Let’s Talk Cincy: Entrepreneurship
From. WLWT. This is less toxin see with, Curtis fuller and Alexis, Rogers. Our. City is so unique, entrepreneurship. Is the heartbeat, of Cincinnati, hi, there and welcome to let's talk sensi I'm Alexis, Rodgers now it's no secret that this city has changed a lot in the last decade. More. Than 700, million dollars has been spent right here in downtown Cincinnati and it's all because of entrepreneurs. We're, talking to some of the biggest movers, and shakers and small, business owners about what's behind the boom and why Cincinnati, is the place to be for people who want to own their own business, I. Think. Most people just look at the community, here in Cincinnati's. Over-the-rhine, and they see a bunch of historic. Buildings but, they get so caught up in the beauty of the neighborhood, that they look right past the real community, the. People that made it what it is today I feel, a sense of responsibility. Given. The opportunities, that I've received to, give back, when. We came up with the name order it was that it reflected. The fact that the community holds, everything. Together mortar, is an organization. A collective, of people that also want to open doors, and provide opportunities, for people who have really great ideas I'm all the time in the world but for whatever reason are disconnected, from the tools and resources that can help them start their businesses or the ideas that's it I don't have idea, about what, a business plan and how to do a business plan this, is what I need you guys for that's, why I'm grateful, for the course because I think it's giving me insight, on, not. Only how to run, a successful business, but how, to, teach. The people that I'm in business with to. Run, a successful business - I believe, that my calling in this life is to use what I have. To make other people's lives better, to. Help them become their better selves, and, to do, so by introducing. Entrepreneurship. To, people you would normally, think of as entrepreneurs. People, like you Vaughn who, always wanted to open a storefront to showcase her passions, but, didn't know where to start I. Just. Think that something transformative, is happening right now in Cincinnati and, people are starting to notice and. We have an opportunity, to make this the best city in the world. Honestly. That's why mortars here that's. Why we're located, in the heart of Over the Rhine and, why, we're so passionate about, advocating, for those who have dreams of owning their own businesses. You. Know they do so many amazing things in this community and what better place to meet, with, mortar, than right here in black coffee lounge thank. You for having us it's been an. Incredible, ride five, years in, we've. Accomplished. A lot we. Got a lot more to go and yeah. This this right here for us represents. Kind, of the epitome of what, we, start at mortar for in general, being. Able to work, with a an. Amazing entrepreneur. Like means to. Help him take. His. Dream, of having. The black owned clothing store and then kind of flip it into something else for. Us that that's huge I mean it's hard enough to get a business started, one, business started but to be able to be involved with him as he, had this quest to do something even larger that, was an honor to be a part of that so tell us a little bit about how mortar. Works I know that there's a curriculum and you all have so many really. Graduated. Classes explain, to me how it works so, essentially. What we do is we want to create everything, that we didn't have as kids. Most. Of our, founders, started out as kid entrepreneurs, just, kind of just doing our thing you, know for me it was photography, for William it was origami, so. You know kind of using our gifts and talents to create a stream, of revenue as a kid and there were things that we saw that we're missing then, as adults we saw that there were the same things missing, and the opportunities, for entrepreneurs, so we wanted to create what we saw was missing essentially. What we have is a 15 week program, that teaches the basics of entrepreneurship, we talk everything from the financial, side to branding, to marketing, to the. And we. Are trying, to make sure that we're filling any gaps that people are missing there's. A ton of people in Cincinnati, and across, the nation who are talented who, are a gifted and they just don't know what to do with it and how, to legitimize, their businesses so we've created a program to help them do that then, we have an 18-month, program, that's, designed for alumni that.
