Audio Description

Angel investor Lorine Pendleton once heard a quote that so shocked her, it changed the course of her career: "Only 1% of VC dollars go to African American founders." Today Lorine is Lead Partner in Rising America, a VC fund dedicated to investing in companies with underrepresented founders. Renee King cofounded Fund Black Founders after an entrepreneurial venture of her own led to a hyperawareness of the immense funding gap Black entrepreneurs face. This Women's History Month, James speaks with these dynamic women about the vital work they are doing to better Black entrepreneurs' odds and create a network effect.


00:00 - 00:33


Endless studies have shown that companies where you have diverse members of the team's founders actually outperform companies that are homogeneous, but yet they're not getting the level of funding that other companies get. So really, we see this shifting demographic change that's happening. We know that there's amazing founders of color. What I would say is, talent is equally distributed. Opportunity is not. They can't get capital. We're here to invest in these great world-class companies. This is Changing the Trajectory.


00:33 - 00:45


I'm your host, James Thompson, Bernstein's Head of diverse market strategy. Well, it's March and it's Women's History Month. And today I'm happy to be featuring two inspiring and highly motivated Black women wealth creators.


00:45 - 01:20


First up is Lorine Pendleton. She's a seasoned investor, adviser, and attorney. She's the lead partner in Portfolia Rising America Fund and a New York chair at TIGER 21. Also joining me today is a new friend of mine, Renee King. Renee is a Social Impact Entrepreneur and the CEO and founder of Fund Black Founders. Both Lorine and Renee are creating opportunity and wealth potential for women and diverse founders and entrepreneurs. And I'm really excited to kind of dive into the work you do and the passion and purpose that brings that to life. So, Lorine and Renee, thanks for joining me.


01:21 - 01:47


Thank you. Thank you. So Renee, why don't I start with you? I just shared at a high level a little bit about your entrepreneurial background, but share a little bit more about your trek to where you are today. What has inspired you and fueled you to create and now run Fund Black Founders? Let's see. I mean, this wasn't going to be my path. I didn't think I would land on a platform for funding Black entrepreneurs.


01:47 - 02:03


My earliest career was doing pharmaceutical sales. I literally was that representative going around, talking to doctors, talking to them about different medicines like Zithromax and Viagra. I enjoyed doing that. Sales was really good, but I didn't really see myself continuing that.


02:03 - 02:27


So then I left pharma to go work for a Caribbean media startup. And that's where really I think the entrepreneurial bug might have bit me at that point because it was very intense and lots of different activities, where you were literally the chef/cook/bottle washer, like you're doing every single thing possible. But it was still rewarding and fun to me. After that,


02:27 - 03:01


I then jumped on doing my first entrepreneurial venture by myself, which was actually in elder technology. So it wasn't around funding Black entrepreneurs at all. And it was in that space I started to get really plugged in with all of the entrepreneurial support organizations like the Black Women Talk Tech, The Founder Gym, and I was meeting so many Black entrepreneurs, and that's when I learned about the funding issue, or the funding gap we were all experiencing, because I saw all these entrepreneurs who had businesses so much further along than me, with so much more traction.


03:01 - 03:06


And we were all still saying the same thing, where do we get funding, right.


03:06 - 03:38


We're all struggling for the same little scraps. So I pivoted, and I stopped that elder tech company and pivoted and said, I have to fix this gap because this makes no sense that we have so many entrepreneurs with great innovations, great ideas, great solutions to issues that we are experiencing, but they don't have any resources. So I jumped in and I said, I'm going to fix it. That's really the birth of why we started Also, we're going to dive into Fund Black Founders in a little bit. But I do want to, Lorine, hear a little bit about your background.


03:38 - 04:10


Again, Angel investor, an adviser to women- and diverse-led companies. She's always on my LinkedIn feed. I have been a LinkedIn stalker of Lorine for quite some time. But Lorine, how about you take an opportunity, say a little bit about your background? I've had a varied career. I worked on a couple of record labels and then ended up going to law school and became in-team attorney representing really high profile music artists and celebrities. And around the time, the Internet was kind of just, not just coming out, but definitely gaining a lot of traction.


