We’re back for another conversation on Martha’s Vineyard with Melissa Bradley and Derick Pearson. Derick is a husband, proud parent, person who is connected to the community, and the Executive Director for the Center For Black Innovation. He is determined to continue creating spaces for people to connect and gain access to resources, which is exactly what he did when he co-founded Black Tech Week.
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0:00:13.4 Melissa Bradley: Welcome to Porch Talks. I’m Melissa Bradley, founder of 1863 Ventures and co-founder of New Majority Ventures. Here on Porch Talks, I sit down with veteran founders, CEOs and entrepreneurs who are committed to creating wealth for the new majority. These folks have years of firsthand in the trenches experience navigating a fast growing entrepreneurial ecosystem. Here they break down the roadblocks and barriers that tested their resiliency and resolve and share the lessons they’ve learned through it all. Each and every talk will support the health, wealth, and wellbeing of the new majority entrepreneur. Undoubtedly, these people and their stories will inspire you on your journey from founder to CEO.
0:01:03.6 MB: So I’m thrilled to have you on the Porch, Derick, I’ve known you for a long time.
0:01:08.1 Derick Pearson: Yes.
0:01:08.1 MB: You are the Executive Director for the Center For Black Innovation. You are a husband and a proud parent, and you are an amazing civic and community leader in Miami. That’s how I know you. How would you like our listeners to know you?
0:01:23.6 DP: So, I would agree with everything that you said. [laughter] But I would also say that I’m a person who is connected to the community from the standpoint of it’s always been a part of my purpose in life to be a pillar in the community. That is exactly what I wrote in my missions essay to Morehouse College.
0:01:44.0 MB: All right.
0:01:44.0 DP: And the reason I went there is because of Martin Luther King. All right, Dr. Martin Luther King. Let me give the doctor.
0:01:49.5 MB: That’s right.
0:01:50.3 DP: And from that standpoint, every move that I’ve made in my career, whether it’s going into corporate America and creating safe spaces for black founders and entrepreneurs and tech professionals at these corporations, and being an ecosystem builder. And just transforming our community to eliminate these innovation deserts, and make sure that we are tapping into the innovation economy, and that we’re able to generate that wealth and retain that wealth.
0:02:17.2 MB: I love it. Now talk to me about the journey from ATL to MIA.
0:02:21.6 DP: Ooh, that was a long journey. [laughter] So from Atlanta, I went on to Target, I moved to Minneapolis.
0:02:29.3 MB: Oh, God bless you, brother. Were you there in the wintertime? How long?
0:02:31.4 DP: Yes, I was.
0:02:31.6 MB: Okay.
0:02:31.8 DP: I was there for a full year.
0:02:33.3 MB: Oh, wow. Okay.
0:02:33.8 DP: Because I couldn’t last any longer.
0:02:34.9 MB: Okay. I know that’s right.
0:02:37.0 DP: So I was there working in an expense planning and analysis.
0:02:40.0 MB: Okay.
0:02:40.0 DP: So I was managing 250 million.
0:02:41.8 MB: Wow.
0:02:42.1 DP: For access protection.
0:02:43.1 MB: Right.
0:02:43.1 DP: I left there, and I got into experiential marketing. So I did product launches for Nintendo, the Sony digital reader. Nintendo was the, Wii Fit, I don’t know if you remember that back in the day.
0:02:53.7 MB: I do. I do.
0:02:54.2 DP: Did other product launches for like Verizon and phone companies.
0:02:57.7 MB: Okay.
0:02:57.8 DP: And me and Felicia, we got laid off from Nintendo and we just took our experiential marketing abilities. And we created organization called Feverish Popsicles.
0:03:09.1 MB: Feverish Popsicles.
0:03:09.5 DP: A Gourmet Popsicle company. Oh, when you’re feeling hot, cool down with our popsicles.
0:03:15.6 MB: Oh.
0:03:15.9 DP: So whenever you’re feeling feverish, we have you.
0:03:18.5 MB: Oh, I like that.
0:03:19.3 DP: Yes.
0:03:19.6 MB: And what were they? Were they like…
0:03:20.8 DP: It’s Mexican peletas.
0:03:22.5 MB: Oh.
