Keenan Beasley, Chairman at Venture Noire | The State of Black Entrepreneurship | SSP Interview

For More Episodes Visit: www.podcast.scottdclary.com

Keenan currently serves as the CEO of Supply Factory Brands, a venture studio that invents and invests in brands in the health and beauty sectors. Keenan’s non-profit arm, Venture Noire, mentors and develops underprivileged diverse entrepreneurs and provides them with access to capital. Keenan also founded and is CEO of Kukua Corp, a global cannabis business, and Infinite Looks, a textured hair care company. In 2014 Keenan started BLKBOX, a creative agency in New York City with a wide range of multinational clients, including Samsung and Diageo.

Before launching his entrepreneurial ventures, Keenan managed and led several multibillion brands, including Tide, Gillette and Garnier beauty products. He served as Vice President of Marketing at L’Oreal, Associate Director at Reckitt Benckiser and Brand Manager at Procter & Gamble.

Keenan is a contributor to Forbes and CNBC, an advisor to numerous start-up companies and a regular lecturer at the USC Marshall School of Business.

Keenan Beasley received a Bachelor of Science degree in Law and Systems Engineering from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He divides his time between New York City and Los Angeles.

Show Links

https://www.instagram.com/keenanbeasley/

https://www.keenanbeasley.com/

https://venturenoire.org/

SUCCESS STORY PODCAST

Stories worth telling.

On the Success Story podcast, Scott has candid interviews with execs, celebrities, notable figures and politicians. All who have achieved success through both wins and losses, to learn more about their life, their ideas and insights.

He sits down with leaders and mentors and unpacks their story to help pass those lessons onto others through both experiences and tactical strategy for business professionals, entrepreneurs and everyone in between.

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Machine Generated Transcript

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

entrepreneurs, people, venture, companies, noir, business, y combinator, raise, community, capital, success, momentum, build, podcast, underserved, black, entrepreneurship, venture capital, experiences, question

SPEAKERS

Scott D Clary, Keenan Beasley

 

Scott D Clary  00:06

Welcome to the success story podcast. I’m your host, Scott Clary. On this podcast I have candid interviews with execs, celebrities, politicians and other notable figures, all who have achieved success through both wins and losses. To learn more about their life, their ideas and their insights, I sit down with leaders and mentors and unpack their story to help pass those lessons on to others through both experiences and tactical strategy for business professionals, entrepreneurs and everyone in between. Without further ado, another episode of the success story podcast. Thanks again for joining me I am sitting down with Keenan Beasley who is the chairman and executive director of venture noir now Kenan is an industry disrupter, marketing executive and serial entrepreneur with more than a decade of consumer marketing experience. After leading billion dollar brands at Procter and Gamble, Reckitt Benckiser and L’Oreal. He launched the marketing agency BLK box Black box in 2014. His mission was to build a company focused on understanding how people were influenced and apply those insights to deliver growth for brands. Now, like I mentioned, he’s currently serves as Executive Director of venture noir, we’re gonna go into what that’s all about. He is Walton Family Foundation grant recipient. Venture Noir is a diversity, equity and inclusion partner helping entrepreneurs of color with non dilutive grants and mentorship to launch and scale successful businesses born and raised in LA. Kane’s a proud graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, very excited to chat, thank you so much for joining me,

 

Keenan Beasley  01:41

thank you for having me, I appreciate it.

 

Scott D Clary  01:44

It’s my pleasure, it’s my pleasure, you have an incredible career, you’re you’re doing a lot of good work, but I want to, you know, to TVs up, I like to sort of go through the origin story. So walk me through your career and how you got here, and wherever you want to start is fine. You’ve done a lot, I don’t want to, I don’t drag it out. But I think there’s a lot of really good experience that you have, and I want to sort of, like, we can go through that. And I’m sure that sort of impacted what you’re doing now.

 