04:11 - 04:29


And I jumped ship and I joined a startup company. So really it was my first foray into the startup, so worked with that company, I tell people that was my first lesson in product market fit because we had a great product. However, the market wasn't quite there and then we ended up having to unwind the company.


04:30 - 04:58


But really great opportunity for me. And I was at a crossroads. I said, do I go back to law? Do I continue on the startup path? I decided to continue on the startup path, joined a startup company, one of the first social media companies, if you remember That was one of our websites. We had Asian Avenue and MiGente. So focusing on the ethnic online market. Interesting fun fact, Black Planet was the first social media company to get over a million members of the website. So way before Facebook and all these other companies.


04:59 - 05:21


So really great experience, I did business development, sales. That company was sold, joined another company, Select Minds, which was more of a B2B play software as a service sales model. And that company was sold to Oracle, went back to [...], but on the business development side. But about eight years ago, I was watching this show on CNN called Black in America, where they were featuring Black startup founders.


05:22 - 05:47


And Soledad O'Brien, the host of that show, said only one percent of VC dollars goes to African American founders. And I actually was shocked when I heard that, and I did some research. And in fact, that was true. And I just thought, here I was. I had worked at startups. We were all funded. And had we not been funded, we would not have grown. And two of those companies ultimately had exits. And I just thought, that can't be the case. That's abysmal.


05:47 - 06:13


And I decided that moment that I wanted to start investing in diverse-led companies, Black founders, and the like. So that was great. I said that I was going to do that, put it out in the universe, and didn't have financial experience. Heard about a program called Pipeline Angels, which trains women to become angel investors, joined that program. And then that launched my VC career. And then a year and a half ago, because I wanted to make more of an impact, I launched a VC fund with a portfolio called Rising America.


06:13 - 06:39


That's awesome, you're all doing some really purposeful work here. Lorine, you mentioned that stat, about 1 percent of VC dollars go to to Black founders. Talk a little bit more about Portfolia Rising America Fund and and how that is working to address that and also how that is kind of bringing to the forefront your ability to really advise women in diverse-led companies.


06:39 - 07:01


Yes, so our fund, Rising America, the thesis of it is, we're investing in companies where founders, at least one of the founders, is a person of color, or diverse, or LGBTQ, or companies that focus on products and services that cater to those markets. And so really, we came up with the thesis of a fund because we see the shifting demographics in the United States.


07:01 - 07:21


Some are saying by 2046, United States will be a majority minority. Minorities will outnumber nonminority, so will be a majority. And we also see these communities have tremendous economic spending power. So, for instance, if you were to combine the ethnic market in terms of spending power, you're talking about six trillion dollars.


07:21 - 07:55


And so a lot of people say, these are niche markets. That's not the case. The demographics are shifting. If you look at consumer products and who kind of creates culture in this country, it tends to be people of color, LGBTQ people, before it becomes mainstream. And so we see it as an opportunity. And also endless studies have shown that companies where you have diverse members of the team's founders actually outperform companies that are homogeneous, but yet they're not getting the level of funding that other companies get. So really, we see this shifting demographic change that's happening.


07:55 - 08:30


We know that there's amazing founders of color. What I would say is talent is equally distributed. Opportunity is not. They can't get capital. We're here to invest in these great world-class companies. And Renee, one of the things I love about Fund Black Founders is the platform's ability to create a multiple of the raise of the individual entrepreneur, a founder. Talk a little bit about the crux of FBFs, how that works, what the process entails when you're engaging an entrepreneur and a founder through their lifecycle as a business owner.


08:30 - 08:47


So to give, like, a perspective, right. I love that there are the Rising America funds, who are doing the venture funds, right, on that aspect to fund our entrepreneurs. But what I was seeing is that we needed funding from way earlier.


