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Sometimes it helps to look back before we look forward! As we get ready for season 2 of Founder Hustle with Melissa Bradley, premiering on May 23rd, 2023, we want to share some of our favorite moments from season 1.

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0:00:06.8 Melissa Bradley: From New Majority Ventures and Kinetic Energy Entertainment, this is Founder Hustle. When I decided I was gonna leave Corporate America and I wanted to raise money for my business and I went to the SBA, they told me “No.” And I was like, “Okay, cool. Just give me the reasons and I’ll come back next week and fix them.” And she goes, “Well, you’re black, you’re a female, and I don’t know any black women in financial services.” My mom just popped into my head like, get out of the building now. And when I got to the bottom floor of the building, it was nine floors, I said, “I will do whatever I can to make sure this never happens to somebody who looks like me again.”

0:00:40.5 MB: Welcome to Founder Hustle, a podcast series by, for and about the new majority entrepreneur. I’m your host, Melissa Bradley, founder of 1863 Ventures and co-founder of New Majority Ventures. The road from founder to CEO can be both hard and rewarding. So on each episode of Founder Hustle, I interview a new majority entrepreneur to find out what their journey really looks like. As a CEO, founder, professor, and general partner of a venture fund, I know how valuable good information and resources are for the new majority. Through shared tools, strategies and life lessons, we’re here to enlighten, uplift and educate anyone interested in this entrepreneurial ecosystem so that you too can go from founder to CEO.


0:01:33.4 MB: Hey, good people. It’s Melissa. We’re getting ready to kick off season two of Founder Hustle on May 23rd. We have some awesome conversations coming your way. I’d hate for you to miss out, so please make sure you subscribe.

0:01:45.9 MB: Sometimes it helps to look back before we look forward. So as we get ready for season two, I wanted to share some special highlights from season one of Founder Hustle. Listening to our incredible guests from the season, I couldn’t help but be amazed at how motivation for entrepreneurs can come from so many different places and inspire us to do so many things. Motivations can even change as we learn and experience life. That certainly happened to me. Back in episode one, Chris Denson, the host of Innovation Crush interviewed me and asked about my experiences.

0:02:16.3 Chris Denson: Okay, so let’s back up a little bit. You obviously have this passion just brewing constantly inside you. Where did that come from ’cause I think a lot of us have it to some degree…

0:02:27.0 MB: Sure.

0:02:27.3 CD: But do we act on it to the degree that you have done, historically? But also say like that was your Mission Outright. Where did that come from?

0:02:32.5 MB: It definitely was on my Mission Outright. When I went to George town, I was like, I’m going to Wall Street to make a lot of money. And I was walking across campus, I’m not gonna forget, my friend Janine yelled across saying, “What are you doing for your community?” And I was like, “I’m volunteering.” And she was like, “Okay, well you could probably do more.” So I started to volunteer. And I think a combination of volunteering with kids who were ‘at-risk youth.’ And the slap upside my head that when I decided I was gonna leave corporate America and I wanted to raise money for my business and I went to the SBA, they told me, “No.” And I was like, “Okay, cool. Just give me the reasons and I’ll come back next week and fix them.” And she goes, “Well you’re black, you’re a female and I don’t know any black women in financial services.” And I was like, “What?” And I was like, “Those are your only reasons?” And she was like, “Yeah, the plan was great.”

0:03:20.2 CD: Was that positioned as almost like a favor of giving you that information or was it like…

0:03:24.7 MB: I think maybe she thought she was doing me a favor.

0:03:26.4 CD: Yeah. ‘Cause it’s very blatant.

0:03:27.4 MB: Right. Right. This was Score. So this was the volunteer group of retired executives, but they were, at the time, they were doing pre-screening for applications. And I was like, oh, okay. And my mom just popped into my head like, get out of the building now. And when I got to the bottom floor of the building, it was nine floors, I said, I will do whatever I can to make sure this never happens to somebody who looks like me again. And between working in the community and from Georgetown and seeing the disparities, and being one of those kids who came from one of those communities and not being wealthy and living below poverty and mom working multiple jobs and being embarrassed when I went to the store, ’cause we had food stamps, I was like, this is really all about a narrative and it’s an inaccurate one. And so what can I do to help change that narrative? And it’s funny ’cause even as I say that, I was a finance person, but I think what I try to do is tell stories through numbers. Because your numbers are nothing but a story. Your financial statements are nothing but a story and reflection of your values.