0:03:22.7 DP: So they were vegan, all few popsicles. If they were cream based, we had coconut cream and rice milk in them, everything had a organic evaporated cane sugar. So we created this Mini empire featured on today’s show, the Cooking Channel, most people don’t, and they knew us in Miami for popsicles.
0:03:41.5 MB: Oh, wow.
0:03:41.6 DP: So when we started dealing with technology, they were like the Popsicle people? [laughter] Yeah.
0:03:46.1 MB: What do they know?
0:03:46.9 DP: Yeah. [laughter]
0:03:47.3 MB: Ah, so what happened to the business?
0:03:49.3 DP: So we got funding, we got venture backed by DDR at the time, which was the largest outdoor mall company in the world.
0:03:57.2 MB: Yeah.
0:03:57.7 DP: So they invested like a million, and then we opened up shops at Midtown. So we were the first black owned organization to open up in…
0:04:08.5 MB: Oh wow.
0:04:08.7 DP: This major outdoor mall area.
0:04:10.9 MB: Wow.
0:04:11.4 DP: And over the year, like for that first year that we were working with them, my purpose was to get to profitability.
0:04:18.6 MB: Gotcha.
0:04:19.5 DP: But when we first opened up, I saw one of their staff members with a deck that I never saw before. So I asked them about the deck.
0:04:28.6 MB: Were y’all in the deck?
0:04:30.0 DP: We were in the deck, the deck was totally about us. So they had, they were telling us that, “Hey, we’re in this for the long haul.” But when I opened up this deck, we planned to be out in three years.
0:04:41.2 MB: Oh, Wow.
0:04:42.2 DP: So dealing with that, dealing with the friction that, okay, you’re dealing with this major real estate organization that does not understand food, they only know real estate. And they’re calling you every day, almost every hour on the hour…
0:05:00.6 MB: To see how you’re doing.
0:05:00.7 DP: Asking questions to see how we’re doing. How am I supposed to manage and run a business?
0:05:04.2 MB: That’s right.
0:05:05.0 DP: So that led to us just liquidating everything.
0:05:09.2 MB: Wow.
0:05:09.4 DP: Right, so.
0:05:09.7 MB: The feverish popsicles melted.
0:05:12.0 DP: Yeah. Yes. It melted. [laughter] So we were in business like three years prior to that, and as a result, we were like, hey, we decided to…
0:05:20.7 MB: Take a good call to know who not to work with.
0:05:22.8 DP: Correct.
0:05:23.4 MB: Yeah.
0:05:23.8 DP: And that’s when we knew that we had to be careful with who we let in to our organizations who we let in on our boards.
0:05:30.3 MB: Right.
0:05:30.7 DP: So if you look at our organization from the Center For Black Innovation, we have a closely held board. So people that we trust, we don’t have the big names, we don’t have the CEOs, the VPs, and the directors at all these major corporations because we wanna make sure that the vision for our organization is still coming from us.
0:05:49.8 MB: Yep. I love it.
0:05:51.3 DP: So from there, moved from Minneapolis to Florida, and that’s how I got to Miami.
0:05:57.1 MB: That’s interesting.
0:05:58.1 DP: Yes.
0:05:58.3 MB: And you mentioned Felicia, who’s Felicia?
0:06:00.2 DP: Felicia is my wife. My better half.
0:06:01.9 MB: How long y’all been married?
0:06:02.9 DP: Man, we’ve been married since ’09.
0:06:04.9 MB: That was a long time.
0:06:06.0 DP: Yeah, a long time.
0:06:07.0 MB: And how’d y’all meet?
0:06:08.0 DP: So, I’m gonna tell you the truth. She’s gonna, she tells you…
0:06:10.7 MB: Oh, you know, I’m gonna check on you brother.
0:06:12.2 DP: Fake Narratives, right?
0:06:12.8 MB: Okay.
0:06:13.9 MB: That’s version control.
0:06:15.6 DP: Yeah.
0:06:15.6 MB: Okay. I can’t wait.
0:06:16.9 DP: So I met her actually in DC.
0:06:18.8 MB: Oh.
0:06:19.4 DP: I was doing an internship at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
0:06:22.5 MB: Okay.
0:06:23.2 DP: I went to DC for training. She was doing an experiential marketing campaign from Walgreens.
0:06:28.6 MB: Oh, wow.
0:06:29.0 DP: And we met at Union Station.
