A self-proclaimed nerd, avid reader, and documentary enthusiast growing up, Cureton found inspiration in the pages of inventor and engineer Nikola Tesla’s autobiography. Despite being born worlds away from Tesla—Black and in the home of Black Wall Street—he related to Tesla’s innovative ideas and that he did not fit in with the norm. “A lot of my interests weren’t really mainstream,” Cureton says.
Still, pursuing a career in energy was not on his radar, even with his interest in Tesla. As a teen, Cureton and his friends knew vaguely of solar panels and that they were installed in homes located in more affluent neighborhoods. But, he says, “we were not talking about creating energy businesses or lobbying for particular policies that improve the conditions of our community.”