According to blavity.com, while attending Howard University, Damon Lawrence worked in the hotel industry as a front desk agent, and decided he would own his own hotels one day with one exception–his business would cater exclusively to blackness. “Black culture leads American culture and American culture leads global culture, so [we] think it’s time a hotel property reflected the best of black culture,” Lawrence.
The young entrepreneur, along with his business partner and co-founder of Homage Hospitality, Marcus Carey (also a Howard alum), opened the doors to The Moor in New Orleans, Louisiana, this week. The upscale 10-room hotel pays homage to the Moors of North Africa through its architecture aesthetic. (You can use the promo code “Launch” through July 4th for 60% off your stay.)
Lawrence and Carey plan to open locations where black “culture is thriving;” such as Washington, D.C., Brooklyn and Detroit. The duo plans to open a 102-room property called The Town Hotel in Downtown Oakland by 2019. Even sooner, they plan to launch another property in the Treme section of New Orleans called The Freeman; it is known as the first place in the U.S. black people could purchase property.
“We want to go everywhere that culture exists and thrives, so there’s plenty on the plate”, Lawrence says.
To learn more about these men and their mission, check out their recent interview with Rolling Out.
This season on the ABC show “Shark Tank”, Drexel student Christopher Gray, Co-Founder of Scholly, an app to help college students find scholarships, walked away with $40,000 and two “Shark Tank personalities–FUBU founder Daymond John and Lori Greiner of QVC, as investors with a 15% stake in his company.
Gray’s aha moment occurred after he was awarded 34 scholarships for a total of $1.3 million. He then used his knowledge about the scholarship process to create Scholly. The Scholly app, available for 99-cents, sold 92,000 downloads before the showed aired. Anyone who is a fan of the show knows it doesn’t take long for the Sharks to dive into a unique concept and present an offer. But on this episode after hearing very little about the back end of his website and business model, Lori and Daymond offered him a deal he couldn’t refuse. With Scholly rated at No. 1 in the app store, Black Enterprise caught up with Gray to learn more about his entrepreneurial journey.
Since launching your Scholly, what has your journey been like leading to this point?
The journey has been surreal. I am only a senior in college and have had tremendous success. Being featured in national outlets and other accolades has been amazing. My top three highlights:
Shark Tank Appearance
Scholly Being Chosen as one of Inc. Magazine’s Top College Start Up
I was selected as one of BET’s 30 Under 30
Have you always wanted to venture into entrepreneurship? If so, who has inspired you the most?
Yes, I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur since I was little. I have a lot of mentors who I look to for various things. Have a problem with choosing one!