HBCU 101: Episode 12 “The Sting behind HBCU Buzz”


– It’s authentic. – When we come to your school, we’re all in the
stands with you. – It’s inspirational. – It’s more than
just a field show, it’s about inspiring
young women. – It’s groundbreaking. – It was like oh my gosh, there’s a girl trying
out for drum major, all this stuff, dah dah dah. – From a campus
to the community, we cover everything HBCU. It’s HBCU 101. (upbeat music) – What’s up everyone? And welcome to HBCU 101. I am your host Jahliel Thurman. HBCU 101 is a show that’ll take you all
around the nation, give you the ins
and outs of HBCUs, and a taste of the HBCU flavor. On today’s episode, you
guys are in for a show. I have a very special
guest from HBCU Buzz. But I’m not gonna tell you who, I’m not gonna give you
too much right now. But before we dive into that, let’s go ahead and see
what’s good in the hood with our HBCUs. – All right, thanks Jahliel. And hey everyone, hope
that you’re enjoying the holiday season. If you know anyone
that’s looking for a job as a football coach, you
might want to tell them to get their resumes ready
for a trip down south. The SIAC will receive
a facelift next season with job openings in football
at Fort Valley State, Benedict College and
Central State as well. Kevin Porter picked
up a championship during his four year
run at Fort Valley. But it wasn’t enough,
he’s out as head coach. James Mike White is a
coaching legend in the south. But after five years, Benedict
is looking elsewhere as well. But Coach White will always
be remembered affectionately for his 30 years at his
alma mater, Albany State. And most recently,
Central State University decided to go another direction. And after six years, Cedric
Pearl is no longer head coach in Wilberforce, Ohio. So a lot of changes in the SIAC and football is still
in the air guys. Celebration Bowl on
the way to Atlanta in a few weeks. That’s gonna bring a lot
of energy here to the city, the home of the
HBCU 101 studios. That’s a quick look at news, a
sports edition we’ll call it. Let’s get back to HBCU
101 with Jahliel Thurman. – Thank you Tolly for the news. To those who know him best, he’s a family man. While the world may
know him as a creator of the one of the most
influential HBCU brands. HBCU 101 is ecstatic to talk
to Bowie State University alum, entrepreneur, CO
of L and Company, and CEO and Founder of
HBCU Buzz, Luke Lawal. – What’s up man? – What’s up Luke? – I’m happy to be
here in Hotlanta. – Okay (laughing) You got your hoodie on
so I guess you’re stay a couple days. – Yeah, you know. How’s it going man? – Everything’s all right
man, everything’s all right. So Luke, let’s talk HBCUs. But before we dive into it. You’re originally from DC. – Yep. – You’re Nigerian. – I’m Nigerian, I’m
from, I’m Yoruba. I’m from Yurba da. – [Jahliel] Okay, okay. Raised in DC? – Yes. – [Jahliel] Your
mom went to Howard. – Yes.
– Dad went to Bowie State. – Bowie State. – How did you even find your way to make a decision and
even go up to Bowie? – So I hung out
with my mom a lot. So my mom was still at
Howard when I was about, I want to say like six
or seven years old. She did social work. She did her master’s in
social worker at Howard when I was like seven. So I just kinda hung
around on campus and then once I got to hang with the greatest fraternity
on the freaking planet, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. When I was like that young, I was just around
HBCUs ever since. And Bowie State University was
just a great choice for me. – Okay, okay. Now you’re on campus,
it’s your freshman year, you’re a bulldog. What is you’re experience
like at Bowie State? – Whoo. – Take us through it. – So I came in as
a student athlete. So I came in to run track. It was just like, I want to say it was a little
overwhelming for me ’cause you know,
leaving from high school to come into college. It was like when I
was in high school I had to get dropped at at 6 am. In college, I just
walked to the track. So I felt like there was a
little bit of ownership for me. – Okay. – But because everyone
looked like me, everyone wanted to help me. And it kinda helped
me balance it all. Be a student athlete,
be a bio chem major, and just figure out who
I am while I’m on campus. – Okay, cool. Now while you’re a
student athlete, you know let’s talk about some
accolades ’cause I know you ran track, you played ball. I know you got some trophies.
