by Ace Epps

Every now and again you meet someone who stands out. Everyone gravitates to him or her. This person has charisma and that “it factor.” Sometimes when you meet someone, you have no idea how they will impact you and the lives of others. 

While working at the Akron Urban League, I met a young emerging entrepreneur named Shante Robinson. He was all of the above and more.

Shante was attending our annual job fair. He registered for a panel discussion featuring local established business owners. On the panel was Rocky Becker, the founder of Rockne’s, a local restaurant known for the crazy number of fries they give you with their popular burgers. The panel was meant to educate the participants about what owners look for when they are considering hiring a candidate and the world of entrepreneurship. 

During the panel, Shante commanded the attention of Rocky — and the room, for that matter. While questioning Rocky on what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, Shante was selling himself.  As a result, he walked out with a job. I never saw anyone move like that. He was confident and aware of his skills and abilities. 

A few months later, Shante enrolled in my entrepreneurial class at the Akron Urban League. He was a participant but quickly became an assistant for the class. He would help individuals do market research and customer discovery. It seemed like Shante was the type of person that would help anyone in need. After completing the class, he would continue to volunteer with the entrepreneur class and in 2015 would help me start the Self Advancement Center. 

The Self Advancement Center was a shared workspace for creative entrepreneurs. Shante’s role was to sell work space. We quickly realized that the people we would attract were other help agents and community builders, along with people who needed our help. I would see Shante helping people develop business ideas, creating websites and even mentoring young Black males. I realized that we weren’t making money as a business, but we were making an impact.

Later that year, Shante would be selected as a BMe Leader and receive $10,000 for his efforts toward building a better Akron. With that funding, Shante started Unified Mindz, LLC to assist and train clients on aspects of fathers’ rights. He also educates men on shared parenting, non-residential parenting, job readiness, entrepreneurial mindset and stress management. 

Shante has recently moved back to Akron after opening and operating several certified pre-owned retail Apple stores in Virginia, Colorado and Ohio. He is currently volunteering at the Bounce Innovation Hub and has become a facilitator for MORTAR at BOUNCE, a 15-week accelerator that helps aspiring non-tech entrepreneurs learn the nuances of business ownership.

Shante’s motto is, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” So, Shante Robinson, keep doing what you do and always be you!

To learn more about MORTAR at BOUNCE, visit www.bouncehub.org/mortar.

Ace Epps is Director of Inclusive Entrepreneurship at Bounce Innovation Hub and Host of Akron Community Voice on WAKR. Contact him at aepps@bouncehub.org and learn more about the radio show at www.akroncommunityvoice.org

Photo: Ace Epps

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