First and foremost, as we embark on our “vacation with purpose,” we extend our heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of you for tuning in and supporting Founder Hustle. One of our primary goals in creating this podcast was to assist New Majority founders in breaking free from the deficit mindset. We sincerely hope that, through your engagement, we’ve been able to realize this aim.
In today’s episode, Melissa concludes this season by engaging in a conversation with Diana Willians, a familiar voice from our season one finale. Their discussion delves into the significance of taking a step back, as advocated by Mindelyn Anderson, and meticulously examining the data. Diana and Melissa want to craft content that is not only deeply impactful but also offers actionable insights, further enriching your entrepreneurial journey.
They reflect on their project’s inception, driven by a desire to narrate authentic stories and transition individuals from mere inspiration to decisive action. As they look ahead, this core objective will steadfastly guide their path. In the words of the fictional character John Q, “it’s not goodbye, it’s see you later.”
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0:00:05.7 Melissa Braldley: From New Majority Ventures and Kinetic Energy Entertainment, this is Founder Hustle.
0:00:10.8 Diana Williams: Melissa. Melissa. Melissa.[chuckle]
0:00:13.7 MB: Here we go.[laughter]
0:00:17.1 DW: Here we are, season three finale episode.
0:00:20.4 MB: Ooh.
0:00:21.2 DW: And we’re taking a break.
0:00:22.9 MB: We are.
0:00:23.7 DW: Okay, but it’s not that dramatic. It’s just that we’re not gonna be coming right back with season four as quickly as we normally do. But it’s not all bad news, right?
0:00:35.3 MB: Nope, not at all. It’s actually good news. It’s a good news. In basketball, what do they do? They stand at the free-throw line and they shake their shoulders and they shake it off. I think that’s, we’re just taking a moment to shake it off. Welcome to Founder Hustle, a podcast series by, for and about the New Majority Entrepreneur. I’m your host, Melissa Braldley, Founder of 1863 Ventures and Co-Founder of New Majority Ventures. The road from founder to CEO can be both hard and rewarding. So in 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 share 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.[music]
0:01:41.7 DW: So here we are, season three, finale episode. How you feeling, Melissa?
0:01:50.0 MB: Always excited to talk to you, Diana. Always excited.[laughter]
0:01:55.4 DW: So, I guess first thing we’re gonna talk about is this hiatus-y, pause-y, reset-y, breaky thing that we’re gonna be going on.
0:02:03.3 MB: Yes.
0:02:04.2 DW: After this episode.
0:02:05.7 MB: It’s very exciting.
0:02:06.9 DW: None of those words make sense to describe what we’re gonna be doing, but I guess we’re gonna get into it. [laughter]
0:02:12.3 MB: I like mini vacation. How about that?
0:02:14.9 DW: Mini vacation. Okay. Vacation with purpose.
0:02:17.3 MB: The… Ooh, there you go. I love, oh, write that. I’m gonna write that down. Vacation with purpose. Yes. There you go. ‘Cause I am on vacation, so it’s great.
0:02:25.7 DW: Yeah. You’re on vacation. And here I am in Los Angeles working, working, working, working like always.
0:02:33.5 MB: Well, I’m technically working, I’m doing this and I am doing some other emails. But I’m in the Vineyard, so you can only get cell phone service in certain places. So I’m working when I’m in the library. So as we are back together and it’s been 360-something days since we’ve talked in this format, Lord knows we talk all the time, but in case people have forgotten, tell us who you are, Diana. Or, you know I’m always happy to introduce you, but you don’t tend to like my introduction.
0:03:00.9 DW: No, no.
0:03:01.7 MB: That’s okay. That’s what I thought.[chuckle]
0:03:03.0 DW: You cannot introduce me. ‘Cause every time you do, it gets crazier and crazier.[laughter]
0:03:10.5 DW: Even though I hate talking about myself, I would rather be the one in control of this.
0:03:15.1 MB: Okay, go ahead.
0:03:16.4 DW: Yes, as a good A type person that I am. So Diana Williams. I am the co-founder of Kinetic Energy Entertainment which is a Los Angeles based multi-platform entertainment company. My background is I’ve been a producer for about 30 years throughout film, TV, and video games. Prior to forming Kinetic with my partner Dario Di Zanni, I was at Lucasfilm with the Star Wars franchise, and now here we are with Kinetic and we are building out and working with creators of all types to make franchises and intellectual property and for creators to basically really look at how they are owning their space in an industry that is woo so wackadoodle right now.
0:04:15.0 MB: Speaking of wackadoodle, are you working? [laughter] ‘Cause everybody else is striking. [laughter]
0:04:21.0 DW: Well, yes. So here we are, we’re recording this on July 24th and we’re on day, I think, 90 or something. No, 80-something of the Writer’s Guild strike. And day 15, don’t mind looking at a calendar, of the SAG, Screen Actors Guild strike. So there’s a lot of strikes happening in my industry. It’s weird to think that in the, what’d you say? So I guess like in the 390 days since we last spoke in the 360 days or so since our last episode premiered, so many things have changed in my industry, in your industry and just in the world in general. I’d say it was like a lot of, there’s been changes and there’s been upheavals and I mean, who knows? When this episode releases, I think it’s somewhere late October when this one goes up, [laughter] what will change in in those three months?
