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Right Before Launch

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M.A.N.D.A.L

4 mins

Men.Are.Naturally.Dedicated.As.Leopards:

“I remember when I graduated from college and was left so mad at the result. I was mad I didn’t have a job. Everybody from UGA leaves with a job right?

So I stayed with my parents, which to me was not a big deal.

Then I got my first real job ever. This was also the worst job ever!

When I got my second job I also hated it, maybe even more than the first one to be honest.

My third job was in a call center and this was LEGIT was the worst job ever… 

And then I was thinking, Oh snap bruh, I just don’t like jobs, I’m just not good at them. I’m at work thinking that I should have just stayed with my parents. If being successful involved me working a 9-5 everyday. I will NEVER be successful.”

life is like soccer. If you’re going to be successful , You’re going to need a lot of goals.

 

Right Before Success:

There is a life where you can bank on 4 hours of sleep. After you have to go to work for 10 hours, you don’t just go home and go back to sleep because there is always another show or something to do. The day ranges from 7 pm to about 1am, and all of this takes place AFTER you get off of work. Tevin (Mandal) Williams puts in all the time he can to perfect his craft in this life because it is something he truly enjoys.

So we can just say Mandal got his start on February 18, 2016. At least that’s when he decided to invest his future success into comedy. It all started off with an open mic where he did fairly decent and then he went to the next show…

And the next show was awful. When Tevin performed at Laughing Skull for the first time, he realized this was something he wanted to devote his life to, but not without a renewed commitment to the craft. As much as comedy makes so little sense, it just made sense to him! The real moment that really made it all come together was when he won an amateur contest and got paid $75!

That was my favorite $75 I ever received. -Tevin Williams

That was an amazing feeling but it was a feeling of clarity. At the moment, he actually had a felling that he was doing something right. That moment, a moment of clarity is one that we all should strive to find sooner versus later. When you experience moments Right Before success, normally the work does not get harder but it only becomes easier because you are moving towards your goal and something you are passionate about.

“I’m basically trying to be the George Clinton of Stand up.”

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Do you ever feel like not doing it?

“Two times, I only did it twice and I felt really bad. Even when I don’t want to go perform, I go because I understand the importance of perseverance and dedicating myself to something I believe in.”

“Comedy is more than just the LOL to me. It’s art.”

“I was hanging with Zeta Pi chapter after a wedding, and I wasn’t even in the show that I was going to visit. I wanted to go, just to be in the environment. “Everybody was like dang bro. we was having a good time.”

I don’t know what happened but they were like, Mandal can you give us 3 minutes…. “right now”. [The host] walked off the stage to introduce me before I could even really consider.

I went up there and just killed it! Got off stage and was like bruh, if I had decided to stay at home.

The only times I miss now are if I am writing. Other than that, it’s every night!

Signs of progress?

When talking to Mandal, We talked about the dedication it takes to become a comedian. Usually it takes around a decade before seeing big gains. However, Mandal is “devoted” to the craft, willing to sacrifice time for the benefit of progress. Sometimes he is nervous about the long term results of such a lifestyle. The long term mindset can be draining. Watching everyone around in their corporate jobs and traditional lifestyle is only a part of the added social pressure on Williams.

While most people are going out drinking or socializing with friends, he is on a stage engaging the audience. Most shows are not paid, so not only comedy isn’t very lucrative at first, but kind of expensive.

One of the benefits of comedy is the straight forward path to success that most people acknowledge. First there are paid shows, residencies that come for a long duration at a club, festivals, and varying levels in between. Comedians are able to progress through different “checkpoints” in their career.

 

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Success:

If I was 28, and I had some tiny apartment, and I making enough to pay my bills, but my source of income was strictly doing what I love. I Wouldn’t be jealous of some Kenny Duncan Enron or Wake Up Now scandal. I would truly be fulfilled.

Success in comedy is abstract to the majority of people reading this article. Sure many of us can name people such as Dave Chappelle, Kevin Hart, Adam Sandler, and a handful of others who have given their lives for the entertainment of others. I am beyond confident that hard work will be the great equalizer for Mandal. Without hesitation, I know that anybody who has found something they are really passionate about, has found something that can endure a lifetime. He currently runs two shows at the Speakeasy open mic every Sunday. He is also at Mammal Gallery every last Wednesday. I know that these residencies are only the beginning. When things get tough and difficult, that is usually the time that people tend to quit. There is no quit in Tevin “Mandal” Williams.

It’s like being a pirate finding his parrot, it just works.

 

-Kenneth Duncan

 

On The Verge Of Success

6 mins

By: Andrew Porter

Kenneth Duncan is on the verge of success. Born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Duncan graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Real Estate. UGA is connected to many of Duncan’s successes and failure’s alike. During his time at UGA, Duncan pledged Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. , the Zeta Pi Chapter—an accomplishment near and dear to his heart. Post graduation, Duncan has joined a consulting firm and embarks on a new adventure—the creation of an online  business and lifestyle magazine that captures the important moments before individuals become successful entitled Right Before Magazine. Duncan runs the site and views this as his magnum opus to date. I sat down with Duncan to discuss his magazine and the impact it has on himself, his community, and his future.

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What prompted you to start your magazine?

Duncan: I think the biggest prompt for it was always being motivated by other people. I like seeing others around me succeed and that pushes me to go harder. One of the ways I like to get motivated is by reading success stories or hearing about people in Forbes. I like reading Fortune magazine and seeing the richest people in the world. I idolize people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. In the Forbes 30 under 30 list, you don’t see a lot of people of color. The people of color that you do see come from Harvard, Princeton, Georgetown—places where there’s a lot of privilege. I have a lot of really smart friends that are floundering or stuck where they are because they don’t have privilege. I want to shed light to people who don’t have the same background that I have; to show that there are people who have less than you who have more challenges than you who are really pushing forward and persevering.

 

What do you want your goal of Right Before magazine to be?

I want to build a community. I want everybody to be able to inspire each other and help where they see fit. Starting at UGA, just seeing more community between us and our smartest people and pushing each other and then branching out to black people in general. Long term I want to see the black community take things into their own hands and build things from the inside out.

 

So basically, you want to use Right Before  magazine a tool to help teach?

 Yes and no. I feel like its collaborative learning—almost like a Google doc—where everyone has something to pitch in where we all have our own talent or challenge that we might have had and we come together and collaborate for a collective goal.

 

Do you consider yourself to be an entrepreneur?

Probably a serial entrepreneur. I want to have a lot of money one day. I enjoy the finer things in life, but also I am more of a philanthropist in nature just naturally. I enjoy giving back to the community seeing people really be successful and thrive.

 

What are some of your entrepreneurial adventures?

I started a company called Transcendence Management Inc. Transcendence Management Group is the embodiment of what I want my life to be like. Not just one or two companies but a conglomerate of companies based on the idea of transcending. Not just doing the bare minimum but going above and beyond what everyone else is doing. Everything I do is under the umbrella of Transcendence Management Group. I tried to do a Greek step show at UGA around Homecoming time; I just didn’t have the preparation to do it. Probably my best learning experience so far was a party last year for Georgia/Florida. I just chose a really bad partner, which lost me thousands of dollars. Now I’m looking to move into Real Estate investment in Atlanta after I make some money from my current job.

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What made the Homecoming step show unsuccessful?

I think to have a Homecoming step show you have to have the buy in from all D9 orgs. I needed the participation and work of every D9 Greek org. I was looking to have every organization represented. I think the biggest mistake was doing everything myself and not having everyone’s buy in.

 

What happened with the party in Jacksonville?

