The Institute of Hip Hop Entrepreneurship is focused on increasing economic opportunity by using Hip hop to provide hands-on business training to members of low-income groups.
The nine month program, forged by Little Giant Creative, uses Hip hop’s best practices to “empower enterprising young people from nontraditional backgrounds with the skills necessary to take an idea and make it a reality.”
We caught up with co- founder, Tayyib Smithand this is what he had to say:
TS: First, life experience. I don’t know of anything that’s encouraged more people to embrace fiscal literacy or financial independence or create their own businesses than Hip-hop.
They had an exercise asking for three ideas from our personal experience that would have a positive impact on communities. This was one of the three ideas that I had offered. When the Knight City Challenge came up, we submitted it as an idea.
SB: You won over $300,000 from the Knight City Challenge for the Institute. What exactly does the money go towards?
TS: The bulk of the money goes to hiring staff to create the curriculum. It’s a nine-month long program and we have a considerable amount of facilitators, teachers, guest lecturers.
We’re not charging any tuition to the students, so over nine months for 25 people, $300,000 is not a significant amount as much money as it sounds.
SB: Nowadays, it seems that artists are more interested in partnering with record labels as opposed to the 360 deal where the label or management is getting a percentage from majority if not all of the artists work. Are artists now becoming more hip to the business side of things?
TS: I would say the successful artists that we’ve heard of are the ones that are thoughtful like that. The ones who are living hand to mouth are most likely still thinking about a traditional record deal or a 360.
Many of the new generation of artist are taking advantage of the zero cost of distribution for creative intellectual property via advancements in technology that didn’t exist less than a decade ago.
They may give away a song or album for free but they are enhancing and elevating their brands to convince fans to make a purchase of a t-shirt, hat, concert ticket etc.
SB: Students at the Institute are going to be mentored by the best and the brightest. How important is mentorship to you and what makes a good mentor?
TS: I think mentorship is really important and I think we don’t do enough of it. A good mentor is somebody who is engaged, who listens, who can share from personal experience, and be empathetic. Sometimes it’s somebody who can just identify with you.
Mentorship is also a two-way street. There are times when I’ve mentored people and felt like the experience was as valuable for me as it was for them.
SB: What advice would you have for the aspiring entrepreneur?
TS: Anytime an aspiring entrepreneur asks me for advice, I tell them to work with people who are as good or better than them.
-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson