The Breakdown EP 32: Building Entrepreneurial Ecosystems with James Chapman


– [Kai] Alright, good to go now. – We’re live this time. – Are we live right now? – [Kai] We are live.
– Alright, cool. Alright, sweet. Alright, good afternoon, it is Monday April 2nd, 2018 in case you were wondering. Today we have Jesse
Nunez here, co-hosting. Jesse is the founder of
Elite Amateur Fight League, so we’ll get a little update
on that and an overview. And we also have a
really great guest today who is James Chapman. He’s the director of
entrepreneurship at Quicken Loans. They’re a community investment fund, so he has a big announcement coming up for a one million dollar prize that’s going to be happening
in the next couple weeks. So please stay tuned
today on the breakdown. (soft pop music) Alright cool. So Jesse, you’ve been on
before but James is here, probably some new faces out there. What, what exactly is it that you do? – Sure, so the Elite Amateur Fight League is basically the NCAA level
of mixed martial arts. Think of the NBC, yeah the NBC, the Final Four basketball tournament, but for mixed martial arts, right? It’s the best amateurs
from across the country competing on a high
level and on television. So there was a giant hole in
a multi-billion dollar market. The UFC, everybody knows who they are, and their sport grew so quickly, no one developed that
platform for those amateurs. We saw a whole pitch at NBC, shot a catch-up season, and lo and behold here we are. We’re in season two coming up this summer with some of the best
teams in mixed martial arts putting teams into the league and competing in front
of a national audience. – Super cool. So you’re building a community of, you know, amateur fighters and also people who like to, you know, the MMA community. You’re working with
them in a different way that’s ever been done before. And our guest today, James Chapman, welcome James. – Hello. – James is out in Detroit
building communities in, out in Detroit. So, what do you, what is a director of
entrepreneurship at Quicken Loans? What is, what do you do
on a day-to-day basis? – I’m not exactly sure what it is or what I do on a day-to-day basis some days, honestly. You know, sometimes it’s just whatever they ask me to do. But in a nutshell, we’re trying to help start growing scale of the entrepreneurship
ecosystem in Detroit. And we do that in a
number of different ways. And we want to get people plugged in with business planning programs. We want to get them plugged in with the resources that we have
available throughout the FOC from a vendor or procurement
spins comms out of the house. And then we’re also investing money into Detroit-based companies
and those willing to relocate through Detroit Demo day, so that’s my work. – So it’s a lot. So how do you, what is like, so Detroit, you know, how do you go, how do you go into a city and say we’re gonna take this over, we want people to go and
try entrepreneurship, we want people to go and
start small businesses. What does that look like, you know. I mean, we’ve kind of seen it here in Chicago a little bit, and I’ve been down in Columbus, they’re having a big entrepreneurial
boom right now as well. Like, how do you go and gauge
a community like this and say, like you know, go to WeWork, or go to TechTown or go wherever. What does that look like
on a day-to-day basis? – The entrepreneurship
ecosystem in Detroit is really vibrant. You have a lot of folks
who are starting things. You know, there’s a ton
of makers in Detroit. Detroiters are very good at making things and very good with their hands. And there’s a lot of grittiness, there’s a lot of rich history in Detroit around entrepreneurship and so really what we’re trying to do is figure out where we best fit in in this entrepreneurship ecosystem. There are a lot of players
that are out there. You mentioned a few of them with TechTown, there’s Invest Detroit, you know, the list really goes on with some of the players
that are out there trying to help people being able to go from idea to action and be able to take those, take those ideas and skill, and so, you know, we’re just one piece
of a greater ecosystem and we’re, you know, constantly trying to figure out the best way that we fit in and how can we best utilize the resources that we have available, and the human capital
that we have available to get it plugged in and
activated to the ecosystem. – Well how do you go, what is your advice to somebody who is trying to go from idea to action? – Testing. I think, you know, one thing that I’m seeing
is a lot of entrepreneurs, they fall in love with their solution more than they fall in
love with their problem and so, you know, what we
really encourage people to do is to fall in love with the problem and test the solution
a lot because once you, you know, test that solution and you know, get it out there to the potential customers or people that you trust, then you’ll be able to produce the best possible
product that you can and, you know, that takes time and it takes a lot of patience. But it’s going to be worth it in the end because what you don’t want to do is skip steps and you don’t want to put yourself in a position where you, you came up with a solution
or product or service that’s not the best way
to serve your customer. – That’s good advice. – Yeah, out of, you know, out of all the places in the country, how did this end up in Detroit? How did this main focus end up in the Detroit metro area? – I mean, you know, I’m new to Detroit but, you know, the entrepreneurship services from the family of companies is not a new thing. You know, prior to me going to Detroit, I’ve been in Detroit two years, but prior to me coming to Detroit they were operating an incubator, an accelerator called Bizdom. Bizdom was providing CE capital
