It should come as no surprise that an educational nonprofit focused on growing the entrepreneurial mindset would have staff members with some pretty interesting side hustles. That’s certainly true at NFTE.
Meet Nakeia Jones, a former NFTE teacher and now Program Manager for NFTE Baltimore Metro. On evenings and weekends, she is hard at work on another venture. Nakeia is the founder and mastermind of It’s Blackademic! Her trivia event company partners with black-owned restaurants and other businesses heavily patronized by minorities to offer a unique trivia night experience they won’t get from other events outfits. It’s Blackademic! will even organize theme nights with a special focus such as TV shows, music, or generation-specific trivia.
It all began when Jones, a lover of trivia, had one too many lackluster trivia nights out. It sparked an idea. “I would go to trivia nights with friends after work and would notice that although I was having a good time, the questions weren’t often culturally relevant to what we knew.” She continued, “I remember this one time a question being asked about swamp rock and we all looked at each other completely puzzled. I went home that night and started searching for trivia nights that were more culturally relevant for my friends and me. I couldn’t find anything, so I created It’s Blackademic! trivia.”
Nakeia is no stranger to the entrepreneurial landscape. She shared some personal entrepreneurial trivia about her previous startup. “I briefly owned a small clothing company with my cousins called Urbana Daze, which was named after our 3rd great grandmother, Urbana Winchester, who was a seamstress in the late 1800s.” This endeavor grew her creativity and gave her a lot of hands-on experience running a business.
She has also been an NFTE teacher, a position that enriched her own entrepreneurial mindset and pursuits, “Being an NFTE teacher really allowed me to believe that anyone can start and be successful because I was literally telling that to my students every day. I just needed to add tenacity and consistency to that belief to do it myself.”
“Owning your own business isn’t easy, but it helps to have a honed entrepreneurial mindset to let your strengths flourish and help when things get challenging,” she said. When asked which of the entrepreneurial mindset domains she saw as her greatest strength, Nakeia answered, “I’m strongest with creativity and I would like to improve my comfort with risk.” She went on to say, “Owning this business forces me to be flexible when I may not want to be, it forces me to talk when I want to be introverted. Getting out of my comfort zone is the only thing that has allowed me to take the creativity in my head and share it with others.”
As a member of the NFTE program team, Nakeia still has close ties to innovative groups of students that amaze and inspire her. When asked what she would tell the next NFTE student honing their own entrepreneurial mindset? “Just go for it!” she said, “Your idea doesn’t have to resonate with everyone and that’s okay, you can still be successful. I always share with students that I’m not a gamer and I don’t understand that phenomenon that is the League of Legends, but I can’t deny it’s a success and that there is a demographic for it!”
Learn more about Nakeia’s business at ItsBlackademic.com