American Entrepeneurs | Undrea Wright, Andre Johnson and Dehja Bower

May 12, 2009

Washington DC

Pinnacle East

It was the first real spring day in Washington DC. Bright green studded the tree tips, a soft afternoon breeze emptied the city on a late Friday afternoon. Three suits, smiles and sunglasses approached and crossed the street. We sat down under the dappled light to speak with Undrea Wright, Andre Johnson and Dehja Bower of Pinnacle East, Inc.

Pinnacle East, Inc. is a private equity firm. Their main goal is to help entrepreneurs satisfy their dreams.? Many people have a great idea, but need help, strategy and funds.

The average investment at Pinnacle East is a million dollars. Many people who begin a business aren?t yet planning for the full marketing that they need, and Pinnacle East helps the entrepreneur to plan for growth and get the funding upfront for that growth.


The team of Pinnacle East: Andre Johnson, Dehja Bower and Undrea Wright.

Part of Pinnacle East’s role is to help the dreamer understand how a dream can be translated into the business world and to help the entrepreneur through the hurdles of starting a business. They believe that with the right tools, every entrepreneur can be successful.

The team at Pinnacle East is passionate about what they do.? They are firm believers in the entrepreneurial spirit and they see a revolution in entrepreneurship as a way to get our country back on track – and they are committed to bringing this vision to the rest of the country.

Dehja sees Pinnacle East as a firm that places a tremendous value on the people with whom they work.? This team is about bringing back the fundamentals: leadership, integrity, stick-to-itiveness, and a focus on goals. Andre cautions that budding entrepreneurs may think that all they need is a business plan. A business plan is only the foundation.? Entrepreneurs need a larger strategic plan that can reinvigorate their passion, and stay on track to accomplish their goals and their dreams. Pinnacle East helps business owners stay invigorated.? Andre wants them to feel that ?Day One? passion? and excitement everyday.

Pinnacle East leverages networks of local professionals, networks of financial capital, and their own resources to give their clients access that many new companies don?t have when they start out. They support entrepreneurs by helping them take the risks necessary for their business.

Pinnacle East finds that a lot of people don?t have a strategy for their business. If they do have a strategy, or a mission statement, many times they aren?t following it as years go by. Undrea referenced Michael Gerber and his concept of The E-Myth and advises, “Allow yourself to have a big vision. Be passionate about it. Build a strategy, and plan the tactics.”? This where Undrea Wright sees many small business owners flailing.

Dehja acknowledged that this is tough for entrepreneurs. We can easily fall into the ?do it ourselves? mindset. She advises to get the help you need in the beginning to avoid struggling later.? In the age of the instantaneous and Web 2.0 there isn?t a big window for you to get it right.? If you make a mistake, get overwhelmed, and clients notice, your market will also know about it.

Marketing comes into play after you line up strategy, tactics and resources. Many people don?t have solid strategies, and don?t have tactics to back up their strategies.? Just having a great product and great customer service isn?t enough, said Andre.? Part of their not-so-secret sauce is that Pinnacle East sets up their small business clients with Infusionsoft, which is also the main financial sponsor of the American Entrepreneur Project.? Pinnacle East uses Infusionsoft with their clients to make sure the small business owners have the tools to build a relationship with potential customers. Infusionsoft’s automated marketing system allows entrepreneurs to interact with customers in a one-on-one, personalized way rather than shouting a generic message to everyone.

Undrea jokes that his journey to becoming an entrepreneur began because he was a terrible employee. After his fifth year in the military, he realized he never wanted to work for someone else again. He felt that the customer service experience was lacking everywhere he went and he wanted to do something about it. Now he focuses on listening to the customer, sharing knowledge and building community. For Undrea there is a direct correlation between the hard work and focus he puts into his business and his success.

Dehja reflects that she had done very well in the corporate environment. Though she fit in, she realized that there was something bigger out there. She yearned for something different where she could set her own destiny. She found that working for someone else committed her to working on what she had to do, rather than what she wanted to do.? She could stay in the corporate environment that was deemed safe (Dehja now smirks that corporate ?safety? is laughable), or she could take a risk and be an entrepreneur.? For Dehja, she had reached the point where she needed to be fulfilled at a different level.

Andre?s path began with a crossroad that many of us have faced.? After the proverbial look in the mirror, he considered his identity, who he really was and who he really wanted to be. This introspection is something that he sees as quintessential to the entrepreneurial spirit. Andre knew that he was ready to take the risk. Fortunately Andre already had some experience as a business investor and for him, the fear of jumping off the cliff easily became the exhilaration of skydiving.


On the steps leading to the Capitol Building, the team at Pinnacle East

Pinnacle East considers the DC metro area as a catalyst for business growth. This is where the iron is hot.? Surrounded by an uplifting community, the nation?s capitol is full of successful business people.? Undrea believes that it is here that one can find mentors, and a community to whom you can bring value. This is a region that will help take your business where you want it to go.

DC is a government worker hub, which Pinnacle Easts sees as an exciting challenge. Along those lines, Undrea shared his favorite Latin motto: De oppresso liber [Free The Oppressed].

Dehja sees DC as a wonderful place with a recently renewed energy and enthusiasm. There is a climate of ambition.? People are more open and receptive to change, whether that means following their dreams or seeking new careers.

Andre tells us we shouldn?t forget the capitalist ideas that this country was founded on when considering the opportunism that exists today.? The American dream is attainable. It is something that we can aspire to, be it a four-bedroom house with an acre of land and a white picket fence, or in whatever form it exists for you.? That white picket fence, Trent suggested, is just a metaphor for stability.

Pinnacle East wants to help you attain your version of the American Dream.? It was inspiring to talk with this team of entrepreneurs who are looking forward.


The Capitol building in Undrea’s sights.

An Intimate Portrait of the American Entrepreneur Project is sponsored in part by the automated marketing gurus at Infusionsoft

and is championed by the spirited zeal of The Toilet Paper Entreprenuer and TPEs across the universe.