I actually had two options going into the party. I knew UGA would show out. My two options were to pick an Alpha chapter down in Florida that only had one member to market the party or I could choose a party promoter from Miami who was referred to me from another Alpha. I chose the party promoter because I thought he would have more pull. The party promoter ended up being a whack promoter and didn’t bring college students. Had I gone with the Alpha bruh from North Florida, he was guaranteeing 300-400 people. I didn’t believe in him, but I probably should have bet on him before I bet on a complete stranger. I went with the party promoter and lost a couple thousand dollars.

 

What did you gain from those experiences?

I think the first thing is don’t go into anything just blindly trusting people. I do believe that trust is earned now. The second thing is don’t be relying on someone else to make you money. I really relied on another person to come through. Even though UGA came and showed out in decent number, I wasn’t self-sufficient and everything I do pretty much from here on out, I’m self-sufficient.

 

Do you feel like right now you’re in your Right Before success moment?

I think this is my right before success moment. I views success as the people around me getting where they want to be and me helping push them there. Right Before Success to me is really us as a community and minorities in general becoming successful on our own in America. I think right now we are looking for people to save us, but I really want us to save ourselves.

 

What makes you passionate about your magazine?

 I like seeing people around me grow. I feel like that’s what life is about. Growing and seeing relationships grow and blossom and having an impact on people’s lives; that brings fulfillment. I try to give parts of every one of my checks to go to scholarships and contests to UGA’s campus because that gives me satisfaction seeing them go where they want to go and in return I hope that everyone will help me go where I want to go.

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How tough is it for a person like you who has been in a business and finance track to switch over to something like journalism dealing with creativity, design, and graphics?

 It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The hardest thing about it is that in business you can validate based off of dollars and cents. You really can’t quantify the returns in Journalism. I read my website and view the statistics every day on who reads my website and I try to quantify the numbers, but honestly if one person reads the article and says I like it, that’s all that makes a difference sometimes.

 

What’s been your most fulfilling moment up to date?

 The most fulfilling moment in the process is having people reach out to me and tell me they support me. It’s really just seeing people recognize what I’m doing. A lot of times people notice things and not really tell you, but I have people vocally telling me “we see what you’re doing, we appreciate it, and good luck.” That’s what motivates me to keep going. If one person is inspired by it, it makes it worthwhile.

 

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I really see myself mentoring, teaching and helping educating people who may have not had the resources—mentoring, teaching, father figure, fraternity structure—that I had. Really just using the rest of my life to be a mentor. Giving people a sense of hope that they didn’t previously have and bringing the advantages of privilege to those who are underprivileged, hopefully leveling the playing field.

 

How do you want to be remembered?

 I want to be remembered as a person who didn’t give up. One of my favorite poems is an Alpha poem called “Don’t Quit.” I think a lot of people can learn from it. That’s what Right Before is all about: not giving up and perseverance. I came out of college and didn’t have any money coming out. I had offers at Ernst and Young and Deloitte and I lost my internship offers. I had a lot of rough stuff happen, but I didn’t give up. I haven’t made it yet but as my story continues to grow and in a couple of years when I’ve found success, hopefully I can reach back and say, “Hey, look giving up is not an option.”

 

What do you want the audience that reads this article to know about you and your magazine?

 The biggest thing I want people to know is that this isn’t my magazine. This isn’t for me. I’m fueled by my failures I’ve had before. This is an opportunity for all of us to come together, collaborate and share our biggest ambitions and challenges with each other and to learn from one another. This is for anybody that has a goal and a dream and is looking for a support system. If you have no more fans just know I’m your fan. If you need money I can help you with that. If you need resources. If you need that one person to be your support system and give you that push, that’s what Right Before is about. It’s about anyone that has a goal or a dream and is on the verge of success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rebounding From Great Obstacles

3 mins

The greatest measure of a person is how they respond to adversity. For me, that moment happened when I got a 8-inch by 11-inch letter in the mail. It was from the University of Georgia and it read something like this…

Hi Mr. Thompson, We regret to inform you…..”

