Link To Guest Website:

Title: “Helping Under Served, Under Resourced Entrepreneurs Get To The Next Level”
Guest: Ken Inadomi of NYPACE
Interviewer: Jeffrey Davis – MAGE LLC

Click here to read the transcript
Jonathan (1s):
Welcome back to Radio Entrepreneurs. I’m Jonathan Friedman and our next guest up is Ken Inadomi, a executive director of NYUPACE. Welcome to the show, Ken,

Ken (11s):
You Jonathan pleasure to be here. So tell our listeners

Jonathan (13s):
A little bit about NYP and what it is that you do.

Ken (17s):
So NYP. So we are a 5 0 1 C3 non-profit founded in the early two thousands. And basically our mission is to help underserved under-resourced entrepreneurs get to the next level. And we do that with a rather unique model. We mobilize volunteer advisors, many of them that come from a lot of the top professional firms across the nation. And we mobilize these advisors into small teams, usually two to three advisors per team working for an eight week window with one entrepreneur at a time, our entrepreneurs are mostly entrepreneurs of color, black and brown, and they do a lot of the, they do everything that small business does everything from laundromats, plumbing companies, daycare centers, pubs, just really anything under the sun and the we, the reason why we want to help them is as they grow, they’re going to be creating jobs, neighborhood-based jobs.

Ken (1m 13s):
And we look at small businesses, really one of the key engines of economic development. We specialize here in New York city, but we also have a program that we do remotely in Chicago. And, you know, given the, the magic of virtual reality, it really doesn’t matter where the business is as long as we can match them together with a pool of volunteer advisors. So it’s been, again, it’s been a unique model and it’s been highly successful. Sounds like a wonderful

Jonathan (1m 41s):
Model. So you, you talked about that structure being an eight week program, two or three people do, do the entrepreneurs come with a specific set of needs or issues that they present or is, and I guess the follow on question to that is the engagement highly structured or is it really left to the entrepreneur and the mentor to, to figure out how to, how to make that work?

Ken (2m 4s):
Sure, not a great question. You know, we have our favorite saying is that every battle is won before it’s fought. So we put a lot of time upfront in gathering the information from our business owners, getting as many financial statements, getting really into their heads, their philosophy of what their aspirations are for their business. More times than not the problems that we address are going to be financial. You know, these, the business owners, they tend to be incredibly charismatic, visionary even, and they have an instinctive way about business, but they really don’t have formal business education. A lot of times they’re lost when it comes to costs. When it comes to establishing breakeven, when it comes to reducing fixed costs, all the things that you need to increase profitability, we’re going to help them with about 80%, again, about 80% of the businesses that we help will revolve around a financial issue.

Ken (2m 56s):
Other 20% would be on areas such as social media and maybe market research, but mostly it’s financial. How do we determine the project? We have, we have an extensive online intake form, an application, which really gets into, again, the not only the numbers, but the philosophy of the business owners. We follow that up with an in-person interview or a virtual interview, a live virtual interview over zoom. And, and by the time we match them up with their volunteer team, we pretty much have mapped out what the scope is of their project. And it has to be, again, it has to be a scope that can be addressable and deliverable within that eight week window, by the way, which must

Jonathan (3m 39s):
Be part of the challenge because eight weeks to move anything in, in a, you know, financial sense is, is challenging enough to do it in a, in a, you know, where you’re bringing a team together. You, you guys must really have ha be dialed into the process and make sure that it works well. So it’s, that’s, that’s wonderful.

Ken (3m 59s):
Yeah, well, you know, you know, having done it enough times, you know, we, we really have the process down to a real efficient, a real efficient process that really is able to focus in and identify what the key pain points are for that business owner as quickly as possible. But, you know, we, we, it used to be, we used to have a program that was a 12 to 13 weeks, about 90 days last year during COVID, we felt that we had to decrease that window because there was a greater urgency that these businesses were facing. And we really helped them in three critical areas. And you can imagine what they are. We help them conserve cash because so many of them had to, had to had best produce customers.