Talk to us about it. – So Bowie State, we won our
cross country championship. You know, our girls and
guys, like we were amazing. I mean to be honest, track helped me
develop who I was. Not just as a student athlete, but just as a go getter. Trying to win, understanding
competitiveness, just trying to figure
out how I can infiltrate different techniques
to better my craft. In college, it’s competing
on a different level. So every small detail counts. So Bowie taught me that. When I was there, Coach
Lat, she was just amazing. And even in all my
other departments, you know I was a bio chem major so being in biology
school is different compared to, I’m not
saying don’t shade, but communication and business
its’ a little different. Like we had two exams. We had a mid term and a final. And if you failed the mid
term, you was dropping it. You was dropping the class. So the professors, they kind
of just got me up to speed and I loved it. The ones that were
hard on me taught me so many lessons. So many lessons. – So do you feel like the
lessons that you learned at Bowie and what you
went through while you was at Bowie State kind of
prepared you for life after? – Amazing, oh my God. Like, I discovered
who I was at Bowie. I joined the greatest
fraternity in the world and they took me from
here and then put me here. – Okay. – And I remember, you
know, after I started matriculating my
way around campus and then I joined SGA, and obviously I was
a student athlete. I thought that I had, like
I was at the top of my game. Like I worked in a club in DC,
you know I was making bread. – Making some bucks (laughing) – You know, I was
that guy on campus. – Yeah. – And I was just
like I always knew I wanted to be the bros, but
I didn’t know necessarily, I didn’t have any family
members that were cues so I didn’t necessarily
know what it meant. Or what it took from me to
get to where I needed to go. So after I joined,
it took me from here and then put me here. Everything I knew
about life changed. You know, everything I knew
about perseverance changed. Everything that I
knew about manhood was just taken from here and
just flipped upside down. So it’s just like if I
didn’t go through that I couldn’t tell you who I’d be. That’s why when
people ask me like what if I went to a
different college. I’m just like I don’t know. Hey, I couldn’t even imagine
who I would be today. I don’t even think
I’d be the man today if it wasn’t for Bowie
State University. – Man, that’s a nice little
tag line right there for Bowie. But speaking of the
man who you are today. I don’t wanna give
them too much right now but when we return I really
want to talk more about HBCU Buzz and how you kinda
identify a small niche that now is humongous
in the HBCU world while you were at school. – Absolutely. – We’re not gonna give
too much right now. – Okay. – When we return, we’re
gonna talk with Luke about how he founded and
why he founded HBCU Buzz. It’s Jahliel, it’s
Luke, it’s HBCU 101. – [Narrator] Coming
up next on HBCU 101 (hip hop music) – [Announcer] Welcome
back to HBCU 101. – Welcome back to HBCU 101. I am your host Jahliel Thurman and I have my main man here, founder of HBCU Buzz, Luke! – Kicking it, what’s up man? What are we talking about? – We talkin’ about
HBCU Buzz, right? – Right. – So, while you were in school, while you was at Bowie State,
you took a trip down to FAMU. And you know, you seen
the atmosphere down there Rattler nation, and was
like yo this is crazy, – Yeah.
– This is wild ya know and then thus out
of that, came HBCU Buzz. Tell us the story
walk us through it. – Um, so I was at SGA I remember that year we went
to a really dope conference, I’m trying to think of the
name of the conference. I think over the summer, it’s like a
leadership conference. – NASAP?
– NASAP, there we go. So we went to NASAP
and I got to network with some of the kings and
queens on the different campuses and you’ll really
learn that everyone has a different leadership style.