08:48 - 09:20


So that's why we created our platform. So what our platform is, we are rewards-based crowdfunding platform for Black entrepreneurs who need capital to start or grow a business venture. And what we do is we help the entrepreneur run successful rewards crowdfunding campaigns, which, that has a variety of elements of helping them build the crowd they need to run that campaign, how to create a compelling crowdfunding campaign, and how to run it. And then we also partner with brands and banks to match what the entrepreneurs raise on our platform.


09:20 - 09:46


So we are literally bringing together everyone to fix this funding gap. Our entrepreneurs come on to our platform and based on the information that they put into their registration and their campaign, we then start to send them resources as for, let's say, OK, we know based on what we're seeing, they're still in the crowd building mode. So we help them with resources to help them build the crowd, build their social capital, build the community and the audience they need.


09:47 - 09:59


When we find founders who come in, they actually are past that stage, then they get advanced into, now, let's start creating this compelling campaign and nurturing your crowd. So depending on where they are, we meet them at that point, provide them


09:59 - 10:27


resources, support them from start to finish of creating, running, and launching their campaign, and then we work with our brands and banks to match what they raise on the campaign. And our goal is to match up to 25K, so if they raise $25,000 on the platform from their audience that they've built, we want brands and banks to come in to now match that with 25,000. We also want other brands to come in or corporations can also come in and match it with in-kind services too.


10:28 - 11:00


So the one thing that comes to mind with something you just shared, Renee, and I'll throw this to both of you, raising the capital is one thing. We have a lot of great minds, influencers, entrepreneurs, founders who have great ideas but need the other capital to help kind of get them along a very successful journey. Can both of you just kind of talk about some of the obstacles and opportunities that are embedded in partnering with you guys? Just recognizing that a lot of times you need more than capital to make a successful business.


11:00 - 11:04


Yeah, I mean, I'll jump in on this. I think you're absolutely right. You're spot on.


11:04 - 11:31


What I say is there's three C's of capital, so there's financial capital. That founder gets the check. They get the money they need. There's also social capital. So tapping into network so they may not have access to a network. I'll give you an example. We made an investment in a company actually through my network, have a meeting with a very, very large company, one of the largest companies in the US, just through my network. And we're talking about some different things.


11:31 - 11:46


And I'm going to talk about to the fintech companies we invested in because they're looking at a major retailer, and they have gift cards and they have financial services and are looking at how they can bring different financial products on their platform. So we'll see what happens.


11:46 - 12:18


But certainly that's an access point that I have that, you know, those founders may or may not have had, but certainly can get attention. And then the other thing is, the other capital, as I say, human capital. And that's, if you have an expertise, say you're a CPA, you're a lawyer, or you're a marketing expert, giving those resources or providing those resources to the companies that you're involved with to help them, because filling in the gaps, they may not have that domain expertise or anything like that. And so I think those are all really important things for the founders, not just writing a check. It's all three of those things are important.


12:19 - 12:49


Right? I agree. And one of the things on our platform, regardless of the founders actually going through a successful crowdfunding campaign or not, once they get on our radar and they register and they start talking to us, we are always connecting them with resources. Right. Regardless, to try to make this an easier process for them when they're just trying to figure out this journey of starting their business. There's this stat that's floating around that says that Black entrepreneurs spend twice as much money in their first year compared to White entrepreneurs. Right.


12:49 - 13:09


And it makes sense that they do. Like I lived that experience where we are paying for coaching courses, we are paying just to get a lawyer to review things. We're paying for everything that we don't necessarily have, like people in our network that can kind of just give us guidance. Right. Or give us advice or give us some type of just best practices. Right.


13:09 - 13:20


Because we don't have that like our neighbor is maybe not like working at a hedge fund or our aunt might not be a lawyer who can review your contracts that you're doing. So we pay for everything.


13:20 - 13:55


So what we try to do is we try to make sure we get as much stacked resources. And we kind of talked about this a little bit, James, as we're thinking about how we can scale that out even better, right. Where we can connect more resources to our founders that are cost effective or even, not even cost effective, more so around the mentor guidance slash advisor perspective of it. But that's one of the things, like, all of our founders, they kind of say about us is that we do we do try to be their advocate and connect them to culturally relevant resources that can help them get a little further outside of just the capital.


