Quandell Iglesia: Changing the game by paying it forward

Cherri Gregg
February 14, 2020 - 4:00 am
Quandell Iglesia.

Cherri Gregg/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — At the age of 20, Quandell Iglesia is the owner and president of three businesses.  

"The thing is, I struggled academically," he said. "I barely graduated high school."

Iglesia's journey to entrepreneurship began when he was 16. A hands-on learner, he was bored in the classroom at Williamstown High School but was very active in the school's club scene and an effective fundraiser. 

So instead of studying, he spent his free time writing business plans.  

Iglesia decided to venture out while working for a fast food joint at 16.

"It just wasn't for me," he said. "But I still know how to make a mean burrito."

The first business he created was Photobliss, LLC, a photography company. The only problem, however, was he had zero photography experience.  

Self taught, he used his community connections to get clients. It also didn't hurt that Iglesia looks like a straight A student thanks to his glasses and clean-cut style.

"I was working with local officials, mayors, councilmen and different nonprofits," he said. "This came from my sphere of influence from my high school clubs."

The business expanded overtime, with photo clients asking for help on marketing and promotions and social media.

Quandell Iglesia.
Courtesy of SNJ Millennials

That's when he founded Quandell Iglesia Consulting, a company that specializes in public speaking, business startups and social media consulting. He partnered with Chick-fil-A, hosting an event that reached over 190,000 entrepreneurs and business professionals online. 

From there, his work expanded.

"A lot of young people were reaching out to me, asking how are you navigating in these spaces, how are you connecting with individuals, multi-million dollar companies, at your age," he said. "And that is how SNJ Millennials was born."

SNJ Millennials is Iglesia's giveback. 

It's a nonprofit that provides mentoring and networking opportunities to young entrepreneurs. The organization invites individuals and small businesses to become members. 

The members then attend workshops, networking mixers and have access to business education resources. 

Two years ago, SNJ Millennials kicked off its 30 Under 30 Gala, and it was a huge success.

"We have a mission of bringing generations together," he said, noting that he connects business owners to young audiences and vice versa.

He didn't grow up with entrepreneurs in the family — His dad works in construction and his mother works in medical billing. The oldest of four, he was driven to serve as an example for his siblings even though he had a tough time in school.

"My teachers told me to just go in the military," he said. "and I was the only one of my friends that didn't go to college, so I knew I had to do something. I decided to use that and do something positive."

Iglesia says he was driven to make something happen, and his three businesses have helped him do just that. 

Organizations in South Jersey have recognized Iglesia  repeatedly: he received the 2019 Most Influential African American: People Making A Difference Award by the South Jersey Journal, Entrepreneur of the Year by the Vineland African American Community Development Corporation, Rotary Youth Leadership Award, among many others. 

He's also the youngest person to receive the SNJ Business People "40 Under 40 Award." 

SNJ Millennials.
Courtesy of SNJ Millennials

Iglesia was just 19 at the time.

"The one that meant the most was when I was recognized by my high school during Black History Month," he said. "It's the only thing that I have ever been recognized." 

Plus, he's actually making money.

"I actually purchased my first home when I graduated high school," he said. "But it was my family, having that rally of support around me really made the difference."

He believes that being himself and following his own path lead to his success.

"One thing truly did lead to another," he added. 

It's something he shares when he mentors other young colleagues on how to turn their passions into businesses.

"I want to serve my community and beyond, and expand the East Coast," he said of his vision for SNJ Millennials. 

He will be 21 in June. In the meantime, he's changing the game by setting an example and paying it forward.

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Gamechangers is led by KYW Newsradio's community affairs reporter Cherri Gregg. It recognizes 10 individuals or organizations that are making a positive impact on communities of color. 

For a full list of 2020’s Gamechangers, check back here. One honoree will be announced each weekday between Feb. 10 and 21. The awards ceremony takes place on Feb. 27 at The Met Philadelphia.