0:04:28.1 CD: That’s great. Go back to a conversation I had with Diana recently about the impetus of this. And she also went to Georgetown with you.

0:04:35.7 MB: Yep. True.

0:04:36.0 CD: And she’s like a lot of my peers who were Caucasian and came from backgrounds and family. So the conversation at the dinner table was about business and blah blah blah. All this terminology we may not get if we’re food stamp recipients. And maybe your mom’s not even home to have the dinner with. So how does that resonate with you as far as the birth of a storytelling medium?

0:04:56.5 MB: It’s huge. I think as you say it, what comes to mind is this, what do stories do? So I think stories help people feel something. And I think the first thing is I want the stories we tell to help entrepreneurs feel like they’re doing the right thing. Because I think too often they’re told that’s dumb. People tell me, “Go get a job.” And I was like, “It is a job.” And so I think that’s the first thing. I think the second thing is to really send a different signal effect to the world. What makes a successful entrepreneur? It doesn’t have to be white guy I went to school with whose parents were entrepreneurs and his uncle’s an investment banker and his friends and family round is 2 million. It is a universal concept.

0:05:37.2 MB: And I think the third thing is probably somewhat more political, small P, which is, if you think about where this country is going, I don’t use the word minority, I use the term new majority because people of color globally are the majority. And certainly in the United States we’re about to be there. And I recognize that scares people. And so I think part of it is putting accurate facts out there that can ultimately change people’s mind. Because much like the SBA experience or even now, if I go raise money for our fund, people see me and they create a story in their mind about what they see. I want them to hear different stories with the same face and hopefully change the narrative in their head.


0:06:24.3 MB: In episode nine, I had the privilege to talk with Roz Brooks, founder of Well Women of Color. Roz has committed her life to help black women realize their power by taking care of their bodies holistically. Like me, Roz experienced closed doors as she started following her motivation to work with the homeless, but sometimes closed doors open new pathways. Roz’s path as a founder wasn’t what she expected, but it has led her to be an inspiring leader in the community, championing the health of the new majority. Sometimes your path doesn’t always lead you to the place you thought you’d be, but it certainly will take you where you need to be.

0:07:00.0 Roz Brooks: I have a five acre urban farm in Las Vegas that I started in March of 2010 and it was the first public urban farm and community garden that they had. And I was donated five acres of land and when you donated five acres of land, it’s like, okay God, what do you want me to do with this? And decided to start that and it’s been going ever since.

0:07:23.6 MB: And so what happens in the garden?

0:07:25.7 RB: I have 32 raised beds and so people actually can lease those out and I teach them how to grow their own food. I have 21 rows that are four feet by I think a hundred feet. And that’s where I grow for the community. So anyone can just come and pick and pay. So it’s an outdoor produce department.

0:07:47.6 MB: Wow.

0:07:48.2 RB: I have a walking track, a fruit tree orchard, a outdoor pizza oven and kitchen.

0:07:53.8 MB: All right. Now I was like, I heard vegetables. Where’s the good stuff? Sorry, but okay. Pizza oven. Okay, that’s good.

0:07:58.5 RB: Yep. I have 18 chickens.

0:08:00.5 MB: Wow.

0:08:00.8 RB: So I sell fresh eggs. I had two goats, but I don’t have those anymore. But yeah. So, and people rent the garden for events and I do classes.

0:08:10.9 MB: Sure. It’s beautiful.

0:08:11.5 RB: Wellness classes and it’s really, really amazing.

0:08:14.7 MB: And how did you get into farming?

0:08:17.2 RB: I had never grown anything before. Had never even planted. I’m a city girl from Las Vegas. We don’t grow nothing in Vegas. I was a school teacher and I taught kinder and first grade with the school district and have always had a passion for the homeless. Always. And I just knew that I was gonna have a homeless day shelter and God led me exactly in the direction to have that. And so when I thought that that was gonna be my journey, because I have served the homeless like my whole life, bringing home stray babies, cats, all of that. When I was 9, 10, 11, I find a homeless friend that I knew from school and she had a little baby. I’m like, mom, please like, can we keep it? But that that’s what I’d be doing. And so when I felt God calling me out of the classroom to do this ’cause he done sent me to Boston to tour their homeless day shelter.