– Correct. – So that leadership
conference is very important because we get to trade secrets. It’s like, how do I, how
do you run your campus? What initiatives is
your administration working on this year? How can we like work and collab’ or whatever the case may be
and most importantly network? – [Jahliel] Right. – So, around that year
I just became the bruhs so I got to link
up with more bruhs on different campuses
and that was dope. But I’d never been,
I been to AUC, obviously AGP, I’ve
been up and down DC, Maryland, Virginia
going to different HBCUs but I had never been to Florida. So me and my dogs we were like all right let’s
make a road trip. When I say I was so impressed by the level of professionalism that that campus had in
the sense of their SGAs they had separate offices. They were like, they
had certain hours where you could come
and talk to SGA. It was more of a
student ran campus, – [Jahliel] Like a business,
like a real business. – a real business
and I was just like wow, and I wasn’t
more so like FAMU had it all because there
was certain things that I liked from Howard or
Morehouse or Spelman that we all could learn from but it was just the fact
that I had never been there and I was just
like, it inspired me to realize that
there’s a lot of things that go on in HBCU campuses that people just
don’t know about. – [Jahliel] Correct. – And me being into marketing, me being a semi-popular guy and retaining information
at a rapid speed, because I consider
myself digital especially being into marketing and I was just like,
I’ve never even heard of any digital HBCU brands. So obviously, I started
doing my research and I found a few hear and there but I was just like wow,
I need to create something that can not just promote HBCUs but let people know
what’s going on and then the more
homework I did, I think I spent like two months just kind of doing research, then I started to realize
that HBCU students don’t have a voice. Like, I’ll see certain things because now that
I’m doing research, I start to pay attention
to things differently. So like I’ll see a news clip of something that
happens at Morehouse and I’ll be like wait, that’s
not what really happened. So I’m just like all
right how can I create a narrative with HBCU Buzz to the point we’re
not just dishing out content that we
want people to see but we’re being informational
and we’re putting out facts and we’re informing the
community of the good things and the bad things
but also enlightening the people that are
not on the campuses about what it looks
like to go to HBCU? That’s what I’m
most proud of today because a lot of times
people come to our campus and they’re like well if
it wasn’t for HBCU Buzz I wouldn’t know or get a
good feel of what’s going on and it’s like they’ve
been following us since their ninth grade
year and they’re like yo, I finally got to Howard and now I see what
it looks like. – [Jahliel] What y’all
was talking about. – That’s what I’m most proud of. Outside of that,
creating HBCU Buzz was so dope ’cause I got to
be able to to put people on and that’s what I loved
most when I was on campus. It was like all right
if you’re a dancer at Alabama State we can post you and you get a thousand
views that might land you your next position, that
gets you more exposure and that for me is
what I liked the most. Especially while I
was an undergrad. – It was like a link. – [Luke] Right. – You know essentially,
lifting as you climb. – [Luke] Exactly,
– You know how it go. – It’s a lot of bridge brothers so I liked that the most. Not just because we
would put people on but we were also
informing people of gems that they might not
necessarily know. Especially from the
writer’s standpoint we had a lot of dope artists
do poems on our site. We had a few editor and
chiefs that got jobs that they wouldn’t
have necessarily got but because they
were with HBCU Buzz they got the experience
that they needed in a real live source that a lot of these bigger
news outlets respected. – And that’s dope and
congratulations on that. – I appreciate that. – I created my own company,
while I was in school. – Absolutely.
– So I already know the grind. – We both know how it feels. – We know the grind,
you know what it takes. But you also took a major
leap of faith right? You end up jumping and
moving from coast to coast and you went full
time entrepreneur. – [Luke] Absolutely. – But we ain’t going
to go into right now. When we get back we
gon’ talk to Luke more about his
entrepreneurial spirits. It’s Jahliel, it’s Luke it’s HBCU 101, all right? – [Announcer] Coming
up next on HBCU 101 (upbeat music) – [Narrator] Welcome
back to HBCU 101. (upbeat music) – Welcome back to HBCU 101. It’s Jahliel, it’s Luke. – What’s popping? – Man what’s good big bro?
– We here man. – Man we chilling, (Luke laughs) we having a good
time, we vibing, the buzz is in the building.
– What’s going on? – It’s always nice to
be amongst friends. – Aye, good friends.
(Jahliel laughs) We only got a couple of us. – [Jahliel] Aye
tell me about it. Aye Luke, you left D.C. area, – Mm-hmm. – Moved to L.A. – Right. – You took that
leap, a major leap. A leap that a lot of
people won’t take. And you went full
time entrepreneur, you founded a
company, L & Company. – Right. – Let’s talk about it. What are you doing
with L & Company, I know you got Taper,
Sweet Lifestyle. Dive in. – Okay, I’ll give
you a timeline. So when I graduated from Bowie, I was always a
part-time entrepreneur. Right?