of $25,000 for tech ideas, in exchange for anywhere between seven to eight percent equity just to really kind of activate that side of things within the
entrepreneurship ecosystem. You know, Bizdom was a great thing, it just realized that there are other ways that we can help support entrepreneurs in Detroit and Cleveland, and what we really wanted to do was work on ways to support folks who weren’t just in ideation
stage and also find folks, find ways to support folks who weren’t just in the technology state, technology industry. But the work has always
been around, you know? It’s been around before I’ve got there, and you know, it’ll still
be around after I leave. – Very cool. What, like what, so this might be just like a Midwestern thing for us, and you’re from Tennessee but you’ve been in Detroit a couple years. – [James] Yeah. – What, like, opportunities or what areas are you seeing in Detroit, like, where you’re seeing startups pop up? You know, like, in
Chicago we see a lot of, like agriculture techno, ag-tech, ed-tech, fin-tech… – Fight-tech. – Yeah, fight-tech. But I mean, yes, a lot of the good ol’ buzzwords. But you know, you’re not seeing a lot of, like consumer apps or like the things you might see on the coasts. What kinds of things are
you seeing in Detroit, or what trends are you seeing maybe, you know, from your perspective about the Midwest in particular? – Some things that I’m seeing in Detroit are really dynamic entrepreneurs that are, that are making great products, so a lot of product-based companies. One that comes to my mind
is Empowerment Plant. They make the coats for the homeless, where, you know, it’s this huge coat but then it also transforms
into a sleeping bag. They’ve been doing a really
great job on the Lip Bar. You know, they make
organic beauty products, primarily lipstick. And you know, she started
off making this lipstick, her name’s Melissa, out of her kitchen. And now she’s in a number of stores, in Target and in other places and things of that nature. So that’s probably the biggest thing that I’ve been seeing is a lot of just really, really brilliant
entrepreneurs that are, you know, launching and
starting up various companies. – Cool, yeah, Empowerment Plant, I think that’s like, then it’s also like this, they make these coats for homeless people and they’re also created by homeless people too, right? Don’t they offer jobs? I think I saw like a YouTube
video or something about it. – Yeah, yeah, there’s
a jobs components rule where they try to hire and
empower disadvantaged people to be able to, you know, put the coats together and all that. – [Host] Yeah, yeah, yeah, so cool. Let’s see, what, let’s talk about this, let’s talk about this Demo Day. So, is this year one, year two? How long have you been? – [James] Year two. Year two.
– Year two? And what’s like, the stipulations? What’s the, how do I get in? How do I–
– I’m interested, ’cause I want pitch the
Elite Amateur Fight League. Tell me what I need to do to do that. – Yeah, million dollars up for grabs, entrepreneurs get, throw their, throw their name in a hat. They throw their name in for, to get a share of that million, anywhere between $25,000 and
$300,000 for their business. We will be deploying those
funds by way of grants, 0% interest loans, and convertible notes,
which is an equity tool. And really all you need to do is go to DetroitDemoDay.com to be able to figure out all the details. But as long as you’re a company
that is based in Detroit or willing to relocate to Detroit, you’re eligible. And you have to be outside
of the ideation state. So you have to have actual business. You have to be ready for customers today. You can’t just still be thinking about how to launch your business. But other than that, anybody can apply. And it’s industry-agnostic, so we want makers, we want techies, we want people who have service-based, you know, all of those things. – Sweet. Very cool. – So you will hate this. But in the spirit of pitch competitions, – [Jesse] Oh boy. – Jesse’s doing a pitch
competition tomorrow. – [Jesse] I am. – And we were supposed to do
this after the breakdown today, but I was thinking, you know, why not have Jesse try
his pitch out right now, and get some live feedback. – Alright, I will do the elevator pitch in the interest of time. – We got plenty of time. (Jesse laughs) Let’s hear it. – [James] Let’s hear it. – Alright, so, I’m taking
you’re a sports fan. You’re in Detroit, you’re from Cleveland, right? – [James] I’m from
Chattanooga, Tennessee, but. – [Jesse] Chattanooga, Tennessee. – But yeah, I’m a sports fan.` – We all know our
favorite sports athletes. But I want you to stop and think where you first saw that athlete compete, and I guarantee you the
answer’s probably the NCAA. Right? So you’ve got these amazing athletes. We met Michael Jordan in
North Carolina, right? We met Joe Montana in Notre Dame, or wherever favorite athletes
competed at as amateurs. Well I’m here to tell you that there’s a multi-billion industry that doesn’t have that
level of competition. And it’s the fastest
growing sport in the world, and that’s mixed martial arts. I’m the founder and creator of the Elite Amateur Fight League. We are the only established
path for amateur fighters to get exposure and experience to become a legitimate
professional athlete. For the first time they
have an amazing platform to compete against each
other on a national, on a national platform in
front of a television audience. And we’re doing that at the
Elite Amateur Fight League. We’re building a 32-team, state versus state, team versus team, amateur MMA league, culminating in a national championship similar to the March Madness
