James Oliver, Jr. is Co-Founder of the world’s cutest twins, Thaddeus and Zoe. He’s founder of the ParentPreneur Foundation, which empowers Black ParentPreneurs, and founder of WeMontage.com, the world’s only website that turns your permanent photo memories into removable wallpaper. James is a Parentpreneur advocate via his book The More You Hustle, The Luckier You Get: You CAN Be a Successful Parentpreneur.
What does “entrepreneurship” mean to you?
James Oliver, Jr: Entrepreneurship means Identifying problems, finding solutions, and taking risks to create value while solving said problems.
How did your company come to be?
JO: The ParentPreneur Foundation is something I wanted to do since 2017, after I published my book, The More You Hustle, The Luckier You Get: You CAN Be a Successful ParentPreneur.
But after George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and looking at the wealth disparities between Black and white families, I decided to make the foundation for Black ParentPreneurs.
How has your business changed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?
JO: The business was started during COVID-19, and was birthed because at the start of the pandemic, I was looking for opportunities within the crisis.
What is your proudest and darkest moment so far?
JO: My proudest moment with the foundation is paying for mental therapy for 30 members of the foundation community. Black people are 20% more likely to have mental health issues, but mental health support is stigmatized in the Black community.
The darkest moment occurred at the beginning of my journey as a ParentPreneur when my twins were born three months prematurely and weighed only two pounds, two days before I started the gener8tor tech accelerator, which was a two hour drive from home.
How is your company changing the landscape?
JO: At the ParentPreneur Foundation, we want Black ParentPreneurs to see themselves as a great parent, as a great partner or spouse, and as a great entrepreneur — to see their children inspired to live a purposeful and prosperous life because of the choices their parents made.
We want to tell the story of the transformation of Black ParentPreneurs from struggle and loneliness to triumph and community.
This is what we do.
What do you wish you knew when you started? Is there anything you would do differently?
JO: I can’t think of anything I would have done differently thus far, everything has been going really well.
What advice/credo do you live by as you grow the business / what is your professional and personal mission statement?
JO: My credo is, “Everything is fine.” It’s fine because I am co-creating this foundation with God, and when the negative thoughts creep in, I simply say to myself, “Everything is fine.” Everything is fine because God is taking care of things, so I don’t have to worry.
Where do you find inspiration when faced with challenges?
JO: Every day before getting out of bed I ask God to tell me what to do. To give me 2-3 things I can do to keep moving down the path of my life’s purpose. When I get inspired, I take that as a response to my request, and I simply do that.
What does “success” look like for you? What do you think will help you achieve it?
JO: I am already successful because I am on purpose. I was born to empower Black ParentPreneurs, so they can leave a legacy for their children.
Has personal or professional “success” changed for you since the COVID-19 pandemic?
JO: Yes, since I started the foundation during the pandemic. This has been an immensely rewarding experience.
What’s it like to work alone or with your partners? What advice do you have for fellow entrepreneurs about building and leading teams?
JO: So far, I’ve been working on the foundation mostly by myself. I’m just starting to add people to help in various ways. I think it’s important to show up every day and set the tone and to be clear on what the mission is; these things inspire other people to be their best.
Many entrepreneurs continue to perfect their daily routines to support their work and greater vision; would you mind sharing your morning routine or a regular ritual that grounds your work each day? How has it changed in recent months?
JO: As previously stated, every day before getting out of bed I ask God to tell me what to do. And I listen to a morning word from the Church For Entrepreneurs, which gets me in the right frame of mind for the day.
What keeps you motivated during this time?
JO: I am internally motivated and doing purposeful work keeps me driving hard.
What kind of an entrepreneur do you want to be known as, as in, what do you want your legacy to be?
JO: I want my legacy to be that I empowered Black ParentPreneurs around the world, so they could leave a legacy for their children. Naturally, I will leave a legacy for my kids and their kids.
What is a quote or some words of wisdom that help get you through the tough days?
JO: For me it’s, “Everything is fine.”
Who are the people who have mentored or influenced you in your life or career? How has their influence changed the trajectory of your entrepreneurial journey?
JO: Working with Brad Feld on this foundation has been a life altering experience. Understanding how someone of his ilk thinks and moves, and getting exposed to social capital on this level has been amazing.
Do you have someone you’d like to nominate to be profiled in our Faces of Entrepreneurship series? Please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.