Launched at the start of the season, the MBA program gives 100 minority entrepreneurs across North Texas the backing of an NBA franchise to support their businesses and dreams.
The Mavs and various community partners, like Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages, meet with MBA members quarterly and the program will culminate with a pitch competition in front of a panel of judges later this season.
The local entrepreneurs all have different dreams and pursuits — but they share a common goal to make an impact on their local communities.
“We take the feedback from our entrepreneurs very seriously, actively seeking their input on how to improve the program and how we can better help them achieve their goals,” said Teddy Graves, founder of Mavs Business Assist. “The large number of volunteers who gave up their evening to be a part of the program (Monday night) also left a strong impression on the entrepreneurs, communicating the message that we are all invested in their success.”
The Mavs Business Assist program is designed to provide networking resources and equitable support to diverse local entrepreneurs through professional development workshops and other activities.
Minority and women-owned businesses are often systematically excluded from economic benefits and resources, which stifles their ability to enterprise, gain capital and grow their companies.
Texas continues to rank among the Top 10 in the country for women-led startups, but there’s still a wide equity gap, especially for women from Black and Brown communities.
The Mavs Business Assist program aims to foster relationships and amplify the stories of those in underserved and under-resourced demographics.
The storytelling initiative is a massive component of the Mavs Business Assist program because many entrepreneurs have great ideas, but they need an outlet to share their visions and backgrounds with a larger audience.
The Mavs continue to “pass the mic” and allow the business owners to share their stories and visions through various digital platforms, like on Mavs.com, social media channels and at Dallas Mavericks games.
Networking with huge corporations and businesses like Coca-Cola Southwest is another key component of Mavs Business Assist.
The MBA program also has the backing of Dallas Mavericks legend, team ambassador and businessman, Rolando Blackman, who attends each event.
Graves says the Mavs have an all-hands on deck support system that will only grow in the coming years.
“The Mavs Business Assist program has certainly been a source of pride for not only myself, but the entire Mavs Take ACTION! team,” he shared.
“When we first started thinking about this program, we asked ourselves, ‘how can we intentionally engage minority entrepreneurs in the DFW area?’ We knew there were key ingredients to make this program special: a globally respected platform, a great city, and most importantly, extraordinary minority entrepreneurs across DFW.”
The program is a personal mission for Teddy Graves, who serves as the Dallas Mavs corporate social responsibility manager. His late grandfather is Earl G. Graves Sr., who founded the magazine and media empire, Black Enterprise.
Graves Sr. is known as a leading pioneer, icon and champion of black-owned businesses and a supporter of equal opportunity. He received the National Award of Excellence for his business achievements.
Now his grandson is planting similar seeds in the sports and business world.
“I am certainly very optimistic for what can come out of this inaugural program,” Graves said. “Personally, one of my highlights was when I had a moment to myself once session No. 3 started. God works in mysterious ways. I started this program in memory of my grandfather’s legacy, and his birthday is January 9th, the day of our session. Looking around and seeing the faces of all our wonderful entrepreneurs engaged and happy gave me a feeling that he would be proud of how this program is unfolding.”
Over 20 top executives from Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages volunteered at Monday’s Mavs Business Assist event and spent one-on-one time with various participants, answering questions and sharing more about their backgrounds. Among them included high-ranking directors, vice presidents and general managers.
Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages, a company of Arca Continental, is one of the largest Coca-Cola bottlers in the United States. Based in Dallas, they provide beverages to 31 million people in Texas, parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arkansas.
Derek Alexander, vice president of marketing and commercial operations at Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages, was the keynote speaker. He told the MBA members that he read over their bios and felt like they have extraordinary stories as entrepreneurs.
“Words like communicator, leader, courage, strength, passion, and inspiration describe those of you going on this journey,” Alexander said.
“I wanted to thank you for what you are doing in the community,” he added. “I want to thank you for being an inspiration to the next generation of entrepreneurs, and I especially want to thank you on behalf of the entire Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages family and allowing us to be just a small part of your journey here tonight. I hope we become great friends and a community of our own moving forward.”
After Alexander presented, the MBA participants rotated through various tables and visited with executives who could provide expert insight on employee engagement. The Mavs and Coca-Cola Southwest provided 11 working tables, covering nine different topics, including General Strategic Leadership, Marketing, Sales, Supply Chain, Profit Growth Management, Finance, Information Technology, Human Resources, and Legal.
“Before the event, we had our entrepreneurs fill out a form where they ranked their preferences among these topics,” Graves said.
“After analyzing the data and making the assignments, each entrepreneur was assigned to three different table rotations, allowing them to participate in discussions and learn from different experts in the field,” he added.
“In general, the table rotations were a success. Each table held a small group of participants, which simultaneously helped the sessions feel intimate but grand in scope. This allowed for more targeted and engaging conversations.”
Various Dallas Mavericks executives and staff members also joined the table discussions to answer questions and share more on their professional careers. The idea was to develop more personal business relationships with the MBA entrepreneurs to make sure they feel supported beyond just a corporate environment.
One key connection can be an open door to the future.
“Hopefully this indicates how excited we are to be here with all the entrepreneurs,” Alexander said. “Again, thank you for allowing us to be a small part of your journey.”
The Mavs have several more workshops planned throughout the season before the culmination of the Mavs Business Assist pitch competition.
In honor of the late visionary Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Black History Month, the Dallas Mavericks will continue to amplify the stories and dreams of various entrepreneurs in the Mavs Business Assist program throughout the year. To learn more about the program, click here.
Reporter: Tamara Jolee, Dallas Mavs
Photojournalist: Brandon Colston, Dallas Mavs
Table 1: General Strategic Leadership
Table 2: General Strategic Leadership
Table 3: Marketing
Table 4: Marketing
Table 5: Sales
Table 6: Supply Chain/Distribution Logistics
Table 7: Profit Growth Management
Table 8: Finance
Table 9: Information Technology
Table 10: Human Resources
Table 11: Legal