Luke Lawal, CEO and founder of L & Company, knew from a young age that he wanted to own businesses. His portfolio has grown over time to include media, technology and mental health brands. (Courtesy Photo)
By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer
Report for America Corps Member
When asked whether he thought he would become a successful entrepreneur with several businesses under his belt, Luke Lawal’s answer was one word: “Absolutely.” The CEO and founder of minority-based conglomerate L & Company said he always knew he’d do it.. “I just didn’t know what was going to be my first business.”
Lawal, a Maryland native, first plunged into the entrepreneurial space while he was studying biochemistry at Bowie State University. He started HBCU Buzz, a media brand that covers relevant news for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), from his dorm room during his junior year. Lawal noticed that there was a significant void in the HBCU community when it came to how news was being disseminated about the institutions.
“I realized really quickly that we did not have control footprint on how we explained whatever was going on in our communities,” said Lawal. “A lot of times when there’s breaking news, our message is always kind of shifted or changed.” The platform, which launched in 2011, began as a simple Twitter account to take control of the narratives surrounding HBCUs and has now grown to become the most influential brand in the HBCU community. Soon, HBCU Buzz will celebrate its 10th anniversary in business, and Lawal said the milestone is surreal. He credits his dedication to consistency for keeping him in business for all of these years.
Quickly after graduation in 2012, Lawal went on to create Taper, a company that focuses on bridging beauty and technology. His first product came in 2016 with the launch of the Taper app. The app serves as a booking platform for around 5,000 barbers and beauticians to attract clients. Lawal said in addition to the booking services, Taper offers tools to help Black beauticians and barbers elevate their businesses.
Lawal has also used his entrepreneurial expertise to enter the mental health space. His mother works in social work, and he said, as a young man, he witnessed the benefits of having a therapist in his household.
“One of the things I realized is there is a big stigma in our community behind mental health and why it’s needed and important,” said Lawal. “African American men are oftentimes shying away from therapy.” As a result, Lawal founded Root Care Health in 2018 to provide affordable mental health care services to people in Maryland and California, where he currently resides.
During his entrepreneurial journey, Lawal’s biggest obstacle was capital. Every business he started was funded entirely from his pockets. He’s been able to use the revenue generated from each of his businesses to finance future endeavors.
Along the way, Lawal has stayed motivated by the testimonials his brands have received. Being able to give back to the African American community on a larger scale has also kept him inspired. “When I think of entrepreneurship, I love it like a sport,” said Lawal. When asked what his hobbies are, Luke Lawal’s answer is one word: “entrepreneurship.”
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