Jimmy Davies, 64, is far from the conventional entrepreneur. At the age where many people retire to a quiet life, Davies decided to invest his Social Security income and life savings in launching Every.Black, a venture that connects black entrepreneurs in the Triangle and beyond.
Entrepreneurs can become a member of Durham’s Every.Black for a minimum of $9.99 a month, which gets you listed in the company directory at every.black, free leads and social media promotions. Members also have the chance to upgrade to the $24.99 or $49.99 monthly plans for more features.
The company promotes members through social media and almost 40 radio shows on its own satellite radio station. It also provides opportunities for black founders to connect with each other at events.
This July, Davies relaunched a weekly ‘mastermind meeting’ that hosts black business owners and entrepreneurs in Raleigh, with a group added in Durham in September. Each meeting covers a different entrepreneurial skill, with guest speakers that give advice and network with the founders.
Davies himself is a valuable asset to members of Every.Black because he knows the struggles of starting your own company. Davies launched a training business in 1988, and over the years he was hired by companies like DuPont Paints, the U.S. military and even NASA to teach employees how to use then-newly released software like Word, Excel and Photoshop.
“It got to the point where I was teaching people in eight states and 30 cities how to use software,” he said. “I got into it at the right time. I didn’t go to school for it, but it came easy for me and employees just didn’t know.”
Even though Davies graduated with a degree in applied mathematics and had planned to become a land surveyor, he found he had a knack for technology and especially database development, which he worked on for 15 years.
Davies said he enjoyed his job, but did not feel personally fulfilled with the work he was doing.
“I had all this tech background, but I wanted to use it for something,” he said. “I wasn’t seeing black companies for the most part taking advantage of the technology that was available and really using it.”
This passion for helping black entrepreneurs led to Every.Black. The goal is to foster business deals and professional relationships that move offline — and move the black business community forward.
The idea for Every.Black had been in his mind for many years, but in July 2015 Davies decided to take a leap to follow his dream.
“We all have ideas of things we want to pursue, but if you live your life and never do it you’ll be thinking ‘I wonder what would have happened if I had actually followed my dream,’” he said. “Or even worse, you have that dream and somebody else comes along and does it.”
Until now, Davies has not been seeking investment, but said he could be looking for investors in the near future.
“Now I think I have something that’s worth looking at,” he said. “The vision is clear.”
In the past year, Davies’ dream has slowly started coming true. What started as a group with only four or five members last year, has now grown to 75 members, with big plans for future expansion.
Davies said by the end of next year he wants to increase the company’s radio presence and broaden to T.V., write a book and reach 1,000 members.
Looking out the window of GrepBeat’s Durham office, Davies said expanding the company is not only about profit, but about helping the community and cultivating the next generation of black entrepreneurs.
Asks Davies, “If you look at Downtown here — the skyscrapers that are going up — how many are black-owned? Probably none. But the question is, why not?”