13:55 - 14:10


I'm glad you mentioned that. That was part of the genesis of the question. There are the great stories that we bring to the marketplace, to the show. But I always like to say everyone has a resource right within their grasp that they can contribute to help


14:10 - 14:39


a lot of the efforts and the initiatives that you two are leading. For myself, I have to think about with my expertise and the expertise of my firm and my team, how we fill in that gap from a wealth management perspective, the life of the entrepreneur. You spent a lot of time fundraising. You spent a lot of time spending and building. But at some point in time, you reach a point where you say, I have reached my defined success goal. And then it becomes sustainability. It's not just sustainability of assets and wealth.


14:39 - 15:14


It's also sustainability of that business and idea and how you spin that off and even kind of create an ecosystem where you are now contributing to the success of a corporation. So I really appreciate that perspective. That's something that I always try to seek to drive with whatever influence and impact I have. In my experience with that, just to add on to that, right, in my experience with that, when we're coaching our entrepreneurs, one of the things that I've found that we've had to do because there's so early, is just educate them or make them aware that other entrepreneurs who don't look like them,


15:14 - 15:34


this is how they operate in building their businesses, right. They literally ask lots of questions and reach out to their networks and build these networks. And it's that whole social capital that they stack and they leverage and use. They ask for help. And I find with our entrepreneurs, we're so self-sufficient. It's great. It's a great tool to have. It's a great character to have.


15:34 - 16:03


But sometimes we can be self sufficient to a flaw where, like, there are things that we should just ask for help. So that's one of the cultural relevant aspects of our support and our coaching is that we build these things. And to explain to them, listen, now is the time to stack that crowd that you need, get all the different players around, build your social capital, and ask for help, right, like, ask for help, find these people and just don't sit there and try to build everything on your own. Don't try to do everything on your own. Ask for feedback. Ask for help.


16:03 - 16:10


Flex that muscle so that you can build this like really strong village that's going to get you so much further than you doing this alone.


16:10 - 16:12


Yeah. Quick question for the two of you.


16:12 - 16:47


What role do you and your organizations play in kind of steering entrepreneurs and founders in the right direction with respect to industries or areas that have more growth and profitability opportunities than others? Like, I have a pre-teen and I'm a teenager, and my daughter is like, should I do marketing, and I'm like, ah, it might be kind of obsolete by the time you're working. I try to steer them to think about stem or stem-related areas, things that are going to be a much higher demand and offer greater sustainability when they're in the workforce 10, 15 years from now.


16:48 - 17:21


Do you play a role in that in helping kind of steer areas of opportunities for those you're supporting through the fund or FBF? So, I mean, my fund, when we get to those entrepreneurs, they already have a product or service in the marketplace. They're making money. We're not going to necessarily steer them in one way or the other. One of the things we do try to do, depending on how much we invest in that company, we'll get a board observer seat or get on the advisory board and it's less of steering that company, but one things we do is we ask them, what is your needs?


17:21 - 17:53


They do a quarterly presentation to us as investors. And then, I've got to mention, for each of our funds, we have up to 249 investors. So our investors actually get to go and sit in on their pitch meetings, which is unheard of at a VC fund, which is great because these founders have access to 249 people who invested in our fund, who a lot of them are executives, most of our investors are women and they are executives or influencers, people who have done really well and they can also lend their network.


17:53 - 18:04


So we will direct them if we can. But usually they don't really at that point don't really need it as much. But they come to us if they need something, as Renee said, kind of speak up. And they certainly do that.


18:04 - 18:39


They say, hey, we're looking for X, Y, Z and we'll tap our network. You guys basically created like a crowd-advising model. Yeah, I mean, not officially, but yeah. And it's really great because people invest in our funds. I said they're mainly women. They want to be so helpful. They really, they've become the evangelists of our companies we invest in, they post it on social media, they talk about it. And so that's another differentiator when we invest in a fund and why we say to potential companies we're investing in, you're being brought into the Portfolia network, which is a very powerful network.