Keenan Beasley  02:10

Yeah, you know, I would say, I think the easiest thing to start is the fact that, you know, I grew up as a as a football player, right? So that speaks to a lot of my philosophy and the way that I shaped things, obviously, you can see the helmet and the football back there. But, you know, for me, it was it was this, this pattern around discipline, hard work and teamwork. So, you know, that is what you know, carried me through to West Point. And you know, where I was the D one football player. You know, after West Point, I got into the business sector and really I found myself in marketing. And I think it’s a weird transition for people to go from West Point to engineering school into marketing. But again, for me, it was around teamwork, right in service. And that’s what the military teaches you. That’s what football teaches you, you know, I was outside linebacker defensive in and sometimes you got to throw yourself in a pile for the guys behind you. So you know, when you look at marketing marketing is about serving the greater good people right and bringing products and solutions to them that they’re looking for. So, you know, I worked at Procter and Gamble that was on you know, tide I lead, Gillette, globally, ended up at Reykjavik Keizer where I lead Lysol, globally Lysol. Dettol, and then was the youngest Vice President over at L’Oreal on guard yay. And all of that taught me just where the insights around humanity, right how people are operating, and what you need to do to serve them better. And so, you know, for me, what I’ve done is really dedicate my life to service. That’s what took me to venture to are on a way to serve entrepreneurs to do a lot of what I’ve been doing, you know, I’m now this is my fifth company that I’ve started, which is supply factory brands. So we have an amazing haircare line. I have a cannabis business. We’ve gone through all the stages, right? I’ve bootstrapped businesses, I’ve raised venture capital, I’ve done the friends and family around, I’ve taken out loans I’ve done, you know, all the tough things that we do as entrepreneurs. And you know, I wanted to create venture in order to help more folks go through that process, right, help navigate those seeds, for lack of a better word. And and that’s been really rewarding, so really exciting to do that.

 

Scott D Clary  04:31

No, it’s it’s a really impressive career. And I appreciate you sort of lining up your experience. Now, when you when you launched venture Noir. What were the types of entrepreneurs that you you were working with? Was there a certain certain industry a certain type of entrepreneur? Was it was it literally anybody who just needed some extra help needed like a little bit of a leg up that you would take on what was the sort of the core customer for venture What,

 

Keenan Beasley  05:00

you know, I was when I was coming up with the concept it was the question I kept asking myself was, how come there’s not a black Zuckerberg or vasos? Right? These moguls, right and the epitome of entrepreneurship. I wasn’t seeing that in the black community that I could point two, right, that really had the liquidity event. And when I say, you know, the, the top of the, you know, mountain for entrepreneurs to go public or get acquired, you know, I wasn’t seeing that, right. And I said, Okay, there’s, there’s an issue. So I had to start looking at the pipeline. And one thing that I’ve always been taught by my dad is, you just need volume. Right? So you need you need more. So Vincent alar is a venture capitalist organization, it is about creating and stimulating more businesses, where I saw the gap was at the very early stage. So people that are considering becoming entrepreneurs, right, that are working corporately, like I was, in looking at making the leap, where we’ve done some programs, folks that have just cracked their business plan and are stuck trying to figure out how to get started and where to go. A lot of adventure in ours about is eliminating that blockage, right to just get you through that first rung. So that you build some momentum, build that MVP, get in front of investors, and now all of a sudden, the experience becomes much more familiar. And, and that’s why you see people do these things over and over and over again, because entrepreneurship is so familiar, right? I said, I’m 36, and I’m on my fifth company. And it’s just because that’s just who I am now. So the fear of starting, I don’t have I’m just like, I’m sorry.

 

Scott D Clary  06:38

I was I was actually I was gonna mention them. I didn’t want to say anything. And I’m like, shit, you look young for these roles. Like, how’s it look, you like a good job. But I’d like to say congratulations, no.

 

Keenan Beasley  06:50

brainer. Now I got a couple but not too bad.

 

Scott D Clary  06:54

So but as you as you build this out, like I was looking on the site, and you said for venture noir, there’s three three resource pillars, curriculum, community, and access to capital. Absolutely, is that when I look at when I think about an entrepreneur, curriculum, the knowledge, access to capital is obviously important. I feel like community is something that isn’t focused on enough. Is this the community in your mind? Is it like an incubation program? Is it somebody who has gone through the same life experiences as somebody of the same color understands cultural background? Or nuances? What’s community that you would bring to the table? Because that’s the one piece that I I don’t know. Well,

 

Keenan Beasley  07:37

no, no, it’s it’s a great question. It comes from the philosophy really, that, you know, density breeds success. So if the idea of a strip mall, right, so, you know, here, here in America, we have strip malls where, you know, you have one company that’s doing well, well, those companies that are around it, tend to get some of that, you know, fall off traffic, right. And they tend to have better sales revenue because of that, just from sheer proximity. So a lot of what I think was lacking in in the, you know, underprivileged, or underserved or minority communities was that density of creation. So there was no Silicon Valley with with diverse black and brown entrepreneurs. So we have to build those ecosystems. And what ends up happening is you start to rise, then collectively, together, you share experiences, you share resources, tips, but you also can share talent, right? A lot of times the failure rate of an entrepreneur is incredibly high. But in order to recruit those people, they need to feel like hey, well, if that company doesn’t work out, is there another job nearby that I can get? That’s the unknown thing about, you know, Silicon Valley, you join a tech company up in San Francisco, right? Or in Menlo Park. Hey, that company fails, you got 1000 other startups that just raise capital that you can jump over to walk down the street create another job? Absolutely. So that’s part of what that community is, right. It’s a way of sharing resources, but it creates a bit of safety and familiarity.

