by Sydney Blaylock, contributing writer
QuoVadis Gates is a Philosophy major, Economics minor/Art minor at Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA. During his days of living in Englewood’s Southside of Chicago he managed to develop the skills of entrepreneurship at the early age of 16 with his business QuoVadis Concierge and Personal Assistant Service targeting professionals. Gates also made his first investment in the company Apple at the age of 17 years old.
Today, Gates has displayed his entrepreneurial skills through art by creating a line of bracelets called Isolated Art, which also has led him and partner Derrius Quarles into producing their very own scholarship, Bracelets With Benefits Scholarship Campaign for students of the Atlanta University Center. The world should be expecting to see much more from QuoVadis Gates, especially due to his plans of becoming “one of the best to ever do it”.
What has your experience at Morehouse done for you?
I was immature and made foolish mistakes with finances. Morehouse has helped me mature mentally and physically. I have had the opportunity to realize what I’m good at and not good at. I have surrounded myself by good people. My situation at Morehouse has helped me mature financially because now I have bills of my own.
Where does your creativity come from in order to create “Isolated Art”?
Creativity for me is purely based upon emotion and that’s the only true way to bring about brilliance in art. It all depends on how I’m feeling or the person I’m creating something for is feeling. Emotional appeal is one of the strongest things ever. Emotional things never have to make since which is one of the things that one of my art teachers at Spelman College told me. Sometimes if I’m gloomy and someone ask me to make a happy piece then I will give them a later date simply because I can’t make something if I’m not happy. With art when you force things they will never come out right therefore, I usually do things based on my emotions.
What has been one of your best investments?
My best investment actually is the investment in myself. In the stock market, my best investment was buying Citi Group a year ago but overall the best investment is in myself. Investing into every little idea and every company that I start. From those I’ve gained experience in running a company and reassures that I believe in myself. In order to invest in myself, I have to believe in my ideas and myself. I will always remember there were times when I spent all of my money on an idea and it didn’t go so well. Or the times when I spent money on an idea and it just happened to become successful. Those experiences alone have really been the result of my biggest investment, which is investing in my ideas and myself.
When do your best ideas come into play?
My best ideas come into play when my back is against the wall. In business, we often go broke because we are hustling money that we need for other things. Sometimes when some of the greatest ideas come into play they usually don’t come right away. Since it doesn’t come right away, you have to be patient. Sometimes I get great results and sometimes its two weeks that I’m living off of that small amount of money that I’m trying to hustle at the same token. When my back is against the wall then there are no if, ands, or buts. I have to make it happen.
What does it take to make a business plan?
A business plan, that’s interesting. I’ve run two companies and from both of them they started as ideas and then developed as businesses without ever writing a business plan. I’ve honestly never written a business plan. I’ve known people that have written hundreds of business plans and never started a company. For me, I’ve never written a business plan and in a three-year span I’ve made a good amount of money. As of right now, I’m pretty comfortable with not writing business plans because I have great results (laughs).
What is your advice for young aspiring entrepreneurs?
If you believe in something then just try it. Business plans of course take time and after you spend that energy into it you may feel trapped into doing it. When you try things and if they work, of course you will keep doing it and if it doesn’t then you won’t. Young entrepreneurs have no fear and just try. Don’t worry about what your clients may or may not say. I always ask for criticism because you never know where you need to adjust. Never take things personal in business ever. Start doing something first and if you enjoy it then gradually build it into a company. Don’t get into business for the soul purpose of making money, get into business for the love of it and it can take you anywhere.
What is your definition of success?
Success is being able to take care of myself, my family, and all of the people that have helped me throughout my life. One of the most important things to me is reaching back and helping the people on my block. I think that the next kid coming up in a similar situation will have a better example and plenty examples instead of just that one guy that made it out. In the words of Jay Z, “I can’t help the poor if I’m one of them, so I got rich and gave back to me that’s the win win”. It’s not just about me making it but a group of us making it. If a group of us makes it then I can feel comfortable with the heights that I’ve achieved. My mother has taken care of me all my life so I want to take care of her for the rest of my life.
What are some of your lifetime goals?
Living goals for me would be to build a company that becomes a fortune 500 company and employs thousands of people. Making some great art that goes in a museum one day. Writing a few books that are placed in libraries someday. Helping the kids in Englewood area to see that they can actually become someone and actually achieve their goals. Most importantly, I think to myself “what about when I’m dead?” I know that on this planet earth, I will be dead longer than I’m alive. So I want to do something that impacts the world 500 years or 1000 years after I’m dead. That’s my afterlife goal and ultimate dream, which is to become one of the greatest people to walk this planet. To do something that can never be done again. The best example of that is Martin Luther King Jr., he broke the color barriers in the United States and that can never be done again. I want to do something on the magnitude of no one else can do ever do this again, no matter how hard they try or what effort they put in.
What do you fear?
That’s funny. I don’t fear anything in business or competition. The only thing that I really fear is steep stairs. I fell on some stairs when I was in third grade and bust my eye open. I still have scar on my face until this day. When I’m around steep stairs if someone is playing I will get mad and grab the banister as hard as I can (laughs).
What was the last personal wow factoring moment in your career?
The last wow factoring moment in my career was looking at my stock market portfolio and its monetary value. It was a nice amount (double digit thousands) and made me feel so good about myself and demonstrated what I can do. I believe, if I did that from 17 to 21 years old then the sky’s the limit from 21 years old until my last day on earth. I believe the skies the limit and 5 billion is the goal and I think it’s going to happen.
What are some things that you are working on right now?
Right now, I’m working something called 100 hundred options after Morehouse. It doesn’t solidify anything for me but it does bring some comfort to know what I will be doing a year from today. I know ultimately I always want to be an entrepreneur but I know a year from today I will out of school and really have to make some mature decisions in order to progress my entrepreneurial career. This project is really the most important thing to me right now. Something else that I’m doing is working on a children’s book, which targets 5th and 6th graders to gain an understanding of what entrepreneurship is all about. I want to write a book that shows kids that there are other things that they can do. One of the biggest immediate projects is “Bracelets with Benefits Campaign” with Million Dollar Scholar which have come together in order to provide scholarships for our peers and students in the Atlanta University Center (Spelman College, Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University). We went into this in order to give back money to our peers and become a better example for what our peers can do for each other. Of course, everybody can’t get the scholarship but everybody can see that we care about our peers enough in order to give them money to further their education.
What do you have to say to young African American males that are loosing hope?
What worked for me is looking at everything that I didn’t want to be in life. First, think because that’s most important. Think about the situation and any consequence of any situation. Think about what you want for yourself and then observe. If there are no role models around then look at everything in everyone that you don’t want to be and then work to not be that. I believe, after aspiring to not be something then you will find out what you want to be. Go out and find a role model that’s doing what you want to do in life. Role models have shown me that anything is possible and have given me hope. Never loose hope. I believe more in myself than anything else. I know that I can depend on myself more than I can depend on anything or anyone else. I feel as though if you believe that then loosing hope won’t happen.