0:06:30.4 MB: Wait a minute. Union Station is pretty big. So how’d y’all meet at Union station?
0:06:34.1 DP: So we were actually at the food court. So we were in the food court area, and she was coming on the escalator.
0:06:39.6 MB: Uh-oh.
0:06:40.0 DP: And she was on me. So she came and she sat facing me. I walked past her to the movie theater.
0:06:46.9 MB: Oh, I know exactly. Okay. I can see it now. I can see it.
0:06:50.2 DP: Yes. Yes. So I went to the movie theater. I saw the next showing, which was Fast and the Furious, Tokyo Drift, Lil Bow Wow. Came back, sat in front of her and started talking to her. She had her headphones in. She was like, who is this guy? But she took her headphones out. I asked her to the movies, and then it was a wrap ever since.
0:07:07.2 MB: Wow. What’s her version?
0:07:09.2 DP: So her version is that she wasn’t staring at me.[laughter]
0:07:12.3 DP: She blames it on the shirt. She said, I had a bright pink shirt.
0:07:16.0 MB: Oh boy.
0:07:16.2 DP: But no, I just had a, you remember those Ralph Lauren Polos?
0:07:19.7 MB: Of course. Yeah.
0:07:20.5 DP: With the pink and the Navy blue. That’s what I had on.
0:07:23.6 MB: Okay. So everybody saw you?
0:07:24.7 DP: Yeah. Everybody saw me.
0:07:26.1 MB: Everybody saw you?
0:07:27.0 DP: Yes.
0:07:27.2 MB: Okay.
0:07:27.8 DP: Yes.
0:07:28.0 MB: All right. Now you both have worked together, not just in feverish popsicles, but continue to this day. What is it like working with your wife on a business?
0:07:38.7 DP: It’s great because she specializes in certain things, and I specialize in the other. So it’s a separation of church and state in the household. I shut down when I get home. She likes to continue to work.
0:07:48.4 MB: I was about to say, she’ll be texting me like 11:00 o’clock at night. Oh, wait. Hey, how about this?
0:07:52.0 DP: No.
0:07:52.2 MB: Okay.
0:07:52.6 DP: No, that’s her thing, unless it’s pressing right? And then I get it. But I have to like, have my own space.
0:08:00.7 MB: Gotcha. I gotcha.
0:08:02.0 DP: Yeah.
0:08:02.2 MB: So you mentioned you went to Morehouse.
0:08:04.0 DP: Yes.
0:08:04.3 MB: Morehouse being one of the preeminent HBCU colleges specifically for men. What does it mean to be a Morehouse man?
0:08:11.6 DP: Oh, it means a lot. It means everything. Morehouse shaped me, it gave me the experience to communicate with other, like minds, other extremely intelligent individuals. It exposed me to like the diversity in the black population, black communities. So you’re walking on campus with princes and diplomat sons from Africa to Caribbean.
0:08:39.8 MB: Sure.
0:08:39.9 DP: People who went to boarding schools. And I went to public schools. So just to have the communication and to be able to discuss and see how they analyze things, read books, and maneuver right? Especially a social component.
0:08:54.0 MB: Sure.
0:08:54.3 DP: So to be able to adapt and to just cherry pick what I deem as like skills that I need to embody. And then to implement those in my interviews and into the hiring process and just training and inspiring other people and other youth.
0:09:09.6 MB: Yeah. I love that you talked about the diversity within the black community, which I think most people do not acknowledge or even understand. What makes you unique?
0:09:20.5 DP: I would say what makes me unique is my upbringing. Grew up in Southwest Georgia. Like the county is 15,000 people.
0:09:28.6 MB: Wow.
0:09:29.0 DP: So to my grandparents having a farm, my grandmother actually being a sharecropper and just, I mean, like recently.
0:09:39.1 MB: Wow.
0:09:39.9 DP: Being a sharecropper and like the homestead that they have right now, where they have like four homes on a couple of acres of land was given to them at the end of the sharecropper. So they were able to buy that back through a governmental program. And says, hey, we want to give you your first home.
0:09:56.4 MB: Wow. Sure.
0:09:56.8 DP: So you have these box type homes that I would go to pretty much every weekend to visit my family members. So that grounding was always having a sense of community and protecting that sense of community. So that has always been like the source of me being a part of my communities and looking out for my communities from a tech standpoint, an ecosystem building standpoint.
