Entrepreneur in Residence at X,Alphabet’s Moonshot Factory
Reach for more:From CCBC to Silicon Valley and onto Google X
2:45pm - 3:15pm
Where I grew up, most don’t make it out.
As a kid, I lived in Baltimore’s Walbrook Junction, a place where a young Black man had only two choices: become a predator or become prey. Seeing the limited future ahead of me, my parents found a way to get us out despite minimal means. By my 13th birthday, we’d moved to the suburbs. But I had already seen so much — as an elementary student, I was stuck up at gunpoint for my sneakers. I had seen friends from the neighborhood hauled off to juvenile detention centers. I was hardened in many ways by those streets.
Before this hardness took me to the point of no return, I was given a new lease on life. My new environment opened my whole world to fresh possibilities. I now had a safe place where I could breathe freely and dream big. At our rented home in Randallstown, Maryland, predominantly a Jewish community, my friends were the kids of professionals and business owners. Being surrounded by a solidly middle-class lifestyle, I gained a new understanding of life. Here, it wasn’t about being “hard;” it was about being smart. By the time I turned 16, my priorities were firmly set on education and achieving financial success — I could see then that my path was entrepreneurship.
In high school, I was the kid handing out my business card to promote my startup before they were even called startups. In college at Johns Hopkins, I lobbied to replace my senior thesis research paper with a business plan. I was a student of entrepreneurship and the workings of Silicon Valley long before I had arrived there. I was a serial entrepreneur before those terms were used to describe me in The Washington Post and Entrepreneur Magazine.
Throughout my journey, I’ve had the great fortune to assemble remarkable talent and solve timely problems. Now the time has come for something bigger.