0:05:25.9 DW: But right now, like the things that I can always point to are, again, the two strikes. We have a big upheaval happening in video games in which potentially Microsoft is gonna be acquiring Activision, which is going to put a good majority of video game industry into one hand. That’ll be vertically and horizontally integrated. We’ve had so many mergers and acquisitions. Every entertainment company is under a type of pressure doing to, I would say the dangerous dance that public companies have to play with Wall Street and jumping to whatever Wall Street says. And then when Wall Street changes its mind, you have steered the Titanic toward the iceberg that the Wall Street has said, no, no, no, there’s money, and then there are icebergs. [chuckle]
0:06:14.3 DW: So every single company is going through it, and there’s always a trickle effect. So there is no such thing as any person or company, small production companies, big production companies not being affected by the strike or not being affected by the upheavals in the industry. But all you can do is make sure that you have prepared to weather a storm. What has been happening in your world?
0:06:36.9 MB: Well, I would say we’re not on strike. But in our case, some things are just no longer. So obviously we’ve had the Silicon Valley Bank demise, which was tragic for a couple of reasons. One, having been a former bank regulator, anytime an institution goes down, it just causes a disturbance in the ecosystem. It leads to doubt of institutions, it leads to doubt of its portfolio. And in this case, it was quite tragic because you had opinion writers, relatively well established institutions blaming black founders for the demise, which after doing some digging and talking to some friends in the regulatory environment, that was so not the case. But I think that that was a signal effect of what happened, right? You had tons of money that came post COVID, post George Floyd technically air quotes, record amounts. But when you look at the statistics from last year of venture capital dollars that went to Black founders, ironically, it declined from the year before.
0:07:35.7 MB: So that’s just problematic in and of itself. I think also one of the things that we’ve been working on is another research study, and we called it Beyond Five, because anecdotally, we would all see entrepreneurs that were lasting well beyond five years when the world says, statistics show that most businesses, about 50%-60% of the businesses in this country fail within five years. And so we set out on a path to determine if that was true for black businesses. And the good news is that we found out that black businesses and brown businesses last at least 8.5 years in length. Which is three and a half years longer than most people failing. Unfortunately, that longevity does not correlate to access to capital or to revenue growth. And so what we found is that we have entrepreneurs who are leveraging their house, they’re emptying out their pension funds, they’re working multiple jobs on the side.
0:08:35.0 MB: And so it’s been another disruption, I think, to recognize that while we’re lasting longer, the capital is still not there. And I think that just speaks to the bias that exists in the venture capital system, certainly in the banking system, but it also speaks to, on the upside, the tenacity and resilience of these black entrepreneurs. So I think we’ve got a lot of declines that have happened in the market, a lot of bad news. And so I think the question is what do we do with that bad news when we talk about access to capital? When we talk about lack of revenue growth, and how do we rightsize that with the fact that once again, Black and Brown entrepreneurs are going to be the drivers here in the United States at minimum. And we’ve gotta figure out how to do something with that.
0:09:21.8 DW: You’ve said two interesting things that are also pinging against my industry, one of which is we’re also… Whereas within your industry, you’re seeing what’s happening with the Black and Brown dollars, how they’re supposed to give a lot, and they haven’t. And then I’m looking at my industry in that all of DEI, diversity, equity and inclusion, pretty sure every single officer at every single network studio, what have you, have left or have been let go?
0:09:51.9 MB: Yeah, I saw that.
0:09:52.1 DW: So all this tries after George Floyd’s done [chuckle] it was crazy, every headline after George Floyd’s murder, all the moves towards like, “Oh my gosh, there are people of color, we should take care of them, let’s figure this out, let’s not be jerks in the offices. [laughter] Perhaps we should get HR to actually work.” They have gotten rid of all those initiatives for two reasons. One being, we’ve solved it, everybody hooray. Or we gotta save money. And anytime that it comes down to cost cutting, the first things that go join speaking our innovation.
0:10:25.4 MB: Yep.
0:10:25.6 DW: And for myself as being a tech head, that’s worrisome. The other thing that goes is any initiatives towards DEI. So that’s been the other big upheaval. And these upheavals, I think are also leaning into uncertainty for everyone involved. And that’s just, I think putting a lot of people, myself included, I’m a little bit on edge. And of course, what also is not helping with edge for anyone is the winter is coming that we’re all looking at, which is AI.
0:11:01.4 MB: Yes.
0:11:01.7 DW: And there is not a single industry that’s not affected by it.
0:11:06.9 MB: It’s true, it’s true. It’s fascinating because I think I’ve been playing around with ChatGPT and some others, and I think from the world of entrepreneurship, we’re excited in how we can actually expedite processes and hopefully reduce cost. But I’m also nervous, and that’s one of the things we’ve been thinking about is what is it going to mean to the integrity of a business when somebody develops an entire pitch deck because of AI? And the fact that entrepreneurs are not ashamed to say, “Hey, I did this pitch deck by AI,” that doesn’t bring solace or comfort to investors to know that a bot is the person who is actually putting this business plan together. But we all know the bot can’t run the business.
