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Alumni Spotlight: Meet Akinbola Richardson

Akinbola Richardson (Akin for short) participated in Youth Entrepreneurs as a student at Grady High School in Atlanta, and it was there that he found the entrepreneurial passion that propels him forward today. “Experiences like YE are the things that make us who we are. YE showed me that the world is way bigger, way more beautiful and full of way more opportunities than I ever imagined . . . and I saw the potential within myself.” Meet Akin.

As a YE student: Originally, Akin wasn’t interested in YE at all. “Entrepreneurship had never crossed my mind — I didn’t even know what entrepreneurship was. But my mom was very adamant that I get a taste of entrepreneurship,” he recalls. Once the class at Georgia’s Grady High School began and he started learning, he was hooked. “I got to explore all the possibilities of entrepreneurship. We learned not only how to execute it, but the potential of how it can change your life.

His YE mindset-shift moment: “My main a-ha moment was during Market Day,” Akin says. A combination of a micro-loan program and a pop-up market, Market Day is a live entrepreneurial experience for YE students. “It was the first time I realized, hey, I’m pretty good at this entrepreneurship stuff. It was that real life experience that solidified everything I was learning. Creating the business, pricing the product, marketing the product . . . every student should get to experience that.”

Marketing ice cream sundaes: During Market Day preparation, YE East’s Executive Director Scott Brown (then Program Manager) shared transformational marketing advice. Akin smiles as he remembers the name of his product, Sexy Brownie Sundaes. “I was going with foam cups for the brownie packaging. They were cheap. But Mr. Brown recommended clear cups, so customers could see the brownies and imagine how rich and chocolaty they would be.” Sales skyrocketed. “That subtle change taught me how beautifully strategic business planning is. The details are powerful. And I said, I think I can do this! I knew I could be an entrepreneur myself.”

Akin’s career path: Akin came to Howard University on scholarship as a soccer player, majoring in Film with a minor in Psychology. But when an injury sidelined him and he lost his scholarship, he utilized the entrepreneurial skills he gained in YE. Akin leveraged his film expertise and launched a commercial video production company, earning enough to pay tuition for the rest of his college education.

His “unternship”: After graduation, Akin planned to freelance, but applied to the Golin Unternship on a whim. The competition awards a recent graduate with $20,000 to travel the country and then join the company full-time — and Akin won! “Honestly, I wouldn’t have won the Unternship without YE. YE taught me how to sell myself.” Today, Akin still works full-time for Golin, serving large clients like Adobe and FedEx.

Beyond work: Even outside his full-time work, Akin is relentlessly entrepreneurial. First, there’s Maroon Spirit, his video production company focused on films and commercials. He’s also drawing on his soccer passion to build an app that helps amateur adult soccer players organize local teams and games. “YE is even helping me as I create my soccer app. These lessons don’t leave you after the class. Putting yourself out there is an experience you never forget . . . and you never forget your first business pitch. Life is all about making it happen. In YE, students realize that they have skills they never thought they had.”

His YE passion: Akin remains an enthusiastic supporter of YE today. “Youth Entrepreneurs showed me that there are huge opportunities out there, opportunities I never saw before. It’s easy to view your life within a small box. But YE introduced me to a whole world of possibilities and untapped potential. This world has a reservoir of opportunity and YE taught me that I can reach out and grab it if I want it.”