I Left My Heart in Startups with Seun Phillips
Tash Moore: So, tell us about My Big Dream Club. What is your mission?
Seun Phillips: My Big Dream Club started in 2018, I co-founded with my wife Omonye Phillips. The mission [and vision] is to discuss transformative topics with like-minded individuals to motivate, inspire, and to dream BIG. And, what we do is bring a group of people together [to] get excited, sparked up, whether it’s innovation, pursuing something outside of their 9–5, or a passion project. Then creating that support system along with accountability for these dreams to come true and for people to step outside their comfort zone because they see how others in the group are also stretching themselves to new opportunities.
TM: How do we encourage more black children, especially boys, to consider technical roles or roles that historically [BIPOC] were excluded from?
SP: I think what’s important is that we are able to expose these children and the youth at an early age. So, my background is electrical engineering, and I’ve co-founded a STEM organization (Science Technology Engineering and Math) and one of our key things is that we allow our youth to program at an early age: [we] program robots, cars, and launch rockets, [etc.]. All of these are exposing them to the field of technology. And I think for my children and the children that I interact with, it’s all about exposure. The key is that they feel comfortable because not everyone is going to be interested in technology, not everyone wants to pursue engineering. However, give them a choice where they’re able to have the ability to see what engineering is about or science. What a doctor really does. That ability opens their horizon and gives them options on the type of career they want to pursue. Also, science and math and [similar] subjects really help with problem-solving and critical thinking which are generally important in life.
TM: How do you see Detroit’s entrepreneurial scene evolving over the next few years?
SP: So what’s happening in Detroit as many people can see is very exciting — you have accelerators popping up, accelerators like Techstars*. You have different pitch competitions and Detroit is becoming more entrepreneur-friendly which is attracting entrepreneurship in the region and promoting it. And also providing support for it. It’s one thing to say Hey, just be an entrepreneur, but [t]hen you’re able to provide tangible support. [My] full-time job is with PlanetM** and we’ve created the PlanetM Landing Zone to have the ability to get people to innovate and accelerate that innovation. Then we bring together the right players; we make it as easy as possible for a small company…as a startup you’re bootstrapping….I think that’s going to continue to grow and evolve over the next few years.
TM: What drew you to entrepreneurship?
SP: So, I was first drawn to entrepreneurship as a little kid where I had my first CD burner and I had friends who wanted to be artists. They would come to my house with a 4x speed CD burner, which was extremely slow, but through the process you start to understand how business works, and you also have the ability to create things and I get very excited about just creating something from nothing, building it from the bottom up. This is essentially the third business I’ve been able to create. A lot of people will talk about Hey, I want to do this, or this is my passion. When you’re actually able to do that, it’s fulfilling, and to see the impact that you have on other people’s lives and having the ability to bring together partnerships, it’s exciting. There are no excuses as to why things cannot happen when you’re doing something entrepreneurial when you’re the creator or directing how things move. This is your company, this is your business, this is your vision, so that in itself is very exciting.
As you think about the economy, what makes things evolve, which brings more work for people, it’s all about entrepreneurship. That’s why there are so many incentives for businesses, that drives the economy. You want the Googles, the Amazons, the Apples, but all companies must start at the beginning, that’s how you start, and then you work and watch it grow.. That’s what excites me.
TM: What is your favorite memory from [Detroit] Startup Weeks past?
SP: Last year I was on a panel around #mobility and just being able to see the all the people inspiring each other to be entrepreneurs…at times it can be lonely, you’re thinking: Am I doing the right thing? Am I doing something that’s really going to impact? There’s a lot of doubt that can come into one’s mind, but when you surround yourself with other entrepreneurs or supporters it gives you that spark, that excitement…[you see] that other people are going through similar challenges. Other people want to help. Having that is exciting. When I see that with Detroit and Detroit Startup Week and what it’s become, how it continues to grow, you can tell there’s a lot of interest, a lot of excitement, a lot of people that want to participate. The energy is what gets me excited about DSW.
*Techstars is a leading partner of Detroit Startup Week.
**PlanetM is a partner of Detroit Startup Week.
My Dream BIG Club started in January 2018. Husband and wife, Seun and Omonye Phillips, always desired a group in their local area where they could connect with other professionals and discuss transformative topics to better ourselves. They could not find this group and decided to start one. Most importantly they have experienced members of the club getting inspiration from other members to start their own business or to undertake an endeavor they once feared. More info can be found here.
In celebration of Detroit Startup Week, 5 day conference for Detroit’s entrepreneurs, we’re speaking with leading creators and founders in our community. Meet local leaders in person at the conference June 17th-22nd. RSVP here: http://detroitstartupweek.com/