Yaw Owusu is a Liverpool based young entrepreneur, who started a business called urbeatz after graduating with a law degree and struggling to get a job, Urbeatz was born.
Now five years after Urbeatz, the business is doing better than ever.
Hey Yaw, How is it going? Welcome to YHP
Can you briefly give the readers some background information on yourself?
Basically I am a young man from Liverpool. My mother is Jamaican and my father is Ghanaian. Used to want to be a solicitor or a basketball player. Went to university and during that time changed my mind. When I finished my law degree for some reason I couldn't get a job so ended up starting my own business, which was URBEATZ. I have been doing that for nearly five years now!
Yaw, so what do you do and what role do you play?
Personally I am the Chief Executive of URBEATZ and specific artist manager for KOF. My role involves planning and executing every aspect of the business really. I deal with all the administration side, organisational side and deliver on the ground floor too. We are slowly building a team of capable staff which will allow me to do a lot more strategically things. I hope.
Generally URBEATZ is an Urban Music, Media and Youth Culture Company. URBEATZ undertake a range of activities including Artist Management, Artist Development and Production, Event Management, Studio Service, Film and Design Solutions, Alternative Education, Broadcast and Programme Development and Consultancy.
What inspired to start Urbeatz?
A few things really. Being jobless. Ha. Also mainly it was my interest and the undeniable talent of my cousin, UK Artist KOF, which lured me in. I never planned to do this as a job or a career but somehow a lot of things lined up at the same time and just by following my gut instinct I ended up starting a business that I liked and felt I was good at. Once we started the company I begin to learn by trial and error and things just grew. It went from managing one act, to producing for up to 14 (at one point), delivering workshops, and conferences selling clothes, tour managing, making videos and documentaries, creating and putting out a magazine, event managing and even consultancy.
How has the journey been so far?
The journey has been great so far. Everyday is a learning curve and I really believe I am on the path to running a superb business. I often work harder than I think possible but I love what I do so I cannot and will not complain. Every year we have doubled our income, which is not bad. The rollercoaster is still rolling and developing so I suspect that I will be speaking positively for years to come.
How did you get funding for your business?
Well with great difficulty. A lot of places did not see our vision in the beginning so while in the process of trying to convince them I just started trading...haha 'test trading'. I knew our market, knew what we had to do to get the leverage to be a power and also understood that some people just don't understand. We created a buzz and a rep for the music and events that allowed us to branch into other areas and keep us relevant and viable. The funding agencies responded and eventually saw the vision albeit late. We got a loan off The Princes Trust and also a grant from Creativebias. Now our business is funded 60% from commercial contracts and 40% funding for our charitable and community projects.
Did you have any doubts when you started?
Nah no doubts. I had nothing to lose and so much to gain. If nothing else it would be an enjoyable situation and I knew that doors would open with hard work. I suppose my naivety made it possible to get this far and I feel it is that same naivety that keeps me going. Our goals are quite large but we focus on executing like we are tiny and that has helped keep us focused and from being broke.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
I read a lot so my advice usually comes from books so maybe I can not claim that as advice given. Therefore I am putting a quote by Gandhi as my main inspiration; 'Be The Change That You Want To See...”. That just inspires me to be as good as I can be and to offer a service that I feel should be on offer.
What are key fundamentals to apply when running a business?
My main key points are:
• Great Ideas, with even better execution
• Hindsight and foresight
• Great team and support
• Great product and/or service
Do you have any suggestions for coping with set-backs, negative experiences?
Only suggestions would be to run and hide and give up OR more positively, accept the setback then think SOLUTION! How can you deal with the issue and move again towards your goal. For example we had a 9G tax bill with only 2G in the bank at one point. I felt sad for a few minutes but soon I saw it as another challenge that would make us focus as a company on our profitable activities and what was important. The next step then was to develop a realistic plan that could be executed to get our momentum back. Also expect set backs and enjoy that process as much as you enjoy when things are going well. It just makes you better when you overcome!
What is your business model?
I have taken inspiration from multi-strand business such as the Roc-a-fella empire which included for profit businesses and activities and community based projects. We are a multi-strand business that use of commercial success and visibility to help make change a grassroots level.
Who are your competitors?
Wow we have many because we cross over many brackets. Let's say everyone who creates and plugs music, everyone who shoots small budget music videos, youth and urban film production companies, all youth consultants, youth organisations and all management companies. Haha. Really there are loads and loads of competitors within our field. However we have our plan and are focused on refining what we offer and what
we do and not to focus too much on our competitors.
Who are your target markets?
Youth, Urban and Entertainment Markets including individuals, small companies and larger companies.
What are your advertising strategy?(do you use any social networking sites to promote your brand).
We use word of mouth, street promotion and social networking sites.
What advice would you give any upcoming entrepreneur?
Build and create a solid plan, have a great product and/or service, tell everyone about your great product and service, build strong relationships with everyone related to your business and keep things moving in that right direction- towards your overall vision. Worse comes to worse use Gandhi's quote haha...it really makes sense.
So what’s next for you and Urbeatz?
I am in the process of developing URBEATZ into a charity so we can deliver our charitable and community projects to a higher degree. Also I am taking all our commercial services over to my new company called One Hundred Global which will be a new age Urban and Youth Culture Management and Consultancy Company headed up by myself. These should be launched late October. Between now and then we have some large projects and documentaries such as KOF's solo album, international youth projects, three or four documentaries, MESH Culture Magazine and some regional youth projects. I am excited about these new ventures and projects and executing the vision for them all. On a more general basis I strive to make the 4 people who believed in me from Day One very rich and to make my family and friends really proud of what I have built and done!
Thank you for your time, Yaw.
Interviewed & Edited By Joseph Ajilore