18:39 - 18:58


Yep. So on our end, they definitely come to us where they have their idea and they might have already started it. Right. Or they need capital to get it going. They have their idea. I wouldn't say we steer them towards, like, you should go towards the STEM aspect or these industries, but we steer them away from pitfalls that we see them having.


18:58 - 19:31


For example, our entrepreneurs sometimes will spend a lot of money. Let's say they're making an app. Right. And before they've even found product market fit or even done some customer discovery, they might like put a lot of resources into building the app before they even have the audience. So we steer them around to say, no, here are some no code ways that you don't have to spend this amount of money to build an MVP product. Right. So we'll steer them around, like, don't make the common mistakes of, like, putting a lot of money into your tech when you haven't already built out who even wants this tech.


19:31 - 19:45


We steer them around making sure they improve themselves to become tech enabled. Let's see if there are brick and mortar businesses or whatever they're building. And we try to put competitors or other ideas or other activations similar to what they're doing.


19:45 - 20:11


Right. And try to put that on their radar so they can think a bit bigger. But we don't necessarily steer them directly to say, no, you should start something within the realm of STEM or so. One thing I will say, I think when we fix this funding gap, I think you'll see more of that, to be honest with you, James, because what I find is that due to a lack of access of capital, a lot of our entrepreneurs will think of businesses that they have enough capital that they can start.


20:11 - 20:32


Right. They have enough resources. It's directly in line with what they're capable of doing right now versus thinking bigger. Right. So I think once we, like, open up that start capital. Right. And the resources, not just money, but like social capital and understanding, then you'll start to see more, bigger ideas and more propensity of it coming from our demographic.


20:32 - 20:54


Yeah. So let's open up our hearts a little bit. What is it like to lead these efforts? I think both of you have had your own journeys to get to this point. Obviously professional. You know, we touched on it in the beginning. But what does this actually mean to you? To to do the work you both are doing requires a very special place of purpose. Right.


20:54 - 21:20


I imagine you have a sense of responsibility to your people and your community. What is that for you, Lorine? And what kind of inspires you to continue to work in a capacity you are in today? I mean, back to the story I told you when I heard about the 1 percent of VC dollars going to African American founders, I just, it just, I thought it was abysmal, made me angry. So instead of getting angry and like, here we go, another disparity,


21:20 - 21:49


I said I want to try to do something about it. And I started out small. I mean, making angel investments and writing checks a certain size. And then I realized, to make more of an impact, I have to raise a fund. And so that's what I did. And so I feel like, you know, there's so many great companies out there who are diverse-led and they don't have access to capital. They don't have a network. And I really want to try to get the capital to them, help them be successful.


21:49 - 22:13


And so that's what I decided to do, a sense of purpose. And I was at a big global law firm almost four years ago and no longer there to focus on what I'm doing. And I feel like this is definitely my purpose. This is the first one that I've done, so, which is great. I want to raise a much larger fund so I can have even more of an impact. And you know what is really great about my fund, which is really interesting,


22:13 - 22:43


I'm sure you heard there was a study done by digitalundivided that at the time it was published, only 36 Black women have raised over a million dollars. There's a bit more now. I still think it's under a 100 of those women, four of them Black women who raised over a million, who had exits in their business invested in my fund. So the point is, they created great companies, they had exits, and now they're giving back by investing in funds like myself that I can go out and invest in the next generation of startup founders.


22:43 - 22:57


And so it's a network effect. So this is just the first part of it. Hopefully, fast forward in five years. It'll be a bigger movement, a bigger network of the stuff that's happening. And that's what I'm hopeful for. That's awesome. That's a multiplying impact for sure.


22:57 - 23:00


Renee, how about you? It's really, really hard.


