To be a successful entrepreneur in this climate of financial uncertainty, you have to have an untapped or underserved niche, improve on an existing product or develop a new product. You have to know who your consumer is or will be. Shay Atkins’ enthusiastic appeal to Black Enterprise’s panel won them over and she was granted venture capital to start Creative Turkey Cuisine. Her zest for new challenges exemplifies one of her favorite quotes, “The steeper the mountain, the harder the climb, the better the view from the finish line.” –t. binns
Talk about your experience at the Black Enterprise conference.
It was awesome. It was a pitch contest. I had to get up and convince folks in 30 seconds that they should give me money for my business. Out of 100 people, I had to send in a video and [tell] them what my idea was. I made it to the top 10 out of 100. [Out of the top 10] I made it to the top three, and then I made it to the number one spot.
What is your company’s concept?
It is a very unique business. … Right now we are just catering. But the big deal is to open up the very first all-turkey … sports bar and grill. Our mission is to provide people with really good food that is good for them that will not compromise their health, but will give them the flavor they want and like.
What are the keys to your success?
… Put God first; then keep the right people round me. Networking with the right folks, connecting with the right people, asking the right questions; saying ‘I don’t know,’ if I don’t know. I am very passionate about what I do and I care about it.
What advice would you give to other would-be start-ups?
I am working with the [Chicago] Urban League and Chicago Public Schools and I tell [children] all the time … whoever it is you want to be like, whoever it is you want to emulate, make sure you pay attention to what they are doing and surround yourself with those kinds of people.