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Creator Lab - interviews with entrepreneurs and startup founders

Revealing conversations with the leading creators of our time. From proven entrepreneurs building the companies of the future, to non-profit founders creating change and the artists shaping our culture - we go beyond the surface to find the nuance in what it takes to turn your ideas, into action.
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Now displaying: 2018
Dec 26, 2018

Watch full interview on video:
https://youtu.be/3BHdnOiYym4

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Full show notes & timestamps:
https://www.creatorlab.fm/ronnie-madra-1oak-earos/
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Ronnie Madra is the co-founder of the Butter Group which has an extensive portfolio of brands including legendary nightclubs 1OAK and Up and Down.
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They’ve hosted after-parties for events like the Oscars, Met Gala & Cannes Film Festival attracting A-List celebrities along the way. Alongside business partner, Richie Akiva, they’ve developed properties in NYC, LA, Las Vegas, Tokyo, Dubai & Maldives – building one of the leading food & beverage (F&B) brands around.
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However, after 25+ years in nightlife – Ronnie developed a severe hearing issue which causes constant ringing in his ears. To address this issue for the 1.1bil people who will develop hearing issues in their lifetime – he created, EAROS, an in-ear protection system & an acoustical filter.
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Ronnie shared stories he has never shared before. He opens up about growing up on a coconut plantation in Guyana, landing in NYC as a minority amongst minorities, personal stories about dealing with bullies as a kid, running into trouble with a gang & landing on his feet into nightlife in NYC.
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FIVE THINGS TO LISTEN OUT FOR:

  1. Childhood – growing up with no electricity in Guyana, landing in NYC and how his early experiences shaped his outlook
  2. Fitting in & dealing with a bully – a raw and honest chat about dealing with bullies, trying to fit in and finding the confidence to be yourself.
  3. Building a name – alongside Richie Akiva, Ronnie has built a name for himself in the nightclub space, attracting A-List celebrities like Jay Z, Pharrell, Rihanna, Kate Hudson, Kanye, Gigi Hadid, Virgil and others to their venues. We go into all the details of how they started and built a name for themselves.
  4. Coming up with business ideas & developing a product – scratching his own itch, why he started EAROS, ways you can think about finding inspiration for ideas and knowing how to take action.
  5. Building Brand & Service – learning from his experience in creating a brand, product development, making people feel safe.
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TIME STAMPS:

  • 2:34 – What Ronnie is known for: 1OAK, Butter Group & Earos
  • 5:25 – Scale of their nightclubs & restaurants
  • 7:42 – Growing up on a coconut plantation in Guyana
  • 11:16 – Landing in Queens, NYC
  • 13:15 – Teenage Ronnie
  • 13:55 – Dealing with bullies
  • 19:38 – Early signs of entrepreneurship
  • 23:02 – Listening to all types of music and wanting to fit in
  • 26:32 – Becoming comfortable not fitting in
  • 31:26 – What lead to 1OAK being formed? Finding an A-Team.
  • 36:15 – Starting 1OAK with Richie Akiva & early investments
  • 38:06 – “Pioneers of the pop-up”
  • 41:40 – How to choose partnerships
  • 44:24 – What is next for 1Oak?
  • 47:40 – Attracting A-list celebrities
  • 51:20 – New venture – Earos
  • 55:10 – Developing hearing issues – tinnitus
  • 58:52 – Idea and need for a new type of ear protection
  • 60:50 – Going beyond looking like a hearing aid
  • 66:48 – The process of developing a new product
  • 69:45 – Sound vs. noise
  • 71:35 – The process of reaching out to great people through Linkedin
  • 75:58 – Working day vs. night
  • 79:44 – Pitching the idea to investors
  • 85:16 – When do you know you’re finished?
  • 87:06 – 20 years into the future
  • 91:10 – Closing remarks
Dec 7, 2018

Erika Alexander is an actress, writer & co-founder of Color Farm Media. She’s well known for her role as the iconic character Maxine Shaw, Attorney-at-Law in the 90s sitcom Living Single. She was a regular as Cousin Pam in The Cosby Show & appeared in the Oscar-winning film Get Out (2017).

