Hey everyone! Joshua here! If you are reading this, I hope you are having a positive and life changing day! Today I had the opportunity to interview one of the most amazing, inspiring and hardest working men in entrepreneurship and tech – the one and only Emile Cambry, Jr.! Emile is the founder and leader of BLUE1647, he is also a social entrepreneur, film maker and business professor! Emile has a very inspirational work ethic and seeing his daily successes in helping the world be a better place is motivation to me! I am happy that he took the time to do an interview with me and provide some insight into how he is following his PASSION, making an IMPACT and living the #DoWhatYouDesire lifestyle!
I hope you all enjoy this interview!
Good day Emile! I would like to thank you for being a part of my People Who Will Inspire You To #DoWhatYouDesire interview series! Tell me how things have been going with you?
Thing have been going well, just balancing all things BLUE1647, but I couldn’t be more proud of the work our team is accomplishing and what we have on deck moving forward. Our goal has always been about economic justice, and in the 21st century, our work is essential.
Okay Emile can you take us back to your childhood! Tell us what inspired you to do what you’re doing today! Take us back to those formative moments in your childhood that created you!
Funny enough, my first memory of a computer was our Commodore 64, that my dad brought home. I had never heard about a computer before then, and funny enough, we learned how to operate and some small coding with the MS-DOS operating system. My brother and I did everything together, so we’d play around with the computer and try and figure out how to get more games on there. We didn’t have any special manual, just an interest, and getting access to it at a very young age, which is what we’re trying to equip all children with. And moving forward, when Prodigy and AOL came out, we were first on there, exploring wha the internet provided, and my brother even formed a hacker group where he learned to code, and did some fun things with the group to connect to an outside community over computers.
Currently you are the CEO and Founder of BLUE1647. I have seen and heard very positive and inspiring things about your organization! How did you create this company? What made you decide to pursue this on such a massive and inspiring way?
Honestly, this company came about from a side project. I was teaching at a local university, and I noticed that many of my students needed jobs and internships, but didn’t get them, especially my minority students. I started to think about the next generation and the idea of apps had just launched. I thought it would be cool if kids could build apps, and imagined what they’d be like 10-15 years from now if they started early. They could build my products and services, and they could be the Lebron James of technology. We launched a pilot program, which was extremely difficult, but some students really loved it. They kept at it. And their parents kept asking what’s next, so we realized we needed a space for them to build, make, and continue to learn. So we’ve evolved our organization as a result of what’s needed by the community and it went from a side project to ten jobs in one.
I follow you on Social Media and I know that you are very passionate about technology and entrepreneurship! What are your thoughts about the current state of entrepreneurship and technology in the black community and other communities as well? What actions and initiatives need to be implemented for us to become knowledgeable and profitable in business?
I’m very passionate about technology and entrepreneurship because we haven’t had the narrative around us being a part of the innovation economy. Billions and billions of wealth is created through technology companies, and if we don’t start them, we probably don’t benefit from this growth. If we can’t work for these companies because of the skills divide, we can’t inspire the next generation. That’s why I’m big on showing our successes, and keeping the narrative alive, because we are at a critical point in our history, where we could be left out completely, if we don’t do what’s necessary to participate and start our own.
You have many programs and events produced by BLUE1647 that cater to different communities/ages/ethnicities! (I also see that you work with Creative Cypher, which I am a member of!) Can you tell us about some of the programs that you have created?
We created programs based off need. We realized we needed to do more for women in tech, so we created 1919 to cater to that demographic. We found that some women prefer to learn tech around other women, and they can get started that way. Not to segregate anyone away, but make it a better starting point for some folks. The same thing with our Latina Girls Code program, or our BLUE5050 program, which is targeted towards folks over 50 years old. We connect folks who finish the program to our outside community within BLUE, but we do all we can to find easy, safe places for folks to get started in their journey.
We all experience downfalls and greatness in our lives. I feel these are things that help shape us, these key periods in our lives. What have been some of your biggest setbacks in life? How did you overcome them?
I’ve had tons of setbacks, so many to name. Everything from being rejected by another incubator when I wanted to bring my youth program there. Because of that rejection, I started my own space! I applied to PhD programs because I wanted to better study equitable global supply chain models, but most of my work now includes elements I would have just been studying, not changing. At first, it was tough to be rejected when you put all you can into it, but I’ve always found better ways to improve myself and be competitive moving forward. Anyone that knows me knows I have a massive chip on my shoulder, and all because of these defining moments.
What have been some of your greatest achievements? Can you take us into your mindset at that point and how you achieved?
The biggest achievement is just how our team has grown to multiple cities and a center in Haiti. I would have never thought that was possible. The individual awards are cool, but to be able to change lives every single day is just surreal. I still can’t believe it at times.
My mantra and brand is #DoWhatYouDesire – what does a statement like #DoWhatYouDesire stand for in your words?
It means just go for it. You are the CEO of yourself, and your decisions matter. Every small, incremental move in the direction of your path, will lead you to greatness, if you put in the work.
How can we find out more about you and your organization? Website? Facebook? Instagram? Twitter?
We’re at blue1647.com, backslash blue1647 or blue1647 chicago on social media. Follow us because we post a lot, provide some content, and try and change the narrative of our communities.
About BLUE 1647
BLUE|1647 is a technology and entrepreneurship innovation center focused on technology education (through classes and workshops), workforce development (through apprentices and internships), and economic development in technology and 21st century skills.
Emile Cambry, Jr. is a business professor, filmmaker, and social
entrepreneur born, raised and still calling Chicago home. After receiving his Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Chicago and his MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, Emile gained experience in Investment Banking for J.P. Morgan Chase as well as teaching as he was a Professor at North Park University and recognized as one of the Top 50 Business School Professors. Perhaps Mr. Cambry’s largest project to date was founding the technology and entrepreneurship incubator, BLUE1647, expanding to several different locations across the Midwest.
Emile has Produced films that have been licensed by HBO and Cinemax, as well as Showtime. Emile is the President of the Chicago International Social Change Festival which showcases films that heighten public consciousness. Rounding out Mr. Cambry’s experiences include being named on
Ebony Magazine’s Power 100, The Root Power 100, Chicago Crains Tech 50, a Top 100 Innovator in Chicago by the Chicago Tribune, Techweek 100, and a 40 Game Changer Under the Age of 40 awarded by Verizon Wireless, and awarded
the Community Service Award by the South by Southwest Conference. Emile is also a recipient of the 2014 Impact Award by the Social Enterprise Alliance, and sits on the boards of Depaul University’s Social Enterprise Collaborative, a Commissioner for the Cook County Social Innovation Commission, the Forbes Nonprofit Council, and a Board member for Accion International. Emile is also a Global Services Association Fellow, to increase entrepreneurship and innovation around the Globe.