Editor’s note: Trevor Trevor of Hutchison PLLC is the host of the Founder Shares podcast where we share stories of what it’s like to be just crazy enough to meet the challenges of entrepreneurship. Founder Shares blogs are a regular part of WRAL TechWire’s Startup Monday lineup.
RALEIGH – In the world of entrepreneurship, success stories often revolve around individuals who have access to capital, support networks, and ample resources. However, there is another breed of entrepreneurs who embark on their journey out of sheer necessity.
“We have all sorts of things going on in our life, and it is really easy for us to let our business falter a little bit when we’re dealing with other stuff,” Geraud Staton said. “But having someone call you to say, ‘Hey, a couple of weeks ago you said you were doing this thing. Did you do it?’ Like, ‘Oh yeah, you’re right,’ and then you’re back on it again.”
These necessity-driven entrepreneurs face unique challenges, but their resilience and determination propel them forward, and Geraud’s story exhibits this. As the CEO of Echo and a serial entrepreneur, his inspiring journey from selling Blow Pops as a child to founding Helius and eventually merging with Audacity Labs to form Echo highlights the importance of recognizing and supporting necessity-driven entrepreneurs in their pursuit of success.
Geraud’s entrepreneurial journey began as a young boy growing up in a poor neighborhood. Wanting to fit in and have the means to enjoy experiences like his peers, he started selling Blow Pops.
“I bought them for a dime, and I sold them for a quarter,” he said. “And even then, I thought people were insane to buy these dime Blow Pops for a quarter, but that’s what I did.”
Despite initially feeling incredulous that people would buy them at a higher price, Geraud quickly realized the demand and potential profit. What started as a means to fit in and make some extra money soon turned into a lifestyle-changing endeavor.
“That’s really where I got started and addicted to entrepreneurship,” Geraud said. “I could start to see the difference that it made and it made a huge difference in my life. I mean, I bought a car with that money and was able to go on some of the field trips that we had that we would not have been able to go on.”
The concept of necessity-driven entrepreneurship is distinct from other forms of entrepreneurial pursuits. Necessity-driven entrepreneurs often come from disadvantaged backgrounds, lacking access to capital, education, or job security. For them, entrepreneurship becomes a way out of poverty or a means to overcome barriers in their lives.
One significant challenge faced by necessity-driven entrepreneurs is the lack of a support network. Unlike their counterparts in traditional business schools or accelerators, these entrepreneurs often lack access to mentors, resources, and a community that understands their unique circumstances. This absence of support can be isolating and hinder their progress.
“There are so many crazy ideas that people have and they just are missing that support network,” Geraud said. “Most of us already know the entrepreneurship is a little lonely anyway, and so I think this lack of support really hurts a lot of those necessity-driven entrepreneurs.”
Geraud’s journey towards creating Helius, an organization aimed at supporting necessity-driven entrepreneurs, stemmed from his experiences and observations. While interning at Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network, he encountered entrepreneurs whose businesses did not meet the criteria for support.
Many of these businesses were innovative and had the potential to create jobs and economic growth. However, the lack of assistance caused them to disappear. Motivated to make a difference, Geraud began mentoring small business owners and witnessed the transformative impact his guidance had on their ventures.
“I started seeing that this was not a small problem, but a really much larger than I thought,” he said. “So those three things really had to work together. I needed to see that there was a demand for this. I needed to see that it was actually missing in the community, and I had to have that experience of my own to see what a difference that it really made for people.”
Helius initially started as a project, offering one-on-one coaching to entrepreneurs. However, Geraud recognized the need to establish a supportive community for necessity-driven entrepreneurs. Helius shifted to a cohort model, bringing together a group of entrepreneurs to learn and grow together. This approach provided the entrepreneurs with not only valuable business knowledge but also a sense of belonging and support from their peers.
As Geraud started accepting applications for the first cohort, he was astounded by the overwhelming response. Within two weeks, he received 114 qualified applications, reflecting the untapped potential and need for support among necessity-driven entrepreneurs. Helius’s impact surpassed his expectations, and it became apparent that the organization was filling a significant void in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
“They wanted to do this,” he said. “They understood that entrepreneurship was their way out.”
Helius eventually merged with Audacity Labs, forming Echo—an organization dedicated to empowering necessity-driven entrepreneurs. This evolution showcased the continued commitment to supporting entrepreneurs who face unique challenges and ensuring they have the resources and community they need to thrive.
Geraud Staton’s journey exemplifies the power of entrepreneurship born out of necessity and highlights the importance of recognizing and supporting necessity-driven entrepreneurs who often face tremendous obstacles. To hear the full story, tune in to the latest episode of the Founder Shares podcast, available wherever you like to listen.
(C) Hutchison Law LLC
This blog was originally published at https://www.hutchlaw.com/blog/how-echo-is-transforming-lives-through-entrepreneurship-with-geraud-staton