– Okay. – I started HBCU Buzz, I actually had a
marketing firm too called Skywalk Entertainment. And that’s where
I funneled a lot of my events through right? – Okay. And I was working
full-time at Kaiser. When I was an undergrad
I got a Biochem degree and I actually wanted
to become a doctor. – [Jahliel] Right. – I was thinking about
taking that route. I took the PCAT, I took the
MCAT, I did pretty decent. I got a couple schools, but I took a year off to kind of figure out what I wanted to do. – Okay. – And within that year,
I worked at Kaiser because I wanted to get
hands-on experience. In that year, I discovered exactly
what I don’t want to do. – [Jahliel] Right. – (laughs) And that
was anything that didn’t naturally want me to do my personality and
then my business side. Because everyday I can be
me and still do business. – [Jahliel] Right. – So when I worked at
Kaiser, wearing scrubs, I couldn’t be me. And not only could I not be me, but I couldn’t do business. – Yeah. So that was the first
strike that was like, “Okay, I need to start taking this entrepreneur
stuff serious.” One thing I didn’t know is
that when I was at Kaiser, I was networking with
the wrong people. – Okay. – In a sense of, this isn’t my field, this is no where near
where I want to go. So why am I starting
from the ground up here? So then I moved to D.C.
in a sense of professions and I start working
for this lobbyist firm, this association called RFA. And I was more of their
marketing analyst, but I did a lot
of lobbying stuff. And at that job, it
was great networking, I worked with a
lot of politicians, we worked on a lot of campaigns and a bunch of different stuff. But, I wasn’t fully in it. And I knew that for
HBCU Buzz to propel, for any of my other
business ideas to even work, I had to take a leap
of faith and just jump. And for me, the best thing
that ever happened to me was joining Omega
Psi Phi fraternity because I knew that
it was certain things that I just had to see through. But it was also certain
times that I realized that struggling was not just
a part of the process, but it was also what
makes the process. Because now I’m 30 years
old and people ask me would I pledge
again and I be like, “Hell yeah, that was the
funnest time of my life.” It sucked, but the
process was fun. So when I took that leap of
faith to become an entrepreneur, I was just excited
about the process. I wasn’t even thinking
about the money. I wasn’t even thinking
about being broke. I wasn’t even
thinking about like, “Dang, I’m gonna struggle. The hustle’s gone be hard, I’m going to learn
a lot along the way, but I’m a gain some friends.” You feel me? – Yeah. – So it was just like (coughs)
– I feel that. – I knew that the struggle
was going to be hard, but I was just excited
for the process. Because I realized that process
is the most important part. – Yeah. – So I was just
excited about it, but what made me
jump was you know, the country elected a president
that I wasn’t cool with. – [Jahliel] Yeah. – And that was just the
camel that broke the back. I knew it was
happening in that year, but when that happened
I was just like, “Okay, I don’t
like D.C. anymore.” – [Jahliel] And you out. – “Everybody’s in L.A. People I want to
network with is in L.A. People I want to
work with is in L.A.” So I left. – So L & Company,
let’s talk about it. What you doing with
it, what’s new? What’s next? – So when I was an undergrad, one of the biggest things that
I failed at was structure. As a new entrepreneur, I didn’t know contracts, I didn’t know incorporation, I didn’t know how
things were set up. I was filing for taxes
with not a lot of money and I was taking a
lot of steps that I thought were right
and they weren’t. So the first thing I did
when I got to L.A. was, I started a new company
and I named it L & Company. And the reason I
did that was because I knew HBCU Buzz
wasn’t it for me. I had a black book
of ideas and brands, and things that I
wanted to create and I needed a parent
company in order to run it. – Correct. – And make sure
it was done right. So I started L & Company and the most beneficial
thing from that was, L & Company was the
marketing arm for HBCU Buzz. So it was like me and my team, we were focusing on
campaigns while HBCU Buzz was focusing on HBCU Buzz,
you see what I’m saying? – Yeah. – So it’s just I
used that as a funnel to manage my projects
and all my initiatives. – Okay, cool. Now under L & Company, you got Taper and
your managing J Murph. Let’s talk about it.