Continues, To offer them that support after, the fact and sustainability, I feel like that's more. Of a battle than than starting, we see so many people start but then to be able to be successful yeah, absolutely, in your curriculum what, what. Has proven, to be among. The most helpful, to make sure that people grasp on it in our taught I think one of the most important, parts of our curriculum is. That. When we were writing the curriculum, we were looking at all of the things that we're missing from other. You. Know in our research of other people's you know projects, and what they're doing across the nation and one of the things that we noticed is that there was no real conversation, about personal, finances, everybody. Jumps into your business finances but, we all know that if you have terrible, business or terrible, personal finances, you bring that into the business there's, not a magical, one that all of a sudden I can manage my money properly so, we spend. Five. Of the weeks just talking about money and it can seem overwhelming but, if you don't have your money right your business is not going to be right and you're not going to be sustainable, five. Years, five, years you all kind of came into Cincinnati, and, then just like busted on the spot and now, there's, so many, businesses, because they've gone through your program, you, know what's the store for the next five years in, the next five years we're. Focused, on a few different challenges, there's a lot of things that we've, been doing a lot of research on siddell. Bradley. Is our strategic, director and she's kind of been guiding us through some of the things, that could look like our next vision and one of the things is that there's, a. $118,000. Gap between, the, average. African-american. Woman's, business earning. Power in a year, and the, average caucasian, business. Women. And so we're trying to close that gap we're trying to figure out there's there's that gap all across you know our population in general and so we're trying to figure out with, 67%. Of our entrepreneurs, that come to our program being, black women how do we close that gap, what are we not finding. In our community, that other people are finding in their community and we figured out that some of that is the. The fact that there's the, know-how, of how do I start this business so we offer the class the, other thing is space some people just don't have the, ability to go out and sign a lease for a space so we have created, intentional. Spaces, throughout Cincinnati, through our pop-up shop network where. We are creating spaces, for people to be able to do that and the last thing is capital, people don't have the funds to do this even if you have the most amazing idea but you don't have an investor. Or you don't have the startup, capital you don't have that rich rich uncle, who can loan, you the money you know it's, difficult most, people who start businesses start. With capital from their friends and family and if your friends and family are from the same network as you and you're from a position, where you've been struggling and you're just trying to figure it out chances. Are they're in the same position so we've created something called the iron chest fund which, allows people to either, do low-interest, loans or grants from our organization that, gives them what, they need to move forward and black, coffee is an example of how that works we were able to raise. Capital that we were able to loan, to. Black coffee to get started, and they had some other funding sources as well and through our network we'd be able to kind of pull some strings and connect some people so we're trying to figure out how to fill all of those gaps I love that and it proves, of how important, it is to have the right tools thank you so much for joining us and coming, up we'll, have Jim Michelle Lemmon Kearney talking, to the African American Chamber of Commerce about, some of those tools that entrepreneurs.
Out There really needs No. So. As entrepreneurship. Grows, in Cincinnati. Cincinnati's. Organizations. That support, entrepreneurship. Continue. To grow so I'm really happy for you to meet three people here today who are working with those organizations. We'll start with Eric Kearney president. Of the African American Chamber of Commerce Stevi, Swain executive. Director, of the collective, empowerment group, and Deborah, Davis who's Cincinnati, director, of the minority, Business Assistance Center housed, at the African American Chamber welcome, all of you thank you thank you so Eric let's start with the African American Chamber why is it important, for entrepreneurs to, connect, with African American Chamber we, can help them grow the. African American Chamber of Commerce has, over a hundred and twenty programs, that we offer every, year for, businesses, that are one, person all the way up to publicly, traded companies. We've, got a host of programs that you with marketing business. Basics, and a number of other things for. Instance we have programs, that take entrepreneurs, from one employee up, to two employees. 94%. Of entrepreneurs, are just one person, so it's a very small business for African, American but, when you hire an employee your. Revenue, grows by 66, percent so. That's a way to help. You grow well I never heard that status, that's really strong and, one thing that the African American Chamber is doing its partnering. With the collective empowerment group, to produce this, accelerator, or the executive business. Acceleration. Program, so. Stevie and deborah you two are working together as, coordinators, tell us about EBA. Actually. The. It's. A seven-month course in, the first class we have, pension, in business for 20. Or 30 years. Three. To five years so it doesn't, matter how long. You. Can always learn, something now, Deborah I know you and Stevie, and, others travel. Really around the country, looking for the best program, how did you come up with VBA. Why what's what's unique about it well. What's unique about the executive business accelerator, program, is the curriculum itself the. Curriculum was designed, and, implemented. At the Boston University it's. Called the inter eyes and to rise is the name of the company that, has, developed this curriculum it's, evidence-based, they, have over 86 partners throughout the country, and throughout, the Caribbean. So. One of the unique things is after. The 13, week program they. Are required to have a growth, strategic, plan a three year growth district.