Ken (4m 41s):
We had to help them explore, you know, business, different business revenue, revenue, streams, that word pivot comes up, you know, could they go from, from an in-person to a virtual business model and we help them really develop their instincts and their technology there. And then the third major area of help from last year, some carrying over to this year is increasing their access to capital, you know, strategy and consulting goes so far, but you really need capital to grow a business and we help them increase their, their sources there.

Jonathan (5m 10s):
That, that was a question that was really on the top of my mind when we started, when you, when you first explained what you’re doing and, and, and how to, how, how challenging is that we hear that all the time access to capital is, is difficult to, especially for a first time entrepreneurs, you know, perhaps a, as you said, entrepreneurs of color inner city, you know, are the programs available and it’s, it’s a function of not knowing about the programs or is the access to capital. I mean, you know, th the, the average retail bank with a commercial lender, you, you have to provide such collateral and details that, you know, a first time entrepreneur is probably overwhelmed by the prospect in most cases,

Ken (5m 54s):
Right? Well, you know, fortunately there’s a whole ecosystem of lending, which really favors and understands the needs of under-resourced underserved entrepreneurs. They’re called CDFIs community development, financial institutions. And basically, it’s, it’s just that there are community-based lenders that understand that do outreach in the community and they understand the needs and the limitations that, and the restrictions that small business owners, especially small business owners of color are facing. I mean, let’s face it, you know, a lot of the, the minority communities they’re either unbanked or underbanked, typically plead their credit scores are in the mid six hundreds.

Ken (6m 36s):
You really need a credit score of over 700 to get any kind of favorable loans, entrepreneurs of color. If they, if they’re lucky enough to get a loan, typically it’s only at a fraction of what they actually need or ask for. So there’s discrimination all along the way, but CDF eyes address that. And they’re trying to close that gap, you know, cause really what it comes down to Jonathan is we’re, we’re looking at closing the, the racial equity, the racial wealth equity gap in America. You know, two of the major cornerstones for building wealth in America are home ownership and entrepreneurship. Both of those opportunities have over time, been systematic, have systematically excluded people of color, either through red lining on the home ownership aspect or again, lending discrimination on the entrepreneur entrepreneurship aspect.

Ken (7m 30s):
So for the, for business owners, we try and do as much as we can to make sure that they become credit worthy and good lending client for these CDFIs. And a lot of what we do by, by addressing their financial statements and making sure that they have the confidence to walk into those meetings. A lot of what we do is on that preparation side, it

Jonathan (7m 52s):
Sounds like a really invaluable service, obviously that you’re providing. Tell us a little bit about the scope of, of what you’ve managed to do. I know before we started recording, you said you’ve been with the organization four years. How many entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial organizations are you typically working with over the course of a year? Is the challenge and finding enough volunteers is the final challenge and finding enough companies that are interested, where w where did the challenges life for, for you running the organization?

Ken (8m 20s):
Wait, you have, we must have a crystal ball. I think, I mean, you basically identified our two key challenges. Where do we find what we call shovel-ready projects, entrepreneurs that, that are ready, that are open to receiving advice. We want, we, we don’t really help startups. We want to see established companies and these one or two years has startup. We’d like to see revenue by at least a hundred thousand dollars. And we really want to help businesses that are owned by either women, minorities, or veterans. You know, those, we feel those are the populations that are, that are the most vulnerable. And that had been really marginalized by the mainstream business economy. And then the X factor. We want to make sure that the business owners that we help that the listen, that they will work with one of our volunteer teams, you know, the implied value of an N white paste volunteer team.

Ken (9m 11s):
If you think about it, three advisors giving let’s say three to five hours of volunteer time a week over eight weeks ends up being about 80 hours of volunteer time. If you impute even a conservative per hour charge on that, that ends up being about a $25,000 value consulting project. We tell our owners, look, if you’re going to get that kind of really mental brainpower, please, you got to be accessible. You’ve got to be forthcoming with information. You know, if questions are asked, you have to have answers there because these teams, they want to do all they can to help you, but you have to do your part. Now, the funny thing about it is, you know, the, our advisors, we tell them, you know, we know you’re smart, but the business owner doesn’t, he doesn’t want to know how smart you are.

