Established in 2010, HBCU Direct aggregates the country’s 100-plus HBCUs in an effort to increase revenues, decrease expenses and provide career opportunities for students through connections with corporate and government partners. The firm is a vertical business unit of Grassroots Promotions, Rod’s multicultural marketing company which was launched in 2001.
As CEO and Executive Director of HBCU Direct Rod is responsible for safeguarding the strategic direction of the company. This includes maintaining relationships with the institutions, developing strategic business partnerships and creating platforms that support HBCU connectivity with the broader global audience. Rod discusses the firm’s service offerings.
“There are more than 300,000 HBCU students, millions of HBCU graduates and even more fans and friends. Our role is to deliver strategic marketing partnerships, utilizing our experience and expertise with programs for customized for HBCUs,” said Chappell. “We are the trendsetters in our industry, which requires innovative products and services, with consistent contact with the institutions, their alumni and our business clients at all times.”
Another key part of Rod’s role within HBCU is to ensure that clients receive the service they expect. Through Rod’s leadership, he ensures that everyone is aligned to the firm’s guiding principles and is able to provide the very best possible service.
“HBCUs were created by thought leaders in 1837 out of a desire to train and teach black students. At HBCU Direct, our efforts to support our partners dictate that our staff understand the broader purpose. A key principle is that we serve and support the HBCU community first. Our staff of professionals must be competent and believe in this guiding principle.”
Working in such a dynamic, fastpaced industry, remaining in the forefront of innovation is vital. However, keeping up with industry trends is becoming increasingly difficult as technology changes daily. Rod discusses how his firm manages to keep up with sector evolutions despite this challenge.
“Understanding technological trends is key to HBCU Direct. Through keeping up with and using technology, HBCU Direct is able to test and expand messaging for our audiences. We utilize various technologies including email, social media, training software, internet television, solar development and remote sensors.
“Overall the future is bright for HBCU Direct. The use of technology will become increasingly more impactful in the near future with the launch of our IPTV network, solar technology training initiative, talent booking software and a new remote sensing platform.”
“In addition, we keep abreast of the latest changes in the wider HBCU market through constant, diligent research. I read a great deal about new trends through online articles, industry email alerts and magazines like Entrepreneur, Inc., Black Enterprise and Forbes. I often attend industry events and trades shows, and visit locations where I can reach key audiences. All of these activities ensure that our firm is consistently one step ahead of the latest industry developments and are able to adapt our service offerings accordingly.”
As he looks to the future, Rod is optimistic about the plans he has to build upon the firm’s current success and continue to support the work of HBCUs.
“Overall the future is bright for HBCU Direct. The use of technology will become increasingly more impactful in the near future with the launch of our IPTV network, solar technology training initiative, talent booking software and a new remote sensing platform. In five years, I plan to be on my second HBCU CEO book tour teaching young entrepreneurs about the carousel road of business and monetizing their passions.
The first book, entitled HBCU CEO: Passion to Profit, will be released during the second quarter of 2017, and I am excited about the opportunities this will provide and look forward to empowering other young people and entrepreneurs through my insightful book.”