Okay, let’s get the transparent stuff out of the way. I attended the July 27, 2017 Miller Lite Tap the Future event in Houston, TX as media. I was afforded this opportunity by the lovely team at the Flowers Communication Group. They reached out to the Houston African-American Bloggers Association and… well… the rest is history and here is my post. Albeit that I was afforded this opportunity, my opinions of the event and participants are MY OWN. Okay, we good? Yes? Now let’s get to this blog post.
Two Words: SHARK TANK | When I see those two words, the first person that comes to mind is Daymond John. Now for many, they only know Daymond John from Shark Tank. However, I’m a Black American GenX-er, my memories of Daymond John start with the creation of FUBU. I was there … that was my era. I was a Girbaud girl, but I respected the hell out of FUBU. So with that said, let’s get this out the way now… DAYMOND JOHN – HIS REPRESENTATION AND LEVERAGE AS A BUSINESS SME (SUBJECT MATTER EXPERT) AND SUSTAINED ENTREPRENEUR MATTERS. Hands down. And I’m here for it. All of it. … Ironically, I don’t even watch Shark Tank ( years of working in banking, my time on WallStreet and public accounting have scarred me…. that’s for another post, another time…. LBVS ). So I’m here for who this guy is and what his presence inspires in the Black American business and social community.
Attending the Miller Lite Tap the Future event in Houston was a bit of a gobsmack for me. As a 44yr old Black American Mother of a Future CEO, a small business owner, a worker of a 9-to-5 and original awkward Black American girl, I do NOT have my ear to the ground about all of the events about H-Town. I’m originally from Chicago. My roots lie in the South, but my social culture has been grown in the Midwest and on the East Coast. Attending the event reminded me that the City of Houston and their major business players truly care and want to cultivate budding entrepreneurs. Holding events like this here in the Houston Metroland Area is a great way to empower the next generation of new entrepreneurs or create a wave of re-branding entrepreneurs.
As I observed the panel of judges and host(s) for the Miller Lite Tap the Future, what I noticed is there was a symbiotic spirit to actually help entrepreneurs. That was refreshing because I am sure people always think that somehow these things are staged. What I observed with my own eyes and felt with my own intuition is that there was a clear air of authenticity with Daymond John and his panel. I was also very impressed with Miller Lite’s commitment to giving other entrepreneurs an opportunity to thrive as they did! Shout out to Steve Canal, Manager of National Community Affairs for MillerCoors! Thank you so much for being a kick-ass intrepreneur.
So now let’s chop it up about the Five Southwest-based regional semi-finalists:
They won. I will be honest, they had a really good pitch. High energy. They knew their stats. They were confident. The ex-Marine was hilarious and personable. I even took great pleasure in feeling their unbridled enthusiasm about the #CricketRevolution. Fueled by Crickets was like the stars in their eyes. Goodness me. … but let’s not get it twisted, this is about consuming Crickets. I’m evolved, but I’m just not there yet. I admire their moxie on wanting to change American perception in how they procure their protein sources. It’s bold. It’s a bold concept that is accepted globally, but we as a culture are always far being the rest of the world when it comes to alternative thing and adaptation.
I felt uneasy. Not because of concept, but because of the infrastructure. They give ex-offenders a chance out of the prison system. That’s great. I’m totally into social. However, as I sat there and they continually asked her questions I pondered the social imbalance that exists in their business model. You have a transient work force because some people are working their pseudo-farm to reestablish credibility and secure future employment. If that is the case, then what transferable skills are you truly giving them in this role? Is there social knowledge sharing that leads to a sustainable knowledge base to be used elsewhere? Also yaupon grows wild, so the overhead cost is low in terms of growing it… it’s a weed. It will take over a plain. So they are not cultivating it, they just need low-skilled workers to harvest it. That makes me very uncomfortable if the workers are not being giving something intrinsic that can be taken and utilized some place else.
Hey, that’s just me. I ask these questions so you don’t have to… but you should ask anyway.
This was a “Coming To America” story pulling on my heart strings. It was good to see people from the African diaspora, but not necessarily Black Americans who are descendants from chattel slavery share about their pre-America living conditions and how America materialized their dreams and became the land of opportunity for each of them individually. I also appreciated how they shared how they came together as a powerhouse husband and wife team that shared the same dream. I think their business concept was solid, but not accurately understood by the judges. As a parent – moreso as a working class parent – I see their service as a luxury, even when the livelihood or potential of a small athlete might be on the line. The average working class Black American parent won’t be able to sustain the sessions long term. So unless they can get underwriting from a sports clothing / accessories line to offer financial assistance for the sessions, they may have a higher turnover of clients until such a program can be established. I was complete impressed though with their commitment to the children’s online safety through their platform.
The name. It was a play on words. I know I lived in England for 3+ years, so I got it. I also got i because I’m a giant nerd who loves the English language and plays on words. The judges did NOT get it. And I think it was that nuance that started to chip away at the most comical pitch of the night. Cory’s story was stand-up gold. I loved his persona and energy. His tool, whilst most consider it redundant, it was moreso about the markets he was able to penetrate versus the actual necessity of the tool. From a tech head perspective, I got it. However, it didn’t seem like the judges got it and that also chipped away at the strength of his pitch. Lastly, nothing says I’m a fun guy like freestyling to a large audience to a dope beat in a city you’ve never been. Moxie and gusto out of control. Well done, please change the name and I think you will get traction.
THIS WAS MY FAVORITE. I AM SOOOOOOOOOOOO BIASED RIGHT NOW. I used to fish with my uncle and as soon as I saw the product it conjured so many warm memories for me. It was a total time travel. I was whole-heartedly invested because it made my heart smile. His pitch was great. I loved that he was so passionate about his product. Also I appreciated that his product sales have been mostly from guerrilla marketing. That’s amazing. He got some numerical stats wrong, but I still thing out of all the pitches – his was the strongest. He had a great product that can be utilized by anyone and for the South, I think he can capture his market because I’ve not seen anything like it! I so wanted him to win. However, I hope that being on the stage exposes him to angel investors that want to see him shine and go further with his idea.
Again… and I cannot say this enough, it was a marvelous event. Kudos, kudos, kudos to Daymond John, Steve Canal and #MillerLite for investing in real people with real ideas.
To paraphrase Steve Canal from the press session:
“It is the small businessmen and entrepreneurs that are the foundation of this country.”
I whole-heartedly agree!
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