I stopped reading the letter as I got the picture. The University of Georgia had informed me that I would be deferred to regular admission (waitlisted) on my entrance application. Keep in mind, I had planned my entire life to attend UGA. My uncle played football here and I watched UGA sports since I was a kid. That year, I went to informational sessions and took IB school classes to boost my resume. I was even the valedictorian of my class.


None of it worked.

At that point, I thought that I was a complete and utter failure. I became completely down on myself and almost contemplated not applying for any other institution. To be honest with you, I cried like a newborn baby. I am not ashamed to admit it because I let my family, myself and all of my community down.

After about two weeks, I was cleaning my room and saw a picture of my grandmother. She always had a smile on her face, just like in the picture. Instantly, I remembered a conversation I had with her before she passed away.

“She told me to GIVE IT HIM. Cast all your cares upon the Lord because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

Admittedly, I needed to hear that message. See, I am a firm believer that God can make anything out of your situation. It is easy to fall down and wallow in depression. It is even easier to blame, disrespect, and tarnish those that are called to help you.

But the biggest accomplishment is how a person GETS UP. This is where you cultivate respect and acknowledgement. The Lord calls all his children to victory and glory. However, he never did say that the road will be problem-free.

So, my Right Before Success moment, was getting re-applying for the University of Georgia. I started by answering the required application essay questions. I also searched for the meaning of my purpose. I determined that I wanted to be a sports journalist and I took the necessary steps to achieve my goals.

All my hard work has paid off. In March of 2013, I was finally accepted into UGA. A few months followed and I was working for the Red and Black newspaper. I followed that up by having three internships, including achieving a dream of going to the Rio 2016 Olympics.

I say all of this show you that a past failure CANNOT derail the journey that God has planned for you. It is what you do at your lowest point that decides your final outcome. I chose to fight through my failure and I hope that you will do the same.

As I close this essay out, remember that life was designed to be hard. However, if you stick to your faith and keep pushing, everything will be granted in your favor.

It is at that point, you will reach your Right Before Success Moment.

 

Jaylon Thompson is a 4th year digital and broadcast journalism student at the University of Georgia. He is an aspiring sports broadcaster and looking to improve the world through positivity. My goal is to inspire others to achieve success in whatever area they go towards. Everyone has a story and I believe it is my job to let it be known to the world.

 

My Right Before Moment: Kenneth Duncan

4 mins

Right Before Magazine is my story, my reality, and unfortunately the reality of millions of dreamers. A lack of resources, a lack of support, a lack of funding, all are challenges facing entrepreneurs and those that want change.

I have been a victim of the paralysis that is caused by fear. Millennials are often allowing fear to rule our minds and influence our decision making and I was no different. I started two “small businesses” (more like ventures) during college and my own holdings company “Transcendence Management Group”. I can admit now that I had literally no idea what I was doing and I was pretty much bound to lose the thousands I lost.

I was nervous to the point that I was scared of starting anything ever again. Reflecting back on it I can’t believe I was so ready to pack it in over mistakes I made at 21! After I graduated I now have bills and things to pay for so I cannot “afford” another let down. After the last few years of school my brand and image was all of the sudden “the guy that couldn’t get the job done”. You can sort of tell when your friends are tired of “yet another idea”. Instead of the excitement of my next breakthrough, most people around me were “bracing for my next failure”.

I realized that my attitude towards success was too laissez faire. The only person holding me back from reaching my full potential is me. I relied too heavily on other people to identify with the goals I had, and yeah, I wanted them to help me. There is nothing wrong with asking for help, but that cannot be the hub of the plan. After interviewing many people for this magazine, I realized that the loneliest place in the world is being an idealist and innovator. I could not just sit still and passively let all of my ideas die because of my embarrassment from my past failures. I believe in them too much to do so.

A lot of people who may read this were either a part of, or heard about my goal to host a GA/FL party in 2015. After the complete failure, I was beside myself for weeks. I issued public apologies, refunds to dozens, and even refused to speak about my attempt. My brand and reputation was trash and there was little I could do. Fast forwarding a year later, I am stronger and able to learn from the “egg on my face”. That party still haunts me because it was a good idea, I had a plan, executed, and failed. Ultimately it turns out the lessons learned were what sparked this magazine.

