“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” – Steve Jobs
It is a business story worthy of Hollywood. Mainly because it seems to be a storyline that you only find in movies. However, the story is very real and very powerful. Not only because of its potential, but also because of the possibilities that it presents. Three HBCUpreneurs from three different HBCUs start a business, but have never actually met each other in person. The power of the internet, the power of Twitter and most importantly, the power of the HBCU community.
The company, HBCU Real Estate, is an internet services company that seeks to help the HBCU community (but not limited too) find and use HBCU real estate service providers. Everything from real estate agents, mortgage brokers, interior designers, and more. The founders hope that it will even lead to business creation in the spaces of real estate that the HBCU community may have little to no presence. HBCU Money is aware of only one title company* owned by an HBCU alumnus. HBCU Real Estate’s mission is to help facilitate circulation of the HBCU community’s dollars and keep them in the HBCU community. If successful, it could potentially keep tens of billions of dollars within the HBCU community. The fact that none of the founders have ever met in person makes what they are trying to accomplish even more astounding.
For two years it sat on the proverbial shelf according to organizer, cofounder, and HBCU Real Estate’s Director of Product Development, William A. Foster, IV, a Livingstone College, Virginia State University, and Prairie View A&M University alumnus. “I am a multipreneur and have learned that more hands and brains on deck is almost always a good thing. I needed to meet and find the right people who could understand, compliment, add value, and who could see the potential just as much as I could. Also, I promised myself no more solo projects. When you are involved in as many businesses and organizations as I am, being able to spread the load is vital to success – and sanity.”
Enter Christen Turner, Spelman College and Southern University alumnus, and Marcus King, an alumnus of Prairie View A&M University, both HBCUpreneurs themselves. Ms. Turner, HBCU Real Estate’s Chief Technology Officer, also owns Janelle T. Designs, a graphic designs firm, as well as Forever Femme, an accessories company. Mr. King, HBCU Real Estate’s Chief Marketing Officer, owns Hardly Home, a clothing line that is catered towards travel that was featured on HBCU Money’s The HBCUpreneur Corner in 2015. What does it say to you (King) about the potential of collaboration for HBCUpreneurs that 5 different HBCUs are represented among the 3 cofounders? King answered, “The motto at my alma maters is that “PV produces productive people” and I think that can be said about HBCUs across the board. For years HBCUs have been producing top talent and should continue to do so as we seek to move forward and provide solutions to the problems our community faces.”
The three have followed each other on Twitter for years, although no one can remember for how long. It was towards the end of 2020 that Foster said he approached Turner and King about doing a collaboration or tweeted at them rather. “I sent out a tweet and tagged both of them saying that I need to cofound something with the two of them. Having watched them over the years I knew we would click and have the same kind of work ethic. I just needed to find out if they thought the idea had any legs. If it was not this, it was going to be something else.” The work ethic was confirmed when he said he got an email from Turner on Thanksgiving while he himself was working. Turner further drove the point home of the potential of the moment, “This business will be successful because of two reasons, respect and trust. Despite not having met in an ‘official’ capacity, our partnership seems to have a natural fit to it; almost like pieces of a puzzle. With William’s intuition, he was able to unknowingly add the right people to his team who would each be able to add something different. Whether from a professional standpoint or specific personality traits, we all came in with an immediate respect for each other’s talents and skills. This is why the business will be successful. There’s no questioning; there’s only action, openness, and honesty.” Usually in Hollywood the movie ends with and they lived happily ever after – The End, but in this case it is clear that this is just The Beginning.
For more information, visit http://www.hbcurealestate.com