0:09:12.9 MB: Wow.

0:09:13.0 RB: I wanted to model that and, I was running out of the classroom when I thought that that was going to be what I was going to do 20 seconds after I quit my job every single door to opening up a homeless shelter shut.

0:09:28.6 MB: Wow.

0:09:28.9 RB: When I say shut, it shut.

0:09:30.8 MB: Wow. Like what?

0:09:32.0 RB: To the point of where the city of Las Vegas was no longer giving out social service licenses to nonprofits that were serving homeless because we had such a huge, at the time, our mayor was trying to send them to like Timbuktu ’cause you know how they all congregate in the downtown area?

0:09:56.2 MB: Sure. I do. Yes.

0:09:56.2 RB: And they were trying to clean up the city and all of that.

0:10:00.2 MB: This is during, let’s make Vegas family friendly, wasn’t it.


0:10:01.8 MB: Which is still like ironic with the exotic dancer signs all down the street.

0:10:05.6 RB: Right.

0:10:05.8 MB: Okay got it. Got it.

0:10:06.6 RB: And so you need to have your facility where they are. I can’t like go across town. 20 miles away. And they were like, I went to the city council, they were like, really? Sorry, you’re not gonna be able to get any licensing.

0:10:21.4 MB: Oh.

0:10:21.6 RB: We’re trying to restructure, don’t know what to do. And I had found, a little cute house that I had wanted and it had been boarded up for a long time. I had my friend, I didn’t know who owned it, it was just full of trash. I had my friends, we were cleaning the lot up. I just knew that was gonna be mine. I knew it. So let me go ahead and clean it up and get started.

0:10:42.1 MB: And then get prepared.

0:10:44.4 RB: That couldn’t be bought. It was going through whatever. And that was… And then I couldn’t get the license and I was like, what in the hazy [chuckle] And so…

0:10:55.7 MB: You’re like, wait a minute. I served, I did everything I was supposed to do and then you got side railed.

0:11:02.9 RB: Every… It was amazing how every open door that was there before I quit just closed. So…

0:11:11.7 MB: But it sounds like another door opened.

0:11:13.7 RB: I was in my… Like I went through this two weeks of just probably being super, super depressed. I know. I heard you right, maybe I didn’t, Oh my gosh. Like what do I do now? And just crying and all of that. And then one day a song came on the radio and the song just simply said, it’s by John Waller. I love this song. And it, and the song says, serve me while you wait.

0:11:41.2 MB: Huh.

0:11:42.7 RB: And that song brought me all the way out of my depression.

0:11:51.9 MB: Wow.

0:11:52.1 RB: And, lack of faith and all of that. And God just simply says, serve me while you wait. Like chill. I got this, and I can remember…

0:12:00.5 MB: And you have nothing else to do because you quit your job so calm down.

0:12:05.0 RB: So, and my husband’s such an awesome guy before I quit my job and I’m always, before I make any big decision or announcement, always tell God, God put it in his spirit first. So when I come to him, he like, damn, did I dream this? Like, did I have a vision. He already, so I had given God like two weeks to like, God, I’m gonna give you like two weeks to…

0:12:28.6 MB: Two weeks notice.

0:12:29.7 RB: Right. And so we always take a after dinner walk and I was like, babe, I really feel like I need to quit my job, blah, blah blah. We talked about it for two hours and he said, you know what? If this is what you feel led to do, let, we’ll tighten up our belt and we’ll do it. So that’s when I quit teaching.

0:12:45.6 RB: So I hear this song and I remember my pastor at the time saying, “If you don’t know what your purpose is, help some damn body who do, don’t just sit on the pews year after year after year with the excuse of, I don’t know what God want me to do.” He’s like,”Help some damn body that God done already showed them.” And I said, that’s just so true. So I began to volunteer at all the homeless shelters. Anybody who was doing anything for homeless every day.

0:13:18.4 MB: Oh wow. Here she come, get some Roz. Look at it. Here she come.

0:13:21.4 RB: It was like a job, I got…

0:13:23.5 MB: It’s every day. Get up every day.

