Name: Koren Underdue
Alma Mater: Virginia State University
Business Name & Description: KU Real Estate, specializing in selling residential real estate in the Triangle Area of North Carolina
What year did you found your company? 2011
What was the most exciting and/or fearful moment during your HBCUpreneur career? Taking the first step of starting my own business was both exciting and fearful at the same time. It was like having a baby. You are excited because you know what you just created is a blessing; however, you also know that you are the most vital player in its success. You must feed it, nurture it, and help it grow with leadership, integrity, and humility.
What made you want to start your own company? Prior to starting my own business I was managing for one of the largest banks in America and worked in their subprime market. With the failing economy, I soon realized that I needed to find something fast due to the uncertainty of our department and its future. Instead of looking for another job, I took the opportunity to begin real estate investing which lead to me starting my own brokerage company, KU Real Estate.
Who was the most influential person/people for you during your time in college? My peers, it was incredible to be around “like minded” individuals who all brought something different to the table. Not only did we share ideas, goals, and aspirations, but we also challenged each other for greatness and encouraged each other to pursue our dreams.
How do you handle complex problems? That’s easy, simplify them. In general, problems are only as complex as we make them. I am learning through my experiences not to focus on the problem, yet focus on the solution.
What is something you wish you had known prior to starting your company? Honestly, I just wish that I was instilled with the “principals of success” at an early age. As a mother of three now, it is essential that I instill habits of success and leadership. I want them to know that they can aspire to do whatever their hearts desire; however, they must not be afraid of hard-work and dedication. As an entrepreneur, I strive to help them understand free enterprise and how it can provide more control of their financial future as they live their American Dream.
What do you believe HBCUs can do to spur more innovation and entrepreneurship while their students are in school either as undergraduate or graduate students? I would love to see HBCUs encourage students to step out more and challenge them to find their passion, their why, and assist them in starting their own business even while in school. Not only should HBCUs provide the fundamentals, but provide them with hands-on tools and resources to develop action plans. It would be great to see more business mentorships and also develop mastermind groups within the student body. Bill Gates was 20 when he started Microsoft, and Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his dormitory of Harvard University also at the age of 20. I bring this up to state they were both young individuals with bright ideas and took a chance. Why can’t our young HBCU students do the same? They can and I can’t wait see the new movement of our HBCU community!
How do you deal with rejection? I accept rejection, and it does not discourage me, it motivates me. In business you will find many times someone telling you no or an opportunity you were hoping for fails. The great thing is it’s not the end of the world. I learned to accept it for what it is and embrace it. I never take it personally, but I do however examine the rejection. What was the reason why I was rejected? Is this something I can overcome? If so, I am developing my plan of action immediately to do so. What can I learn from this experience? Please note: Every rejection is an opportunity for a learning experience which will benefit the growth of your business no matter the outcome.
When you have down time how do you like to spend it? I love to spend time with my family, relax, and travel the world.
What was your most memorable HBCU memory? My most memorable HBCU memory was my graduation. That day represented accomplishment from years of hard work and dedication. It was a day to reflect on friendship, leadership, and how I was truly proud to be a VSU Trojan Alumni.
In leaving is there any advice you have for budding HBCUpreneurs? Just do it and don’t quit. Most businesses fail because they quit. Fail forward and never let go of your dream!