23:00 - 23:33


I just tell you that, it's super hard to build something for your community. There's so many layers of you, really, it's not just you trying to be a success so that you can have more resources for them to support your community that you're building for. It is... It's hard and you really can't, in my humble opinion, you really can't do it without, like, love for your community, and it's my love for Black entrepreneurs. I love hearing everyone's idea. I love hearing them at the start. And I love being their biggest cheerleader. I genuinely love that. I love talking with them. That's my favorite part of it.


23:34 - 23:49


If you don't have that love for it, it's not going to work, in my humble opinion. I think what makes this super challenging is that you are literally building with limited resources yourself. So you're trying to resource them when in the grand scheme of this whole game,


23:49 - 23:59


right, we are also, like I'm quite sure Lorine is under-resourced and I'm under-resourced in comparison to what other people in our footsteps can build. Right. And at the level.


23:59 - 24:28


So that's the biggest challenge. So you're here, you are trying to help and you are also trying to put your own, I guess you can say mask on, too, and having to do this whole convincing of some individuals around, like why this market is the next big thing. It is the current big thing. Right. And understanding like you really should be pouring all your resources here if you don't want to lose market share, if you don't want to be nonexistent in the years to come. So it's hard to do that part.


24:28 - 24:59


But I think that is so funny. I was talking about this yesterday with another Black entrepreneur who builds, he does, it's a nonprofit and it supports Black entrepreneurs also. And I was saying to him, how are you doing? Whenever I talk to the ecosystem builders, it's like my first question. I'm like, how are you? Because we are so busy helping and no one is really like... I don't know if anyone is genuinely checking on us, checking us to make sure we are OK. Right. And his response was like, well, I just think about our ancestors. Right.


24:59 - 25:07


Like they went through so much more in comparison to where we are. And that's what keeps them going.


25:07 - 25:28


And then I think, Arlan, like posted on Twitter, Arlan Hamilton, within her recent tweet where she was saying one day we will be the ancestors, proceed accordingly. Like that nailed it for me. That's cool. So that landed for me to where I was like, that drive. And then the grace of our founders. They see the work that we're doing and they genuinely, our customers and our founders who come to us,


25:28 - 25:57


Like when I have an entrepreneur who, she ran a campaign on a competitor, found out about us, and came over and was like, I'm coming on your platform for my next campaign. And she is a big celeb who is an investor and she's purposely doing this because she wants to see us win. And I have many stories like that where you have entrepreneurs who are Black entrepreneurs who are making that conscious decision to rally around the builders, rally around us. That's what keeps me going too, that grace and that push where I'm like, OK, I got to keep on going.


25:57 - 26:01


I gotta keep on being the advocate and get them the resources.


26:02 - 26:37


We likely touched on this in a number of capacities. But could you sync up what does success look like for you and FBF? Success for me is when access to business funding isn't just like an outlier experience in our community. Right. It's not that you have to build your product so much. Right. And prove so much before you even get your first check alone or you get your friends to invest in you. Things of that sort. To me, I think every Black entrepreneur, regardless of like, you don't have networks, you don't have this capital.


26:37 - 27:07


You may still be working a full time job. I believe, when they still have access to the resources so they can build their entrepreneurial dream, like, that's what success to me looks like, because I'm not here for just outliers. I'm here for like every, the everyday Black entrepreneur should be like, I have an idea, I want to start this and I want them to be just surrounded with all the resources to, like, go, just go start it. Lorine, how about you? So success looks like for me is finding the next Mark Zuckerberg, who's a Black or brown person.


27:07 - 27:16


Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, is a black and brown person who have built a billion dollar companies. And they've built these companies.


27:16 - 27:42


They've done really well. And then they, we're going to go and reinvest in another big, big fund that I have and I'm going to continue finding the next someone like that. And so this tech network effect and I think when we have and I think now recently there is like I think three or four Black founders who have been valued at a billion dollars. They haven't had an exit, but their company has been valued over a billion dollars with the recent funding round.


