Courtney Pettway wowed the Derby Diversity Week Ideathon judges and now she’s uplifting others with words of wisdom on family and following your dreams.
Written by Christine Fellingham | Photo courtesy of Courtney Pettway
As the first-ever winner of the Derby Diversity Week Ideathon last week, Courtney Pettway dazzled a panel of three local business leaders with a powerful presentation on the KidVestors financial educational program she designed with her husband, Darius—winning $25,000 in seed money. But this entrepreneurial overachiever is also the mom of two (Averie and DJ) and partner with Darius in two other thriving companies – Pettway Estates Real Estate Development Company and Pettway Construction & Management.
After giving her a week to celebrate her big win, we asked Courtney to share some insights on how she balances work, motherhood and her entrepreneurial aspirations.
Can you tell us a little about the story of you and Darius? How did you meet?
We actually crossed paths during a high school basketball game. Our schools were rivals and we both played on opposing teams! However, we didn’t have our first conversation until we met again later on the campus of Auburn University, where we both attended undergrad.
What drew you to each other?
Outside of looks (LOL) we were both into sports and that interest was the hook which led us getting to know each other on a deeper level. But what really drew us to one another was our faith in Christ and our family values.
What are your “day jobs”?
We are real estate investors (Pettway Estates) and General contractors (Pettway Construction & Management). We have been doing this together for almost six years now.
Can you tell us about your family?
We were both very fortunate to be raised by both of our parents who have each been married for 20+ years. So, we are privileged to have amazing examples that we could each glean from. We will be celebrating seven years of marriage soon ourselves in December, and we have two beautiful children, DJ & Averie (who were also our inspirations behind KidVestors—the main characters in the program are actually named after them).
What dreams do you have for yourself and your children?
We would love for KidVestors to become the industry leader for financial education resources for youth across the country and eventually the globe. And one day, we hope to pass it down for our children to take over. We are all about leaving a legacy.
What advice do you have for other moms who want to start their own businesses?
As a mom and like many others, I tend to struggle with mom guilt. But then I remember the love for my kids is why I do this. So my advice is to allow your kids to be your why, not your why not. Leave mom guilt at the door.
What are the challenges and benefits of working with your husband?
Although we’re married, we are still two different people with different personalities, likes and dislikes, and have different ways of doing things. So, naturally sometimes there’s tension. But like in any relationship, you have to work to compromise. The benefits greatly surpass the challenges. There is nothing like being able to build with someone through the trenches and celebrate with them during the successes. For us it creates an even deeper level of intimacy.
How do you not “take the work home” or do you?
We are still learning how to turn the “business” discussions off. When you’re passionate about something and love what you do, it’s hard. But we are intentional in trying our best to leave business at home after a certain time and especially when we go on dates or travel together. We’re married partners before we were business partners so our marriage will always come first.
How did you develop the idea for KidVestors?
This is actually a funny story. Originally, we were just going to create a single story book for preschool age kids around real estate with an adventure theme. After talking with our illustrator and sharing our goal for our book, he wasn’t too thrilled about it! However, he did notice our desire to teach. He planted the seed in us that we could do a whole lot more, so from there we decided we wanted to create a curriculum and KidVestors was born in our living room.
Why is this concept important to you?
We knew we were onto something when adults would use our resources for themselves or would send us emails and DMs saying because of our program they took steps to open up an investment account or started learning how to invest. Our goal is for KidVestors to impact families, communities, and benefit the economy. We want more families to graduate from just surviving to thriving. While financial education is not the only element to help close the gap, (because we can’t deny the systemic issues at play as well) it is still a very important component and most definitely part of the equation.
Can you share your vision or mission statement?
Our mission is financial inclusion for all. We want to ensure that underserved and underrepresented youth have access to quality financial education as well.
How did you hear about Ideathon?
We learned about the competition on social media in a Facebook group. An individual who didn’t even live in Louisville shared it and we immediately applied even though there was only one week left until the deadline.
What was it like to go through the process of this competition?
It was a very smooth process, but it was also very inspiring. Before this event, we had never been to an event in Louisville where we were able to rub shoulders with so many other brilliant Black entrepreneurs. We are really looking forward to seeing how Derby Diversity Week grows and continues to be a hub for diverse founders.
What did you learn along the way?
We learned how to better communicate our message and our why behind KidVestors in a more clear and concise way. When we compare our finalist pitch in October to our pitch as semifinalists in May, we could hear our growth even in just five short months.
What did it feel like to win?
Honestly, we are still in shock. We are truly grateful for the funds that will help us grow our business, but we are even more grateful for how Tawana breathed life into our company and how her team showered us and our kids with love at the awards ceremony.
For more information, go to thekidvestors.com.
For more photos from Ideathon, view the gallery here.