Kaciem Swain was born and raised in Arbor Hill and the South End of Albany, in an underserved community. His plan was to move away when he had the chance, but for his whole adult life, he’s stuck around to serve those very same communities he grew up in. Currently, he’s in the midst of launching a few entrepreneurial ventures, including Capital Curbside. His goal is “to hire creatives of color, bring them into my company, give them equity in it.” We were curious to learn more…
How did you become an entrepreneur?
I’ve worked for several corporations, and I tried to contribute ideas or to get them to see things differently, but they didn’t want to. I’ve been working since I was nine. My dad told me it was time for me to start learning how to make money. I was always mowing lawns or helping him with some side hustle. My father taught me how to take care of myself so I could help take care of others. I’ve been entrepreneurial my whole life. I also work part-time for AVillage, where I instilled my vision of a Night Market.
Can you talk a bit more about the South End Night Market and its mission and importance in the Albany community?
AVillage has always been an advocacy platform that focuses on social justice issues, including economic and health disparities in the community. Originally, the organization started running a small farmers market on Saturdays. I didn’t think it fit what the community or market needed at the time. I had a vision for a night market where people could stop by when they get out of school or on their way home from work. We decided that the South End Night Market would run on Thursdays from 4pm – 7pm. This would be best way to reach the people who need access to food, fresh veggies, etc.
This space was designed for black people and people of color to come and create equity, ownership, and black wealth. We’re currently looking to add more black vendors to the market.
Aside from the Night Market, you’re launching Capital Curbside. Tell us about your vision for this new business.
After the market launch, I started thinking…what if there was a way for these foods to be delivered to people who can’t make it to the market? What if there was a more economical delivery service for markets & restaurants? The amount of money GrubHub and DoorDash are taking from restaurants is substantial. I started asking myself, what is a better way to serve small local restaurants and provide a better service than these apps? That’s where Capital Curbside comes in.
In January, I signed a lease for a new restaurant in Troy (more to come on that) and in March, when COVID-19 became more serious, I decided to get Capital Curbside going. These common app based services have no standard operating procedure across the line for PPE. The drivers aren’t concerned with building relationships with the restaurants. All of our workers are on payroll and we have a weekly team meeting. We’re starting deliveries this week! If you’re interested in learning more about our services, please visit our website and give us a call.
What piece of advice would you like to leave fellow entrepreneurs and/or our readers?
You don’t need to work for somebody else. Ultimately, what you’re giving to company is your intellectual and creative capital. I’m always looking for people who are willing to collaborate, do the work themselves, and share equity in a project. A lot of times we want to come into a pre-developed infrastructure and make change when ultimately, you can be the change yourself.