0:10:22.6 MB: Yeah.
0:10:23.1 DP: My upbringing is who I am, and that is in the clay of Southwest Georgia.
0:10:28.7 MB: Wow. I have been to Southwest Georgia…
0:10:31.0 MB: How did you like it?
0:10:33.5 MB: Well, I would say it was interesting because I think everybody knows Atlanta.
0:10:37.6 DP: Yes.
0:10:37.9 MB: Right. ATL. And I remember I was doing a project for Old Navy, and we were going around doing entrepreneurship training in the stores with young people during their summer employment. And I ended up going to Southwest Georgia, and I was going around and somebody said, “Hey, can you pick up these kids to take them to work?” And I was like, sure. And I was driving and I saw their house and we were coming back and I got lost. And I was like, what’s that? Is that a house? And they were like, oh, that’s an outhouse. And I was like, an outhouse. I was like, oh, well that’s cool. Like, they kept the remnants. They were like, no, no, no, we still have outhouses. And I was like, whoa.
0:11:14.5 DP: Yes.
0:11:14.5 MB: And it just put it in perspective, right? That when we think about all these urban environments and high rises and all technology, that there are still places that people actively live that are probably a 100 years from history, but only a snap of a finger feels like 10 years. So that was, yeah, it was interesting.
0:11:31.8 DP: We’re not as bad as West Virginia, but it’s still there.[laughter]
0:11:33.3 MB: That’s true.
0:11:33.4 DP: Right.
0:11:33.5 MB: That is so true.
0:11:34.2 DP: Yeah.
0:11:34.3 MB: That is true.
0:11:36.1 DP: So, I mean, people are still Ashanti’s, right? Like, and even when you go to larger cities and when you look at the homeless population, that is exactly how it looks in like a rural community except for they just have like wood planks to create some kind of structure, but…
0:11:52.3 MB: But also a strong sense of community.
0:11:53.8 DP: Yes. The community is key.
0:11:54.6 MB: Right.
0:11:55.3 DP: Right? And since a lot of these communities are so small. You don’t have like communities being separated from the standpoint of white kids going to one school and black kids going to the other school.
0:12:10.0 MB: Got you.
0:12:10.5 DP: So as long as they’re small, you have that sense of community and all of the educational resources are going to those main institutions. So in our county, there’s only one high school.
0:12:19.7 MB: Wow.
0:12:20.5 DP: So if they want their kids to be educated, they have to educate all.
0:12:24.1 MB: Educate them together.
0:12:24.8 DP: So that’s why I was able to tap into like honors courses.
0:12:26.5 MB: Sure.
0:12:27.3 DP: AP courses, because they had to force all of those resources into that one spot.
0:12:32.0 MB: I love that. I love that, you said in your opening how you would describe yourself, if I remember correctly, as the ecosystem builder.
0:12:39.2 DP: Correct.
0:12:39.6 MB: And you and Felicia have truly built an amazing tech ecosystem in Miami where everything happens on the coast. Nobody ever thought that Miami would be the tech capital of the world. How do you think that happened and why?
0:12:56.9 DP: That’s a great question. And this person does not get his flowers. Matt Hagman from the Knight Foundation. So when Matt Hagman was at the Knight Foundation, he was tasked, or he was given the opportunity to say, how would you direct the Knight Foundation if you could do anything that you want, if you could disperse those funds. And he did a tour around the United States, went to the Bay, he went to Waterloo, went to Boston, he’s actually from Boston, to see these tech ecosystem. He was like, technology is the key. Like, so we need to bring that to Miami. So he was fighting against the current, like there was no support besides the Knight Foundation. No governmental support. You had the mayor of Miami Beach saying that Miami Beach would never be a tech city.
0:13:46.1 MB: Wow. What’s wrong there?[laughter]
0:13:49.3 DP: And so now, he brought in, he actually stood up with his funding this Black Tech Week, which is our conference in Code fever Miami. Through his support, we were able to bring Black Girls Code to Miami and MDEAT, which is a Miami Day economic advocacy trust, which focuses on the black community. He was able to bring Endeavor. He was a major funder of Emerge Americas. So he brought all of these entities to Miami and that driving force created the tech ecosystem that you see today in Miami.
