entrepreneurial success and how to overcome them:
For entrepreneurs, practice doesn’t make perfect; action does. You simply cannot wait until you are 100 percent ready before you take action.
I remember thinking that I needed to write out 25-page business plans before I could do anything. After all, that’s what I was taught in school. In reality, by the time your “perfect” business plan is out of the printer, it’s already dated.
We always want to think things all the way through, but sometimes you need to just go for it, foregoing your perfect business plan and winging it with a five-page deck instead. The hardest part of giving up on perfectionism is to “own” your decision. While it is never going to be easy, if you let go of perfectionism, you will achieve better results.
Its an important lesson to learn before you read this article. Nobody believed in Jack Ma vision except for Jack Ma.
Alibaba Group on Sunday said it had set up a HK$1 billion foundation to back businesses started by young Hong Kong entrepreneurs. On Monday, Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma offered the city’s youth something that might be more valuable than cash: advice from China’s most successful Internet entrepreneur.
In a speech entitled “Transforming Dreams Into Successful Business” at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Center, Ma shared insights and encouragement with a crowd of some 7,000 people, many of them college students. Here are some of the highlights:
Stop complaining. Ma said he had met many top business leaders and they are always optimistic, persistent and positive. If you must whine, turn it your advantage. Complaints can be opportunities in disguise. Ma said Alibaba was founded to tackle the complaint that Chinese exporters lacked global sales channels.
Don’t be afraid to change. Adaptability is key to success in fast-changing markets. Companies that are successful one day can fail the next if the business environment shifts, unless they are willing to shift with it. “When the wind is blowing even a pig can fly,” Ma said, “but when wind is gone, it falls to die. The pig hasn’t changed itself at all … you change yourself, and then you change the world.”
Have fun. Tech titans Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Jerry Yang started their empires while still in college. Ma, who twice failed college entrance exams, said he had no problem if students mixed business with study–but only if enterprises are “just for fun,” a way to test one’s business acumen and gain experience. There’s no shame if you discover you are not cut out to be an entrepreneur. After all, “there is only one Bill Gates and one Jerry Yang,“ Ma said. “For college students, study is your key responsibility.”
Believe in yourself. Ma says he recently interviewed eight students who want to study at Lakeside College, a business school he opened last month in his hometown of Hangzhou, China. He came away impressed by the students’ breadth of knowledge and sophistication. “Young people today are much more capable than we were,” Ma said. “I feel lucky that I started my business 15 years ago. I would be defeated badly if I started today.“ Bottom line: don’t be intimidated, not even by Jack Ma. “All you need is to be confident in yourself and your partners when others are against you,” he said.
Kicking off with an open call for applications, The American Small Business Championship will award 102 small businesses, two in every state and the District of Columbia, for their sacrifice and dedication to the success of their business. The Small Business Champions will receive a $1,000 Sam’s Club gift card, an all-expense-paid trip to a training event, SCORE mentoring for one year, and promotion throughout the year to showcase each Champion’s story.
The $700,000 grant from Sam’s Club, a leading U.S. membership club serving small businesses since 1983, will be used to support the 102 Champions with resources and training as well as to allow SCORE to host five regional training events for an additional 1,500 small business owners throughout 2015. The regional training events will take place in Phoenix, AZ, Austin, TX, Jacksonville, FL, Chicago, IL and Rochester, NY from March through July 2015. Visit Score.orgto learn more about the events and registration.
“We are so grateful for the opportunity to once again work with Sam’s Club to recognize the incredible achievements and perseverance of American small businesses,” said SCORE CEO Ken Yancey in statement. “This combination of funds, training and mentoring is the perfect formula to help take these stellar businesses to the next level of growth.”
In 2012-2013, Sam’s Club and SCORE rewarded 102 small business owners through a similar grant program, including Tabitha Birdsong, owner of Miss Birdsong’s Sweet Tooth in Memphis, who notes, “To have an idea, a dream and to see it manifest, it’s just wonderful. Through the grant that was provided to me through SCORE, I was able to learn very important information on how to hone my craft as a business owner. When I think about my [SCORE] mentors, it just makes me smile.” To hear more from Tabitha and other Champions, watch the video here.
“Sam’s Club business members tell us they need better access to training, mentoring and capital to succeed, and by working with SCORE, we can respond to these needs while taking time to reward small business owners’ hard work and dedication,” said Don Frieson, executive vice president for operations at Sam’s Club in a statement. “Our associates and the communities we serve are excited to celebrate America’s Small Business Champions and continue to help them save money and time every day.”
U.S. small business owners can apply to be a Champion through February 6, 2015 atwww.score.org/championship. To be eligible, applicants must have been in business for at least one year and to generate revenue. Applicants must complete an online application to include response to the question“What sacrifice have you made to help your business succeed?” via either (a) a 60-second video OR (b) a written statement of up to 250 words combined with a photo.
There is no secret that Antoine Walker was one hell of an NBA player. He played for the historic franchise Boston Celtics and Miami Heat. During this process, he made close to $110 million dollars. The question is, “How in the hell did he become broke?” I guess after a couple of big houses, exotic cars, and stupid spending habits, well, one can become broke. What he should have down is taken the investment approach that Ulysses Lee “Junior” Bridgeman took. He took $350,000 and turned it into $400 million dollars.
He was born in Chicago where he played basketball all through his high school years. He continued playing basketball throughout college at the University of Louisville, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree. Bridgeman was drafted by the Lakers in 1975, and he ended up being traded soon after to the Milwaukee Bucks. During his NBA career players didn’t have multi-million dollar NBA player contracts. Most of the players that made a lot of money received fortunes from endorsement deals.
In 1985 Bridgeman’s peak salary was $350,000 during the time he played for the Clippers. During the off seasons, Bridgeman started to plan for his future by learning the Wendy’s franchise business. He spent a lot of his time working at a local Wendy’s to learn the true culture of the company. At the end of his NBA career, Bridgeman owned three Wendy’s, and now he has over 160 locations. He also invested in the Chili’s franchise, owning more than 120 in America today. He even owns 45 Fannie May stores and also employees over 9,000 people.
Bridgeman is now the second largest Wendy’s franchise owner in the world. His contribution to his family started with his passion for basketball that transformed smart investments to immense wealth. Brickman has been married for 35 years showing his commitment to family and success. All three of his children have MBAs and are contributors to the family business.
Whats The Lesson
Bridgeman didn’t worry about keeping up with the Jones. He invested all of his money wisely and bought assets that would make him more money. That is the lesson in this story. Antoine Walker chose to do the opposite and bought things that really didn’t have value. And secondly he didn’t have any income coming in after his NBA career was over. Case in point, you should make money to buy assets that make more money.