She’s paying it forward!
Entrepreneur Pinky Cole gifted LLCs to every member of the graduating class of Clark Atlanta University, 11 Alive reports.
Pinky Cole is the founder of Slutty Vegan, a plant-based burger chain based in Atlanta. Recently, Cole gave the commencement address at her alma mater, Clark Atlanta University, speaking to the class of 2022 about her own pitfalls on the road to entrepreneurship. Cole graduated from the HBCU in 2009, heading to Houston to work in education.
“All it took was five days for me to realize I was not cut out to be a classroom teacher,” Cole recalled.
Despondent, Cole borrowed $40 from a friend and headed to the airport without a real plan in sight. An airline employee saw Cole in tears, gathering up $240 to help put her on a plane home. Cole eventually found her footing in the restaurant business, but admitted that it took her a while, her Slutty Vegan brand now valued at more than $100 million after launching just four years ago.
“Why am I telling you this? I’m telling you this because 13 years later, that same broken and broke little girl now owns and operates not one, but two multimillion-dollar businesses in the middle of a pandemic,” Cole told the graduates.
She went on to stress the importance of failing, encouraging them to fail fast and find inspiration in those failures, being sure to always get back up and try again.
“I’m telling this to you, the class of 2022, that I want you to fail…I want you to fail so hard you become an expert in failure and you get a PhD in failology. I want you to fail because failing is not failing at all – it is finding aspiration in the losses…Pinky Cole had a business and lost everything. My car got repo’d, got kicked out of my house, went flat broke, almost lost my mind – and almost four years later, she now owns and operates a $100 million vegan brand. She found aspiration in the losses. You think I was gonna give up because of some failure? Hell no. And neither will you,” said Cole.
In closing, Cole revealed that she was gifting the entire graduating class with LLCs so they too can begin their path as an entrepreneur. The restaurateur partnered with Varo Bank to purchase the LLCs, Cole telling reporters the total cost surpassed $400,000.
“Every single graduate in this audience will leave this stadium as a business owner,” Cole exclaimed.
One of those students, Ariyana Griffin, a Mass Media Arts graduate, said it felt “amazing.”
“[To get a] tool that I know I can use to push me forward not only in my career but in life period [feels amazing],” said Griffin.
Photo Courtesy of Elijah Nouvelage/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution