By Nicole Taliercio

Alvin Irby, former kindergarten teacher, was at his local barbershop getting a haircut when he noticed his very own student was sitting down in a state of boredom.

Alvin said to himself that this boy should be practicing his reading as he waited for a haircut because Alvin knew the reading level of this child.

This thought led to an idea that would soon become Barbershop Books.

Barbershop Books was developed to give young boys the opportunity to improve their reading skills in their spare time.

Alvin chose the books for each barbershop by simply asking young boys what they like to read.

This led to increasing success rates because the boys were able to read books that they personally enjoyed.

Barbershop Books has become a community based literacy program that creates reading spaces in barbershops for young boys.

Today, Barbershop Books partners with more than 100 barbershops across the United States, reaching over 400 black boys per month.

Alvin also shared 10 key tips to develop a business that makes a difference.

These tips included: be open minded, respect your ideas, develop a minimum viable product, do not chose a “wack” name for a business, embrace your conviction and passion, surround yourself with smart people, create your own safety net, check your ego, keep learning and have fun.

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