 

Scott D Clary  09:11

And why this is this is a big question. I guess. I don’t want to I don’t want to make this question too vague. But when there’s a Y Combinator or in Toronto, where I am, there’s creative destruction ladders, and there’s a whole bunch of other types of these types of programs. Y Combinator is probably the best known. At what point does an under an underserved or an underrepresented group fail at getting into a Y Combinator is it when they’re very young, and they didn’t have the educational circumstances to facilitate that or enable them to get to the point where they felt confident or competent enough to apply? Is it at the very last point where there’s you know, maybe perhaps not the ability? I don’t know. I want to say racism at that level where they’re not being accepted. Are they getting accepted, but they just don’t feel like they have a lot of peers. as represented in the same group, like what’s the point that did traditional venture capital or incubator programs fail underrepresented? Individuals,

 

Keenan Beasley  10:09

a lot of it is confidence. So so what I found was, you know, a lot of these minority entrepreneurs just were insecure in the process, because they didn’t know anyone else who had gone through, there was no one in proximity. So there wasn’t the entrepreneur in the family, there wasn’t, you know, the aunt or the uncle that they could call on to talk about the process. So it’s this foreign land, and a lot of what was happening in that foreign world of entrepreneurship. There were these early stages of capital that were not afforded to some of these groups, right. And the thing that leads our venture space is not VC capital, right, less than a percent of all companies received venture capital dollars, the bulk of that is coming from friends and family and personal loan. Well, when you have a wealth gap, and in the United States that is, you know, 250 or so years, that has a real impact on being able to serve that community, because there isn’t an accredited investor in your family to give you a friends and family well, so that 2550 $75,000 To get you started, doesn’t exist. Right. So you, you now have to figure out well, now I have to take out a personal guarantee. Well, if I take out a personal guarantee, and I fail, which 90 plus percent of us do, well, now that has a huge impact and a setback. So now I would just I just took that 250 year gap now just went to 253 years or 260 years. Right? So it’s very detrimental. So you have to figure out ways to build that confidence, which is why how can we lower the cost of barrier, right, the the the entry point of entrepreneurship, Y Combinator, and those groups don’t address that, huh,

 

Scott D Clary  11:50

that’s an interesting way of putting it. So you’re lowering the cost, you’re giving them the resources, because you have the ability to offer these at scale, as opposed to going and fixing all the venture capital out there and trying to funnel it more towards more towards young black or under underrepresented entrepreneurs. And I think that’s an interesting way of putting it or not putting it, but actually helping facilitate, because all I see all over Twitter is just, I hate referencing Twitter, I’m sorry, it’s not an educational resource. But I see a lot of anecdotally, a lot of people speaking about will VCs have to invest more, and VCs have to invest more in underrepresented? And I was actually going to ask you, how do we do that? I don’t know, if you have a thought on how do we how do we actually facilitate that, but you’re taking the other you’re taking the other route, which I think is actually a very smart way, because it’s a quicker, it’s a quicker thing to action, you don’t have to change, you know, the the whole cultural of a certain VC group that doesn’t invest in underrepresented, you just you can enable them with the tools and resources you already have at a much cheaper, almost like wholesale rate is the best way to put it.

 

Keenan Beasley  12:54

Yeah, I mean, venture capital is a formula, right? So there’s, there’s a way to hack that. And so they’re investing in very like minded companies, and, and a profile of people, you know, if you’re a Stanford dropout, and you want to start a company, you’ll probably get a million dollars, right, just just by saying you want a company, in, you know, the the minority communities, you don’t have that familiarity. So I had to address that in a different way. And part of what I feel the responsibility with within venture Noir is to make the process of entrepreneurship in the underserved community, and make it more familiar with that investment communities. So invite those venture capitalists into workshops, let them see the innovation, right, the creativity, the thought, now let’s give that then innovator, the process and the formula and how to package and sell that idea. And that’s just part of the work that we have to do. It’s tough, but you know, I can give you a look, you know, I don’t want to go on too much of a tangent. But I think what you also find in a lot of minority based communities is the easiest thing to start with very little capital is a service business. A service business does not require venture capital, because it doesn’t scale in the same way.

 

Scott D Clary  14:19

Venture capital, because they want that they want that exit.

