In honor of Black Business Month, entrepreneurs Denise Woodard and Ryan Williams host a conversation focusing on the unique challenges facing black entrepreneurs in America and how Expand support for Black Main Street businesses and other Black-owned companies. Extensive discussions also covered fundraising, financial education and workforce diversity, among other related topics.
Here are some of the lessons they shared. Live on Inc.com.
Zoom in on your story.
Share your founding story with as many people as possible: retailers, consumers, media and investors, says Woodward, who is partake Foods Founder, Partake Foods is a New York-based manufacturer of hypoallergenic cookies. “I’m surprised that consumers care so much about supporting conscious companies,” she said. “As a woman-owned and Black-owned business, I think people often think this can be a detriment, but we’ve found ways to work with programs that can effectively amplify our story.”
continue to pitch to investors.
Like many underrepresented founders who struggle to get funding, Woodard exhausted her 401(k) retirement savings a year after starting a business. Despite launching two successful chains in 2018, she was rejected by 86 investors . Woodard wasn’t intimidated. She finally heard “yes” in 2019, when rapper Jay-Z’s Marcy Venture Partners led a $1 million round in the company.
While developing a resilience mindset can help, try joining other communities of founders of color, or building one yourself, Woodard said. Together, you can support each other and act as a sounding board for ideas. “I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of people pouring [their time and energy] into me, and now I’m able to give back,” Woodard said. “It’s all part of the fun, and that’s how we lift each other up.”
Working with business owners of color.
Williams, who founded Cadre, an online commercial real estate investment platform, emphasized the importance of partnering with diverse founders and creating programs to train the next generation.
“We work with some minority operators,” he said. “We have a partnership with investment management firm BlackRock to expand on these efforts. We have just completed an internship program and our interns are 100 percent black.”
He said, Cadre is very focused on inclusive recruiting and he hopes to help other real estate companies join the conversation.