By. Antrum I so for three years after you graduate you. Are followed. You are evaluated. And you can also. Get. Assistance from, the inter eyes organization. This sounds wonderful, so we've got to wrap up because alexis, is gonna be right back and she's gonna talk to Christopher, Smitherman, about. How entrepreneurship. Really. Supports, the city so I just want to thank all three of you for being here I know you're having an, open house, September 18th from 4:00 to 6:00 come by 2303. Gilbert's, have enough okay great and so we want to hear more about EBA, a little, bit later so we'll we'll, just stay in touch and see how people can get into the third class okay. All right thank you for being here we'll be right back and we're gonna talk to Alexis. We'll be here to talk to your vice mayor Smitherman. Well. Joining us now we have Vice Mayor Christopher, Smitherman and you know what it's so funny because I know I always see you at City Hall but it's kind of nice to see you in a coffee shop so. Honored, to be here with you Alexis you know a lot of people might not know but you're, a full, time, stockbroker, a financial, planner yes you work with entrepreneurs all the time I really, do and you, know entrepreneurs, are the engine. Of any local market, any, regional market and even our national, market and most people don't understand, that that small, businesses. Really drive. Our economy it's, not the larger, businesses, that do so you, know talk to me a little bit about what Cincinnati, looked like 10 years ago and what entrepreneurship. Has helped the city look like now, because it's completely different people are always visiting and are like you know what this was a lot different than it did the last time I was here well Cincinnati, is really on the move and we have some great partners like the African, American Chamber that. Works very closely with the city of Cincinnati. Organizations. Like Mordor who, work very closely with the city of Cincinnati, in order, to help provide, capacity. Education. Technical. Skills for. Small, entrepreneurs, to get started and sometimes that even includes some small loans. And what, we're seeing is that. African-american. Women women, in general. African-american. Men are starting, businesses in our city at an accelerated, rate which is really exciting let's, talk about that let's talk about those demographics. Because a lot of people don't realize, which. Communities. Seem to have a harder time becoming. Entrepreneurs. What. Are some skills that are, necessary for them to be able to thrive in this city one, is patience, it's. Really really important, as a small business, owner number two I would say is connect, yourself with. Organizations. Like the African, American Chamber like. Mordor because, what happens is you then can network, with other businesses. That are experiencing. Some of the same things and then think about what. Services, you plan to deliver and where you want to be located, so location, location, when, I think about North, Side you say 10 years, we. Think about what's happening in camp Washington right, now we, know that it will be small businesses, that drive those neighborhood, business, districts, it will not be the large businesses, that do it and it's why the city continues, to invest in those organizations that's the question that comes up a lot because you know we have your pngs, we have your fifth thirds we have your PNC's, we have your GES and so people would often ask, well, how does an entrepreneur thrive.
When You have all these really big businesses, in such. A big way in a city like Cincinnati will be your response to them well micro, businesses, like the coffee shop that we're in right now black coffee. Procter. Gamble can't, compete, here, so. This is about competition. Being small, being, nimble and so, those those businesses, that have three to ten employees. Those. Businesses, that have up to a hundred employees. Those. Are the businesses, that are really driving Cincinnati's. Income. Tax which has the vice mayor that. 2.1%, is incredibly, important. To us how supportive, is the city when it comes to not only creating. Helping, create more entrepreneurs, but helping sustain them, well. I think we are very very, supportive we always can do better we, can look at mortar for, example, I mean mortar ten years ago really, wasn't what mortar is today and I would say that we are one of their important, partners, not. Only in just investing, in their organization. Directly but investing, in. In. The building, that they ultimately will, be located, in and Walnut Hills talk to me about taking pride in a neighborhood, because, you're in what bond Hill I'm in bond Hill on the corner of dill and Redding Road I've been there nine years, very. Excited, to be there and in, my business as a financial planner I have seen an uptick, and it. Specifically. African American women opening up what are called simple plans opening. Up what I call its EPS opening. Up what are called Keo plans, and so that's telling me that small, business, owners that have three employees, - 15 or 20 are really, accelerating, in the city of Cincinnati, so yeah I'm located in the bond Hill rose line corridor, and very, excited to be there and the other I'll share with you is that, The Millionaire Next. Door book, is one of my favorite books and people, don't realize that, we. Have a lot of millionaires, that live in. Our city which. Includes bond Hill and rose line and so, people who have money and resources, tend, not to be people who flaunt it they're the they're the opposite, of that you know they sent their children to school they, drive an American, car.