 

Keenan Beasley  14:22

Exactly. So So that’s why when you when you look at a lot of minority founders, they’re just they don’t have the right businesses for venture capital. You know, now if you you transpose that with, you know, a guy like my friend, Rodney Williams with listener, it’s a technology, right? It’s a beacon tech, so people get that it’s totally in a very clear narrative that is modeled after a lot of what Silicon Valley has done in the past. I’m not gonna say it’s ever easy to raise capital, but he has a much more a much better chance than somebody that is starting an agency like me My first bit, my agency would never raise venture capital.

 

Scott D Clary  15:04

And where and where abouts? Like, where are you finding entrepreneurs? Is it? You know, what’s your best audience that will have the best chance of success? Is it people in universities? Or are there individuals that are later on in their career? Where you sort of finding your, your group?

 

Keenan Beasley  15:20

I think the great thing is the entrepreneurs find us because they’re just so curious. So a lot of, you know, the work that we’re doing in in, in why we are constantly trying to raise sponsorship dollars is we need to do more events, more activities, or when is that people can then Yep, they can find us. And they reach out. So we’ve done some great things with colleges have a great partnership with USC, we’ve worked at TCU within internships, University of Chicago, etc. I’ve even done some talks at West Point. And if you don’t believe they have an amazing entrepreneurship community there. So colleges, absolutely. But then I think there’s people with that real expertise from some of these companies that would do well in a startup environment, right, that I think they could really start to shape a culture, because they have that technical expertise. So I’m also looking at bringing some of those folks over. And then I think you have your influential leaders, right, your cultural leaders that I call it, right, people that start trends, they may not have the technical ability, but they have the the means to get reached and attention, which is also needed for success. Well, now I’m pairing them with a technical expert. And now you have a really cool team to build from so yeah, we look everywhere.

 

Scott D Clary  16:40

No, I think that like this is like, obviously, like a small, small fix or a small step in the right direction. Like there’s so many things that have to happen. And there’s so many, I guess, replications of your group or you how you yourself have to scale to the point where this can sort of, you know, act like a group the size of a Y Combinator to to really start to invoke meaningful change at a at a at a national level, and then eventually international level. But I you know, I think as we look i One One thing I’ve seen, and I think everyone’s seen the news is LeBron James and Maverick Carter doing the 100 million dollars investment into building their own, I guess, coined the phrase media empire. What Where do you where how do you continue the momentum of you know, yourself, you’re building your adventure and war, LeBron and Maverick, they’re building out their own thing. And you’ll, you’ll probably see some of this stuff. And it seems very relevant right now and topical right now. But how do you maintain that momentum and passion? And, and just will to get people to do things a little bit differently take on new initiatives, like yourself, a leader in the black community? Who’s starting this this thing? How do we continue that momentum?

 

Keenan Beasley  17:54

You know, I patterned my success just from a bit of fearlessness and volume, right? I’m not afraid to work. And just work really hard. So again, for me, not everyone can raise $100 million, right? LeBron can raise $100 million, because, frankly, he has $100 million.

 

Scott D Clary  18:14

That’s didn’t have to raise anything.

 

Keenan Beasley  18:17

So so as you know, that’s a feat that’s a little different for him than, say, your average entrepreneur. But what I think we can do very easily is is create more more small businesses, right? So, you know, I think we’ve touched 1000 small businesses and black owned and black and brown and owned companies in the past year. I think we can replicate that. And I feel that we can help you know that that scales, right. So I wouldn’t be surprised if we did 5000 next year with more volunteers and more donations. And if you create 5000 new businesses across the country, let’s just say a couple of those break free, right? And they then raise an a round and maybe take on $5 million and $10 million, well, then that group’s gonna raise. That’s how it starts, right? That’s how you Combinator, its volume. And so we have to start somewhere. And we’re just, you know, we’ve taken the first step. And now we need some help taken another couple of steps. But hopefully some corporations come in and they want to start donating, and that’ll build the momentum even more, but, but volume for sure.

 