0:14:25.4 MB: That’s pretty amazing.
0:14:25.8 DP: Yes.
0:14:28.5 MB: Stick around for more of my conversation with Derick Pearson after the break.
MB: Welcome back to the Porch. Here’s more of my conversation with Derick Pearson.
0:14:42.2 MB: What, when we talk about technology, what scares you about technology in our community?
0:14:48.5 DP: What scares me about technology in our community is the fact that if we don’t participate in it, and if we don’t have ownership over it, we would be left behind. So technology is rapid, like, rapidly changing. So we need to understand the blockchain, we need to understand cryptocurrencies. We need to understand how that affects the financial institutions. We need to put our money into those areas. We need to train up our youth to be active participants and builders of this technology. And the regulation from the standpoint of AI. There has to be some type of oversight because there’s bias built into these systems, these algorithms. And if we don’t keep our eye on it and manage it properly, we are going to be on the bad end of that.
0:15:33.8 MB: Sure.
0:15:36.8 DP: So it’s gonna negatively impact us. It’s already negatively impacting us.
0:15:38.4 MB: Sure.
0:15:38.6 DP: From the standpoint of us not being recognized by machine learning right? Not understanding or being able to tell the difference between our complexions.
0:15:49.3 MB: That’s right.
0:15:52.4 DP: So we wanna make sure that we are being protected, and I think me, my focus is on like the finance aspect of it, right? So how do we get access to that capital? How do we make sure that it’s equitable and that we understand these new systems so that we can better participate in it and take advantage of it.
0:16:09.8 MB: Yep. You’ve done a lot. What is your proudest personal moment putting CBI, black Tech Week, all that aside, what is Derick’s proudest personal moment?
0:16:19.6 DP: Ooh. I say there’s two. My family.
0:16:22.5 MB: Youre family.
0:16:23.0 DP: Yes.
0:16:23.5 MB: Say more about your family?
0:16:23.9 DP: My wife, My kids, Felicia, she’s been a rock. Like, she supported me, I’ve supported her. So it’s like we’re a unit, we’re a team. And we’ve built everything together. And we’ve created these two beings. Our daughter Ori, she’s eight, she’s a firecracker. She’s like her mom.
0:16:41.8 MB: She is?
0:16:42.2 DP: Yes. And my son, Asai he’ll be four Monday the 22nd of August. And he is very active. He thinks he’s a mountain climber. He likes to climb on everything.
0:16:54.9 MB: So he’s a risk taker?
0:16:55.9 DP: Yes.
0:16:56.1 MB: I Like that.
0:16:56.7 DP: Very much so.
0:16:57.4 MB: I like that. As you work to build communities what are you most afraid of for your kids about the communities that we’re all working to create?
0:17:08.9 DP: That there won’t be community. There won’t be a connectedness like within the community. So when you come to a place like Martha Vineyard, everyone speaks, everyone says hello. Good morning.
0:17:19.2 MB: That’s like the head nod.
0:17:20.5 DP: Yes, Like when you go back home to these big cities, no one communicates.
0:17:25.0 MB: Everybody’s on their phone walking down the streets.
0:17:27.3 DP: Exactly. So for me personally, it’s culture shock, right? So I grew up in the south in a small city. So everyone spoke to each other.
0:17:36.4 MB: That’s right.
0:17:36.8 DP: Then when I go to Atlanta and then I go to Minneapolis and Miami, no one speaks to each other.
0:17:41.4 MB: Well, not Minneapolis. ‘Cause they trying to get out today gone cold.
0:17:44.2 MB: Right. They have the real polar bears up there.
0:17:48.5 MB: That’s right.[laughter]
0:17:49.7 DP: So when I come to Martha’s Vineyard, it’s like I’m back in that space. Like, so it’s now I have to retrain myself to be speaking to everybody. Hello. How are you? Good morning. So I think that sense of community is very important. Like people need to have the ability to communicate with each other and not just be violent towards each other. Like when you have the road rage incidents and you have people just not being communal beings. We are communal beings. So when you shut that part of you down, you’re actually like harming yourself.
0:18:23.9 MB: That’s right.
0:18:24.5 DP: So I think that that is needed and that I hope that it’s still retained. So we have to create those spaces. And that’s what Black Tech Week did.
