How this community is empowering 1,400 Black parent entrepreneurs to build a lasting legacy for their children

Featured in this Story of Awesome: Parentpreneur Foundation



June 2020






The ParentPreneur Foundation is a free community that empowers Black parent entrepreneurs with grants, resources, webinars, and more.

The Spark: Juggling a newfound business and newborn twins simultaneously inspired James to find a way to support his fellow Black “ParentPreneurs.”

James’ Mighty Moment: “We’re not the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. We’re never going to be that. But we can give away $1,000 to these ParentPreneurs, simply to say, ‘I see you. I feel you. Here’s something to help your business be successful so you can leave a legacy for your beautiful Black children.’”

James Oliver Jr. freely admits that he believes in acting first and thinking later. “I’m crazy. Once I get an idea, I’m charging headfirst down the path.”

Unsurprisingly, when he started building WeMontage in 2012—a service that turns digital images into peel-and-stick wallpaper—he went in with the same mentality. But soon, life started to pile up around him. By the end of the year, he was out of cash and in need of credibility to raise $250,000 to get his business off the ground.

He also had a pair of twins on the way.

So when James got into a startup accelerator, he felt like he had gotten back his feet. “The accelerator was starting in January,” he says. “The twins were due at the end of March. So we thought, ‘That’s great. The program is over in April.’ But God had some other plans.”

Instead, James’ twins were born three months early. Suddenly, he was juggling way more than he expected: a new business, two children, and a daily four-hour commute between the NICU and the accelerator program.

“That was my introduction to parenting. Starting a business. Trying to get revenue. Trying to be a good husband. Trying to be present for the kids. It was a unique set of pressures that I had never really experienced before. And it was incredibly stressful.

But then, a ray of hope: Right before demo day, as James was preparing to pitch to a room full of people, his phone rang. “ I get a call from one of the angel investor groups. And they say, ‘We’re going to fill your whole round. We’re going to give you $250,000.’ I was shook.”

With that funding under his belt, James started blogging about his experience, detailing his early days as a parent and entrepreneur. And eventually, he used those insights to write a book, “The More You Hustle, The Luckier You Get: You CAN Be a Successful Parentpreneur.”

Bringing his experiences to light brought James new inspiration—and a new idea to chase. “After I self-published, I thought ‘One of these days I’m going to sell my business for $15 million. And I’ll take $1 million of the proceeds and use it to seed a foundation to empower ParentPreneurs around the world.”

Then COVID hit. While most people were adjusting to the new normal, James was thinking about how could reach the goals he had set for himself.  “See, I don’t do the doom scrolling,” James says. “Because I understand within every crisis exists opportunity.”

In March, he started reaching out to friends and acquaintances and shared his intention to eventually start a foundation. “One friend said, ‘Why don’t you do it now?’ I was like, ‘OK yeah. Let’s do it now.’ But I had no flipping idea how I was going to do it.”

Without worrying about the details, James started spreading the word. He wrote articles, updated his blog, and reached out to anyone who listened: He was going to start a foundation, and he was going to give away $10,000 to parent entrepreneurs.

“I had no clue how I was going to do it, but I put it out there.”

As he was working out the kinks of his latest venture, a series of events made him reconsider who his burgeoning foundation was for. “George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. All these things started happening,” James says. “I had my own Karen experience with a neighbor. The damage was done.”

Spurred by the racial injustices he was seeing and experiencing, James started researching income and wealth inequality. The statistics he found were disheartening.

“The median wealth of a white family is ten times that of a Black family. So after all of this stuff happened, I said, ‘Man, screw this. This foundation is going to be just for Black people.”

Fortuitously, he heard from tech venture capitalist Brad Feld around the same time. “I had been emailing him about starting a foundation. And after the George Floyd thing happened, I got an email from him, just a subject line, nothing in the email. It said, ‘Game for a 30-minute Zoom?’”

Brad had been looking to invest his time and money in projects that addressed racial injustice and inequality. So when James mentioned that his new foundation would be aimed at Black parent entrepreneurs only, Brad handed over a $50,000 seed grant. “I sent him what this would look like in six months, in a year. And I knew that a critical piece of the business model was going to be a community.”

Today, that community—the ParentPreneur Foundation— is home to over 1,400 Black parent entrepreneurs and counting. As a not-for-profit, the community itself is free and provides Black Parentpreneurs with the money, tools, resources, and social capital they need to find success, both personally and professionally.

To do that, James partners with a variety of successful entrepreneurs in his network to offer his members everything from gift cards to therapy. “We are the place for Black people to be seen, felt, and heard as a ParentPreneur. We’re offering grants. We’re paying for therapy. We’re helping people get their LinkedIn profiles updated.”

He also offers webinars, where fellow entrepreneurs, marketing experts, and the like can share their knowledge. “As we started getting more momentum, we’ve been having these webinars,” James says.

“Seth Godin came in to talk about marketing. Pamela Booker, the CEO of Koils by Nature, came in and did a webinar, ‘How to crush your holiday e-commerce sales.’ Dr. Nekeshia Hammond came in and talked about balancing entrepreneurship and family.”

The ParentPreneur Foundation’s biggest offering is its grants. When James first kicked his community off, he awarded 10 recipients with a combined $10,000. And just last month, he gave another $10,000 in grants to another 10 people, out of 100 applicants. In the future, he hopes to offer more—but for now, he says, the Foundation has to crawl before it walks.

