VOL. 133 | NO. 122 | Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Poe Man’s Dream Entrepreneurial Camp Giving Students Big Ideas
By Don Wade
Logan McNeil, 15, wants to open his own restaurant someday. Diamond Jones, 17, wants to have her own fashion business, even if it’s just selling T-shirts, and her 14-year-old brother, Jordan Jones, believes his future is as a funeral home owner.
All three attended the free Poe Man’s Dream Entrepreneurial Camp at the Crews Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Memphis. The camp is the brainchild of Dontari Poe, who went from Wooddale High School to the University of Memphis and then to the NFL. The defensive lineman, who now plays for the Carolina Panthers, also put on a football camp for youngsters in Memphis.
“Poe Man’s Dream Entrepreneur Camp was something I always wanted to do ever since I started investing in startups,” Poe said. “To bring all these great entrepreneurs together to talk to the kids about what they do is great. I’m sure one of these kids will found the next Google.”
Memphis police director Michael Rallings was among the speakers who made presentations to the kids at the camp last week. He shared that he does four things every day: read, write, speak to people and do math.
“Your written correspondence is important,” Rallings said. “It’s the official record. And if you’re going to be in business, you have to count money.”
While acknowledging everyone has a little different background and therefore different challenges, Rallings stressed that everyone is accountable for their future.
“There are no secrets to success,” Rallings said, but added: “Attitude takes you farther than aptitude.”
Rallings also encouraged the students to not sell themselves short and said, “Sometimes an obstacle may be an opportunity.”
Logan McNeil called Rallings’ talk “very inspirational, very realistic.” Diamond Jones said gong through the camp had shown her that if she wants to reach her dreams she will have to be dedicated to planning ahead.
Jordan Jones also had an important takeaway: “You always need a team to run your business, not just you.”
Jarie Bolander, a partner with JSY PR & Marketing, helped Poe get the entrepreneurial camp in Memphis up and running.
“Every kid needs to be taught entrepreneurial skills,” Bolander said. “They’re life skills.”
As part of the camp, the kids presented their business ideas and were judged by a panel of professionals, with members of the winning team receiving scholarships.
“I wish I had this when I was a kid,” Poe said. “It would have helped me a lot in my tech investing.”
Logan McNeil, who says he would like his restaurant to specialize in soul food and Italian food, is grateful for the opportunity to learn and appreciative Poe made this possible.
He just wishes Poe, who played five seasons with Kansas City and one with the Atlanta Falcons before signing with Carolina, had stayed with the Falcons.
“I liked when he was in Atlanta,” he said with a grin. “I’m an Atlanta fan.”