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“When I lost my dad… it made me realize that time is limited.”

22-year-old College Student Pursues Her Dream as an Entrepreneur

“When I lost my dad… it made me realize that time is limited.”

As early as elementary school, Jonae Maxey remembers seeing the negative effects of drugs and crime in her eastside Detroit neighborhood.  She has also witnessed friends and family members choose the wrong path and could have easily been right along with them, if not for her parents. 

“They instilled the values of responsibility, being secure with who I am, and the importance of helping others,” said Maxey. 

Her father, being a teacher, would also impart the importance of education.  In 2016, Maxey graduated with honors from Cass Technical High School and had to make the difficult decision to either attend college locally or move out of state.

Since the thought of becoming an entrepreneur had always been intriguing to Maxey, she would take her talents to the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.  Although confident in her decision, she wasn’t as sure about the type of business to pursue.  That would change after one of her mentors recommended a book: 

“You must know the difference between an asset and a liability and buy assets.” – Robert T. Kiyosaki - Rich Dad, Poor Dad

“When I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad, it sparked a new opportunity.  I no longer looked at real estate as just an idea; I could now see the possibility of it being a business,’’ said Maxey.

In addition to challenging school courses, Maxey immersed herself in the world of real estate.  Her dedication led her to a summer internship that would have her fixing sinks and cleaning toilets.  “I wanted to get the gist of all aspects of real estate, so I could know how to relate to my property manager in the future when I hire one.”

Everything was going according to plan… until losing a big influence in her life.

“When I lost my dad, I was depressed and had never been depressed before in my life.  But it made me realize that time is limited,” said Maxey.  “I had to figure out what I wanted my impact to be in this world.”  She would find the answer back home in Detroit.

Acknowledging the vacant home challenges in the city, Maxey saw this as a great opportunity to help her community.  So, she started Maxey Real Estate Investments.  The company’s ultimate goal is to revitalize inner-city neighborhoods in Detroit by fixing up homes and then renting them to Detroiters at an affordable rate.

And because real estate could be a person’s first opportunity at accumulating wealth, Maxey wants to help tenants by providing them with cost-effective rent-to-own options.

In December of last year, Maxey purchased her first property on Courville St.  Not only was this a professional milestone, but it was also gratifying as she was able to hire contractors from the neighborhood to rehab the home.

In her spare time, Maxey teaches residents in her eastside neighborhood about how to create wealth through real estate.  What’s most impressive is that she’s been able to achieve all this while still in college.

But Maxey stresses that higher education isn’t the deciding factor in achieving.   “You don’t need to go to college to be successful.  College doesn’t necessarily teach you how to be an entrepreneur.  You have to seek that out yourself.”

Upon graduation, Maxey plans to expand her enterprise to include recreational centers, financial literacy programs, and eventually a foundation named after her father…

“If my dad were here, I think he would be proud of me. He would look at me with his smile and say, ‘keep going.’ ”