We talk so much, but are a group that is less defined by action and more defined by potential. Over the least 10 months, I have been inspired by some of the movement and conversation taking place in our country today. On a daily basis, my social media is flooded with some of the smartest people you could meet, yet I still feel like as a whole we are stuck in neutral with nobody putting their foot on the petal.

…but the {man} himself has to be made aware of the importance of going into business. And once you and I go into business, we own and operate at least the businesses in our community. What we will be doing is developing a situation wherein we will actually be able to create employment for the people in the community. -Malcolm X

I started Right Before Magazine to be the resource, the friend, and the inspiration we all need. Right Before Magazine has articles similar to FORBES 30 Under 30, yet our goal is to tell the story not after one has reached the peak because that just glorifies the success. We aim to tell the story as it unfolds, as it manifests, and in the period Right Before success. A lot of times prior to success the end goal appears to be elusive or a moving target. I know that most of the most successful people in our country from Bill Gates to Michael Jordan had to meet failure head on to ultimately become the “richest” or the “greatest”

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, yet “we” hold our shots until we have more money. We wait until we have more experience, we wait until we are secure, and sure enough we end up waiting forever. Year after year I witness dreams of loved ones fall by the wayside just because there isn’t enough time. Our “friends” fail to support or goals and endeavors. Our attention is dragged around to numerous efforts often.

All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible. -T. E. Lawrence

Measuring success by an outcome is inherently limiting because it does not measure the quality of the work itself. Success often times does not measure the work or the grind that went into accomplishing things.  In school, your teacher may mark the final answer as wrong but award 80 percent credit for the methods and applications to arrive to the solution versus just “right or wrong”. Life should be approached in a similar manner and not in a pass/fail train of thought. A quote hangs on my wall by Booker T. Washington that reads:

Success is to be reached not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.

At time of writing, I have “failed” three more times than I have succeeded. My various business ventures lacked focus and organization necessary to be successful. But I can find the silver lining in starting my own company at 19 and look to draw more from the positives than the negatives.I really hope that by encouraging the conversation and opening the dialogue, that more people that look like me and come where I am from will decide to pursue their passions and try to chase their dreams.

I ultimately want to build a community so strong that many of us can experience financial freedom, economic equality, and ultimately the peace of mind and lifestyles we dreamed of. I think we are at that place RIGHT BEFORE and this magazine is only the PHIRST step to taking us there.

 

Unlock the Code: Kameon Prather

6 mins

“Kameon Prather is a name you will likely hear in the future” was a quote from Kameon Prather’s feature as a University of Georgia “Amazing Student” in 2011. I had not met him personally but he was a name everybody commonly associated with music and a bright future. It appears that the future is now! Everybody that meets Kameon can not only see the passion and love he has for music, but the amount of work he goes through to produce a quality product. Finally artists are starting to work with him individually and he is soon to develop a major brand.

Music is a muse in which he is able to construct his best art. The business side of the moves that he makes are just as impressive as his talent. Launching his own business at 18, Kameon has had the benefit of learning from all his success but also from his failure. A lot of people dream of entering the music industry but inevitably quit because somebody else tells them “it’s too hard”.

Kameon’s story is everything that RIGHT BEFORE magazine stands for. In order to understand the business he intended to eventually start on his own one day, it required that he work with artists and firms early to create his competitive advantage. He started by co-producing two revamped UGA theme songs, one of which was sponsored by the MBUS Program.

Kameon started NovaHaüs in December 2015 in New York focusing on live event, tour, and music production. He has the opportunities to manage and coordinate productions for clients such as VIACOM, MTV, Ne-Yo, and VH1. All of his experience overseeing on site needs has given him the relevant background to really go out and establish his niche.