0:11:48.7 MB: And so it’s funny, it’s one of the reasons why we’re really thinking about responsible entrepreneurship because I think we’re on this whim where anybody can start a business and they can, but not everybody should start a business, particularly if you can’t afford it, because it’s a very expensive venture. And I think now we’re gonna have an even more acceleration of people starting businesses because AI can help them. And I think that’s just gonna dilute the market for really good sustainable, high-growth businesses. So part of me, I’m excited ’cause like you I geek out over this stuff and if it can make my life easier in terms of responding with some real emails, great. But it makes me nervous when I see amazing business plans, and then you ask the person, well, what’s your customer acquisition cost? And they go, “I don’t know,” [laughter] that’s problematic. It’s actually gonna make people dumber in some cases.
0:12:37.6 DW: It most certainly is. It’s interesting for me ’cause I’ve been invited to join one super secret AI think tank outta DC and then another one here in the industry. ‘Cause I’m a member of the Directors Guild and when I think about AI, I just always say that I believe that everything everyone is saying about it is correct and true. I think it is going to be great for people in terms of efficiencies. I think it is also going to kill us. I think that… [laughter] I think what everyone is saying is correct, ’cause everyone is coming from their point of view, everyone is coming from their bias. Everyone is coming from their base of knowledge. One of the problems is that people are way more interested in being right than in having the conversation to make sure that we don’t all perish.
0:13:34.0 DW: And it’s the conversation that’s missing in the communication that is most concerning to me. And I think it’s also sometimes hard to even have a coaching discussion about anything and AI in particular considering that right now, in terms of the markets, all money is flooding towards anyone working with AI tools, creating AI tools, anything… If you put the word AI in the deck that AI has created, [laughter] you’re going to get that cash. And like that’s the other weird thing is that… Oh not weird thing, but the other not great thing that’s going on right now is the cap markets are pretty tight.
0:14:13.6 DW: Again, other than those who are raising money for AI, that’s one thing that has… Look at Kinetic, we were pretty, you never wanna say that you’re a genius, but we were trying to be smart. When we first started Kinetic, I said to Dario, because I know about the three-year cycle that we’re on every time with all the guilds and the unions. I said, I knew that 2023 was gonna be tough and I was sure that one of the guilds was going to go on strike. And so we did think about Kinetic from that perspective of how, you can’t be strike-proof, but how long can you be strike-resilient? And so I feel bad for a lot of my peoples who are working in this industry who are directly affected by the strikes. We are positioned in a way that we are not at this point affected by the strikes.
0:15:07.3 DW: Because we are working in media that is not covered by the Writer’s Guild and where the media is right now in terms of development, in terms of production, we are not working with actors yet. So we are not affected. Of course, if this strike goes on through the holidays, we will be affected. We will have projects that will get paused, but we’re able to keep moving along and proving out our model and which has helped with the raise that we’re going into. Again, with the cap markets being so tight, money is expensive. [laughter] And I am one of a few, as you know black female led companies, and so when I have an investor approach me, we have, who have wanted to take more of a majority share of the company, I’m like, I can’t just from pure marketing reasons, I cannot [laughter] give up.
0:16:04.8 DW: I’m like that is something that we can use to uplift the company a little bit away from the pack. In addition to the fact that we are focused on franchise and on IP development, and on changing structures and how we’re approaching the marketplace, those are our competitive advantages. So it’s weird to say no to money because they wanna take more majority share. But to the point of like so many of the companies and founders that we’ve spoken to over these last, three seasons of Founder Hustle and the one season of Porsche Talks, you have to think about the money that you’re bringing in. You have to think about the people that you are partnering with. And that… I think that’s a complication that goes a little bit beyond like thinking about the inspiration, but also thinking about like how you’re doing things. And I think that’s something that you and I discussed a lot when we first started talking about this venture and then where we are now in which we have formed this, our joint venture, New Majority Ventures, so many ventures. [laughter] But a lot of guys…
0:17:17.7 MB: Because it’s finance people, that’s all we know, Diana. That’s all we know. [laughter]
0:17:24.0 DW: I think we should do an over-under on how many times we say the word venture during this episode. [laughter] But I think our move into forming New Majority Ventures was really looking at the market, looking at the needs and saying, how are we able to best serve? Also sounds a lot for Media Venture, there goes another one. But I do think that our mission with New Majority Ventures hasn’t changed from what you’ve been doing with 1863 Ventures and what you do personally and who you’ve been as a human being. And what I’ve been doing on the entertainment side in that we are just looking at how are we helping new voices to uplift into industries that they have not been as… Let’s just say well known in, and in some ways maybe even have had the door stage shut. So I think it represents both of us.
0:18:29.2 MB: I would agree. When I think New Majority Ventures to me gives us both a level of clarity again, on who we’re really focused on. I think it also gives us a really wide aperture to think about what is important to really advance these communities. I think when we have had all these conversations to get this started, this wasn’t just about a podcast. It was really about what are the best vehicles to get critical information out to entrepreneurs to really help them be successful. And I think at the time podcasting made sense, we even ventured last year on the Vineyard to do some video with Porch Talks and really started to go behind the scenes, which was a lot of fun those entrepreneurs and leaders in the ecosystem were very grateful. And I think have experienced positive feedback because of that. But the beauty of it is that we know there are many ways to tell a story. And so I do think that this reset or this break, or this vacation with a purpose is really thinking about how do we leverage that platform?
0:19:37.9 MB: Because obviously the statistics shall show, who’s the fastest growing demographic. It shows who’s the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurs. It also gives the bad news of the wealth of black families by 2055 is supposed to be zero. [chuckle] And it’s scary ’cause we may actually get there sooner. So I think it’s really important that we did start New Majority Ventures and I will give you kudos for pushing that along and saying, come on, let’s do this. Because I think it opens up a realm of opportunity to do something that somebody else hasn’t done. And I think that there’s an irony around this season was entrepreneurs in unexpected places. And I think you represent that, right? I don’t think there’s a lot of people who expect a black female to be in this space. In media, sure, but really being thoughtful around the content and the mediums, the diversity of mediums, the integrity around content, the desire to tell really good stories. I think you are a person in an unexpected space as well.
0:20:44.2 DW: Yeah, especially also going from the fact that I’m a big old nerd and a geek. Whether we’re looking at [laughter] sci-fi, comic books, all of that, but also from the tech side too, both Dario and I are just big tech nerds ’cause we really look at how technology can help to tell stories. And you’ve had quite a few founders have gone through 1863 Ventures programs, who have been on the broadcast, who are also looking at where am I making these strides to not only help to shore up generational wealth for my own family, but how can I also bring my community along? And when we look at those themes and when we think about what it is that we can do to New Majority Ventures, to your point, yes, it’s media, but media we know has a wide megaphone.
0:21:37.3 DW: And it’s what you do with that megaphone. You can start a riot or you can cause a ruckus. And I think what we’re trying to do is cause a ruckus and bring people along with us and just ask them to take that step in their professional lives, in their personal lives, in what they are growing. And there was something that you said once on a, I think it was a talk that you were giving, I don’t know if it was Aspen or where it was, but you said that you want to get founders out of the deficit mindset. And that really has become our theme and mission for New Majority Ventures, because as you’ve pointed out on various interviews you’ve done for Founder Hustle, Black and Brown founders ask for what they think they can get and not what they need. And that’s the chasm in the deficit.
0:22:36.6 MB: Yep. So true. And I think part of that though, is very much related to the work that you do, it’s hard to believe you have value if you can’t see yourself in places where you desire to be. So if I want to be in… I wanna be a really successful black entrepreneur, we only get the billionaires and we don’t even talk about how they got there. We don’t see that many millionaires. So you know I wanna be a big tech executive who’s running a billion-dollar company. There are none. What are there two, what Thasunda and maybe a couple others of black CEOs out there. So I do think that this idea of using media to not just tell a story, but to also give people confidence, to share a pathway, to provide a proxy for, I think it’s really important because otherwise I think people do walk around with a deficit mindset and say, I’m not really sure how I’m supposed to do it. And then we see them making really bad decisions that in the case of entrepreneurship oftentimes leads to economic decline personally.
0:23:41.3 DW: And even with that decline it’s interesting to think about it also from a personal side. ‘Cause that deficit mindset, I think that goes to how we value ourselves just as people in any walk of our life, whether we’re talking about our family or within just social settings, everything. And so I really, I like this theme and mission for the company. I think that it is gonna allow us to create a lot of different entry points into this New Majority Ventures ecosystem. And I think it also nicely dovetails into something that you said earlier that I wanted to kind of dig in a little bit was 1863’s, not reset, but from the work you guys have done, you said, that you’re re-looking at how you’re talking about entrepreneurship. So, I just wanna dig in that a little bit.
0:24:34.5 MB: So I think there’s a couple of things that we have been working on in our reset as we’ve done our strategic plan at 1863 Ventures, one is going back to the data of longevity but not prosperity. And so really thinking about how do we not just tell people, hey, go start a business and be an entrepreneur, but how do we help them be responsible about it. I got into this because I do truly believe that entrepreneurship is a pathway to wealth creation. But when I recognize that there are some people out there who are actually losing their wealth in their effort to be an entrepreneur, then I think we have to be responsible an institution and we want the entrepreneurs to certainly be responsible. You may recall we started a venture fund and it wasn’t something I wanted to do. I think so many people think running a venture fund is fun. It’s actually been the cause of many of my gray hairs. I think managing capital is one of the hardest things anybody can do.
0:25:26.9 MB: And because there’s such a high level of fiduciary duty and required integrity. And so again, when you have all this money that was allocated to black founders and then to realize overall there were smaller percentage than the prior year venture capital, we’ve also decided to start a family of funds. We don’t wanna be this huge a hundred-million billion-dollar fund, but we’d rather have a series of small funds, $10 million or less, that can really be focused and to really hone in and help a lot of the entrepreneurs that have been on the podcast, when they run into these obstacles of working with banks or venture firms, how do we help them get over the hump? How do we help them continue to get their product in Target or Whole Foods or anywhere they may be. How do we help businesses hire the people to get those large biz dev deals. And so excited that we’ve closed our first fund and that’s great. And we are now managing the fund for the District of Columbia.
0:26:26.4 DW: Congrats.
0:26:28.0 MB: So we’ve got over 30 people in our portfolio. And the next fund, which we can all enjoy is our food and beverage fund [laughter], with a specific focus on spirits. So really excited.
0:26:37.8 DW: Yay.
0:26:38.0 MB: I know, right? I gotta do a lot of taste testing. It’s so funny ’cause I’m actually sitting for my level one spirits exam and so I’ve had a chance to taste some things. Not all good though let me just say. But trying to… I think coming off the season three, going to support entrepreneurs in unexpected spaces right, there’s only a couple hundred people of color in the distilled spirits business. And so how do we really help them gain traction, recognizing that’s actually a recession-proof business, how do we leverage the relationships we have with large distributors? ‘Cause food is integral to everybody’s life, and so how do we continue? Because many of our folks in food, like we had April on in season one are focused on vegan, gluten-free, really healthy stuff. So we’re excited that we’re making some changes and we’ve changed the staff, but I think we are pivoting and recognizing the world has changed since we started.
0:27:34.8 MB: It’s interesting ’cause we had applied for an EDA grant and we had several people who were involved in that process. We haven’t heard yet as of July 24th. But we heard in that process that it was very much focused on supporting people of color. And the anecdotal takeaway was we were the first organization to do that. That when you look at all the other organizations that came, most of them started 2008, 2009, 2010. So that’s pretty remarkable. And I think I don’t take that as a kudos and blowing up the ego, I take it as a sign of responsibility. And so that really necessitated the pivot for the organization to say, if we are gonna continue to be the leader, not necessarily financially, not necessarily the biggest, but if we’re the one who’s gonna be the leader and really trying to change the narrative and set the stage, we’ve gotta be responsible in doing that so that people are successful and we’re not just hooked on being famous.
0:28:27.5 MB: One of the other things that we have done at 1863 is started something called the Community of Practice. And it actually emerged from this research that we’ve been working on right from beyond five, understanding longevity and access to capital. And then also the first one we did, which was the cost of being a new majority entrepreneur. What we’ve realized is that this is great, I love research. I’m like you, I’m a data geek, but it’s really time consuming. And I believe that there were so many more questions that I just would never have time to answer. [laughter] And so we decided to try to really think through what is a way to really shift the tide of research. I think people assume, oh, researchers and academics just put together these topics and go for it, but one of the things that…
0:29:15.1 MB: I know many professors who would like to do more around entrepreneurship is finding a sponsor, universities require certain types of research, oftentimes research particularly around people of color is not always welcome. It doesn’t always lead to tenure track. And then if they are able to raise money, usually a good portion of that, like 30%-plus goes to the university. And so you sometimes end up getting sponsors you don’t want, or you don’t get enough money for the research you really care about. And so I’m really honored that we have received funding from Walmart and from Comcast, to be able to put together this community of practice, as well as Bloomberg to create a safe space to think about how do academics, how do entrepreneurs, how do investors, and how do policy makers come together?
0:30:02.0 MB: We are, as of July 24th today, we are on the precipice of the largest disbursement of capital from the federal government ever, with a clear lens, ironically, unlike Hollywood, with a clear lens to DE&I. And which is pretty amazing, right? They’re really looking for ways that you can fund and support entrepreneurs of color. And so that’s huge. And so we recognize though that, having worked in federal government, you want to have data to make your decisions, right? You wanna make sure that, you are clear around where the gaps are, and where your dollars can create leverage. And when we did this literature review, wanna give a shout out to Lena Harris, who did a great job coming outta Barnard. We saw some crazy themes, right? We realized that if you look at the research, if you look at film, right? And literature coming out of the ’70s, right? To the things that kept going, you saw some real trends, right?
0:31:05.2 MB: We saw that the ’80s produced work concentrating on the economics of black business, right? And the opportunity of black business growth. And it’s hard to believe, but Nixon actually had a plan, to invest in black economic power. But then you go into the ’90s, which was luckily more data-driven, but it was just giving basic information, right? Like this is how many black businesses existed. And so you saw this opportunity, narrative to yep, they’re here narrative to then in the 2000s, you begin to see the research really talk about a struggle, and succeeding against the odds. And I’d like to believe that, that was done with good intention, but those are words that give investors pause. [chuckle] And obviously most recently in the past five years, there has been minimal research compared to the prior decades, which we see is really an urgency to start to do more around Black and Brown, and even gonna be working on an indigenous literature view as well for indigenous entrepreneurs.