Scott D Clary  19:28

And I think that like, you know, I see some and the only reason why I focus on momentum is because I see a lot of like, a lot of knee jerk reactions to social change. And it worries me because the second somebody takes a knee jerk reaction. I hope they don’t think I’m good. I’ve done my bit. I’ve liked my post, I’ve posted my black square, and that’s it. And that’s a really dangerous feeling for somebody to have that they’ve made a change by doing nothing. And that’s what I’m scared. I saw I saw something the other day about Netflix. They just hired a New cmo and she’s, she’s a black lady. She’s like super, super experienced like an employee. So both my boss Yeah, that’s the name I blanked on the name. But I was just reading the article, I actually the first thing I went to was I wanted to look at her background and like her background, her resume is so impressive. And I was happy because like, she’s, she obviously deserves the position and I want more companies to make moves like this. But I don’t want to lose momentum. And I don’t think, you know, this was a prime time for Netflix, they they were hiring for the role. The last up who I also can’t remember her name, stepped up the position after a year and they hired somebody who was qualified. And and she was just really qualified, that’s that’s the way I look at it, it was a great hire, she’s really qualified, you’re gonna kill it. But I don’t want companies to pass over on executives like this in a year from now or two years from now. And I think that’s the red flag that I’m seeing, like, I know venture Noir is going to be around. But venture Noir is still small compared to the people that still move industry. And these titans, I just don’t know how to keep them engaged and keep it top of mind because you look at some of these executive teams, and there really isn’t a lot of diversity. Right? And that’s the same issue with the VC funds. How do you start to think it’s an education? And I don’t really have an answer, obviously, only anybody does. But I’m curious.

 

Keenan Beasley  21:15

Yeah, I think the fear is, is real, right. And I think a lot of us have that. But we’re sitting in a situation where there’s a massive gap right now, right? And I use the wealth gap, because it’s just so indicative of the history of the country. So when you look at that, every year, you just have to try to take a step to close it. Right? And right now is a moment. And it’s about how many steps can you take, while it is top of mind? Right. And I think that’s where my focus has been on. You know, venture Noir is not new. We didn’t we didn’t start this, you know, after, you know, the death of George Floyd or Ahmad or Briana Taylor, we started this a year ago, right? This is been a passion of mine. I’ve been teaching at USC for six and a half years now for free donating my time to help the CIO. And there’s people that have been doing it for decades. So, you know, now we’re just starting to get the attention, I think it’s about building on that momentum, which is what you’re talking about, to close the gap a bit more in this time period. And now what happens is, you get 10 companies to get through and raise some amazing series A five companies or raise a series B to well, those companies then become really successful. Now you have a pattern of success, it opens the door then for that, you know, college student, or that college dropout. For that matter, that looks a bit like me, who has a great idea is extremely passionate, you know, and now there’s somebody that may want to take a chance and and make that first investment, which all entrepreneurs end up taking, right, somebody takes a chance. So I’m actually really excited about this time to see what’s going on to CB attention, I think people are gonna make some huge strides.

 

Scott D Clary  23:07

I appreciate you breaking it down and going into this because I know it’s you know, every time I go into to social issues, it’s so it’s topical right now. But it’s it’s, it’s it’s a tough discussion to have. Because I think like you mentioned, like, we want to sort of leverage the momentum. And and it’s sad that there wasn’t momentum already. Like, it’s sad that there has to be that that, that spark that ignites a fire for my goodness for for an executive to be hired into a role that you should have been hired in or for more programs and startup or for VCs to start looking at investing in underserved minority groups. Like it’s, it’s very sad, and I just, you know, to speak about it, and I appreciate you going through your venture and more and whatnot. And I hope that it’s, you know, I hope it’s not, you know, sensitive to you because you didn’t you were doing this before, and I don’t want to, I don’t want to make it seem like it is something that came to light now. And that’s very important for me too, because this is a great program that was already sort of thriving beforehand.

 

Keenan Beasley  24:09

That’s the goal of an entrepreneur, right? We are, we’re supposed to see a world that doesn’t exist. I like that. That’s just that’s our job fundamentally. So, you know, I don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on problems or or in the past, I’m a student of history, right? Because the the learnings, they’re amazing, but I think what I’m focused on with our companies focus on what I see entrepreneurs everyday focus on is creating things that don’t exist. And so, you know, if we’re not seeing that a quality then okay, we then try to solve for that. So my attempt was, I thought it was a pipeline issue. I thought there we need more volume of people going in there, or what happens with volume, you get more successful entrepreneur. are a lot of the C suite executives were acquired, their companies were acquired. And through those acquisitions, they then take those C suite positions that these multibillion dollar behemoth so I see a lot more of that, you know, Tristan Walker, great example, started Walker co with bevel was acquired by Procter and Gamble, he now has a great board seat, right with some companies. So, you know, these things start to move, but we can’t, we can’t ignore the early stage. And I think with that, we’re going to start to see some change really quickly here.

 

Scott D Clary  25:36

I appreciate that. Um, I wanted to I do I have a couple more like questions that I like to ask yourself as somebody who’s obviously, like, massively successful, you know, 5x or 5x? Entrepreneur? Yeah, that’s not bad. That’s not that. I anyways, I have a couple more questions. But before before I migrate off the topic of adventure and war, because I think we went into it, like we really got a 360 of what you’re doing. I just wanted to ask, is there any questions that I should have asked that I don’t know enough about? Venture noir, or the current predicament? With underserved minorities getting access to opportunities and capital? That I should have asked that you would sort of give some more information about?