0:13:24.9 RB: Yeah and I loved it, I loved it. So I’m in a meeting one day, a business meeting for something else and this gentleman, I was talking about… We were having a sidebar conversation and I was saying… And I was still… I was always into health and wellness and I always had that ministry at church and trying to help women of color. And I said, as I’m teaching women how to eat healthy, it would be so awesome if right in our community we had somewhere to go and pick fresh fruits and vegetables to just buy them like I would love. And so he said, “I have five acres of land. I have tried to donate it to different organizations who’ve wanted to start a community garden.” I don’t even think I had ever heard of a community garden. It just seemed like it was just foreign to me. And ’cause…

0:14:17.7 MB: Particularly Las Vegas, let’s be honest.

0:14:19.1 RB: Right. We didn’t have…

0:14:19.8 MB: You never grown things, but that is not it.

0:14:21.4 RB: We did not have those in Vegas. And he said, “I’ve tried to give it to and some really top nonprofits that we’ve all heard of.” He’s like, “I tried to give it to them” “I tried to give it to them.” And he was like, “You can’t get two of us together to ever make a decision.” So three years later here is still sick.

0:14:43.0 MB: Wow.

0:14:43.0 RB: He Was like, “If you want it, go for it.” Melissa, I go to the property and I can show you some before pictures later. It’s a dirt lot. It’s got glass, old trailers because he was a contractor. And so that was the trap, that was the dump all for the stuff from the sites, just barren, barren. And I was just like, good… And mind you, I don’t even have plants at the house.

0:15:19.7 MB: You’re like, what am I supposed to do with this? You were like, no wonder nobody wants it. They can’t grow anything on this.

0:15:25.8 RB: You know what, I never thought about that. They probably all walked up.

0:15:29.0 MB: I’m sure they did. They were like, this sounds great. A free donation of five acres. And they were probably thinking there was some houses on there and they walk by and go, “This is like a wasteland. I’m not taking this.

0:15:38.7 RB: That’s exactly what…

0:15:39.2 MB: Because as a nonprofit we’re thinking everything is free and really free. So now I gotta clean all this up, Okay, thanks Presti. But no thanks.

0:15:47.7 RB: That is probably exactly what happened and I don’t know, something about the land just really spoke to me. I went to the nursery and the only plant I recognized was an aloe vera plant. I buy an aloe vera plant. I go back and I sit it in the middle of this land and I said, okay, let’s do the shit. Let’s grow.

0:16:13.3 MB: Oh boy. Wow. And fast forward, you’ve now got beds everywhere. So how many people do you think are coming through on the regular?

0:16:19.8 RB: On a regular ’cause now I’ve partnered with the court system and so people who have to do community service hours and…

0:16:26.8 MB: Gotcha. That’s smart. Yeah. That’s awesome.

0:16:27.8 RB: We do a lot of school field trips, but probably monthly at least 300 people a month come through.

0:16:38.8 MB: Wow. And knowing you, they’re not just coming through and picking stuff. They’re coming through and they’re hearing a story about that and what it could do for them and why you need more of this burger and not that.

0:16:51.1 RB: Yeah. They really, they get a lot…

0:16:55.6 MB: Cycle foods on steroids.

0:16:57.5 RB: Right.


0:17:01.4 MB: Food is fuel. And sometimes it’s more than that. It’s connections and opportunity. Like it was for our guest April Harris, founder of Keeping You Sweet. Her motivation came not from the food itself, but the connection she had with her mother. Oftentimes motivation for what we do comes from some of the darkest moments. In episode seven, I spoke with April about how facing the loss of her mother laid the foundation for her to become a founder.

0:17:24.2 April Harris: It just took me a minute to just regroup. And this story that I tell is the only thing that gave me peace about her passing and seeing her stuff. I couldn’t look at pictures, I couldn’t look at video. I couldn’t even really talk about her for more than a minute without losing it. But when I saw her recipe books and I saw her handwriting, I could just look. I was carrying them around like they were my baby. So that made me bake and cook.

0:17:50.4 MB: And had you baked with her growing up? Okay.

0:17:52.5 AH: I did. But she was one that… So when I was a little girl, we spent a lot of time in the kitchen together, but when I became older, especially after I came back from Howard, I was like, “We have to clean these ingredients up. We get no artificial flavors, no artificial colors, no preservatives. We have to… All the sugar and all the… “she’s like, “Listen, As long as there’s love in it. It don’t matter what’s in it.” So we totally different on that ’cause I was like, look, this needs to be organic, at least make this organic. And she thought I was crazy.

