Business owner James Oliver Jr. understands the obstacles preventing parents from investing in themselves as entrepreneurs and has set up a foundation to help people he calls “ParentPreneurs.”
In 2012, Oliver spent his savings on building a custom-made website for his removable wallpaper business, WeMontage. Two days before he participated in a tech accelerator to develop his business, Oliver’s fraternal twin children were born three months premature and weighed two pounds each, UrbanGeekz reports. He said it was a two-hour drive from his home to the program site and he often had to make trips in between to the NICU.
Despite life challenges, Oliver committed to building his business while being the best dad to who he proclaims are “the world’s cutest twins.” He raised over $400,000 to grow WeMontage and now runs the ParentPreneur Foundation, which helps support Black parents in entrepreneurial endeavors, a news release announced Tuesday.
"Being a parent is challenging, yet rewarding. And we know 75% of all new businesses fail. When you combine having children with starting or running a business, that is a unique pressure that can be extremely hard to deal with,” Oliver said.
Created in March, the ParentPreneur Foundation has raised $50,000 in grant funding and has endowed $10,000 to ambitious entrepreneurs this year. The foundation also works to connect its grantees with resources and access to products that will help them grow their business. There’s even an online portal where members can engage and support each other.
"Black people don't have the same resources as many of our white ParentPreneur counterparts,” Oliver said. “Many of us are first-generation college graduates, and we don't have a relative we can call to give us money until we can get enough traction with our business. Further, we generally don't have the social capital to execute our good ideas or even imagine what is possible."
Oliver told UrbanGeekz he has had the hustle spirit all his life and that he learned to hone into it more as a student at Morehouse College.
“Ever since I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn, I had the entrepreneur hustle,” he said.“Back then, I used to sell various products to friends and strangers. That entrepreneurial spirit continued when I got to Morehouse College, where I co-founded a production company and we did groundbreaking things with entertainment. I also attempted to launch a digital lifestyle magazine for Black golf enthusiasts in a pre-iPad era. So It’s been an evolutionary process for me to be what I naturally am: an entrepreneur.”
Oliver said the biggest thing that separates him from other entrepreneurs is his indomitable spirit and resiliency. Giving up isn’t something he’s willing to do.
“I’m in the 99th percentile of persistent and resilient people on the planet. Everything I’ve read from Steve Jobs to Ben Horowitz says the primary difference between successful and unsuccessful people is the successful ones don’t quit. So, I’m confident I will be successful,” he said.
The thriving business owner has also found success as an author. In 2016, Oliver wrote The More You Hustle, The Luckier You Get: You Can Be A Successful ParentPreneur to inspire other parents along their entrepreneurial journeys. He also maintains the 'TrepLife Dad blog and has been featured in Forbes, HuffPost and Money magazine.