BE: Is this the first time you are having a fundraiser such as this?
Yes. Most of our fundraising efforts have primarily been through the relationships and sponsorships that corporations have given us for running our program. We have not seen the need to do a larger fundraiser, but for what we are planning on doing and the amount of money we need to raise, we had to do this. If someone were going to give me $150,000 to do an event I would rather allocate it toward the programming for our students, but I also think it’s always appropriate to celebrate your history, your successes and pay honor to those who served your organization and the community at large as well.
BE: Why do you think it will be valuable for you and other young professionals to attend the 2012 BE Golf and Tennis Challenge?
I think some of the greatest relationships you can make are when you are not in “conference mode.” I think of the opportunity for professionals, entrepreneurs, and executives of different ages to come together and enjoy sport or relaxation and hopefully make relationships.
Specifically, I think it is important for us young and social entrepreneurs to start going to events like this. I’m probably a few years from going to events [for college students] like “Spring Bling,” so I am looking for more functions where I can hang out with my community and it not be 100% about business where I am wearing a suit all day and then it’s also not, just…”ratchet” (laughs). There are those things out there.
I think the type of events that I have been to that Black Enterprise has done have always been top notch and so I am excited to participate in an event that is a little different from the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference that I have attended a few times. I have always enjoyed how it was executed so I am interested in seeing how a different event is done.
BE: Where do you want the Marcus Graham Project to be five years from now?
My goal is over the next five years to develop the summer boot camp intensive into a year-round program and have some case studies and proof of concept, in three to five markets including Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Chicago. We would like to effectively become a hybrid between a school and a fully functioning company. We intend to become an agency that is providing opportunities for individuals to continue to learn and produce work and create a true portfolio so that they can be competitive to get into our industry. We will make more announcements about what we intend to do in our future at Lavender Hill.
Our effective annual budget is about $2.6 million per year, per market. In three markets that is close to $10 million, to give you an idea of our financial goals. We often think we cannot achieve something if we have never done it before and if we are in a new space in terms of entrepreneurship, but we have worked at companies that have budgets twenty times that amount. It’s about gaining the proper resources that will help us run effectively and I am excited, because I see it happening.
Be sure to join us at the 2016 Black Enterprise Golf & Tennis Challenge, September 1-4, PGA National Resort & Spa, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Register now.