Black professionals have transformed professional sports and music entertainment. Their overperformance in these fields is amazing, and it stands in stark contrast to much less black advancement in other fields. Why have black folks excelled in sports and music? What lessons can we draw from their success?
We are nearing completion of the Fall 2023 edition of the Urban Entrepreneurship Practicum. We are fortunate to be working with three businesses that are outstanding examples of urban entrepreneurship at its best. While it may not be immediately obvious to the casual observer, each of these businesses addresses an important need, and each has the potential to bring about transformative positive change.
The Proving Ground movie tells the story of my entrepreneurial journey from determined and precocious kid in Flint Michigan to leader of a multi-million-dollar global telecommunications instrumentation company. The movie is based on my book “Proving Ground: A Memoir,” which culminates in the inspiring story of how I and my two co-founders – Steven Moore and Charles Simmons – left our lucrative and secure positions at the legendary Bell Laboratories and started a business, from scratch, in my basement. Making the story available as a documentary film will enable it to impact the widest possible audience.
The air is cool, the leaves are changing color, and the buzz is back in Ann Arbor. It’s that time again – time for the Fall 2022 edition of the Urban Entrepreneurship Practicum course at University of Michigan Ann Arbor. I’ve been teaching in the U-M College of Engineering/Center for Entrepreneurship since 2012, and I must say I’ve never been more excited about teaching than I am right now.
Big congratulations to Mo Faisal, Jeff Fredenburg, and the team at Movellus for closing a $23 million Series B funding round. Mo and Jeff are both Ph.D. graduates of the U-M College of Engineering, which is where they began development of the core technology and business concepts for Movellus. The company has developed and patented novel timing generation technology for next generation complex integrated circuits. Their technology provides a potential competitive advantage for semiconductor industry companies. I invested in Movellus’ initial seed round and each subsequent round, so needless to say I’m happy and proud about the company’s achievements to date.
The Lab Drawer® founders Alecia Gabriel and Deirdre Roberson started their company because, as black STEM professionals and artists, they envision a world in which black and brown excellence in STEAM fields is commonplace. I first met Alecia and Deirdre when I served as their coach for Detroit Demo Day 2021. I was immediately drawn to their expertise, energy, and dedication.
Though I lived and worked just a few miles from where this hidden giant of science lived and worked; though his nephew was my professor and thesis advisor at University of Michigan; though we frequented the same barbershop, for Christ’s sake; I never met Walter S. McAfee. I didn’t even know who he was until after he died. I now know that he could have, as much as anyone, claimed to be a founder of The Space Age.
More than six years ago, in September 2014, I took delivery of my first electric vehicle – a Tesla Model S. Around that same time, I bought Tesla stock. Both decisions turned out to be fortuitous, if not downright prescient, in light of the current excitement about Tesla in particular and electric vehicles in general. Tesla has changed my perception of cars and personal transport. Somewhat sadly, my love affair with internal combustion engine (ICE) automobiles is fading. I’ve been electrified.
The Covid-19 pandemic is causing us to retreat to our cocoons as we try to stay safe and “bend the curve” of the viruses’ spread. It is also providing us the opportunity to think and reflect on the lessons we may be able to take away from this experience. One of the most prominent lessons reverberating inside my head is one I found quite awhile ago in a book called Quality is Free.