Name: Marcus Lamont King
Alma Mater: Prairie View A&M University – Mechanical Engineering B.S.
Business Name & Description: Hardly Home, LLC. The coolest travel blog, brand and booking agency there is.
What year did you found your company? May 2013
What has been the most exciting and/or fearful moment during your HBCUpreneur career? The most exciting part of my HBCUpreneur career has been watching the growth of my idea and seeing pictures of people traveling all over the world wearing apparel I’ve created. The support I’ve received from all over has truly been amazing.
What made you want to start your own company? I dreamt I was on vacation in Jamaica and woke up to an alarm and the reality that is was 5am on a Monday morning and time for me to get ready to go to work.
Do you have a favorite travel memory from childhood? Surely exploring Cancun with my brother and parents while on vacation when I was just 5 or 6 years old. It was a blessing to experience a different culture at such a young age and see with my own eyes how beautiful another part of the world is.
Who was the most influential person/people for you during your time in college? All my friends are people I look up to and have to say they were the most influential people for me during my time in college. They’ve taught me much about myself and are a big part of my success today.
How do you handle complex problems? I always always always, take a step back and look at the big picture to understand what the problem is at its root. I’ve found there’s often many solutions to a problem and it helps for me to start at a point where I can simplify it in logical terms and attack it from there one step at a time.
What is something you wish you had known prior to starting your company? I wish I had known earlier in life that I would eventually become an entrepreneur and business owner. I feel as though my whole life I was taught to go to school, make good grades and get a good job. Well, I did that and found I would much rather be the master of my own destiny choosing with how and where and with whom I spend my time, perhaps what I consider my most valuable resource.
Having had this mindset at an earlier age, I would have read and studied more the fields it takes to run a business, such as accounting, marketing, taxes etc.
Only 28 percent of Americans have a passport and the number drops even more significantly among African Americans. How would you spur more passport acquisition by African Americans? It starts by raising awareness in our community, the world that exist at our footsteps and how important and beneficial travel is to one’s own personal development. Many travelers I’ve met have often expressed how much travel has changed their lives for the better and taught them things they could never learn in a classroom.
There is an underuse of America’s national parks by African Americans. Two of the primary attributes to this according to the New York Times is that there is very little African American presence among national park employees and therefore creates a hesitation by African American families engaging and little familiarity with the parks themselves. Aside from those, do you believe there are other reasons our families do not engage the outdoors and national parks specifically? I have to suggest exposure and economic equality as the leading causes for the underuse of America’s national parks by African Americans. Unfortunately, there are also a large number of us who have been raised in broken homes mostly by single hard working mothers in inner cities. I believe it takes a certain level of grit to explore the outdoors and with today’s modern society I don’t believe many of us are raised in environments where we can take advantage of the American outdoors.
There are a lot of different aspects to travel. What are some areas of the travel industry that HBCU students and alumni should be focused on as moving forward that will present opportunity in your opinion?In hindsight I wish I could have had the opportunity to live and study abroad and learn a different language. As a young black male born and raised in the states, it hurts to watch the news and see the systematic injustice continually being done to my people.. I would encourage others to travel internationally and not live inside this box that is America. Now more than ever, with the internet, we can connect with people at a moment’s instance, clear across the world. The globe is full of opportunity and there are more places to make a living than in the U.S. Get your passports and consider life as an expatriate.
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? As mentioned prior, I feel as though I was taught such that obtaining a good job was the end all be all goal. Today, I feel that couldn’t be more false. It would be nice to see professors teach from a perspective that students can take the knowledge they gain in their classrooms and apply it in an entrepreneurial sense.
I believe the lack of black businesses in America is the leading cause for economic disadvantage in our communities and it would be nice to see HBCU’s address this idea in their curriculum.
How do you deal with rejection? Rejection really just adds fuel to my fire and motivates me to keep pushing. You could make a case my self-confidence is through the roof, there isn’t much that I feel I can’t do and so when I’m rejected I instantly mark it as a loss for the person doing the rejecting. I’ve a long list of rejecters and non-supporters I go hard for every single day.
When you have down time how do you like to spend it? Friends and family without a doubt, I love getting together, playing sports, eating, laughing, dancing and having a good time.
What was your most memorable HBCU memory? PV Homecoming without a doubt is the most highly anticipated and epic event I look forward to every year. Outstanding memories, although some blurry, have been made year after year since I began attending Prairie View in 2006. Everyone should attend a PV Homecoming, no questions about it.
In leaving is there any advice you have for budding HBCUpreneurs? Do good and be great! Keep God first, follow your passion and don’t ever give up! Read or listen to the audible version of “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. Let’s also put to rest the notion we do not provide good customer service by providing excellent customer service and make sure you visit HardlyHome.com for all your travel needs.
Peace and Blessings!