Name: Ralph Newsome II
Alma Mater: Norfolk State University
Business Name & Description: New Level Investment Management, LLC
As an investment company we practice value and growth investing (we coined the term GrowU which is a combination of growth and value). We look for companies with a competitive advantage in their sectors, good financial backing, and good fundamentals, trading at a discount. We also enjoy the benefits of finding growth companies, who grow 20% and more a year. We help investors realize big gains.
What year did you found your company? 2008
What was the most exciting and/or fearful moment during your HBCUpreneur career? Meeting and dating my now wife. In addition to meeting my wife, I also met my two best friends who are also my business partners on other ventures.
What made you want to start your own company? I’ve always had a passion for business and a knack for numbers; I graduated from Norfolk State University with a BS in Accounting, thus I stayed true to my passion. After taking a course in investing in undergrad, I developed a strong liking for financial markets. My curiosity and love grew from there. I thought that I could help educate people about the market while also help them plan for a better financial future.
Who was the most influential person/people for you during your time in college? Tough question: I don’t have one person or a group of people, I will just say the shear experience of college was the most influential aspect to me.
How do you handle complex problems? Strategically. I try to analyze as much as possible to take as much emotions out of my problem solving.
What is something you wish you had known prior to starting your company? Good question: It’s tough for folks to be financially conscience about their financial wellbeing. Only 9% of blacks invest their funds and/or have savings. In my line of business, I’m already limited to 9% of the African American market of investors or savers so my job is cut out for me; however, I’m up for the challenge.
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? Another great question: I think schools should be more influential on promoting entrepreneurship; such as inviting business owners to speak during class sessions or connecting students to do volunteer work for small business owners. Also HBCUs have to become involved in being more fiscal responsible for the students wellbeing. Examples: Don’t allow credit card companies to setup booths in student unions to prey on college kids; explaining the cons of taking out private student loans (Sallie Mae); encourage students to budget, save, and invest!!!! It’s a cycle, if the students are able to maintain more of their wealth, more than likely they will give more back to their school. This will generate more endowment funds for the school to build better facilities, invest in reach and development, and spawn more innovation.
How do you deal with rejection? It is kind of cliché-ish but each rejection is a learning experience. That gives me the motivation to improve on all levels.
When you have down time how do you like to spend it? I’m a gym rat and I try to reach the markets as much as possible. Whether that includes reading financial books, Bloomberg TV, or Yahoo Finance. I eat, sleep, breath finance.
What was your most memorable HBCU memory? Being around so many different people at one time all the time. I will never get that back; I may be around a lot of people say for an event but that will just be for a few hours. College gave me the ability to be around people from different walks of life all the time.
In leaving is there any advice you have for budding HBCUpreneurs? Absolutely: Work hard and then work some more. Everything and anything can be improved, thus don’t every get complacent. Build a top notch network. Your network = your net worth, thus get out and meet someone. Thank you.