basketball tournament, but for MMA. That’s who we are, that’s what we do. We need you to be a fan, and we need people to think
of MMA as a national sport and think of the Elite
Amateur Fight League as the national platform
for all of amateur MMA. (production crew cheers and claps) That is a brief. – [James] Great job. – [Host] There we go. Any thoughts? Did he win? – I don’t know if he won or not. (Jesse laughs) – [Jesse] I can get into the money. I can get into the money later. – Yeah. He had a really good pitch. Things that, you know, that I encourage people to do whenever they are prepping their pitch is to start with a story, and he did that. And then end with a call of action. He did that as well. So yeah, pretty solid pitch. – [Jesse] Thank you. – Appreciate that. That was good. So talk to me about, like, so what gets you excited? Like, what is like, I watched your TED talks, like culture of selflessness for example. Like that, what is that? What is, what drives you, specifically? – So my TEDx was given back
in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and I don’t even know how many years ago it’s been since I did that thing, but it was around creating
a culture of selflessness. Essentially, if everybody has
that mindset of selflessness, then we, you know, it’s the old saying, you’re only as strong as
the weakest link, right? And so, essentially it’s all about picking up people who are underneath you and trying to make other people stronger so that your entire team is strong, or your entire city is strong, or your entire business is strong. Things that I’ve mentioned, so in order to do that, you can’t just be focused on yourself. You have to focus on other people as well. You have to lead with that and you know, that’s one of the things
that really just drives me, is you know, how can I set trends, and how can I lead the charge for people to be able to give back, and give back, you don’t necessarily have
to do that with money, you can do that with your time, you can do that with your expertise, you can do that with your encouragement, whatever the case may be. So I’m always looking to
make other people better, just because I feel like the only reason why I’ve had any amount of success that I may potentially have is because other people have invested in me, pour time, and allocating resources to me, so I strongly believe that
the greatest form of capital is human capital. You know, that’s what
kind of motivates me, keeps me going on. Because I know that it’s
always gonna come back around and somebody’s gonna continue to help me, when I’m in a time of need or teach me something that I don’t know or things of that nature, so that’s kind of the
whole thought process behind creating the
culture of selflessness. And you know, I will say that that is one
of the things that drives me, is seeing other people succeed and knowing that I may have somehow had a hand in someone else’s success. – That’s awesome. Any, any other questions
you’re thinking of? Like, how do you, do you have a team to trade? – We don’t have a team to trade, and actually we’re looking at Cleveland, ’cause you know Cleveland is the home of the undisputed heavyweight
champion in the UFC, Stipe Miocic. So we’re looking at Cleveland to possibly bring in a team in season four or five, but we just landed Nevada team Couture, Jackson Wink, Team Alpha
Male, American Top Team, but we’d love to get a little bit more mid-west representation, ’cause there’s a ton of great
fighters out in Detroit, there’s ton of great
fighters out in Cleveland, and right now, they’re not represented
in this league yet. – Right. Do you fight, do you fight in MMA gyms? – No. (Will and Jesse laughs) I don’t fight in MMA. I try to avoid fighting at all costs. I’ll defend myself if I need to, but other than that, you know, I try to keep my hands to myself. – Yeah, and the funniest
part is these fighters are some of the nicest
guys in the world, right? You would think that these are aggressive, you know, rough and tough guys, but man, some of the
nicest guys I’ve ever met are MMA fighters. It’s crazy. – [Will] They just flip a switch. – They just flip a switch. They have that special talent. – Everybody’s got one. – Yeah they do. Yeah they do. – Yeah they do. Absolutely. – Alright, so every week we
kind of go around the room, and we do this thing called hacks. We talk about something like a tool or resource that we use that can improve your life, from like an early stage on, or a commercial standpoint. So something free, or cool, or relevant. What’s something that you do or use, or something that you read, maybe, that you might wanna tell people about? – Just to kind of help them from a personal development side of things. I have a pretty set routine every morning. I do the same thing every single morning, and I have it on my calendar to make sure that I stick to it, and I’ve got time slots
available for each one of them. So like, I literally get myself started by the time I just roll around in bed, because I know I’m not
gonna get up immediately, so that’s when my alarm clock goes off. And then I give myself
a certain amount of time to do prayer, meditation,
and read scripture, and a certain amount of
time to do stretching, push-ups, sit-ups, and a certain amount
of time for meditation, certain amount of time to eat, certain amount of time to get dressed, and then I make sure
that I’m out of the door by a certain time as well every morning. And so that, starting your mornings
off the right way is, helps you get into a better flow, and you’re not all over the place. Once your mornings get going, you realize you have
a more productive day. That’s what I realize for myself. And then, like, another thing that I do