Kameon officially launched his own production company a few months ago and already has had his hard work off. He was a dreamer, a thinker, an innovator. In an industry muddled by artists that sound the same, Kameon has produced a refreshing tune. If you love your art enough, somebody else will see the value in your work as well. Locksmith, one of the most fresh and lyrical rappers in the industry, was one of the first to see these signs.

Nova Code- Episode One      See more at thenovacode.com

To fully understand the benefit of his early experience in the music industry, we thought it would be best that he write and share his genuine experiences and lessons.

This isn’t easy. It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done for myself. But I know it’ll be worth it” -Kameon

Q: Hey Kameon, So I know there are tons of students out that admire people in the

music industry, love music, but can’t see themselves working in it? What ignited

the spark in you to start your new business venture and how did the idea for your

business come about?

Since the end of high school, I’ve been extremely tied to music –

listening, creating, absorbing. I didn’t have any formal training but had a

great ear for music. In college I produced music as a hobby at first, making

tracks between classes. Very long story short, eventually I saw myself

producing music, tours and events as a career. After graduation, I officially

started my career in Brooklyn, NY. After a few years in the industry I

realized that I loved producing tours and events, but creating music was

my greatest passion. I felt like it was the right time in my life to pursue my

dreams – not married, no children, had 2 college degrees. What sparked

that was knowing that I had an opportunity to make it happen and if I didn’t

do it now and take that leap it would be due to my own fear.

 

Q: Who has been your greatest inspiration? Who is your favorite artist that you

have met or worked with? The best place you have been?

My greatest inspiration in life is my dad. My mother

has always been my biggest fan – but as a black man in America who grew

up with limited resources overcame several challenges, he became a

success and one who inspires others with the same light. The way my

mother and father work as a team is seamless. I model my life after the

principles my parents have taught me. Re: my dad, a man who cares for

and protects his family, is successful in his industry, and an overall man of

God – I aspire to exemplify those qualities more each day.

Musically, right now I am inspired by Jon Bellion, Nao, and Anderson.Paak.

I’m genuine fans first and foremost. There are many more but these quickly

came to mind. I find their individuality and songwriting to be refreshingly

original – they shed light on what mark I plan to leave.

Fav artist: Ne-Yo’s work ethic and talent is amazing, but his personality to

me is most impressive – he is very humble. The way he carries himself, you

would never know he was a huge artist. He is very personable, takes time

to speak to everyone. That is something that I admire because it shows that

you can be in the spotlight and still be grounded. You can be yourself

regardless of cameras and accolades.

Best place: Japan, hands down. I’ve always wanted to go there since I was

very young. I’ve always been interested in the culture, the art, the fashion.

Music has been able to take me to Japan multiple times, and I will surely be

returning soon. There is nothing like walking in Tokyo at night, or a bike

ride in Yokohama during sunrise – the awe those experiences have created

for me continues to be an influence in how I express my brand and my

sound.

 

Q: What three pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to

become entrepreneurs in the music industry?

Speak to every professor, every guest speaker in class, and every student.

Someone next to you may be one song, show or deal away. Find yourself a

mentor, or two. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself, let people know who

you are and that you are serious about learning. Eagerness to learn is

admirable and will serve you better than you may imagine.

 

Q:Should you work with somebody else first or just produce your own music?

I don’t think there is a best practice, but in general you can’t do everything on

your own. You need to be open to collaborating with other people because you

need buy-in and you need a team. People have to believe in your vision. Others

aren’t just automatically going to gravitate towards you, you have to give them

something to invest in. In my life, building relationships has been the most

important component to breaking into the entertainment industry.

 

Q: If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do

differently? What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned

from them?

That’s funny! My career is just beginning. I’m in my 20s. Honestly I don’t

think I would have ended up where I am without going though the trials I

have gone through. I’ve been able to see several parts of the world that

other people may not ever see, produced several shows, songs and events

at an early age – I’m eager to do some much more, but I’m very blessed. I

am still young and all of the experiences I’ve had to this date have made

me a smarter business man and a more effective creative. However, I would

tell my younger self to not be afraid to take more chances or put your work

out there. No one has the chance to enjoy your art if you do not at first

share it with them.