0:18:27.0 MB: Well, different generations, she’s like, “I’m different.”

0:18:28.3 AH: Different generations.

0:18:29.9 MB: Don’t come back here with your degree trying to change my stuff.

0:18:31.6 AH: Yeah, don’t come in here with all that. So we stopped cooking, we stopped baking together ’cause it just didn’t work. So with that, with having her recipes, I was able to do them the way I wanted to. And actually that’s what led me to Whole Foods. So it’s just so beautiful, ironic and a great way for me to celebrate her life. Because I just felt like… And I’m sure other people feel this way too, when you lose someone, you want everybody to know that they lived.

0:19:04.0 MB: That’s right.

0:19:05.5 AH: You want people… You want it to be on the news. So I was like…

0:19:09.0 MB: You wanna celebrate.

0:19:09.7 AH: How am I gonna celebrate her? So now on the back of every label, and it will be forever for as long as I have the company and even if I sell it, that it has to say Made by Georgia’s daughter.

0:19:22.9 MB: Love it.

0:19:23.3 AH: It has to.

0:19:23.8 MB: I love it.

0:19:24.4 AH: Yeah.

0:19:24.7 MB: I love it, Georgia’s daughter.

0:19:27.3 AH: Georgia’s daughter.

0:19:27.3 MB: But talk about that. So you’re connecting with your mom, you’re making these recipes, and then what happened?

0:19:37.7 AH: So for me, I had already transitioned to this clean lifestyle. I had been a strict vegan for seven years.

0:19:45.1 MB: Wow.

0:19:45.3 AH: And strict meaning organic and no added refined sugar. So real strict. So no one wanted to go out to eat with me. [laughter] They were like, “What are you doing?” So I had a really good education on ingredients. So what happened when I started baking, it was just too much for the household.

0:20:05.5 MB: Gotcha.

0:20:05.6 AH: It was too many baked goods in the household. So I decided to look into places that needed product to raise money.

0:20:15.6 MB: Sure.

0:20:15.7 AH: So I partnered with a few organizations that were raising money. I like kids, so for education. So I would donate to ’em. They were like, “Oh, we need 200 cakes.” I’m like, “Yes.”

0:20:24.4 MB: Wow.

0:20:24.6 AH: Something for me to do.

0:20:25.9 MB: Wait, you… Not two…

0:20:27.6 AH: But not big.

0:20:27.7 MB: But 200 cakes.

0:20:28.0 AH: That, yeah. 200 like mini cakes. So…

0:20:29.8 MB: Wow. And how long would that take?

0:20:31.4 AH: You know what? I had gotten it down to a science.

0:20:33.5 MB: Okay.

0:20:33.6 AH: So it wouldn’t take long at all. So one event was called A Taste of Newark, and they were raising money for a Link Charter Schools. And I’m passionate about that, ’cause my nephew was in the school. So they were like, “Can you do like 450 cakes?”

0:20:47.7 MB: Wow.

0:20:48.1 AH: And I was like, “Yes.” [laughter] I was excited to do it. So I made my 450 cakes. They had this huge beautiful event at New Jersey Performing Art Center. It was like over maybe 2000 people there.

0:21:00.4 MB: Wow.

0:21:01.1 AH: And afterwards people were reaching out to me like, “Where can I get your cake? I really liked it and it’s so hard to find gluten-free. It’s so hard to find no added refined sugar.” So I asked another friend, he’s in the food business. I said, “Where can I… Where can I put my cakes? Because people were calling.” Like, “I got a business.” So he said, ” Why don’t you try Whole Foods? I think that’d be better for you.” I was like, “Whole Foods.” I didn’t even think it was possible. So he gave me the regional bakery team number email. I emailed them not even thinking I would hear back, honestly. And within 15 minutes they were like, “How many flavors do you have?” And I said, “What?” [laughter] So I emailed back and I said, “Five flavors,” of which I only really had two.


0:21:48.6 AH: And…

0:21:48.9 MB: Well, they say, “You gotta fake it till you make it.”


0:21:52.1 AH: I had to figure out how to do that. And they were like, “How soon can you submit?”

0:21:55.4 MB: Wow.

0:21:56.3 AH: And then I submitted and then they were like, “Okay, just hold.” And then it was like two months. I didn’t hear from them. So this was like November, 2016. And…

0:22:06.4 MB: And submit means putting your cakes like…

0:22:08.4 AH: Submit means actually making them, putting them in. At the time, I didn’t really know what submit meant. But my submit…

0:22:15.8 MB: Okay. Fair enough. Fair enough. Fair enough.

0:22:17.4 AH: Submit meant package retail ready. But I had never been in a retail store, so I didn’t know that. So I just submitted them in a really nice box, loose altogether. And that was my submission. And they said, “We’ll get back to you.” Then I was like, “They didn’t like them.” So by like the end of December, I received an e email from them and they said, “Can you submit your nutritional panels?” I had no idea what that was and how to do it.


0:22:47.2 MB: I know those are things that go on the side of the box.

0:22:50.2 AH: Those are all the, “How much sugar, how much fat, how much protein.” And I was like, “I don’t even know how to do that.” So I went back to that friend, that friend sent me somewhere else, then sent me somewhere else. I figured that out. I have to really think about how I ended up figuring it out. But anyway, I ended up speaking with a lady who said, “I can do them for you.” She did them. I submitted them. They were like, “Okay, thank you,” but nothing else. And then, they were like, “Can you submit your containers?” I was like…


0:23:20.5 AH: Back to that, like. Okay. Figure out where am I gonna put these? So then I got the containers and then they sent me an email and I was actually in Whole Foods, another Whole Foods shopping. And in line checked my email and it said, “We would like to partner with you.” And I just fell to my knees.

0:23:39.8 MB: Wow.

0:23:40.2 AH: And I just wept because that was like the best news that I had gotten in a long time.

0:23:45.2 MB: Long time. Yeah.

0:23:46.3 AH: And I knew that I was gonna incorporate my mom in it. And it just, it was just… What was crazy is people came over to me, they were like, “What’s wrong? What’s wrong?”

0:23:55.9 MB: Because you are in the middle of a Whole Foods out on the floor.

0:23:58.9 AH: I’m on the floor, and I’m crying. And they were like, “Are you okay?” I was like, I’m gonna be selling to Whole Foods.” They were like, “Yes.” So there was like this little party in the store, which was crazy. And then that, so that was January. And then they, my first store was Newark, New Jersey. And my first order was due March 1st.

0:24:25.5 MB: Wow.


0:24:27.0 MB: In episode three, I interviewed Kalilah Wright, founder of Mess in a Bottle. In her episode, you can hear all about her motivation and success as the founder of Mess, but I wanted to share a behind the scenes moment of her thriving. When I interviewed her, she had just completed her latest marathon. I’m gonna go away from the business for a second. You just ran a marathon.

0:24:45.5 Kalilah Wright: I did.

0:24:46.1 MB: If anybody follows you on social media, we were able to see their journey.

0:24:49.4 KW: Yeah.

0:24:49.6 MB: I was proud of you. Tell us about…

0:24:51.0 KW: Thank you.

0:24:51.5 MB: The training and then what happened at the marathon?

0:24:54.0 KW: Oh it went to shits.


0:24:55.5 KW: Sorry. I hope I can curse.

0:24:58.7 MB: Of course.

0:25:00.8 KW: Yeah, the unexpected happened. I mean, not really. Like, okay, so look, I ran the New York marathon and I always say that one, that was a mess. Okay.

0:25:10.6 MB: Okay.

0:25:11.2 AH: And it was a mess because…

0:25:12.0 MB: How appropriate that it was a Mess.

0:25:13.2 KW: It was definitely. That’s what this whole Mess in a Bottle is about. It’s about my mess. And so I did New York and New York was a mess and that was a couple years ago. But like, it was at least maybe two, three years ago. And I feel like now I’m wiser. I’m a little bit older, but I feel like I trained better. So I was ready. And so, the training part. And I did a lot of like, messaging within social media, just about how, it’s not about the things that you want later. Well, it’s not about the things you want right now. It’s about everything you’re preparing for the later. There was so much analogy with running, it felt like you’re going up a hill, but you know it’s gonna level out and you just gotta push and go up. And that’s how life is. So whenever I run, I’m just like, “Okay, look, get over the hill. Just go up and keep going.” And so I think that the training was like that. And it’s definitely an analogy of my life. There’s no rule book. So I run with other people and they were like, “Yeah, I read this and I… And this is the method that I’m doing.” And I’m like “Oh, there’s methods to… “

0:26:17.9 MB: You’re just out here running. I’m trying to survive to the end.

