Daymond John Is Looking for a Few Good Unstoppable Entrepreneurs
The 'Shark Tank' star's second annual Black Entrepreneurs Day is looking to give away a lot of cash to great businesses.
If we have to tell you who Daymond John is, you’re reading the wrong website. FUBU, Shark Tank — the man has done a lot over the course of his insanely successful career, and for the second year in a row, he is hellbent on helping others achieve their dream as well. John is hosting the second annual Black Entrepreneurs Day presented by Chase for Business, a free global event celebrating Black business and entrepreneurship that will stream live on October 14th beginning at 8 p.m. EST on Daymond John’s Page and across Facebook channels.
The show will feature Daymond John in one-on-one discussions with the likes of Shaquille O’Neal, Tyra Banks, Michael Strahan, Marcus Samuelsson, Rev Run and Janice Bryant Howroyd onstage at the Apollo Theater. Kevin Hart will also make a special appearance and Khalid will provide the beats. Plus, here is the really great part: The event will award $200,000+ to Black entrepreneurs and small-business owners across the country. (Apply here, the deadline is September 28.)
Entrepreneur caught up with John to discuss the importance of the event and what drives him to help others pursue their passions.
You have achieved a lot, to put it mildly. Any inclination to just say, “I’m done, see you all later” and just sit back and relax?
I think it is a good question. Look, I’m human and I see what's going on in the world and a lot of us want to jump in and help, but we're like, where do we jump in? I want to solve it all! It is easy to get frozen with analysis paralysis, so for me leaning into something like this is so natural. It's very true and dear to my heart, because being a Black entrepreneur, being somebody who didn't have all the resources or didn't even know where the resources were, I’m driven to help others get to where they want to be.
You’ve assembled quite a guest list for the show.
Yeah, man. We're going to have Shaquille O'Neal, Tyra Banks — Kevin Hart! I'm sure we're going to laugh a little bit, but you're going to be able to pick his brain and see how hard it is to become successful in such a challenging industry. Remember, as a comedian, you tell one joke today, you can't tell it tomorrow. You told it already, right? Michael Jackson could have sung “Beat It” for the rest of his life. So I'm going to pick his brain about that. We're going to have Michael Strahan, somebody who's going to show you how to power shift and pivot from being an athlete to such a celebrated broadcaster. And so many other amazing people, and we have a live performance by Khalid. So we are going to have an absolute blast.
A lot of big brands have lined up to sponsor this. Have you noticed a difference in businesses coming out more to take a stance on social and political issues? In the past, brands seemed to want to maintain neutrality for the most part.
Yeah, think that's an excellent point. A lot of brands have been hesitant and try to stay on the sidelines because they're just not sure what exactly to do. But a lot of the partners that I'm bringing in now — Chase for Business, JP Morgan Wealth Management, The General, T-Mobile for Business, Salesforce, Johnson & Johnson, Shopify, Quickbooks, Yappa, Klaviyo and Logitech — they are not only are sponsoring, but they're also proud to be involved. They want to be on the right side of things. They believe that people need help and they want to shout it loud.
Between this, Shark Tank, and your many other investments, you’ve been able to watch a lot of companies grow from nothing. What does that feel like?
It’s amazing. There is for sure an emotional component to know that I was able to be part of their success in a small manner. But I never take credit for any of it because, at the end of the day, the founders and the business owners are the ones that have to work 24/7 on these things. Maybe I brought them some resources or a couple of dollars, but these are people who would find success no matter what. I don't think there's any way to stop them. So I feel fortunate enough to be part of their ride.
You mentioned how this event is so personal for you. Can you talk about the unique struggles that Black entrepreneurs face?
Sure. So what initially happened was, of course, we all saw the world crumbling due to George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. And we saw a lot of people frustrated in the streets, people of all colors coming together to vocalize and march about a system that's broken. And at the end of the day, you know, there has to be action taken after. There is not enough education out there. There is no legacy wealth — your grandfather and grandmother cannot tell you how they made it because they probably didn't make it. There are problems with our criminal justice system. And then, of course, there is a small portion of people in power and control that abuse that power. So I think that the only way to empower a community is money they can use to empower themselves and support each other. You’ve got to follow the money. That is going to give them the ability to get a deeper education or invest in their own businesses or raise their kids in better circumstances.
You get asked for your guidance and mentorship constantly. Is there a throughline of what you tell people?
There is no place in the world that doesn't have its own mountain of challenges — everyone faces challenges. And I'm somebody who did not come from sports or money or entertainment. And I'm an example of you just gotta work hard. You gotta educate yourself, make a lot of mistakes, be a little bit vulnerable and understand that this is a team sport. And the more I can show people how I made it, the more people that will make it.
Are there any pitches that you've heard a million times and would be happy to never hear again?
No, because every business or every category has an opportunity. So I went Shark Tank to get into other industries besides clothing. Cause I'm in clothing, right? That's the last business I ever want to get deeper in. But guess what? My most successful business is socks, Bombas. You never know who is going to have a unique take on something you feel like you know everything about already.