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Burdell School of Entrepreneurship Conference returns to Atlanta

Burdell School of Entrepreneurship Conference returns to Atlanta

Millennial entrepreneurs talked purpose, passion, and generating revenue at the second annual Burdell School of Entrepreneurship Conference in Atlanta earlier this month.

Brought together by the Black Burdell, the day-long startup event took place at Georgia State University’s Buckhead campus and featured a full day of powerful keynotes, practical sessions, and a rousing panel in a way that brought the high energy and fun, for the culture.

“This year was more interactive and everybody was just excited. It’s getting better every year,” said Darren Sanders, Co-Founder and Vice President of the Black Burdell.

The organization is a non-profit that wants to see black businesses in the community win. Through their work, they provide access to knowledge, resources, and networks for existing and aspiring entrepreneurs. They have raised and given money in scholarships to budding business owners. Additionally, they provide consultation work and assist in business planning and business pitches.

The November 2 conference though, was the result of wanting to consolidate the different events that they hold into one day for the diverse groups that they serve: high schoolers, collegiate, and young professionals. Content tracks covered finding your purpose, maximizing social media, building your brand and so much more.

The talks were given by an amazing lineup of millennial entrepreneurs, including Mario Jovan Shaw, Chief Impact Office of Profound Gentlemen, INC; Andrew Nguyen, Co-Founder of The O Agency and BYOB Society; Chasity Cooper, Director of Digital Community Development and Programming for Her Agenda; and Brittany Bullock, Founder of Accustomed Travel Consulting. Their stories and advice demonstrate you don’t have to wait till you’re a certain age to own your own business or make an impact.

Entrepreneurship Real Talk

Now is the perfect time to be a young, multicultural entrepreneur. Keynote Speaker Kenneth L. Wright, Jr. said in an interview with UrbanGeekz, “I do feel that there have been significant amounts of progress when it comes to funding for minorities for their business. There’s also so many different incubators and programs where persons can tap into the resources that I didn’t have a few years ago that we all have now.”

Wright, Jr. is the CEO and Founder of KLWJ Enterprises, where he owns four different companies under this moniker, including KleanGent, a subscription service that sends customers tailored style options monthly. In his talk, he detailed how it wasn’t easy getting to that point. Therefore, he said that perseverance is one of the key attributes that successful entrepreneurs need.

Wright, Jr. accepted the opportunity to speak at the BSOE Conference to share his knowledge and experience to support the journey of entrepreneurs after him. Daniel Calderon, who also served as a keynote speaker, also saw BSOE Conference as a great opportunity to talk to students and new entrepreneurs to share some mistakes and some wins.

“In order to improve our community, we have to kind of give back and promote entrepreneurship. That’s the only way we can save our community,” he said.

Calderon is the Co-Founder and Director of Four Thirty, a creative agency that connects established and emerging brands with a curated roster of top tier, talented freelancers.

Entrepreneurs and Mental Health

BSOE Conference is not only changing the face of entrepreneurship but the dialogue around it as well. Mottos like “sleep when you die” and “the grind don’t stop” can lead to detrimental health concerns for the self-employed. Entrepreneurs are increasingly feeling depressed and anxious. A panel discussion at the conference brought up the legitimacy of prioritizing mental health and mindfulness.

“It’s a stigma in the black community. It’s a conversation that people don’t have. Parents kind of take you to the side and say, ‘there’s nothing wrong with you, boy, go back to doing what you need to do.’ So we thought it was very important, especially for people balancing a 9 to 5, balancing school work, balancing a business or ideas,” said Sanders.

“It’s very easy to neglect your health, especially your mental health, in pursuit of your dreams, ” said Mercilla Ryan-Harris, Co-Founder of BLKHLTH who moderated the discussion.

But the panel stressed the importance of taking time for self-care and seeking out therapy if the issue becomes extreme.

Most people think that anxiety and depression can look like someone crying all the time, can’t get out of the bed or sad. However, some other symptoms can include irritability, anger, inability to keep things going, and a poor, fluctuating appetite.

Dr. Ayanna Abrams, CEO and Clinical Psychologist, Ascension Behavioral Health, LLC says that burn out is very high and is a killer, literally, it can take years off your life. Ultimately, it can start to affect your work when you lose enjoyment in what you do or don’t want to be surrounded by people.

For some, they may feel that their struggles or disabilities hamper their ability to be successful, but according to Calderon, they channel that into their personal brand. Members of their audience will be able to see that authenticity and form a stronger community. This will set apart the good influencers from the really great ones, to which brands will gladly want to invest in to attract those customers.

Calderon says that’s where the market is heading, building communities within communities. You can monetize that greatly, he said.


Before the conference was over, attendees got to hear from of Noirbnb, a home sharing, travel lodging, and now, event venue rental service based online, who spoke about growth strategies for the company. The representative said that they are events driven. They are looking to partner and form relationships with entrepreneurs. So far, partners have been very happy with the results.

Sponsors for this year’s event were BE Great and Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business. There were a host of partners including The Origin Brand, Passion Planner, Khris Kross Creations, Intelligent Change, Noirbnb, and DJ unruely.

All in all, the Black Burdell’s second effort/endeavor was successful, lead by three passionate young, black brothers and a strong team with an eye to bringing the whole community on the come up, this gathering will be one of Atlanta’s most sought after events in the entrepreneurship community for years to come.



    Carlyn Pounders
    Carlyn Pounders
    Carlyn Pounders covers technology, business, and entrepreneurship at UrbanGeekz. She joined in 2017 after graduating from Georgia State University, where she was News Director at Georgia State Television.