What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘entrepreneur’?
Whatever you’re imagining, Precious Drew, 26, wants to turn it on its head.
Before being named as one of the youngest Senior Directors of gener8tor, the Northwestern Mutual backed accelerator program, she was a creative entrepreneur and didn’t even realize it.
“I’m actually one of nine and the second youngest,” Drew shared with Essence. “For me, it was exciting to see my older siblings live their lives, but it was also an opportunity to learn I wanted to go a different route than some of my sisters and brothers.”
She said that growing up in the inner city streets of Indianapolis, Indiana, then later Minneapolis, Minnesota, she saw some of her friends and family get trapped into a cycle of stagnancy. Aiming for a different path and to earn her own money, she started creating Youtube content as a middle-schooler, and began leveraging her following for revenue. Although she was aware of an online community charting the same path, she was an anomaly in her neighborhood.
“I noticed some of the people around me weren’t always a part of something productive, and being the youngest, I’ve seen that’s the common story for many of my closest friends at the time. I knew at a very early age I didn’t want to go down that path,” Drew said.
From there, she said she positioned herself for success as much as she could. After moving to Minneapolis in high school, she joined leadership organizations and enlisted mentors to help cultivate the skills she started developing as a child.
“I never envisioned myself as an entrepreneur at all,” she said. “Like most people I thought that only applied to those in suits, making millions–not someone like me.”
She said it wasn’t until college did it dawn on her that she was capable of not only running a business, but helping others do the same.
“I think really it set in for me that I was an entrepreneur in college after being exposed to a program called Entrepreneur Scholars at the College of St. Benedict,” she shared. “At the time, they asked, ‘do you have entrepreneurship experience?’ And I was saying no. But as they asked more about different ways I generated revenue growing up and experienced as a hobby, that’s when I realized that, oh, I’ve always been an entrepreneur.” After graduating, she launched a natural skin care line with recycled coffee grounds as the hero ingredient, an idea she came up with after attending the UN Convention on Climate Change in Germany.
While building her brand she vowed to help others reach their full potential by stepping into their power as business owners, even if they don’t yet recognize themselves as one.
She speaks on the experience in her popular October 2020 TED Talk, ‘Who Gets to Be Called an Entrepreneur & Why It Matters,’ while also addressing how skewed perceptions of entrepreneurship in the VC space can lead to disparate funding to BIPOC founders. After building her business for a few years, she said she was approached by gener8tor to help lead their team and it was a no-brainer because their mission aligned with hers.
“gener8tor is intentional about focusing their support around those who are largely underrepresented in the funding space,” she shared. “We invest $1 million into blackout entrepreneurs each year. That means we’re investing into ten companies, $100,000 each. The thing that really makes our program stand out from the rest is the concierge approach that we take to working with entrepreneurs. We understand there is not a one size fit all model to working with entrepreneurs. And with this accelerator, specifically working with Black founders, we understand their experience is likely very different other groups and demographics that have navigated through entrepreneurship. We meet them where they are.”
To date the program supported more than 100 full-time employees and $5.2M in follow-on financing.
“We want to make an impact on the Black business ecosystem right in our own backyard and beyond.”