from a work standpoint. So we’re all hustlers and
working all the time, right? So I usually do the more
mindless things at night, so just like responding to emails, right, like nothing creative at night, because I’m already working
full day, I’m tired, but then in the mornings, I start by like, work. So it’s like, working in the business first, working on the business, right? I work in the business at night, I work on the business in the morning, beccause that’s when my mind is fresh, and I’ve got creativity going on, that kind of stuff, and
I wanna capture that. I don’t read books, which is a sucky thing
to say and to admit. I just can’t afford, I haven’t, that’s something I haven’t
been able to crack the code on. It’s like I force myself to
sit down and actually read, but the last podcast that I picked out that I would recommend for
folks to think and dig into is called We Study Billionaires. A really dope episode that I
had listened to is Tip 182. I think they were talking about a book called The Compound Effect. It’s really good. One of things that I took away from that, they said in the podcast
that every decision matters. Right? And so, we’re gonna, when you think about it, every single decision that
we’ve made or have not made, has allowed us to be in this position that we’re currently in. And every decision that
we’ll make or will not make will determine where we go in the future. Regardless of how big or small. So when you start to look
at your decisions that way, then you know, that starts to, you start to make a little
bit different decisions, or at least think about things
like in a different way. So, pretty good podcast, if you folks wanna check that out. – Pretty cool. His morning regimen sounds
a lot like bootcamp, minus the rolling bed and meditation. But that step-by-step morning, right? – Nah, Air Force is pretty, yeah. – Well, the Marine Corps is step-by-step, push-ups, sit-ups, wake up, go to the bathroom, come back, everything’s timed, you know. That’s awesome.
– Yeah. – Yeah, it’s pretty militant, man, but it is effective for sure, so. – Mm-mm. Awesome. What about you, Jesse? – Oh. I guess just good ol’ fashioned live networking for me, right? We just had an event. We launched a fight app to follow the fights and the fight card. And we had the announcer
announce it over and over again and nobody was using the app until we got out and started
activating it ourselves by meeting people and
finding people on our phones and getting them to download the app. Next thing you know, we got over a hundred, over two hundred people using the app. So that good ol’ face-to-face
live engagement beats posts, beats Facebook, beats announcements. Just getting out and doing the work and meeting people face-to-face and putting that product out there. – Yeah. I think that’s so smart. I mean we’ve spent a lot of time trying to get into the minds
of kind of like our customers and I know there’s a difference between the fight crowd and the app crowd. I mean, it’s tied to the same experience, but there’s a big difference between getting somebody to
buy a ticket to a fight and then also somebody getting an app. So it takes like,
testing, trial and error, to go figure that out. Like that’s so true, especially with the apps, like to get people to download
apps is very challenging. Cool. My hack is not tangible either. It’s, I mean, sorta, not
to say it’s not tangible, but it’s just saying no. – I think it should not be tangible. – Yeah, you know what I mean? Just saying no sometimes, and that might sound counterintuitive, but if you think about where you spend your energy and your
time on a daily basis, sometimes you just have to say no, whether it’s sometimes to friends, and toxic people, or whatever. Sometimes it’s just, if you have seven things
you have to do this week, and that eighth thing comes up, you know, I get it, you know it might be nice to say, yeah, I wanna go and go to this event, but if it’s not gonna be
helpful for your business, why are you doing it at all? And it’s really hard to learn to say no, especially if you’re a really, really A+ kind person, like I know us three are all, you know, angels. But, say no. So my hack is just, so think about where
you’re spending your time, and how you’re spending your time, and think about some areas and places in which you can maybe like, I don’t know, like trim the fat, I guess, you wanna call it that. Get that calendar back. So, James, any last final advice or words for some early stage veteran
entrepreneurs out there? – No, just you know, just think it’s a journey, and so, you know, don’t
be so hard on yourselves. We all have really high levels
of expectations for ourselves but just realize that you know, we’re better together for one, so if you don’t have a team, surround yourself with a team, more for the positive
people that can kinda help you reach your goals. And then you know, other than that, just continue to push forward, and be sure to always
test every assumption, test everything that you do or (audio breaking up) the thing, you know, that’s gonna make your product the best. – Sweet. Awesome, thank you James. Last bit. Next week, our guest is Craig Cummings. Jesse, you like this one. Craig’s a Bunker Labs’ board member. He’s also the founder
of Moonshots Capital. They’re a VC fund out of Austin, Texas. Craig’s a phenomenal leader. He’s a West Point graduate. It will be a great show, probably most likely centered around how to fund-raise, and the things that VCs and
the angel investors look for when they’re investing
in early stage start-ups. So stay tuned for that. Have a great afternoon, and we’ll see you next week. [James] Dope. See you. – Thanks James.

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