Jaylon Smith is known for being an impact player on the field. The Pro-Bowl linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys has put up some impressive stats in his young career.
Smith is also making an impact off the field in a big way.
He’s doing it through his Minority Entrepreneurship Institute. MEI connects investors with minority-owned businesses on their way up but could use a financial boost getting there.
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In its first year, MEI pumped more than $195,000 into a handful of businesses in Smith’s hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana. This is year two and he is doing it in North Texas.
“It’s about closing the economic and educational gap when it comes to business,” Smith said.
A savvy businessman himself, Smith, 24, has made making money off the field a priority.
“I'm very diversified. A few ventures and some private equity. I’m in real estate. I couldn’t do it without my team. For me, the main thing is the main thing. And that is being an employee with the Dallas Cowboys and competing at the high level,” Smith said.
He acknowledged that no one can do it alone though. That’s why he and his team want to help.
“I have a management team at Rise Business Advisors and they help me run my company. Helping me understand that I am hitting budget, helping with my accounting. That’s what I want to do for others. I'm trying to help,” Smith said.
He said this is coming at a time where it’s especially important for minority communities hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis.
“There are so many people and so many small businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19. This could be a tool to help them, I guess, get that extra kick start once all of this is under control," Smith said.
This passion project goes far beyond this showcase though. Smith said this is just another way he can prove to people living life with what he calls the Clear Eye View is how he has gotten so far, so fast.
"You hear me talking about it all the time, but what it means is a focused vision. A determined belief and earned dreams. That’s really how my life is displayed and that’s how I am able to get people to understand what I care about and how I operate. It’s basically having a laser beam focus on what you want to accomplish. Where do you want to be and where do you want to go next. A determined belief is a belief in yourself and a belief in others. A belief in others that they have your back and a belief in God that he has your back throughout that process. Then earned dreams. That’s just about how bad you want it," Smith said.
One of the judges for the event is North Texas businessman and philanthropist Roland Parrish. Parrish owns 27 McDonald's in the area.
"It is refreshing to meet a young professional All Pro athlete who is not self-centered, but focused on exposing minorities to business principles and entrepreneurship," Parrish said. "I believe that small business is the backbone of the US economy. Jaylon’s goal takes my practices to another level. Teaching the principles of economics, capitalism and entrepreneurship, so that our youth can live the American Dream.”
The deadline to submit business plans online for the MEI Showcase for judging is June 1.