Article By Dayton Business Journal
Nate Dillard has a simple explanation for his entrepreneurship journey: He followed in his father’s footsteps.
“When my dad left the military, he started his own IT business,” Dillard said. “That’s why I followed that legacy. My dad did it. I saw it happen. So, I did what I saw — and I’ve done it in my own way.”
As a young man growing up in Detroit, Dillard witnessed firsthand the powers of generational wealth and community reinvestment. But for many minority business owners, securing enough capital to turn growth-stage ventures into self-sustaining enterprises remains a challenge, he said.
That’s why after serving eight years active duty for the U.S. Air Force, Dillard joined the reserves and launched the National Black Business Directory (NBBD) — a business development platform designed to empower Black entrepreneurs.
Its primary goal is to help minority business owners leverage the best available resources to maximize access to capital. The other goal, Dillard said, is to bridge the awareness gap between capital professionals and diverse startups.
“There’s this divide where you have capital professionals who are ready to invest in more diverse startups, and you have a diverse community that doesn’t even know they’re there,” he said. “My goal is to create platforms that connect the resources that are out there with my resources, and then tailor the messaging and understanding to my community.”
NBBD’s core mission is to enlighten minority business owners through education, and to empower them with resources to cultivate their growth. Successful businesses are more likely to give back to the communities they serve, exposing others within the community to resources and opportunities they might not otherwise be afforded, Dillard said.
“It’s a symbiotic, self-moving cycle,” he said.
Late last year, NBBD teamed up with two other Black-owned consulting companies — AgencyX and Intensify Design — to launch a new venture: LunarX Agency, a full-service design and development consulting firm featuring a team of more than 20 independent contractors and strategic outsourcing partnerships.
Sharing resources has enabled the combined company to better connect small business owners with supportive services at below-market rates. It has also brought much larger opportunities to the table, Dillard said.
“This year, we’re focusing on bringing in some really good commercial projects,” he said. “And once this year is up, we want to focus on getting into the contracting space.”
Dillard’s involvement in Dayton’s business community extends far beyond his leadership roles with LunarX and NBBD. He’s also the owner and founder of local media platform Elevate Dayton and holds executive positions at Startup Grind Dayton, FJS Realty Capital, Dayton Driven and the Justice Mentoring Program, a youth-led outreach initiative.
And though his businesses, brands and social involvement vary in scope, they all share Dillard’s ultimate goal: to empower others with the resources to succeed.
“That’s my mission,” he said. “My media brands, my consulting company and the community organizations that I’m a part of all fit into that. I try to live that through who I am.”
Company: LunarX Agency
Description: Design and development consulting firm specializing in branding architecture strategy, IT consulting, full-stack web development, software development and project management
Founders: Nate Dillard, Omar Dismuke II, Kortney Ballard