 

Keenan Beasley  26:19

Yeah, you know, I think I’ll touch on just the technology piece just a bit, because it’s, it’s fairly new, and in a real passion area of mine. But, you know, on my on my for profit side, I have what’s called a venture studio. So we create and incubate brands to then one day obviously sell, so a few of them off. Right, so we have four brands that are in the venture studio that are super exciting. What I love about that model, though, is it’s a volume based model again. So what we’ve taken is, is through venture noir, we now have a collective. So how can we create more studios. So those studios then scale. So instead of helping one entrepreneur, we’re helping five companies get started that are led by diverse entrepreneurs. And that piece is called spectrum, which is a very exciting portion of the business. Now, that is, all around this idea of an innovation collective that we’re able to do to to rapidly create. Where I think this has gotten even more exciting is we invite the large companies to share openly some of their problems, things that they’re looking to work on. So we invite Walmart to the table, we invite Procter and Gamble, and j&j and Laurie out to the table to share what what are some of the challenges that you want to see solve? Right, you have an unlimited vendor network, and resourceful, but you still have things you want fix? Well, let’s take those problems, throw them over to entrepreneurs and see what they come up with. And that ecosystem and communication has been really excited. It launched last month. And we’re excited to take that one for but it’s really about taking technology and doing it in a true ecosystem of shared resources around this idea of the venture studio,

 

Scott D Clary  28:08

and is this I just want to understand the tech a little bit more because I actually didn’t know, I didn’t know this piece. So the tech itself, is it like a portal that people go into, and they get resources and, and that’s that’s just that’s sort of like the that would be the curriculum or the knowledge base, right?

 

Keenan Beasley  28:24

Absolutely. So So it’s both a portal and a community. Okay. And of course, because all of internal are still has a portal and a database. But spectris specifically is for those venture studio owners to come in and be able to communicate and share experiences. Because what they’re doing is, you know, you look at my studio, there’s there’s eight amazing entrepreneurs that are in my studio that are working on things. Well, my job is to go and find stuff to stimulate idea and creation for them. I now can work with other studio founders work with corporations to bring those ideas to them. Because their job is they want to they want to solve problems. An entrepreneur needs something to solve. And so what we’re doing there is bringing in more problems in a very tight community.

 

Scott D Clary  29:11

That’s amazing. So that’s how you scale a venture capital or an incubator model. You literally are creating these little micro communities of shared of shared resources and talent across like, what how big are you now right now?

 

Keenan Beasley  29:25

Right now there’s eight venture studios in there. What we found was only about a few s is actually only 15 black owned venture studios in the country. And we have eight in the collective oh

 

Scott D Clary  29:40

it shows you like that’s why when you when you talk about this stuff, like I feel like oh my ignorant have just not heard of other like studios or like incubators, but it there’s only 15 in the whole country. It’s obviously there’s not enough. There’s not enough done yet, especially when you yourself you started this. You started this a couple of years ago. though, and you are half of them now? Less my buddy Matt.

 

Keenan Beasley  30:05

No, you know, it’s a it’s always humbling when you look at the space and and again, the gap right there we’re trying to close, here’s roughly 150 Black entrepreneurs that have raised over a million dollars. So it’s always weird to think of myself in a group. That’s only 150. You know? Yeah. I think I think I have 250 friends in my phone. About the country, right? Those those stats and numbers are alarming saying

 

Scott D Clary  30:36

that, yeah, that’s what really drives it home, then we can talk all day about like, underserved and not, you know, not having access to capital. And by like, the second you say numbers that really drive home, because think about think so 150? And what’s the timeframe?

 

Keenan Beasley  30:54

That that’s, that’s ever?

 

Scott D Clary  30:57

Dude, that’s not cool.

 

Keenan Beasley  31:00

Now, really, your capital in itself is not like that old. Right? But again, when you put the numbers behind it, yeah, when you start to put the numbers behind, yeah, black owned founders, you know, that are raising over a million dollars. It’s tough. Because if you think about, you know, the average beauty brand, for example, it’s about a million and a half dollars over the first two years. That means that entrepreneur who starts their business doesn’t even get that amount. They’re now trying to figure out how to get growth, take out loans, personal loans, right? They’re doing a lot of other things to get to those to get to that money. What it also does is it starts to handcuff you, right, because you now are not well capitalized, right, a great business, we’ve seen tons, you know, before the IPO market, a lot of these companies have operated in the red their entire time, which means they’re very well capitalized, where they can focus purely on growth. Where do you an entrepreneur that has to worry about payroll, your own bills, or worry about profit? Absolutely, we have to do when you have to be profitable out of the gate. Not too many businesses can build tech and be profitable year one, right? That’s a that doesn’t even exist. So you have to start to pump in capital into these entrepreneurs in these businesses. So we got a lot of work to do. We have a lot of work

 

Scott D Clary  32:26

yet, you gotta you got a lot of work to get it to a point where goodness 150 That’s, it’s just not normal. And that number is really it’s I’m sorry, I’m just really surprised. And it’s just really not okay, well, you’re doing good work. I think that, you know, if anything, I hope that this helped the podcast gets you a little bit of, of coverage, because I’ve worked with, you know, I just have a soft spot for entrepreneurship. I’ve worked with entrepreneurs, I used to work. I don’t know if you know, creative struction labs, but I used to work with creative destruction labs with a lot of their startups, helping them with, like, take to market strategy. And when I was doing that for about two years, and I really loved it. And it’s just it’s very sad that it’s that a certain group is so underserved, because I think there was like, I’m sure there was like, 20, I don’t know, 20 to 30 Different groups out of out of CDL every year, they got access to that kind of capital. Yeah, you know, and that’s one and, and that’s one small group, compared to Y Combinator, which I think throws like 500,000 at how many different groups like a fair amount. Yeah, so it’s just very sad. I don’t know. I didn’t realize that that was so like, I knew there was issues I didn’t realize this was so prevalent. That bad that bad. Anyways, I don’t want to I don’t want to hijack. I apologize. That was really, really good. That was really good. I wanted to ask a couple just questions to yourself, just about you know, some of your some of your like life lessons and insights. So you’ve been incredibly successful over your career. What’s one thing that people misunderstand about you?

 

Keenan Beasley  34:06

Oh, I think it’s probably the ease. I think they think what I’m doing is very easy. And mostly because publicly I share a lot of normalcy, right? Again, I’m always trying to bring humanity to my work. So you know, if you follow me on Instagram, you see me cooking a lot. You see me working out, right? It’s very normal. I think what’s often not shared are just the hours, right that you truly put in on these things. And not everything is big, right? I do a lot of really small stuff. And it it is it starts to build in that’s how I’ve been able to do what I’ve done. Frankly, it is just following off of past performance. You know, we’ve been trying to work We took a $300,000 grant, and we did over 30 events. You know, we talked to 1000 entrepreneurs on $300,000. That’s impressive. That’s super. I mean, the sheer volume of that is, is crazy. When you look at a pilot program, and, and that’s just a lot of what we’re doing, every event now doesn’t have 1000 people, right? But you know, when you can still touch an impact 10 people, 20 people, 15 people, five, one sometimes matters. So, you know, a lot of what, what I do is I’m not afraid to, to work really hard for the small thing, and the small victories. And that’s how you build momentum. And that’s how I built my career is just continuing to put volume of effort out there. And I don’t always show that

 

Scott D Clary  35:52

that’s a good answer. Very good answer. It’s very telling. And I’ve heard I’ve heard that was very much a significant on entrepreneurs, just the, the ease in which they become like, the the overnight success, it looks, at least to the the person watching from the outside, but obviously not so much the case, right? It’s just, it’s a lot of a lot of stress and grinding and grit. And just, it’s tough, man, it’s tough. And you’ve done it five times. So I can only imagine that you have more than one gray hair, but but a very strong if you could turn back time and tell your younger self, you know, 20 year old, you’re not even at all but say 18 year old sell something? What would it be?

 

Keenan Beasley  36:35

Um, you know, I’m, I’m really lucky. So that question is always tough for me, I, I have just some, some great parents, mentors and my older sister. But the thing that’s always stuck with me is stay humble, you know, work hard, and operate with a sense of fearlessness. And insight, I’ve always had this sense of confidence in even when I am insecure, what I find myself and I will take an action, just to see. And I think, you know, part of what this is, is you can’t be afraid to fail. And I probably would have said that just that simply to my younger self is don’t be afraid to fail, actually look forward to it. Because that means you can learn faster. And I think would have helped me just push just a little bit harder. I think I still have some, I still have a little bit more in me.

 

Scott D Clary  37:32

Um, the the next question these are, these are very quick. And then we’ll I’ll just get some more informations where people can get more information about you. One person or one question I like to ask is, if you could if you could meet two people that are alive? Who would they be and why?

 

Keenan Beasley  37:52

I’d love to meet Barack Obama, for president just because holding that position. I think being the first black man to hold that position in the pressure that comes with that. I would love to understand how he handled both the pressure, but also the success. Because I think oftentimes there is a fear of success of reaching heights that no one else has reached. You know, it’s one thing you know, there’s a fear of being the first person in college in your family or being the first millionaire billionaire. What you’re the first president pretty big deal.

 

Scott D Clary  38:33

Big deal. Yeah.

 

Keenan Beasley  38:35

So you know, I’d love to love to have that conversation. I think the other person that comes to mind for me is is a guy like Jeff Bezos. And just, you know, how he’s operated and that sense of aggression, but his desire, just keep going. You look at a guy that could have tapped out a long time ago. I mean, I think his net worth is up to $170 billion. Now are some of the crazy

 

Scott D Clary  39:03

recently just hit that. Like, yeah,

 

Keenan Beasley  39:06

yeah, it’s not because of just the sheer money, but it’s that he seems to have this lack of complacency. Like, he just, he’s able to fight that, like, unlike anyone I’ve ever seen. I mean, he just continues to push day in and day out. And he’s attentive on his business and, and I just want to understand what’s really driving that. And I’d love to learn from that.

 

Scott D Clary  39:34

All right, that’s a good answer. Two. Very good, two very good answers. What would be your best tip for making the world a slightly better place?

 

Keenan Beasley  39:46

Ooh, that’s a big question there.

 

Scott D Clary  39:48

It’s a big one.

 

Keenan Beasley  39:50

You know, I think for me is it comes down to I’m a religious guy. It comes down to love for me, and I think When we start to see the humanity in see ourselves and other people, I think we’ll start to see a much better world, right? Because it’s, it’s hard to do harm to yourself. And it’s definitely hard to do harm to someone that you love. And so I’d like to see a bit more of that. And not to get too mushy on this. But to me, that’s a, that’s a great, that’s a great salt. And, you know, I grew up with a lot of love in my house. And in my friend network, and I tell you, there’s a lot of love at every stage that I’ve been in from, you know, West Point to every company. And it’s why I find myself in these communities. Because in a community, you can feel that love. And there’s just that willingness to help. willingness to serve. And and love always makes you humble. So I guess that would be that would be my answer.

 

Scott D Clary  40:59

Good answer. Very good answer. And then last question, before we close this up, what’s a resource, a podcast book and audible, that you would suggest people to check out?

 

Keenan Beasley  41:11

Whoo, that’s another another good question. So I have to give one, huh?

 

Scott D Clary  41:16

You have to pick Ah, you can pick like one or two. But like you can’t go off. I know that you probably have tons, but just one that’s relevant to you now.

 

Keenan Beasley  41:24

You know, a book that I often come back to and I love autobiographies, Vernon Jordan, gives a book, it’s called a burning can read. And it was just the story of going through from, you know, sharecropper to, you know, becoming the, you know, senior adviser to Bill Clinton, right when he was president. He’s just one of the best orators in the world, but a self taught guy, you know, and when I think about people teaching themselves to read, it’s just, it blows my mind. Like, if you put manner in front of me, I’m not sure that was my whole lifetime, I could figure that out. So I think that’s just incredible. So I always find a lot of inspiration in in his storyline. Um,

 

Scott D Clary  42:13

that’s a good, that’s a good one. I’ve never heard that before. That’s a good one, though. Do you go ahead. Sorry. Yeah.

 

Keenan Beasley  42:17

No, cuz I don’t want to go into business books. I think there’s so many of those. And I actually learned the most through applications. So I’m a I’m a big fan of autobiographies. So I love to learn from people’s life and in their experiences, and then I can take from that and apply it to my life in my scenario.

 

Scott D Clary  42:36

Last question would be Where do people go to get more about venture noir about yourself? And what you’re doing?

 

Keenan Beasley  42:42

Yeah, so you can you can follow us a veteran or on Instagram. You know, Facebook, LinkedIn. You can you can email us or go on our website at veteran or.org. You can follow me pretty much everything is just Kenan Beasley, as, as creative as I pride myself on being it’s probably the simplest thing ever because it’s just my name. And put that on Twitter on Instagram, LinkedIn, you name it, if Keenan Beasley

 

Scott D Clary  43:12

that’s all for today. Thanks again for joining me on another episode of the success story podcast. You can download or stream this podcast wherever podcasts are available, including iTunes, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, I heart, radio, and many others. You can also watch his podcasts on YouTube. If you haven’t already. Please subscribe and share this podcast with your friends, family, coworkers and peers. Please leave us a rating on iTunes takes about 30 seconds as it allows other people to find our podcast and lets our amazing guests reach even more people with their message. And remember any rating is fine as long as it contains five stars. I’m Scott Clary from the success story podcast, signing off

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