If you're under the age of 30, it's highly likely that Elite Daily articles populate your social media feeds on a weekly basis. The online news platform was created by millennials for millennials and around 2014, became known as "The Voice of Generation Y." Two short years after its inception, it was sold to the Daily Mail for $50 million dollars - making its initial investor and co-founder, Gerard Adams, entrepreneurial royalty.
Recently, I decided to pay Gerard a visit to see what he was up to - and let's just say, the address he gave me was not in the swankiest part of town.
When I got to the area, I immediately spotted his building - looking somewhat out of place with its sleek glass exterior, which revealed a bustling, futuristic inside. This is Fownders - his new tech incubator that cultivates cutting-edge entrepreneurs in under-served communities in a convivial atmosphere.
"The Elite Daily journey was absolutely amazing for me - as an entrepreneur, it was a dream come true," says Gerard. "But no one sees the 13 years it took me - the ups and downs as an entrepreneur it took me to get that - they just know about the success. And I really want to share this knowledge with young entrepreneurs out there."
Fownders is a non-profit organization whose mission is to grow the local startup ecosystem - with the ultimate goal of establishing Newark, New Jersey as a hub for innovation. Adams modeled the business after major Silicon Valley incubators and brought together a team of trailblazers and branding professionals to support the projects of the entrepreneurs who use the space. Each entrepreneur is offered a free workspace, mentorship, and (from what I heard from every one of them I talked to) a network that has significantly moves their projects forward.
Adams vehemently believes that real leaders create and inspire other leaders, which is why he's especially passionate about Fownders. And Adams has attracted to Fownders a number of allies to supports its cause, with appearances from New Jersey government officials who support the expansion of innovation in the area as well as entrepreneurs Ryan Blair of network-marketing giant Visalus, bestselling author Ryan Holiday and Jordan French of 3D pizza printing media darling, BeeHex.
"Our generation has so many opportunities - we can literally make history. It starts with us leading the way and not being selfish," Adams says. "The more that you empower others and you embrace team, I guarantee you will manifest more opportunity."
But how do you begin to foster a leader?
Gerard says - it's all about really getting to know them first. "It starts with connection," he explains. "A lot of entrepreneurs come in here and they immediately want to pitch me their idea, but I think the best thing to do is to really get to know the person. What have you done? What have you been through? I want to know about that. And then where you're going - what's your why? What drives you? Because that's really important to your idea and how you're going to execute it."
Fownders has ten companies being incubated including Shock and Awe, carbon.vc, Slingshot VR, Avawrist and edtech company, Seed. "I'm building an ecosystem with social media, rapid prototyping and services that help launch these new businesses," says Adams. "We start off with the basics in our program: Emotional quotient, mindset, leadership skills and collaboration and then we get into growth hacking, digital marketing and sales. Last we coach around structure, SWOT analysis and how to test, deploy and optimize." As its inspiration, Fownders is deploying Tony Robbins's strategies to launch a generation of able entrepreneurs. It is further confirmation that we're all more powerful working on a great team of leaders - and it behooves us to foster them.
Here's our full interview on business leadership on The Unicorn in the Room.