0:18:34.8 MB: That’s right.
0:18:35.2 DP: So Black Tech Week created that space where you would come, people get married. I mean like, people would meet their better halves and people would get access to funding. They would build those relationships because people would come into these spaces and they would let the guard down. They would be more open and receptive to communicating with you and actually opening up a ear to see if you have a viable idea and how do you best transform that idea so you can actually tap into the money.
0:19:03.3 MB: Yep. You talked about Black Tech Week, you sold it.
0:19:05.6 DP: Yes.
0:19:06.2 MB: I had been in one in Miami. I had the privilege to go to one in Cincinnati. I was like, Ooh, Cincinnati Black Tech Week. I’ll think about that. What were you most excited about in terms of selling it? What were you most afraid of in selling it?
0:19:18.1 DP: Ooh. I was most excited about the people in which we sold it to. Brian and Candice Brackeen.
0:19:24.8 MB: Yes. Another power couple.
0:19:26.1 DP: Yes. Another power couple. So Brian Brackeen was the first black founder to actually sponsor Black Tech Week in 2015. Him and Candice met at Black Tech Week.
0:19:37.9 MB: At Black Tech. I remember that.
0:19:39.8 DP: Yes. And they got married. And now they’ve created this empire, Lightship Capital, Lightship Foundation. And they acquired them. The thing about Brian and Candice Brackeen, is that they have a strong connection with the brand. They have always been active participants.
0:19:58.3 MB: Yep.
0:19:58.3 DP: They would come to our black tech weekends in other cities, participate in the VCN residence program, where they were actually coaching guide, these startup founders. So we knew that the brand would be in great hands. And I saw it as an organization that has been able to raise millions of dollars for a fund and acquire other like organizations.
0:20:20.8 MB: Yep.
0:20:20.9 DP: Like the NewMe accelerator from Angela.
0:20:22.6 MB: That’s right. That’s right. Yeah.
0:20:22.8 DP: We knew that they had the ability to continue on the programming. And they did, so and they did it great.
0:20:30.0 MB: They did a great job. What scared you about letting it go, because that was your baby?
0:20:34.5 DP: So actually we weren’t really scared.
0:20:37.8 MB: Okay.
0:20:38.1 DP: We weren’t scared because most people don’t know, prior to COVID, we had already had this discussion. We were having this conversation. And it just fell through. And then we wanted to actually bring them on to support our accelerator program and Candice was like, “Are you all still interested in selling Black Tech Week?” So the conversation rekindled.
0:20:58.5 MB: Gotcha.
0:20:58.8 DP: Me and Felicia, we were already, ready to sell it and let it go.
0:21:02.8 MB: Sure.
0:21:03.4 DP: We had already came to that conclusion, and that mindset. And that space to just let it be.
0:21:09.8 MB: What brought you to that conclusion?
0:21:11.0 DP: Burnout. When you’re not as excited or you feel drained when it’s time to start that planning process and to create that event, that’s when you know it’s time.
0:21:24.9 MB: It’s time. When the thrill is gone.
0:21:27.1 DP: Yes.
0:21:27.6 MB: I got it.
0:21:28.3 DP: When the thrill is gone.[laughter]
0:21:29.8 MB: Well now you have a thrill with this Center for Black Innovation.
0:21:32.3 DP: Correct.
0:21:32.6 MB: What excites you about CBI?
0:21:34.3 DP: Oh, what excites me about CBI is the double down on the VCN residence program, focusing on capital pathways. Making sure that these capital pathways are equitable. So how do we build enough relationships with financial institutions, not-for-profit organizations that focus on building capital and building up venture capitalists.
0:21:54.8 MB: Sure.
0:21:55.1 DP: The next generation of VCs. And just connecting all those resources to support the startup founders who are coming through our accelerator program.
0:22:02.8 MB: Gotcha. You used a lot of words there.
0:22:04.6 DP: Yes.
0:22:05.3 MB: I know when I tell my mom a venture Cap, she goes, I still don’t know what you do but as long as you can pay your bills, [laughter], what does your family think you do? And how do you describe it to them?
0:22:13.9 DP: Wow. So some of my family members still think I run a Popsicle business.[laughter]
0:22:19.0 MB: They know you’re selling something. You selling something.
