Richard Futrell, Futrell Promotions
It has been a long road for Richard Futrell—one that took him from extreme poverty and homelessness to running his own successful business—all in five years.
When Richard’s grandfather died in 1993, his world disintegrated. Richard’s mother fell into a depression and quit her job, and his grandfather’s house was sold out from under them. For two years, mother and son lived in an abandoned building with no electricity or running water.
Then Richard got the break that would change his life. Through the I Have a Dream program, he was given the chance to attend NFTE’s summer BizCamp (sponsored by Microsoft) at Babson College. There Richard learned all the skills needed to run a business: how to buy low and sell high, keep records, and how to create a product and the demand for it. His first venture into entrepreneurship was a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream cart.
Soon Richard wanted to do something more with his entrepreneurial skills; so in 1997, he decided to throw a Halloween Party in an old warehouse in Roxbury, Massachusetts. With an initial investment of $700 that he had saved from a job at the U.S. Postal Service, Richard took charge of every part of the event. He designed flyers and hired friends to help promote and run the event. To insure that it would offer safe fun for all, Richard hired four of the top security people in Boston. The event was attended by 300 people and grossed $3,300, a profit of $2,600.
To date, Futrell Promotions has acquired a reputation in the Roxbury community for sponsoring safe, non-alcoholic, drug-free and smoke-free events for youth between the ages of 16 and 22, an age group not served by Boston’s nightclubs. Approximately 200 people attend Richard’s events.
“It didn’t all happen overnight. It was a long process,” says Richard. He credits NFTE with giving him the knowledge and skills to stick with his endeavor.
He’s also focusing on establishing relationships with local music artists and marketing their material. His first big music project, “You’re My All,” a CD by his brother, was released two years ago with 2000 people attending the release party.
Last year, Richard received a full scholarship to Babson College. He is currently a junior majoring in entrepreneurship. While at Babson, Richard is producing on-campus events.
Richard remembers his life before NFTE: “Before I could conceive of the thought, I was labeled an at-risk youth,” he says. “At risk to murder someone, at risk to rob someone, at risk to drop out of school, at risk to end up in jail or drop out of school. No one thought I was at risk to start my own company, at risk to go to college and at risk to help change the way that people look at at-risk inner-city kids everywhere.”