0:32:06.7 MB: Because I just think, you can’t continue to have people’s social narrative and social capital Drive their decisions, that it has to be based on data as so many of our entrepreneurs shared. And so we wanna be a part of that. And so really proud of what we’ve done, plan to have a convening in the fall so that we can really help inform, hold people accountable, and make sure the data is present, so that people make good decisions from policy to investment. So really excited about what we’re doing there.
0:32:39.4 DW: And that feels like it’s kind of looking at the ecosystem as a whole. But, listening to all of our past episodes, a lot of the founders talked about joining into or being a part of all these different types of programs are focused on Black and Brown entrepreneurs, grants and everything else. I mean, part of your findings I’m curious about is how are they getting into them and are they properly taking advantage of being in those are the applications correct? Like, what else is it that 1863 is doing that can help in that arena?
0:33:22.8 MB: Yeah, I think we try to look at it three ways, right? We try to look at is that we wanna provide content that helps people build successful businesses through our programs. We wanna have capital so that businesses can continue to grow. We wanna have this research that both 1863 Venture as its own entity and others can make really good decisions. And I think for entrepreneurs, what we want them to do is really be thoughtful and intentional around how they spend their time and how they spend their money and their resources, right? Time is the one thing you can’t get more of.
0:34:00.7 MB: And so my hope is that through our work, people will have a much more critical eye around support. Not all good help is positive help. Not all help is going to be useful. Not all help is good help. And so I think we have seen, again, with AI and a lot of other players come into this space, a desire to really just make money off of this idea of helping Black and Brown entrepreneurs. So my hope is that we can provide the data and the context for entrepreneurs be much more discerning in terms of who they work with, who they partner with, how they grow their businesses, and how they preserve their own wealth. We’ll be back with more of my conversation with Diana Williams after the break.
0:34:42.5 MB: Welcome back. Here’s more of my conversation with Diana Williams.
0:34:46.3 DW: There’s a lot of work that needs to be done just across the board. We can look at, again, as I said before, the pandemic was terrible. People lost lives, businesses, everything else, but pandemic for a lot of other folks, myself included, was a moment to stop, reflect, and just say, what the heck am I doing and how can I move forward? And I think that goes back to your word pivot, both of us coming from Georgetown, a big basketball school and you’re, both our and our loves for the WNBA, when we look at, when you’re coming down the court and you stop and you’re ready to take that shot and you look and defenders are all on your face, you pivot. And if you don’t, if you stay on that same course, you’re gonna get that ball smacked down your face or it’s gonna be taken away. And the pivot is just that moment of saying, I was going down this path, but now the circumstances have changed.
0:35:50.9 DW: So what am I gonna do about it? And it’s funny ’cause Mendelian Anderson said this in her episode where she said, “Data and information that is meaningful, accessible, and actionable.” And data and circumstances can’t be meaningful or actionable if you don’t take that moment to actually see what it is and then to stay on the course or to course-correct. And I think that is also a lot of what we have done coming off the information of what you have from 1863, what I’m seeing in the media landscape and also what the fans we have right now of the podcast and what they are responding to and the additional questions that are coming from it.
0:36:34.9 MB: I mean, I think it’s a time of disruption and I think too often people do not plan well, right? They’re very reactive. And so I think it’s important to be proactive and I think that that’s exactly what we’re doing, right? We could’ve easily just kept going. We said, let’s keep doing the same thing. But I think there’s a responsibility we have to say, Hey, the world has changed. How do we help you get prepared for it? Right? We, you know we had the whole long thing about doing this podcast, and we’re not doing this to be famous, right? We’re doing it and I signed on to do it particularly with you is because we thought we could really make a difference.
0:37:14.2 MB: And I think we can, right? But I think that we definitely have to take a step back and as Mendelian said, take a look at the data, what is, what are we learning? We’ve learned a lot. What is accessible and to people now and how do we make sure that it becomes applicable and meaningful, and then really I think coming back with more actionable items. It’s funny, a long time ago, I think you and I talked about this, I was driving down DC and I saw a billboard, and on the billboard was YouTube and it was an ad for YouTube. And it was funny because it said, “Hey, you wanna be an entrepreneur? Come watch videos.” And I was like, oh my God, this is the beginning of the end.[laughter]
0:37:53.8 MB: And so I think again, in the world of technology, the world of AI, it is amazing to have so much data at your fingertips. But it can be overwhelming if you don’t know what to do with it. It can be overwhelming if it’s not accurate. It can be overwhelming if you only have pieces of it. And I think that’s not what we’re in the business of. We’re in the business of making sure that people have all the information they need, that they can act upon it, and ideally it’ll put them in a more positive position.
0:38:20.7 DW: Because even Lauren with Xavier Kickz and her interview, she talked about the lack of information that holds people back.
0:38:26.7 MB: That’s right.
0:38:28.3 DW: And that really struck me because that was why we started this podcast to begin with. There was too much information out there and it was overwhelming and there was bad information out there. And it was holding Black and Brown founders back. It was helping them to make mistakes as opposed to helping them to get their business up and going. And so I know that we, with New Majority Ventures and with Founder Hustle and Porsche Talks and with the next ventures within the company that we have planned for the coming years, are going to help in that way. And I’m excited by those prospects, but I… And I think that with this reset, and we’re not really pivoting ’cause like in one of the previous episodes with Naza Shelley, when she talked about CarpeDM, she made a pivot.
0:39:27.2 DW: She looked at the data in front of her with what she was going down the path on and said, “This is a better path for me to go.” And it’s not so much that we are pivoting, our mission is staying the same, our intent is the same, and where we’re going is the same, and who we’re doing it for is still the same. But what we’re actually thinking about with New Majority Ventures is, what else can we be doing? So we’re not changing our course. What we’re doing is making our course bigger and better. And that’s exciting to me. What’s not exciting or what’s sad to me is that there’s a need for this. And if anything, I was kind of hoping like, woo-hoo, things are better. We don’t have to do this anymore, but we do because things are not better. Economic indicators are all pointing towards it’s gonna get harder.
0:40:24.7 MB: Yep.
0:40:25.3 DW: And so there’s a real need for what we’re building and putting out.
0:40:30.6 MB: Absolutely. Which is why I think it’s important that knowing that we have a long future ahead of us, that we do it responsibly. Right? That we really take a look for both sides. I mean, obviously, you have a lot to think about and consider, but knowing you, I think that there’s a world of opportunity in terms of what’s happening with the strikes and listening to some of the rhetoric, ’cause I try to avoid the news as much as possible, but hearing Fran Drescher and others say, “I’m not gonna be taken advantage of anymore.” I think whether people agree or not, you see people standing up and demanding things to be different. And so, I think that’s a great opportunity for us to be proactive. How do we continue to do things that are authentic with integrity, that have meaning, that will continue to allow for me, right? New Majority entrepreneurs to not just have longevity, but to actually create wealth. And I think for you to really recognize the plethora of opportunities for media to produce both economic gain, but also to have amazing impact and tell stories that aren’t being told.
0:41:38.7 DW: Yeah. And I think along with that, it’s like we’re always looking at relevance. If you are not continuing to ask if what you’re doing has a relevance to the audiences there now, the demographic you’re trying to get to, what is your product market fit? I think that’s where a lot of things start to fade and can’t keep up. And what we’re really trying to always do at Kinetic and then now with you in New Majority Ventures, is stay relevant and real.
0:42:15.3 MB: Yep.
0:42:16.4 DW: So, and the advantage that we have by being so strategic in this hiatus-y, pausey thing, whatever you wanna call it, I hate all those words. This is so intentional on our part that we’re not leaving any founders, entrepreneurs, entrepreneurial curious in the lurch because we still have three seasons of Founder Hustle, the eight episodes of Porsche Talks, and the six of Deep Cut that people can continue to listen to until we come back with our next piece of media. And with these podcasts, what I have found, ’cause I’ve listened to them all the time. Ann sends them to me, I have to listen to them, making sure that they represent what we’re trying to do. And that I can still speak to them when somebody asks me about them. And every time I listen to an episode, I hear something different. When that first happened, I was like, “Was I not paying attention the last time?” But what I realized is what part, I know… [laughter] So that would, so be me.
0:43:23.3 DW: But when I am listening to them and I find something new, what it’s saying to me really is, where am I at in my life when I listen to the podcast at that moment? Because that’s why I’m always getting something new out as some new inflection, some new idea, some new thought. And I think that’s what’s great about the way we have structured all those episodes, is that they are evergreen. You can come back to them and come back to them depending upon where you are in your entrepreneurial journey or where you are just in your own personal journey. If you’re just trying to get a little bit of inspiration to move forward, there’s something there. And I’m really proud of that.
0:44:04.5 MB: No, I’m definitely, despite I came in kicking and screaming, you know, I…
0:44:08.1 DW: Yes, you did. Kicking and screaming.
0:44:09.6 MB: I own that. But I was actually at a restaurant the other day here at Martha’s Vineyard, and this woman stopped me and she goes, “Hey, I love your podcast. It is so inspirational. And it’s helped level set, for myself and my husband, what is possible.” And ironically, they don’t have a business, but they’ve been thinking about starting a business. They’re in the food sector. They realized that they’re not making what they should be [laughter] making. They’re not experiencing the what they desired. And so they’re like, “You guys have motivated us and thank you.” And I was shocked. I was like, “Oh, okay, cool.” And so I think it just speaks to, right? That we signed on to do this, to tell authentic stories. Many of our entrepreneurs did not share happy stories.
0:45:00.7 MB: Many of them share their real struggles. They share their lack of access to cash at the beginning and ongoing. They shared how it impacted their family. We had many people have divorces. We had people make pivots. We even had in season one our friend from Vegas who had the garden. She made a pivot. And so I just think it’s important, right? That to be a successful entrepreneur, to be a successful business person, just to be a successful person, you’ve gotta be able to see what’s in front of you and respond accordingly. And so I really do like the vacation with a purpose. We’re not going anywhere people, we’re not going anywhere. You can still follow us on social media. You can still reach out through all the social media channels. You can email. We are here for you. We’re not going anywhere.