0:22:22.4 DP: Yes. Yes. The other family members, they don’t know, they don’t understand it. And when I tell them that I help people raise money. I help people build great businesses.
0:22:35.3 MB: Yeah.
0:22:35.6 DP: They’re like, oh, okay. Can you help me start this barbershop or [laughter] It’s, yeah. But I’m focused on those that are Tech enable.
0:22:44.6 MB: Right. Right. Right. Do you think that you will ever go back to southwest Georgia?
0:22:50.8 DP: Oh, yes. I just bought three acres of lakefront property up there.
0:22:53.6 MB: Nice. What you gonna do?
0:22:54.6 DP: So we’re gonna build a vacation house up there.
0:22:56.3 MB: Okay.
0:22:56.8 DP: Now we’re looking for a farm.
0:22:57.9 MB: Ooh. What you gonna do on the Farm?
0:23:00.1 DP: So retreats.
0:23:01.3 MB: Okay.
0:23:02.3 DP: We’re looking for, we looked at a couple of plantations, old plantations, 40 plus acres.
0:23:08.3 MB: Okay. All right. 40 acres and a mule. Okay.
0:23:11.5 DP: Yes. Yes. So that’s the goal to have that, so that we can just do more intimate convenings.
0:23:16.9 MB: Gotcha.
0:23:17.8 DP: And just bring people and just get reconnect to nature. That community is just, I think, a part of my purpose as well. So I got initiate into Ifá.
0:23:28.3 MB: Ah, and what is that?
0:23:30.1 DP: So Ifá is an African philosophy, spiritual practice right out of Nigeria.
0:23:36.9 MB: Okay.
0:23:37.5 DP: And it focuses, it’s group, it’s an earth spiritual practice, right? So it’s focused on mother nature, community, but remembering your ancestors and calling them into being. And to protect you. So it’s very communal. Whenever you do rituals, rituals are part of community.
0:23:55.3 MB: Sure.
0:23:56.6 DP: They’re healing events. So they’re healing mourning events. They are cleansing events. So my initiation into that came up as me being a pillar in the community and being a trumpeter. So I’ve been sounding off since I was a kid. Sounding off about communities, sounding off about, economic development.
0:24:20.8 MB: Sure.
0:24:21.1 DP: And empowerment. So it’s always been there.
0:24:22.0 MB: Yeah. So I love that the trumpeter, that’s a good description. What is the trumpeter afraid of?
0:24:27.4 DP: Woo. [laughter] The trumpeter is afraid of not providing the foundation for my kids that I had.
0:24:38.4 MB: Gotcha.
0:24:39.1 DP: And I think, especially from the standpoint of all the knowledge that I’ve had, I have all the experiences that I’ve experienced with entrepreneurs not being able to generate the profits and the wealth to pass onto my kids.
0:24:54.5 MB: Sure.
0:24:55.3 DP: So that they can start off ahead of me.
0:24:57.5 MB: Yep.
0:24:58.1 DP: So that’s why I’m always juggling between social impact.
0:25:04.3 MB: Sure.
0:25:04.3 DP: Not for profit. And then going back into for-profit.
0:25:05.8 MB: Sure.
0:25:06.4 DP: Just so I can leave a legacy and pass up…
0:25:08.0 MB: Gotta keep those stacks going, gotta keep those stacks going.
0:25:10.5 DP: You can’t let the bank account be at zero.
0:25:13.3 MB: That’s right.
0:25:13.8 DP: You gotta build it up.
0:25:13.8 MB: That’s right.
0:25:14.0 DP: So that’s where we are right now. So it’s just juggling those two. And like which one should I double down on the for-profit? So I have a marketing company and I have other investments.
0:25:24.8 MB: Sure.
0:25:25.3 DP: And things of that nature. So should I focus on that or should I continue to do this work that I’ve been called to do?
0:25:30.6 MB: Gotcha.
0:25:31.4 DP: That’s what I struggle with.
0:25:32.3 MB: What do your kids think you do?
0:25:33.8 DP: Business. That’s all they know about I have business.
0:25:37.8 MB: My mom and dad do business.
0:25:38.6 DP: Phone calls.
0:25:39.0 MB: Gotcha.
0:25:39.3 DP: Yeah. That’s what they understand. We have the conversation. Ori knows about black tech week, but now she doesn’t know we sold it, so.