 

Q:What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?

A: Not doing everything in my personal power to succeed and to help

others around me do the same. I don’t want to look back at life and say “I

wish I had done more.”

Produced by Nova

 

Q: What is the hardest part of starting your own venture? Is time or money a

factor?

Both! Time is money. It’s the oldest currency. Through just building

relationships you can gain a lot of resources that otherwise you would

have to pay for. The caveat there is finding enough time to tap into those

resources, so that eventually money works for you. The key is finding a

balance. I am still figuring that out myself.

 

Q:Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?

There are a few and the thing they all have in common is moving as a

collective. In terms of music production, I am speaking of groups like OVO

Sound (Drake, DVSN, PND, etc.) , Beautiful Mind (Jon Bellion). I admire how

these camps have established a sound unique to their teams. I hope to do

the same with NovaHaüs, and intriguing people into learning what

#TheNovaCode is all about.

 

Q:Where you see yourself and your business in 10 years? 20 years?

I would like to see my business being something much bigger than just me.

A company where other creative minds can leave their mark in the

business. I see my brand becoming a household name and something that

is respected as being genuine and original.

Overall, I want to inspire – for that young boy or girl in school who does

not see how they can be successful to look at me and say, “I can too. He

was just like me.”

 

Q: How do you define success for your future business? What are your goals

and mission? 

Overall, I want to inspire – for that young boy or girl in school who does

not see how they can be successful to look at me and say, “I can too. He

was just like me.”

Kameon launched his website thenovacode.com in July and has already began partnerships with artists across the country. One of my favorite partnerships brewing is one that he has with Locksmith, an up and coming rapper. You can see the sincerity and mutual respect for the craftsmanship in each of their jobs. I am excited for the future of music because it is now in his hands.

Stay Tuned.

 

 

Follow Kameon on IG and Twitter @thenovacode

A feature on Kameon from The University of Georgia years ago.

https://www.uga.edu/amazing/profile/prather-kameon/

 

Hustlers Ambition: Justine Avoudikpon

5 mins

Startups are expensive. The cost is more than just the financial burden, but also the time, sacrifices, and mental strain that comes along with it. Despite the heavy expenses, they also provide personal fulfillment, an ambitious goal, and unlimited flexibility. The expense and work tends to be even greater for minority women. In the past five years, black women received a negligible amount of venture capital funding — just .002 percent — while the number of black women starting their own businesses has more than tripled in the last decade (1).

Don’t tell any of these statistics to Justine Avoudikpon. Limits seem to not apply to this superstar entrepreneur. She is the lone founder and employee of SWIFTE, a new ridesharing app launching next week. Once her mind was made up to pursue her dream, she decided nothing would stand in the way. In a lot of circles her tenacity would be known as hustling. She treats her app as more than just a business, but a revolutionary idea that has no choice but to come to fruition.

Every word about SWIFTE is funneled passion and increased determination to make an impact on college students nationwide. Anybody that has gone away from school can relate to the inconvenience of making the long, multiple hour trip home, just for a weekend! Justine has something in her that is unique. It is something that is lost upon our generation, the desire to act on passion.

Justine told me about a bit of her monthly schedule where she had exams for class, two pitches for her app, and more work to do to prepare for launch. I don’t even know when she sleeps! Not one time has money come up in conversation and that is important, because money can destroy the purity of any good idea. Focus on profits can also cause the business to grow or take on too much capital too quickly.

The app, named Swifte, will serve as a bridge to fill the gap that a lot of college students face when trying to find transportation around Athens and when they are looking for a ride back to their hometowns. In a dual win situation, the drivers are also benefiting by having their gas or transportation expenses covered. Typically students will charge lower and more “friendly” prices than Uber could and are more trustworthy than drivers from other ride-sharing services like “Lyft”. SWIFTE is perfect for driving long distances and seems to be a great idea, but all of this did not come about swiftly and easily.

