At SXSW 2022, The Mentor Method had several incredible opportunities to participate in festival programming, from the first-ever Future of Work featured panel (video coming soon!) to our engaging Future of Work Social attended by over 100 inspiring women and allies.
One highlight of our time on the SXSW stage was on the Dell Experience stage during the panel, “Inclusive Entrepreneurship: Ideas Rooted in Diversity.” Moderated by our own founder and CEO, Janice Omadeke facilitated an inspiring conversation with Jonathan Morris, the owner of Hotel Dryce & Fort Worth Barbershop, and Jasmine Crowe, founder of food tech and logistics company, Goodr.
The conversation between the three entrepreneurs identified several common threads. Each shared stories of servant leadership and social responsibility along with challenges and frustrations of underrepresentation in business leadership and funding opportunities. Layered in were personal stories of determination (Jasmine won and re-invested in her business over $280K from winning pitch competitions alone) and the importance of authenticity in creating a social enterprise.
Crowe, whose startup Goodr focuses on solving hunger by eliminating food waste from restaurants and institutional food providers, advised would-be entrepreneurs, “to be authentically connected to the problem you’re trying to solve.”
“Before I ever started Goodr, for four years, I was feeding people that were living homeless on the streets. It’s from that experience that the idea for Goodr even came,” she reflected. “I had a vested and connected interest in seeing people have access to food and I understood their story.”
Morris shared a similar story. Despite not being a barber himself, he was moved to create a barbershop that could serve a variety of hair types, including and especially all types of Black hair, after being turned away from a barbershop that could not cut his.
“For me, that was an opportunity for me to say, ‘Hey, I’m going to create a space to serve this entire community, and guess what? If you have coarse, kinky hair, we can cut your hair. If you’ve got straight hair, we can cut your hair. And ultimately, that’s more market that we’re able to serve,” he said.
The group also shared an enthusiasm for the importance of storytelling. Crowe’s storytelling ability put her on dozens of stages pitching for prize money to propel her business forward.
“What I learned to leverage early on … is the art of storytelling. And it was free. I used to practice my pitch a hundred times a day,” she said.
At one particular pitch competition in California—with a prize of only $5k that she did not win—Crowe’s ability to tell her story effectively in the right place at the right time put her in touch with Arlan Hamilton of Backstage Capital. Hamilton would go on to be an early Goodr investor and in addition to her own investment, help open the doors to millions in funding from others.
For Morris, his approach to storytelling is tactical.
“I think that we can shift paradigms and tell people a broader story. Ultimately, it’s storytelling, learning how to tell a story to communities and markets. Whenever you’re able to do that and grow business at the same time, that’s the space of entrepreneurship I want to live in for a really long time,” he said.