“We’re not the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. We’re never going to be that. But we can give away $1,000 to these ParentPreneurs, simply to say, ‘I see you. I feel you. Here’s something to help your business be successful so you can leave a legacy for your beautiful Black children.”

For now, the ParentPreneur Foundation is on the up and up (and so are the twins!). “I’m in and out of the community all day in between breaks with the kids. They’re social distance learning, so I’ve got to help them. I’m ‘rona schooling along with them.”

And as his community grows and continues to provide support for his fellow Black parent entrepreneurs, James hasn’t given up on charging headfirst into the future. His eventual goal? To be the home of over 20,000 members and to award $10,000 each to 100 people a year.

“I’m still doing the work to get this community out there. I execute, I deliver, and I do what I say I’m going to do. And it’s working: Every day, I’m seeing people come into the ParentPreneur Foundation, and refer more and more people. I’m honestly so thankful for it.”

Read More Stories of Awesome

Here’s how Ashley Fox launched The Wealth Builders Community and generated over $100,000 in her first two weeks

How SonoPath Education built a five-figure course membership for veternarians from scratch

Sktchy Art School is creating a sanctuary for 18,700 portrait artists

Mind Cake Vault is showing aspiring cake pop connoisseurs just how sweet the treat business can be

This sound engineer created a micro community dedicated to the craft of audio for live events

How a floral designer launched her own $18,000 floral business school

This is Octo Members, a private membership home to over 2,000 UK finance professionals

How a membership dedicated to women traveling solo found a way to flourish during stay-at-home orders—to the tune of 2,900 members

This cartoonist created a five-figure membership site to stop artists from procrastinating

How a platform for creatives, by creatives brought together 1,000+ members around the globe

With Youth Ministry Booster, Zac Workun created a five-figure membership to help youth pastors feel less isolated

How Teach Music Online grew from a $500 course to a five-figure membership business

How marketing maven Trish Martin tripled her community in five months

This visual note-taker combined courses and membership for a five-figure business

No perfect parents: This couple created a membership site for families to build compassionate connections

Find your niche: This membership site brings holistic equestrians together

How Dan Miller’s "48 Days" went from book to podcast to six-figure membership business

In the Mix: Meet the brother-sister duo creating a flourishing community for over 7,700 artists

There’s another path to financial freedom and Wealth Without Wall Street is showing all 4,500 of its members the way

The duo behind this paid membership site is guiding over 7,800 passionate dog owners on how to train their pets

This community of womxn visual artists used mastermind groups to build a five-figure business

How two creators transformed their community from tech headache to six-figure network

Meet the community that’s making the outdoors fun again for over 2,000 members

How two therapists built a community to get at the root of eating disorders

This psychologist forged connections for 6,500 people in the middle of a pandemic

Here's how esthetician Christine Byer launched a five-figure beauty membership in two weeks

How Luvvie Ajayi Jones creates an intimate, safe space for over 14K members

Welcome to the Academy to Innovate HR, a course community home to 7,300 professionals

How a healer transformed her spirituality podcast into a five-figure membership and community

How Tara McMullin pioneered virtual conferences and built a flourishing paid membership for small business owners

Ryder Carroll built a five-figure membership business teaching people about the organizational power of bullet journaling

Money, millennial style: How Financial University doubled its members in a year

From brick and mortar to digital membership: How Topstitch Makers grew a five-figure virtual business in less than a year

How Lenéa Sims launched Outer Work to 500 members in 72 hours

In the Cut is demystifying the entertainment industry for 1,200 Black creatives

Liberated Being brings together spirituality skeptics to learn embodiment practices

How this community is empowering 1,400 Black parent entrepreneurs to build a lasting legacy for their children

How Emily Thompson built a five-figure membership to help creative entrepreneurs make moves

Creating space: The Circle by Black Girl in Om made a five-figure membership centering Black women and holistic living

Introducing the GUILD, a five-figure membership for women entrepreneurs that’s evening the odds

Delivering a bright, new future for 3,200 birth workers and birthing women

How The Self Care Space launched their health & wellness brand with Mighty Pro

The eXd Community is on a mission to help over 900 educators design an equitable new world

This community of legal professionals is showing how anti-racism and technology can change the legal system for good

How a women’s apparel brand built a six-figure membership where runners can get inspired online and IRL

Nurses Inspire Nurses is providing a safe space for over 1,500 nurses to connect and share their experiences

How Boston While Black went from hashtag to a five-figure membership business in six months

Strength in numbers: Here’s how PLANTSTRONG consolidated its offering and built a six-figure community with nearly 20,000 members

Above and “Beyond”: These two communities are helping over 54,000 people impacted by diabetes to live well, now

How Qpractice's cohort-based courses are giving interior designers the confidence to ace their exams

With Goddess Council, Cat Lantigua is making the real world a little less lonely

How Elizabeth DiAlto built a five-figure membership business teaching women to feel their feels

How Martinus Evans' Slow AF Run Club made $140,000 in his first year

Meet the social worker who built a five-figure paid membership helping adults with ADHD

This premium coaching program for therapists went from passion project to 9,000 members strong

Mighty Networks: where people come for your content, but stay for your community.

Start Your 14-Day Free Trial