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Full show notes & timestamps:
https://www.creatorlab.fm/erika-alexander-actress-get-out-cosby-show/

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 Here are five things to listen out for:
 
  1. Childhood – her candid experience growing up as a child actor from the age of 14, her relationship with her parents & how this impacted her throughout her life.
  2.  Being the “other” – feeling like an outsider when she first had some success
  3. Importance of Diversity in Film & Media – how she’s approaching this challenge with Color Farm Media, why it’s important to hire the best people regardless, but find a balance to tell diverse stories
  4. Role of Therapy – how she dealt with depression, navigated lows and the importance of mental health
  5. The Future – hip-hop in Bollywood, collaborations of color, the projects she’s working on with Lionsgate & the importance of long-form conversations

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Time Stamps:

  • 2:32 – Introduction of Erika
  • 4:45 – Her role on Living Single
  • 8:38 – Erika’s childhood
  • 12:15 – Was Erika always outgoing?
  • 15:36 – The “look at me” gene
  • 18:26 – First time acting
  • 23:12 – Erika’s mom’s influence
  • 25:46 – Becoming famous and losing her family
  • 27:31 – Religion and belief when growing up
  • 30:40 – Early pain struggle & depression
  • 32:40 – Being the “other” in the family
  • 36:45 – Ways to cope with parent pain
  • 41:05 – Therapy and mental health
  • 50:41 – Race and misrepresentation in work
  • 51:52 – Race is an illusion
  • 54:13 – Color Farm Media & it’s mission
  • 57:06 – Ben Arnon help & info
  • 61:17 – Current work
  • 66:25 – Black Lightning
  • 71:53 – Making diversity authentic
  • 77:02 – Importance of diverse writers
  • 82:25 – How to change in industry
  • 85:33 – “I’m a badass at acting”
  • 93:00 – Collaborations of color
  • 95:50 – Hire the best writer, but include all
  • 98:14 – The impact of long-form conversation
  • 101:56 – Looking to the future
Oct 25, 2018
 
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I visited Ben Van Leeuwen at his Brooklyn-based ice cream factory!  They have a truly remarkable story, starting from a single ice cream truck 10yrs ago, to building an epic brand with a cult following.
 
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They’ve since grown to a $20mil business, going from 15 stores to 25 in the next few months after taking investment for the first time. They’ve also grown their wholesale business where they now sell their ice cream in over 1000 stores across 44 states.
 
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We discuss their humble beginnings, meeting his co-founder, falling in love,  a focus on product excellence by sourcing the very best ingredients & you’ll hear what it took to build their business with zero investment after their modest friends and family round. 

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SHOW NOTES

Here are five things to listen out for:
 
(1) Travel – Ben leaving college to travel and explore the world.
 
(2) Kaizen vs 10x Moonshot Thinking – continuous improvement in all aspects of their company vs a mindset of massive transformational change
 
(3) Starting a business with his wife & brother – navigating a breakup, working with family & how they’ve made Van Leeuwen a huge success
 
(4) Product & Customer Excellence – focusing on using only the very best ingredients & bringing joy to their customers
 
(5) Growth – stories from starting their first ice cream truck to growing to 25 stores & 44 states & why they decided to take major investment for the first time

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Times Stamps 

  • 3:02 – Who is Ben Van Leeuwen
  • 3:58 – How did Ben get into ice cream
  • 10:45 – Where Ben’s food awareness came from
  • 13:23 – Ben’s parents and his upbringing
  • 16:56 – How Ben developed his entrepreneurial spirit
  • 18:00 – The “ice cream idea”
  • 20:44 – Being healthy in an ice cream world
  • 23:46 – Ben’s travel memories
  • 26:38 – Ben’s craftsmanship in his work
  • 29:35 – Company values
  • 30:54 – Ben meeting his cofounder
  • 33:10 – How the company began
  • 36:21 – Writing initial business plan
  • 42:09 – Logo, branding and naming
  • 45:55 – Tactically building your team
  • 48:34 – Beginnings of the business
  • 50:25 – Putting the best ingredients into their first chocolate ice cream
  • 55:47 – First real day of business
  • 65:19 – What the business looks like today – 15-25 stores, selling in 1000 stores across 44 states
  • 67:02 – Ben’s thoughts on expansion
  • 70:38 – First year revenue numbers
  • 71:33 – Focus moving forward
  • 73:30 – Working with brother and wife
  • 74:35 – Working with ex-wife
  • 75:42 – Difficulties with raising money
  • 79:18 – Dealing with rejection
  • 80:58 – 20 years from now…
  • 83:45 – Admirable trait: not taking shortcuts
  • 84:54 – Other products for Ben to explore
  • 86:29 – Final remarks and advice
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