0:25:47.8 MB: Gotcha. Oh. She’d be like, wait, where’s black tech week?
0:25:49.3 DP: She was there from the very beginning.
0:25:50.8 MB: Right. Of course.
0:25:52.9 DP: So they have some idea, but they don’t know the half of it.
0:25:58.1 MB: Okay. They have an idea. When you think about, let’s go ahead, 20 years, what do you think people will say about you? 20 years from now, what will they say about Derick Pearson?
0:26:07.5 DP: I hope they see me like the movie… I don’t know if you saw the documentary, The Godfather?
0:26:13.8 MB: Yes. Yes, of course.
0:26:14.7 DP: I hope they see me like him. As a person who was always there helping out startup founders. And then when you start interviewing them and see where they got their start…
0:26:24.8 MB: That’s right.
0:26:26.4 DP: Who gave them a platform?
0:26:28.0 MB: Clearance.
0:26:28.7 DP: Yes. Clearance. Who gave them a platform? Who actually gave them an intro into a VC?
0:26:37.4 MB: Sure.
0:26:37.8 DP: Like, so that they can get the funding to grow and scale their businesses. That’s what I hope. I hope they see me as that.
0:26:43.5 MB: Well, I think people already see you that way. That’s so I appreciate you. Thank you for joining us on the Porch brother.
0:26:48.6 DP: Thank you. My pleasure. Thank you for all that you do, and you’ve always been a supporter of me. So again, thank you. Praises to you.
0:26:55.0 DP: I know good things when I see it. I’m following the trumpet.[music]
0:27:00.2 MB: Thank you for listening to my conversation with Derick Pearson, who made it clear you can go from a farm to fame and still be an amazing family man. If you enjoyed our conversation, please leave us a rating and a review. To learn more about our guest and find a link to the website, check out our show notes. You can find us on social media @wearenmv or search for us with the hashtag Porch Talks.
0:27:25.1 MB: You have a recurring theme of community. We know that oftentimes catastrophic events bring us together, and then when things get back on track, we go, “Oh yeah, all is well. I don’t need to check in.” And you are somebody that will just hit me up and say, “Hey, qeen, how you doing?” Where did that desire and very intentional spirit come from just checking on people?
0:27:45.7 DP: Oh, that’s how I was brought up. Like so just to give a more backstory about me and Felicia.
0:27:52.0 MB: Yes.
0:27:52.6 DP: So my great-grandfather was a Baptist preacher in West Georgia. Felicia’s great-grandfather was a Baptist preacher in Bainbridge. He had a radio station.
0:28:03.2 MB: Oh, wow.
0:28:03.8 DP: So whenever he would go out and go to other churches to speak, he would call my grandfather to actually fill in for him.
0:28:11.8 MB: Oh, wow.
0:28:12.4 DP: Right.
0:28:13.0 MB: Oh, that’s deep.
0:28:14.4 DP: So that connection, I think was a part of both of us to be a part of community, because I think they had some kind of pack. To join these two families and…
0:28:25.7 MB: Little mafia like, okay here’s my son, here’s your daughter. I sense they’re gonna find each other.
0:28:32.0 DP: Right.
0:28:32.8 MB: Okay.
0:28:33.2 DP: The fact that my great grandmother had 11 kids. And my grandmother had my… This is my maternal side.
0:28:41.5 MB: Okay.
0:28:41.7 DP: Had 12.
0:28:43.1 MB: You’re a little behind Derick with your two.
0:28:45.5 DP: I’m extremely behind.
0:28:46.0 MB: Come on, let’s go.
0:28:46.6 DP: I told Felicia that she almost ran away.[laughter]
0:28:49.6 DP: But so I had to roll it back, stick with one or two.
0:28:53.8 MB: 12 to two. Okay.
0:28:55.2 DP: Yes.[music]
0:28:55.4 S?: Porch Talks is a production of Kinetic Energy Entertainment, and New Majority Ventures. Recording and video production services were provided by Modulus Studios. This podcast was recorded at the Black Joy House in Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard. Our producer is Ann Kane. Our social media producer is Misako Envela, and the show is mixed by Sonya Harris. The Porch Talks theme is A New View by Tony Cruise. Thanks again for listening. See you back on the Porch.