Eddie Brown: Starting from Scratch

Eddie Brown remains focused on creating opportunity for others, through both his business and his philanthropic work.

Here is a transcript of the video:

People talk about the poor people pulling themselves up by their boots, but what they don’t realize is, they have to have boots to pull themselves up.

I was born to a 13-year-old, unwed mother in a rural community in central Florida. It was during the time of segregation. I was reared by my grandparents. So, my grandmother would take me over to the big city, Orlando, and she would show me men sitting behind a desk with a white shirt and tie. So, happens it was white men. She said, “Little Eddie Carl, if you study hard, you too one day can sit behind a desk with a white shirt and tie.”

So, I applied to only one college, Howard University, and fortunately was accepted, but I didn’t have any money. A leader in the black community came to me one day and he said, “There is this lady that I know, and she wants to help a black child go to college. You are the person I am going to recommend.”

I said, “Wow.”

So, for every year, a white lady, who unfortunately I had never met, had the check sent for my tuition, room and board, and books. That was a start.

When I came out, I got a job with IBM. But even when I was an engineer at IBM, I developed an interest in the stock market. I started, with just a little money, actually investing, and since that time, I said, “This is what I want to do.”

I joined T. Rowe Price and Associates in ’73 and fast-forward, I’d been there for 10 years. I had accumulated some dollars. Well, I said, it’s always been my vision to have my own business and I’ve always been a risk-taker.

I started from scratch. Some of our best friends thought I was absolutely nuts. “You’re Vice President of T. Rowe Price, you’re doing well, you’re going to do what? Leave? Try to start a firm of your own?”

I started Brown Capital in 1983. Headquartered in Baltimore. That August, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. I’ve left a good paying job. But now what?

We were both crushed. But fortunately, we got the medical help and it did work out. That was right in the beginning. And so, with a lot of help, I built up a network who could basically vouch for me, and say, “Hey, this guy is really good. He is honest.”

So, I am a capitalist. You know, if you put all of the pieces in place, and stay at it, and do it well, you know, really, there are no limits.

It was challenging. But, we now have 37 employees. We are 100% employee-owned. And we are the second oldest African-American owned investment management firm in the world. From zero assets under management in 1983, zero income, we now have over $10 Billion total assets under management and very much encouraging others to look beyond themselves.

So, having come from nothing and trying to help the future, and if we do a good job, then it’s not only good for our families, but good for the world.

This Is Capitalism.