A note from our editor, Elizabeth MacBride:

Back when Booker T. Wilkins was trying to start his own barbershop in Alexandria, Va., he came upon the perfect location, a restaurant, one side vacant, on Queen Street. This was 52 years ago.

“T,” as he’s called, found the building owner’s house. The landlord turned him away, cruelly, twice. The man called him “boy.” T was nearly 20, Black and from rural North Carolina. A couple of weeks went by, and he kept looking. T is a praying man, and he heard God tell him, “go back.” He felt like he was taking his life in his hands. Maybe the white man would set his dogs on him.

But when the landlord opened the door, T spoke from his heart, about his dream of owning his own barbershop. This time, the man called him “son,” and invited him in. The space he rented is still the home of the All American barbershop. Later, after T was turned down twice for a bank loan, he used the same tactic. “This is not as long as I am in business,” he said. “As long as I am living, I will pay this back,” he told the banker. He put seven children through school and became a landlord, himself, on the proceeds from the shop.

Seth Levine and I stopped by to say hello to T yesterday. Seth and I have written a book together that includes the stories of T and many others like him, New Builders across the United States.

The conversation with T got me to thinking about one trait I’ve noticed entrepreneurs share with athletes and writers. They are willing to push themselves beyond their boundaries, into the zone where they’re uncomfortable, and even where they’re afraid. T made himself vulnerable – one of the hardest boundaries to cross. I’d love to hear about any time that you made yourself vulnerable in a business setting that ended up working out for you. Email me at emacbride@timesofe.com.

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Date: January 28
Information available here

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Mental Health for Entrepreneurs
Date: February 2, 2021
Location: Virtual
Information available here

The entrepreneurial community faces higher rates of depression and suicide than the general population. Entrepreneur Erik Severinghaus, author of Scale Your Everest: How to Be A Resilient Entrepreneur, is leading this discussion, hosted by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago.

Rice Business Plan Competition
Deadline: February 2, 2021
Information available here

This competition, marking its 20th year, takes place April 5-9. Graduate-level student startups can compete for more than $1.5 million in cash and prizes.

Texas State Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Women Entrepreneurship Founder Series
Date: February 5
Location: Virtual
Information available here

The kick-off event will feature Dr. Amanda Elam, CEO of Galaxy Diagnostics and Diana International Research Fellow at Babson College. Her keynote will focus on the progress and promise of entrepreneurs worldwide.

Venture for ClimateTech
Date: February 9, 2021, 11 a.m. to noon ET
Location: Virtual
Information available here

This session will provide an introduction to Venture for ClimateTech, a new global non-profit venture studio accelerator for climate tech innovators. This session will feature ClimateTech senior manager Chante Harris and CEOs from successful climate tech companies.

Entrepreneurship Rocks: Music as an Entrepreneurial Venture
Date: February 9, 2021
Location: Virtual
Information available here

Greg Harris, CEO of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, discusses the intersection between music and entrepreneurship.

The Inclusive Innovation Economy: Ideas + Actions
Date: February 11, 2021
Location: Virtual
Information available here

At this event, hosted by the MIT Sloan School of Management, government and civic leaders will converse on how public policymakers can create long-term solutions that support inclusion in the innovation economy.

Technology Powering the Return To Work, Play, Spectate
Date: February 11, 2021
Location: Virtual
Information available here

This is the first of two sessions hosted by tech enterprises and startups at the Innovation Institute for Fan Experience to discuss new technologies to help those holding live events resume them safely. 

Startup 302
Deadline: February 12, 2021
Information available here

More than $200,000 grant-based and in-kind prizes are being awarded in this competition, targeting startups with at least one member of the founding team from underrepresented groups. The goal is to address the lack of funding that goes to startups led by women and minorities.

Ignite Startup Workshop: Design Thinking for Entrepreneurs
Date: February 16, 2020
Information available here.

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Date: February 18, 2021
Location: Virtual
Information available here

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7th Annual Booth-Kellogg Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition Conference
Date: Feb. 16-19, 2021
Location: Virtual
Information available here

The Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition Group at Chicago Booth, the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the Kellogg Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative are hosting this annual event bringing together entrepreneurs, investors, MBA students, faculty and others to network and share insights.

Values and Ventures Competition
Deadline: February 22, 2021
Information available here.

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8 Week Entrepreneur Training Program
Date: Next cohort starts February 23, 2021
Location: Virtual
Information available here

This curriculum is designed to empower aspiring entrepreneurs with the tools and skills to successfully navigate the path to small business ownership. The program is provided by Operation Hope and Shopify.

Diversity & Inclusion in Entrepreneurship
Date: February 24, 2021
Location: Virtual
Information available here

This summit will provide students at University of Texas at Austin and the larger community with insight on ways that entrepreneurs from underserved communities can successfully launch entrepreneurial ventures. The event is powered by the Texas McCombs Herb Kelleher Entrepreneurship Center and Kendra Scott Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute.

Baylor New Venture Competition
Date: March 25-27, 2021; Applications open September 1, 2020
Location: Baylor University; Waco, Texas
Information available here.

Baylor New Venture Competition offers applicants business plan feedback, mentorship, and a chance to compete for more than $250,000 in prizes. Collegiate entrepreneurs from around the globe are eligible to participate in the competition, hosted by Baylor University.

US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency Cares Act Grant Technical Assistance Program
End date: May 31, 2021
Information available here.

This program, facilitated through eight COVID-19 Technical Assistance Centers in major cities with large Hispanic and minority populations, will provide ongoing readiness and support to help the minority business community navigate the pandemic.


MassCEC’s InnovateMass Program
Deadline: Rolling
Information available here.

This program offers up to $250,000 in grant funding and technical support to applicant teams deploying new clean energy technologies or innovative combinations of existing technologies with a strong potential for commercialization. Applicants must run Massachusetts-based companies or have a location in the state and have a technology that fits specific guidelines.

Chandler Innovations
Deadline: Rolling
Location: Chandler, Arizona
Information available here.

Entrepreneurs who live or work in Chandler, Arizona, are eligible to apply for this business incubator. Business ideas must be tech-based.

This story and others on New Builders Dispatch are made possible by a sponsorship from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation that provides access to opportunities that help people achieve financial stability, upward mobility, and economic prosperity – regardless of race, gender, or geography. The Kansas City, Mo.-based foundation uses its grantmaking, research, programs, and initiatives to support the start and growth of new businesses, a more prepared workforce, and stronger communities. For more information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect with www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.

A business journalist for 20 years, am the founder of Times of Entrepreneurship and the co-author of The New Builders.