0:26:19.2 KW: “There’s methods to the madness. I’m just like trying to just do it.” And I’m like, “Okay, the next marathon, I’ll read a book or listen to a e-book ’cause I’m like this doesn’t…

0:26:27.0 MB: Or join a group. There are groups.

0:26:28.3 KW: Right. And there’s people who will actually tell you what to do. And it’s like, “Oh.” So, I trained, I run with a group, they’re called Riot Squad. Running is our therapy.

0:26:38.2 MB: Oh, nice. I like that.

0:26:38.5 KW: And I love them. Black owned, like great group. And so, it was really empowering and so I started asking more questions. I’m like, “Oh, this is what they’re here for.” And so they started kind of saying, “Oh, you gotta do this Kalilah, or don’t do that.” And I was like, “Really? I was gonna try to do… ” And they’re like, “Don’t do that.” So the marathon itself, I had… I prepared and they… That was a good thing about the group. They were like, “Look, you did… You showed up. You did the training. No matter how great you think you did.” ‘Cause I think what happened is closer to the race date, I was like beating myself up like, “You’re not running fast enough. You’re not doing this enough. You’re not… And it’s like you’ve been training all these weeks and you’re not doing… “

0:27:21.6 MB: But it’s all about a process.

0:27:23.1 KW: It is.

0:27:23.1 MB: When I trained for the Marine Corps marathon with a bunch of other people trying to tell me. And like, you have to make sure you like peak at the right time. And all that. I mean, it’s a method.

0:27:32.2 KW: There was just so much. And I was just being hard on myself and I was kind of like, probably psyching myself out for the race, and I had to calm down. They’re like, “Look, there’s nothing else you can do right now.”

0:27:43.1 MB: That’s right.

0:27:43.3 KW: Like, “You’ve done everything that you could do to run this race.” And I was like, “You know what? You’re right.” So I had to just let go and just like the way businesses and things are just let things happen and you know that you’re prepared enough to get over the hill. And so I went to Paris and my son, I was able to take him with me and the race itself like I was doing. So I did a great thing. So what I did was, one of my friends, my close friends, he’s a DJ. And so what he did was he, I sent it out to close friends and families that, “Hey, I’m running this race. Can you do a short voice note?” And of course, 90% of the people didn’t listen to what they needed to do and…

0:28:23.7 MB: You had a sermon at you, you were like, “Pray, you go girl, you go, you got this. I’m praying for you.”

0:28:28.3 KW: Yes. And just send me motivational messages. And so they did.

0:28:32.3 MB: That’s awesome.

0:28:33.1 KW: And so he did a mix tape. So I’m listening to Biggie, I’m listening to Pac.

0:28:36.0 MB: Oh, wow.

0:28:36.9 KW: I’m just doing all this crazy running. And then you’ll hear a voice that’s like, “Kalilah, it’s me from Sanza, I just wanna wish you a cool race.”

0:28:43.8 MB: That is so cool.

0:28:45.1 KW: And it was what I needed.

0:28:47.0 MB: Wow.

0:28:47.5 KW: And so I did this thing and it motivated me and I ran to mile 17. Great. Probably the fastest I’ve ever ran. And I was like, “Okay.”

0:28:58.2 MB: “I got this. Only six more to go.”

0:29:00.9 KW: And I was on schedule to be done in like four hours and like 30 something. I was like, “You better.”

0:29:06.3 MB: Wow.

0:29:06.7 KW: And then a muscle spasm just hit both of my legs. And I was like, “Ooh.” So then what.

0:29:11.7 MB: Maybe I should have slowed down just to tag.

