Born and raised in Brooklyn, entrepreneur Lorene Cowan guides business owners who want to grow their companies. This year, due to a rise in business start-ups, Cowan has expanded her business resource website, creating an innovative membership program.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Cowan witnessed friends and family suffer economically. Along with the rising trend of online courses, she recreated her business, changing its name from Business Arsenal Inc. to The Experts Tribe.
The Experts Tribe is an online community where seasoned experts help guide entrepreneurs at different levels of their businesses. In the membership program, Cowan said members have access to business resources, weekly courses and a growing supportive entrepreneurial networking community.
The biggest problem business owners face is figuring out things alone, said Cowan, who created The Experts Tribe so entrepreneurs would have a support system. She said she had dreamed of creating an environment where people can depend on each other’s expertise, insights and references.
“I want us to create a situation where we support each other, which leads to strong partnerships,” she said. “It is the exact environment I want to create to help as many entrepreneurs throughout their journeys.
“Many people believe that they need to do the process of establishing a business alone, and they’re inside of their bubble, but if they open themselves up to other people with similar businesses, they can now refer each other to their businesses. It is the key to grow your business and go forward.”
Cowan was raised in a family-oriented household and school, which influenced her vision. As a child, she loved to spend time with her family and friends. One of her childhood memories is visiting her family in Jamaica every summer.
“Love hard, care about people, and make time for people you love is the biggest lesson I’ve learned in life,” she said.
Cowan said the close connections she made with peers and teachers in her small school influenced her life.
“In New York City’s public school system, you are in a classroom with millions of students,” Cowan said. “While in private school, there is a closer connection between the teachers, students and their families. Most importantly, we wanted to behave and live at a higher standard. We have this family type of dynamic in school.”
The same school setting helped her become an entrepreneur. She always aspired to make money. In elementary school, she sold out of homemade bookmarks. Unfortunately, the school shut down her business.
In high school, Cowan was part of the cheerleading squad and vice president of the speech and debate team. She said it helped her build confidence and create an impact at St. John’s University.
“That confidence brought leadership roles and made us not be afraid of being leaders,” said Cowan.
During her last semester, Cowan worked for MTV’s ad sales department as a full-time intern. She attended her classes at night and thought balancing a job and her studies was a great experience.
Afterwards, she worked for Lifetime TV as a corporate communications coordinator, collaborating with the press unit, public image unit and corporate communications.
After a few years, she decided to earn her master’s in business management and marketing at Harvard University. Cowan wanted a sense of purpose. She launched Business Arsenal, Inc. Along with her business, she launched the entrepreneurial resource website, Business Arsenal University.
Cowan decided to honor her parents’ legacy. Since they supported her education, she did the same for student entrepreneurs by establishing a non-profit organization. Cowan launched the first virtual event, the National Student Entrepreneurs Summit.
The virtual summit allows students to discover and sharpen their entrepreneurial skills. During the event, students gain essential resources to establish and run a strong business; listen to investors and entrepreneurs share their wisdom; and participate in a business pitch battle.
The winner receives the Etel & Sonia Cowan Student Entrepreneurial Grant. The $5,000 grant is named after Cowan’s parents in honor of their support.
Last year’s NSES winners, Juzel Lloyd and Celecia Blyden from Howard University, both said that working with Cowan made the process of launching a business easier.
“Lorene is always there to offer advice,” Lloyd said. “She helps us work through those intermittent roadblocks, and welcomes discussions on anything we agreed or disagreed with.”
“No matter the situation we face, she always has a game plan for us to get through it and is always able to explain things in a way we can understand and apply to our business,” Blyden said. “On top of it all, she’s very personable and easy to talk to and work with.”
Lloyd and Blyden will launch their business Life Hack 101 in the first quarter of 2022.
Former competitor, Maximillian Kodi, from Southern Connecticut State University, said attending the summit helped him develop his startup, InvestrLoft.
“I was able to meet some great people,” Kodi said. “I was able to reach out to Douglas Romanoff of Parameter Ventures, who was the investor on the panel. I had a couple of Zoom meetings with him, and he was really helpful in guiding me as I was developing my startup. If it wasn’t for Lorene, none of this would’ve happened.”
Cowan’s discovery of her “why” is the driving force for The Experts Tribe and the National Entrepreneur Students Summit.
“If you are passionate about your job, then the output will be great,” said Cowan.
Cowan hopes her “why” is helping entrepreneurs grow.
“You can create a website,” she said. “You can do anything you need to do, but making an impact and changing lives is so crucial and beneficial. Being part of an entrepreneur’s journey and speeding up the process is all worth it, which is why I created the summit and a purpose-based business.”
Today, Cowan’s business has increased to six staff, and as a business owner, no day is typical.
“The biggest lesson I learned from my business is that things are going to change,” she said. “You can plan as much as you want, but it’s more likely that something won’t go as expected. Learning how to make adjustments is something that I’m constantly working on The Experts Tribe.”
Cowan said it’s OK if making money is the primary motivation of starting a business.
“They might need the money to feed their family, or they lost their jobs,” she said. “It’s okay, as money is a priority for survival, but I do encourage people to find their why.
“You can make money on anything, but when you find passion, you will work hard, and it will not feel like work. You will push through the hard times because you are passionate about what you do. It takes a lot of time, but it is a sacrifice worth taking.”
Next year, she plans to release her first book, “Diary of an Expert.”
For more information, students may visit www.theexpertstribe.com/summit-page.
To apply for the grant, students can click this link.