News at Smith

Being Black in Entrepreneurship: Fireside Chat

Feb 28, 2020

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When you’re looking to start a business, it helps to gain some advice from someone who’s done it before. And that may be doubly true for founders of color.

Although 12.7% of the U.S. population is black, only 4.3% of business owners are.

That’s why on Feb. 26, 2020, students gathered in Van Munching Hall for Being Black in Entrepreneurship: Fireside Chat, an opportunity for young emerging business owners to learn about starting a business as a founder of color.

The event, run “For Terps By Terps,” featured a panel of speakers as well as networking opportunities for students to learn from each other.

The panel featured:

●      Michael A. Echols, CEO of Max Cybersecurity, LLC.

●      Brittany McCoy, Founder and Designer of the Brittany Christina Collection

●      Chad Hall, Founder and CEO of Remodelmate

●      Jasmine Snead, Co-Founder of Aurora Tights

●      Kendall McKoy, Founder of BRUNCH GODS

The discussion focused on the successes – and failures – of the panelists, and how they were able to grow from their experiences to expand their companies.

All of the panelists agreed that they have had less access to capital as founders of color.

“Resources exist in the black community,” explained McCoy. “Make sure you’re positioning yourself around the right people to find them.”

Panelists also stressed the importance of networking and learning from classmates and peers to create the next big idea.

“You have a billion-dollar company in this room,” said Echols. “But you have to talk to people to find it out.”

Although each panelist has faced challenges in their businesses, they all agreed that running their own business is rewarding for getting to do the work they’re passionate about.

“You get a reminder every day that you’re on the right track when people invest in you,” Hall said.

Sponsors of the event included the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business’ Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, Office of Undergraduate Programs, Office of Diversity Initiatives at Smith, and the Student Success Leadership Council.

For more events by the Dingman Center, visit its website.

–By Emma Grazado, Maryland Smith special writer

About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.