TheGrio’s 100: Ephren Taylor, the face of young, black entrepreneurship

TheGrio's 100 - Taylor is an author, inspirational speaker, and real estate expert; a whiz kid who made some of his first money building video games...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

Elementary school students routinely trade unwanted lunchbox items for more appealing treats.

As a child, Ephren W. Taylor II had an even better idea. During recess, he sold pencils and erasers — for cash. His incentive wasn’t the money, but his parents — a father who’d returned to school and became an engineer, and his mother, a stay-at-home mom — who convinced Taylor and his siblings that they could do anything.

By the time Taylor was 12-years-old, he’d created Super Nintendo video games that he sold for $10 each. Again, his mother was a motivating factor, having said “no” to the $40 and $50 retail games he desired. Undaunted, Taylor walked to a nearby Border’s every day to read an instructional book on how to make the games himself, he said in a March 2009 interview in

Taylor went on to teach himself how to build websites, eventually earning $3,800 to build a site for a vitamin supplement retailer. He decided to start his own company when he discovered that the retailer made $800,000 off of what he had built, Taylor told Montel Williams in a televised interview. Other success stories rapidly followed – including then 16-year-old Taylor’s co-creation of a job-posting website for high school and college students,, that eventually was valued at $3.5 million.

By age 19, retirement attracted the young maverick after the 2001 technology bust. But that did not last long. In 2006, Taylor became the CEO of City Capital Corp., making him the youngest African-American CEO of any publicly-held company. At City Capital, based in Franklin, Tenn., Taylor helped establish partnerships with Citigroup, Sprint, Target and Wal-Mart. He also started the Goshen Energy Initiative, which seeks to produce alternative energy specializing in biofuels.

Taylor is also an author, inspirational speaker, and real estate expert, who has written a book, Creating Success from the Inside Out. His client roster includes superstar entertainers such as Snoop Dogg and Fat Joe.

Dennis Kimbro, Ph.D., who wrote Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice, says several traits and qualities help define the success of young entrepreneurs like Taylor.
“There is what is called Internal Locus of Control or the desire to be in control of your life,” Kimbro said. “It also requires excellent sales skills and the ability to capture attention.”

As long as Taylor maintains such qualities, his continued success may be guaranteed.