Ken (9m 56s):
And he wants to know how much you care. And you know, so much of this is the . We tell our advisors, you know, your people skills are a paramount importance here, because if the owner, if you don’t earn the business owners trust, they’re going to tune out so so much, we get the experience they get through NYP pace. It’s been, it’s been remarkable across the board. It has been a career enhancement for them. So, you know, I tell these young bankers or these young accountants that are aspirational, that’s fine, but you’re never going to get the kind of frontline experience real-world experience than working with a business owner up on 120 fifth street, you know, who really need your help about lowering his breakeven costs.

Ken (10m 38s):
You know, you’re never going to get that kind of exposure, so really take advantage of it.

Jonathan (10m 42s):
It, it, it really, I see how the model that you’ve got can be a tremendous win-win on both sides, you know, giving so much for the volunteers and having that opportunity to really be at the grassroots level and, and, and changing people’s lives. Where, where, you know, in some of the larger corporations you’re working with multinationals or fortune 1000 companies, and you don’t really see the impact of your work as directly, or perhaps as, as immediate gratification as you might have. And the flip side with these entrepreneurs who, as you just talked about, wouldn’t traditionally have access to such brain power and capability, but I could see how, how the challenges too is to develop that relationship, that trust, because as you said, you know, you can give all the great advice in the world if they’re not taking it in, or they don’t believe it, or don’t trust in, in, in it, you know, it, it, it really doesn’t get you anywhere.

Jonathan (11m 35s):

Ken (11m 37s):
You know, Jonathan, one of the things that we say to both our entrepreneurs and our advisors and our funders, frankly, is that, you know, NYP we’re in a unique intersection at a point in time right now, in which we’re kind of at the crossroads of three major trends, all of which are fairly obvious. The first one of course, is there’s a growing intolerance of racial equity. We realize that the playing field is not level. We’re trying to level that we’re trying to give entrepreneurs of color, the same access to resources, to strategy, to help, to open doors. As you know, the white population has the white entrepreneurial population as second. There’s been a surge of entrepreneurship among people of color, mainly because a lot of the mainstream opportunities have been denied them.

Ken (12m 28s):
Okay. I’ve had more than one entrepreneur saying that it was easier for me to start. My business was for me to get a job. I mean, imagine that statement, but you know, it’s true. There’s there’s truth there. And the third major trend is there’s been a increase in volunteer engagement, especially among the younger generation. They want to give back, but they don’t want to waste their time. And what we provided NYP is a structured way to give back, to volunteer, to really feel that you’re making a difference and to see tangible results, to actually see businesses grow, create jobs, gain access to capital sounds wonderful,

Jonathan (13m 5s):
Which is what we’re all about radio entrepreneurs. So it’s been a real pleasure getting to know you can learning about your organization, Kenyan, Adobe, executive director of NYK. So if people want to reach out to you and find out more about being a part of your program, either from a volunteer perspective or from a entrepreneurial perspective, what’s the best way for them to reach out to you?

Ken (13m 23s):
Yeah. And the best way, just go to our website, N Y pace, N Y P a C And you can either write me, can not in a, and it’ll get to me and whatever you might, whatever you might want to know about, whether you have a, a business owner you’d like to recommend whether you’re an advice that would like to raise your hand and step up and actually volunteer, whether you’re a funder that would like to give us support, you know, wherever you’re coming from. We’d love to hear from you. Excellent.

Jonathan (13m 55s):
It’s been a real pleasure learning about your program, learning more about how you help the community. And I wish you continued success.

Ken (14m 1s):
Thank you, Jonathan. A real pleasure. Our

Jonathan (14m 3s):
Guest has been Kenyan to Domi executive director of NYU pace, and we’ll be right back with another segment on Radio Entrepreneurs.

Subscribe to our Podcast!

purple circle podcast icon

Apple Podcasts

green circle with white curved lines for sound waves


multi-colored vertical lines in a diamond shape

Google Podcasts


Find us on Social Media

rounded blue square with lowercase white letters "in"


rounded red square with lowercase white play button in the middle


rounded blue square with lowercase white letter f


rounded light blue square with a white silhouette of a bird flying