At a very young age, Julian Young had an entrepreneurial mindset but he couldn’t find mentors in his community to guide him to realize his dream. He grew up in a community that was underserved and people openly sold drugs. Man facing 15 yrs in prison turned his life around to launch powerful brands helping Black businesses
By age 16, Young ditched school to sell drugs, bringing him into conflict with the law. He ended up facing 15 years in prison for dealing with drugs, according to the Entrepreneur.
“I had an ultimatum. I could change my life, or I could continue on the road that I was on and possibly end up spending a large part of my life incarcerated,” he told the Entrepreneur. “And I didn’t want that.”
He reconnected with one of his professors at Wayne State College who had encouraged him to pursue entrepreneurship because he (the professor) saw the potential in him. With his mentor’s encouragement, Young kicked off his journey to co-founding powerful social brands.
He first joined a student business organization known as SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise) which is now called Enactus. The focus of the organization is to create social change in communities.
“I had the opportunity to be exposed to other successful executive CEOs, business owners, people that had started and grown successful multimillion-, billion-dollar businesses,” Young said.
According to him, mingling with successful CEOs and business owners changed his life because he began to see himself in them.
“I wanted to use entrepreneurship to not just help people who had already started businesses and were in the process of growing a business but also to tap that talent that goes overlooked and underdeveloped — because that’s my story,” Young explained.
Young subsequently co-founded with his wife Brittany The Start Center for Entrepreneurship in 2012 to “teach entrepreneurial fundamentals to aspiring minority small business owners.” He also reached out to some mentors like Don Eckles, co-founder and chairman of the board of Omaha-based franchise Scooter’s Coffee.
Another mentor he reached out to was Tom Osborne, former head coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers and founder of the TeamMates Mentoring Program.
“I shared with him my vision for what I wanted to do through entrepreneurship and how I wanted to impact my community, the world and the Black community,” Young recalled. “And he absolutely loved it.”
Through their input, he rebranded The Start Center for Entrepreneurship as the Julian and Brittany Young Foundation.
The foundation still offers classes on entrepreneurship through its program called Start. In addition, the foundation offers grants to small business owners as it continues to expand.
The couple is also behind the Small Business Resiliency and Recovery Plan, which they established purposely to give resources and education to minority- and Black-owned businesses.