0:45:46.4 MB: And you’ll probably see both of us in other places and spaces around the country. But we really want… We started this to have meaning and to have impact. And I think the world has changed a lot. And we just need to revisit what that looks like. And I’m proud of the fact that we’re willing to do that in the platform of New Majority Ventures gives us a chance to do who knows what, to help folks really continue to be successful entrepreneurs and successful business people and successful leaders in their families and their communities.
0:46:18.7 DW: Yeah. And I think where I’m excited about all of this is that the only unknown we really have is what the economics are going to do. We cannot control that. And this is really about what is in your control. And if you figure out what’s in your control then you have to do something with it. And this is in our control. What we create what we put out, why we’re doing it is in our control. And that is super exciting. I’m excited for this next phase for New Majority Ventures. I’m excited for what we have already talked about that we’re gonna be coming out with. I think that the audience is gonna also be really excited. And what really gets me going and my purpose when I get outta the bed is knowing that people who have started off as just fans of the podcast and fans of you, Melissa, have really grown into what we have to call as a community because we have conversations back and forth.
0:47:22.1 DW: People are starting to have conversations with each other based on our socials and how they’re finding each other and how they’re sharing the podcast. And we can’t take that for granted. And I think by taking this moment to come back stronger with other types of storytelling product with other types of ways to get the information out there to help people move beyond inspiration and into action, that’s our duty. And I can only thank the fans and community around us for really saying to us we want more and we want the more to come from you. And we’re gonna respond to that. And I’m ready to like roll up the sleeves and get to work on this with this intentional pause vacation with purpose. We gotta come up with the great little hashtag crazy thing for this.[laughter]
0:48:13.8 MB: I trust that. I leave that to you and the marketing and entertainment executive that you are. [laughter] But let me say this before we go. The podcast Founder Hustle, the video cast/podcast Porsche Talks or none of this would’ve been possible without you and your team at Kinetic Energy Entertainment. And I just wanna say thank you. Not because we’re not gonna do this again but I have learned so much about how hard this is how hard it is to do things right. How hard it is to do things with integrity, how hard it is to do things that are quality, I think, I’ve heard from some of our entrepreneurs who have subsequently obviously because they’re great, on other podcasts and they were like, “It wasn’t the same. And it was no judgment, nothing bad about that, but it just wasn’t the same.”
0:49:02.9 MB: But really giving entrepreneurs a safe space to tell their stories good bad and ugly, we even had to have some warnings on some of them, was really important to them because I think they daily feel the pressure. And so I am honored and humbled to be a part of your entrepreneurial journey. And just deeply grateful to the entire team because I had no idea what this was gonna take. I had no idea what I was getting into. And it’s probably one of the more rewarding things that I’ve done. So as a finance person I would say the ROI has been very high.
0:49:33.3 DW: Oh thanks. I appreciate that. And I am nothing as you said, I’m nothing without the team. And this again goes back to entrepreneurship is a team sport.
0:49:42.1 MB: Team sport, yes.
0:49:43.1 DW: As we say all the time, we have a great team between and the producer Misako, who kills it on all of our socials.
0:49:53.7 MB: Yes, she does.
0:49:54.5 DW: Dario, killing it. Just keeping me straight on everything and being that other ear on the podcast we’ve got a really… It’s a small team. We’re all working very, very, very hard. But we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished with the small team, with a lot of things against… I mean, look podcast industry on its own is going through some changes. That’s another big upheaval. [laughter] A lot of, lot of, lot of, lot of layoffs. I mean just layoffs across the board. Again, a lot of consolidation. These are just things that affect everything. They affect you financially, they affect you creatively but we’ve been able to really keep going. So I appreciate you recognizing the hard work that has gone into this and what we’re going to be accomplishing.
0:50:43.2 MB: Absolutely, absolutely. So folks should stay tuned. Keep listening if you listen to them more than once as Diana said because you could always learn something new, I would agree with you. And know that we are what we say we wanna help which are entrepreneurs. And so we’ve gotta take a mini vacation with the purpose because we really wanna be impactful and we truly, at least for me, wanna continue on this pathway to create a $100 billion of new wealth buy and for New Majority entrepreneurs. And that’s not a small feat. So we need to take a moment gear up get ready. Get ready to understand what’s happening in the marketplace and come back with great information.
0:51:22.0 DW: Yep. And definitely continue to reach out to us on our socials. We’re happy to answer any questions and just help you keep moving in your journey. Till next time.
0:51:34.5 MB: Talk to you soon.[music]
0:51:41.3 MB: Thank you for listening to Founder Hustle. If you enjoyed this conversation please subscribe and tell a friend. For more information about our guest, check out our website, wearenmv.com. 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 #FounderHustle. 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. The intro theme is Vuelta Al Sol by Tomas Novoa. The credit theme is Glide by Columbia Nights and the yays are from Ratata by Curtis Cole. I’m Melissa Braldley. See you next time.