They Still cut out coupons but. They're they're very frugal, but very giving and many of those of my clients, live, right around me in bond Hill and rose line you know thank you so much for joining us today and the conversation, definitely doesn't stop, here coming up we will talk to an entire group of entrepreneurs to see exactly how they do what they do and how they make this city a better place coming, up. So. So far we've found out that being your own boss is, not exactly, easy but, doing it in Cincinnati, Constance, would have to be a little creative so we figured why, not talk to creative, people entrepreneurs. Altogether, here we have Christina Davis, we have Morgan, Owens as well as Matt, Tom and Michael all of your businesses, are completely, different the, Davis cookie collection right, the Morgan a Owens brand, as well as corporate which I need, some new shoes but you know that's neither here nor there let's talk about entrepreneurship, how. Hard. Or easy was it to even get started in this city. Well. I, even, though I become an entrepreneur really. I didn't, imagine I would become it but I saw a need that was needed and, I decided instead of complaining about why, isn't it here for us who's. Gonna do this I'm like you know what Morgan you, just started so, I created, a need for minority, women who looked like me that wanted to level up in their corporate career but also in their psyche vessels and, so I did a workshop series, geared. Towards us for, us to help us grow, and learn that's. Awesome I mean it was it the same for both of you what was your hardest. Hurdle. Really to get across. When you were starting both of you because I mean you started when Matt when, I was 21. We were out in Springdale. At, the Springdale Town Center and really, it was just like getting at the oil but just trying you know I think like he said the hardest part is just trying, and opening, you. Know a lot of people don't really know what goes into that but you just gotta get the door open first and then you, know hopefully somebody, else believes in it when, it comes to trying to even get space I mean you know our amount to open up in bond Hill right yes yes, hopefully, by December, January. What's. Been your biggest feat so far um it was being, able to tackle graduate, school and also having a two month old son at the same time and being wife so I had to wear various, hats so, I really had to.
Get. My time management down. You. Know I tell people all the time that entrepreneurship. In Cincinnati, is completely, different than any other city that I've I've seen is that you you also experience, as well have you seen that. Especially. A lot of conferences I know they're still working their corporate, feet so. It's like we grind for, eight to ten hours and corporate and then you go home and grind you more because. It, takes a lot of work to do this full-time and even full-time I'm, like how did I even have a corporate job yet, working my own business, so there's a lot a lot of time a lot of nuisance so, many people ask me well how do I have benefits, you know how do I have some of the things that make the world go round, what's. Your response to them for people who are thinking about doing their own thing definitely, have a plan an exit strategy I know a lot of people think entrepreneurship, is, popping, for social media and, but we're a lot of work is in that round so, make sure for. Me I had to make sure I could afford health. Benefits. Insurance, ain't my red because, if I'm worried about how I'm gonna pay my rent this month how can I possibly grow, it right right, and having, it also support, around you helps I had to support a family and friends, while, I was working a job in, maintaining my business it was very hard to maintain both and I recently just resigned, as a social worker from Council on Aging. So that was a big movement but, it opened, many doors and, that's why now I'm able to open up my first brick-and-mortar location. So, it takes it takes hard work dedication and, consistency, before we wrap up let's, look, you liked that, you. Got a trademark, you might, take that I love it let's have this really quick conversation, before we end, what. Does this do does this create general rational. Wealth is this something that will change, our neighborhoods, in a different way. My. Entrepreneurs, I was making triple amount that I was in corporate now, literally working, from check to check not even that I was working from Thursday K days to Monday I wrote and, so what, I don't want is you know my legacy to, be struggling, I wanted. Them to know how to be self-sufficient and, really earn your. Revenue, based on your own talents, and gifts and sometimes we don't get it in the corporate world and. For me I'm building, an impact for my children, so there are my future CEO so right now my son's four and I'm getting ready to teach them the dynamics. Of baking because this is his business when I'm gone I love. It I love it thank you all so much for sharing your talents and your gifts with us I know this won't be the last time that we see all three of you but. Of course as well as to you all we're so excited to have these conversations and, we want to know what you think send, us any of your ideas, conversations.
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