0:29:14.2 KW: Slowing down. It stopped me, okay. And that’s like business, like things, it’s like life things will throw things at you and it’ll, you don’t even know it’s coming and it’ll stop you. And so it stopped me and I cried for a hot second because I was like, “I was doing so well. We all wanted you to finish.” Like Tyra, “We all were rooting for you.” That’s how I felt. And so I’m like texting my group like, “Yo, what do I do right now?” And they’re like, “Eat fine salt.” And and I didn’t, so on this race, when I ran New York, New York gave you like salt packets. They gave you pretzels. They gave you Gatorade. In Paris, they gave you water, they gave you sugar cubes, and they gave you crackers that didn’t have much salt on them. And I had energy things and I was all professional with my little vest that I was geared up, I was ready to go. And so, I was looking official. But I was like, “Y’all better take a picture. This is my official running stance right now.” And I was all ready, but I didn’t think about the salt portion of things. I had everything else but that. And so I was struggling trying to find salt and you know, and I just was like, but I had a good attitude towards it. And that was what…

0:30:24.7 MB: Well, and you’re running through Paris, let’s be clear. I mean, you could be running through worse places.

0:30:28.6 KW: Look. Look. Okay. The Eiffel Tower was on the left of me and I was like, “Look, you all right. Things is all right.” And so my son, and my friend, they were meeting me at mile 21. And it felt like the longest trying to get from 17 to 21 ’cause it felt like I was hopping and I just wasn’t getting there fast enough. But I made it. And the good thing was I saw other people on the, that were struggling too. And I’m like, “Look girl, we got, they probably didn’t speak no English.” [laughter] And I was like, “Sis, we got this, we got. And so that made me feel good, too because I’m like, “Okay. The character, the person I am is even when I’m struggling,” I want to…

0:31:02.9 MB: You should lift people up.

0:31:05.3 KW: Yeah. And that was something I didn’t even see. And I know that’s part of who I am, but it was great to see it in that moment as well. And so that meant a lot. And then by the time I got to like mile 23, because it’s a 26.2 run, so by the time I went to mile 23, I was singing like DMX really loud, real obnoxious. [laughter] My dogs gon’ that dog’s gon’ and then we gonna shut ’em down over the… Look. I’m like, “We finishing this race.” And I had some people were like, “We had ’em like, oh.” And I was like, “Yes.” That’s the energy.

0:31:40.3 MB: Hiphop is universal.

0:31:41.8 KW: Listen, that was the energy. And I was like, “I started this race one way and I’ma finish this way.” And so I ended up finishing under six hours and my last race was like under eight almost. And so I was like…

0:31:54.8 MB: You did it. Progress.

0:31:56.1 KW: And that’s all I could ask for.

0:31:57.7 MB: That is awesome.


0:32:04.4 MB: These moments are just a taste of the wonderful conversations we had from season one. And I can’t wait to share the next season with you. For season two of Founder Hustle, we’re exploring new majority faces in unexpected places. Too often black and brown founders and many others find themselves pigeonholed. They think we can only do cleaning services or they think you can only do construction. Or oftentimes they think we can only produce beauty products or soap. Well, the reality is we can do so much more than that. In season two, we sought out entrepreneurs that you probably have never heard of, but more importantly, never even realized there were industries that you could be a part of as a founder and CEO. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out. You can find full interviews from season one of Founder Hustle wherever you get your podcast.

0:32:49.5 MB: Season two starts on May 23rd, and in two weeks we’ll have a sneak peek of our upcoming season to share with you. Thank you for listening to Founder Hustle. If you enjoyed this conversation, please subscribe and tell a friend. For more information about our guests, check out our website There you’ll find all kinds of information, tools, and resources for the New Majority Entrepreneur. To stay connected, follow us on social media @wearenmv or search #Founder Hustle. Founder Hustle is a production of Kinetic Energy Entertainment and New Majority Ventures. Our producer is Ann Kane. Our social media producer is Misako Envela, and the show is mixed by Sonya Harris. The intro theme is Vuelta Al Sol by Tomas Novoa. The credit theme is Glide by Columbia Knights, and the Yays are from Ratata by Curtis Cole. I’m Melissa Bradley. See you next time.

Melissa Bradley

Melissa Bradley

Melissa L. Bradley is the Founder and Managing Partner of 1863 Ventures, a business development program that accelerates New Majority entrepreneurs from high potential to high growth and Co-founder of New Majority Ventures, a purpose-driven media brand featuring content that is entertaining, inspirational and actionable so that these entrepreneurs and their businesses survive and thrive.