– Yeah I know right. – What’s good? So, it’s so funny because
when I was on the hill, I told you I got this little
black book of ideas and brands. So when I was on the hill, I literally only had, I wanna
say, a 25 minute lunch break. I got in at seven,
left at seven. So what that meant was, I never could get a haircut and when I could get a haircut, I literally only had 20 minutes because it took me five
minutes to get there and some change to get back. So I used to get pissed
when I’ll get there, my barber will have a
one o’clock appointment and he’d be like, “Oh I
got somebody in the chair, just give me five, ten minutes.” I couldn’t wait for one minute. I couldn’t stop
to go to the ATM, I couldn’t get there
and he ask me to wait. And not only that, but I couldn’t afford
to go to a barber that would have me wait. Or would start cutting
half my hair, then leave. So what I did was, I created
Taper to solve that problem. I didn’t want to go to the ATM, so I created Taper so you
can add your card on there and pay with your card. I didn’t want to waste time, so I wanted to make sure the
barber had his own set schedule so that you can see in
real-time on the app if he’s running late or
if he’s running behind, I mean early so that you
don’t waste your time in the barber shop. SO I created that just to
cut all those times down, but I knew that it was a
lucrative business for me. It was very expensive to get
in the app business right? But
(upbeat music) it was for me something that I knew
that my people would need. And that’s what L &
Company’s all about, creating brands
that solve problems. – We’re not going to let you go, (Luke laughs) just yet. – [Luke] Okay. – Because we’re going to
dive into “I Got Five on It.” You know we got to play that, but we’re going to do
that after the break. It’s Jahliel, it’s Luke. It’s HBCU 101. (upbeat music)
– [Narrator] HBCU 101. – [Announcer] Welcome
back to HBCU 101. – You all know what time it is. It’s time to play
I Got Five On It. – Okay. – Real simple, all right? – I’ll let you know. – So look, we gonna talk yards. – Yards? – Lincoln in Pennsylvania, or Lincoln in Missouri? – Missouri’s so dope, but I got five on Lincoln in PA. – Okay, okay, okay. – I got five on Lincoln in PA. – I’m sure you’ve been
up there a few times. – Yeah, I’ve been to both. Dope campuses, but I got PA. I like (mumbles). – Okay, now you’re
an athlete at school? – Dope. – So we’re going to talk sports. The MEAC or the SWAC? – What sport though? Just in general?
– In general. Just in general. – In general? Aw man. I’ma have to go with the SWAC. – [Jahliel] Okay. – I’ma have to go to the SWAC. – Now you was a
athlete in the CIAA so you had rivals
all through CIAA. When you were in school, who was your biggest
rival in the CIAA? – Me personally, Virginia State. Not because of the
basketball team, the Woo Woos, oh my God. – [Jahliel] The Woo Woos. – They were a problem! – (laughs) That’s what I heard. – A problem, oh my God. I don’t care what
sport you played. – It’s all good, it’s all good. It’s Jahliel and I’m excited. Why? Beause Keshia Knight Pulliam
is coming on the set next week. Whoo! It’s gon be crazy. Oh wow. – When I was about
seven or eight we filmed on the campus of
Spelman College. We did an episode
of the Cosby Show. And I will never
forget, I was enamored, I was in awe, I feel in love. – Oh wow. – He was like, “You’re going to Yale,
you’re going to Harvard,” like all of this. And I was like, nah, I’m
in my mind, I’m like, I’m going to Spelman but okay,
I’ll play along with you. Spelman’s in the
building. (laughs) – Wow I can’t wait
’til next week. You guys are gonna
be in for a show. That’s it for HBCU 101. Luke, thank you for
coming by the show. – [Luke] Thanks for having me. – We appreciate you, you
know it’s always nice to have good brothers
in the building, you know what time it is. – [Luke] Bowie State. – [Jahliel] The CIAA. – [Luke] I gotta get
you a Bowie State. I’ma mail y’all one.
(Jahliel laughs) I’ma make sure– – [Jahliel] Don’t worry about
it, don’t worry about it. And I’ll see you next week.

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