“The best time to start a business is in college because there’s less of a risk of failure and less to lose. Surround yourself with positive role models and friends that can help you accomplish your goals,” -Justine Avoudikpon

I have jokingly referred to Justine’s moves as “Hustlers Ambition”. She did not have one big sexy funding source to make everything come together. She relies on ingenuity, passion, and dedication to make things happen. Hustle is the most important thing for our people. Rappers exclusively use the word but we are not immune to it. Like Jay z pushing drugs and his mixtape, push your ideas! The more you grind and make moves, the more your name becomes associated with grinding and making moves. Everybody wants that person on their team, or to invest in.

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Justine, 22, has made her own capital avenues. The grind has consisted of dozens of pitches to people for funding. She spends hours building proposals and writing essays. In the past year she has already secured funding through grants, private dollars, as well as her own jobs! A lot of people complain about not having money to invest in themselves, yet save nothing from 9-5 or part time job. Justine is a prime example of somebody whom we could all learn from when starting a business not reliant on bank funding or venture capital. I think her H.U.S.T.L.E is something everybody could emulate. We took the time to sit down and think of six factors that have Justine primed for success and how all college students could apply it to their goals.


Hone your elevator pitch. It sounds cliche, but everybody can tell when you are bullshitting them. As unlikely as it sounds, people are more likely to believe in a product when the seller believes in it. Every time I talk to Justine I am more sure she is going to make it. When pitching SWIFTE to different partners and funding sources, Justine has a very clear image of what she wants the brand to be.

A major key is to get your networking skills on point. People are not just buying your ideas, but also you and your personality. Don’t be afraid to talk to anybody and everybody about your ideas, get business cards, and follow up!

Use a constant template. Applying for funding and grants can be very similar from a variety of sources. By building a template you can quickly tweak relevant details without rewriting everything.When interviewing Justine she told me would apply to dozens of grants and funding sources, but would be able to use similar templates for many.

I try to use a similar template for all of the applications I fill out so it is not that difficult to apply to a lot of them at one time.

Save your funds. Justine took her internship money and extra funds from side jobs and put them towards her business. I used the same method when launching my businesses and plenty of internships are available so early in college. No bills, no major expenses, you can put more away now than ever again.

Technology. Justine uses Twitter, Facebook, and a lot of different avenues to promote her brand. With the target market she has and the growth of technology use, there is no reason for all of us not to leverage our technology assets as much as possible. Consider using apps like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite that will allow you to plan your social media far in advance.

Lose the extra “baggage”. This might be the most controversial lesson, but partners that do not pull their weight can be toxic. Working with developers that are slow or costly can also be a very hard lesson to learn. Justine just had the opportunity to add two new interns to her staff and their dedication will definitely serve her well.

Enjoy the journey. The most important final letter. Hustling is not always fun, but the grind is what makes you unique and special. Not everybody can endure. When you build a business or have an idea you are really excited about, it is really easy to enjoy things even when they are hard. I enjoyed talking to Justine every single time because she gave me life and I could feel her energy.

say I grind like there’s 10 of me
I swear to god there’s just one of me, look I know I ain’t there yet
just know that I’m gonna be  -Jeezy, Hustlaz Ambition

Hustle and grind like failure is not an option. Hustling does not have to be cumbersome or draining if you follow the advice and lessons above. Swifte is a few days from launching, just brought on their first few interns, and actively taking on investors who could be a part of the next big thing. Think the idea has potential? Uber just reached a market cap of over 35B! By using the same grind and ambition as a hustler, managing less people, and enjoying every bit of the journey you can accomplish so much like Justine. Or go platinum like Jeezy. Whichever you prefer.

Read more about Black Women in Venture Capital

(1) https://thinkprogress.org/this-is-what-its-like-to-raise-venture-capital-as-a-black-woman-5e2c3ce4e291#.e1uxsp2z5