27:42 - 28:15


And so people are kind of looking at this. And so I don't want that to be an anomaly because I think once that starts happening, traditional VCs are going to look at this as well. You know, you can have a unicorn, which is a billion dollar company and it exists. And a Black and brown founder can create that. And it's not an anomaly. And so for me, that's what success looks like, so that there can be more funds like Rising America. There's thousands of VC funds. I want there to be... or maybe not even have a need to have a fund like my fund. So that to me is what success looks like. I love that you share that. But my last month's episode


28:15 - 28:46


for Black History Month focused on HBCUs, right, and the role they've played in educating Black America, but also creating the next wave and generational wave of influencers and creators of opportunity. Lorine, what you just raised for me is the same, right? Both you and Renee are working with individuals who will build the next fill-in-the-blank, the next Twitter, the next Facebook, the next Tesla, whatever that is.


28:46 - 29:12


I just love the fact that you guys are in the midst of creating the next next. And I really applaud you for that. Takeaways: we've got a ton of listeners who always kind of listens in for those nuggets of advice. What takeaways do you have specifically for women or underrepresented entrepreneurs as they think about creating their own legacy as entrepreneurs and founders?


29:12 - 29:32


So I would say, I tell this not just for founders who come to our platform, but even outside of this, build your crowd, build your crowd, a diverse crowd and not just diverse in culture, but diverse in experience, diverse in their specialty. So make sure you look at your current crowd, like, look at all the people in your network.


29:32 - 29:51


Who do you talk to regularly? Right. Who you talk to once a month. Think about the people you've worked with, reconnecting with the groups and organizations you're a part of. Stack your crowd so that it's nice and like filled with every possible person that you could think that you may need to talk to to provide value to them or they're going to provide value to you.


29:52 - 30:25


Just build that from the start. That would be my biggest thing, because I believe social capital can get you so much further than anything else. So we intentionally do that, right? Intentionally build these ecosystems and give back to all of our community, make sure we are also a part of somebody else's ecosystem. I think all of the issues that we're experiencing will change. So build your crowd, build your social capital well in advance of you starting your business. And even if you're starting your business and you don't have it, then you have to be aggressive of building that too. Talk to everyone and build these networks to get it going. Right.


30:25 - 30:45


Thanks. Lorine? Yeah, I think, Renee, just kind of doubling down on what she said, definitely really build your network, because I think a lot of successes is based on who you know, unfortunately, in this country and actually in the world. And so really try to expand your network and go where people are that you need to connect with.


30:45 - 31:04


And then I would say really look at your business and make sure it's a viable business. So, you know, look at what problem are you solving? Do you have a good solution for it? Is it better than someone else's solution? Cheaper? And then is this a big enough market that's got to be really important, how big the market is? And then look at yourself.


31:04 - 31:25


Can you make this happen? If you don't have all of the things that you need, the pieces to make this business successful, find people, advisors, board of directors, team members to help fill in the blanks that you may not have. And so just really be honest about what kind of business you're building and can it be something that can be successful. The word that comes to mind, what I hear both of you speak is community.


31:25 - 31:58


That's part crowd. It's part network. But communities exist to take care of one another, you know, and whether it's what the two of you are pouring into your own efforts, whether it's the involved entrepreneur or founder who now has a role in contributing to the success of other people, that's a word that really resonates with me. It also touches on focusing on, there are certain things that you don't know. But we should always continue to strive to ask the questions, to get the answers that will allow us to build the right type of community.


31:58 - 32:15


I certainly appreciate the work that both of you do, the efforts the two of you lead. And again, you know, with this is Women's History Month and I think you are great examples of two amazing Black women who are doing great things. Thank you for the work you do. I appreciate both of you. Thank you. Thank you.


32:19 - 32:47


So I hope you enjoyed today's episode. We love to hear from you. So please e-mail your thoughts, questions, or any feedback you may have to Please be sure to share, subscribe, and rate us on the Apple podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts and check us out on Twitter at BernsteinPWM. Bernstein: making money meaningful for individuals, families, and foundations for over 50 years. Visit us at

James Thompson
Senior National Director—Diverse and Multicultural Wealth Segments

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