I think it’s time I give the scoop behind my self-proclaimed “signature” Mugshot. It has to be my absolute favorite photo for far greater reasons than great choice of Instagram filter, self-cut bangs, and bright smize-ing eyes. So let’s rewind back to last last summer.
While at my internship with ImpactU, I came across a blog called The Phat Start-Up through an article Blavity posted. The name itself had me intrigued. So I clicked the link to check out who and what was behind such a dope name.
The Phat Startup was an integrated media company started my James Lopez and Anthony Fraiser that produced premium content for all levels of entrepreneurs. They were inspired by and fused together Lean Startup methodology and Hip Hop culture. To say I’d fallen in love at “first site” was a complete understatement. As I read through their intensive blog of dope content, I learned about their conference called “Tech808” and I made it my personal mission to attend it. I tried to figure out a game plan to attend their Oakland stop but the way Airline tickets and my pockets were set up, I had to pass.
But as usual, my God was the ultimate PLUG, #WontHeDoIt, and I saw that their final stop was in NYC. I knew had a place to stay which cancelled out a HUGE part of my budget, and I just had to cover my flight. So I purchased my early bird ticket during Labor Day weekend, got some free content (which I have yet to follow-up on receiving) but I was too excited that I’d be attending an experience that doesn’t come often. Let’s be real for a moment: a Tech conference that infused REAL Hip Hop?! And their design and website looked legit? The ultimate unicorn.
So I flew up to NYC that Friday prior to the conference, which was on a Monday, and I had no problem missing class because I knew the value, quality, and real-life experience I was going to receive just on the level trust I felt online. My grandmother didn’t know who I was when I called her asking about “Which train do I take to get from Newark to JFK? Or do I take a shuttle in?” “On Monday Morning, I take the LIRR to Penn Station, would the A train or E train be best?” Although I’ve been going to NYC since I was three years old, I never actually had the opportunity to venture out and be myself in the city (The Life and Times of a Sheltered and slightly Overprotected kid). SO this journey to Tech808 was my walking into adulthood and one step closer to my drive to entrepreneurship.
Morning of, I woke up at 5 or 6am to catch the LIRR to Penn Station and took the subway to Union Square. I got lost…3 times. I ended up on a train going towards the Bronx, then a train in the opposite direction, and misguided direction on what stop to get off on the right train (by the MTA box office worker) and a quick Uber ride to the front of NYU’s Welcome Center. With my misadventures in motion, I still made it out early to NYU. When I walked in, I was greeted with smiles and a VIP bag of goodies for buying my ticket early. Everything highlighted their mission from their t-shirts, to the goodie bags, the quotes on the screen, and vibe of the volunteers. I felt hype on a Monday morning at 8am. Who else can do that to you?
I could go ALL in on how I was deeply in love with Tech808 and The Phat StartUp throughout the duration of the conference, but that’s a podcast series in itself. I will say that I don’t typically buy vendor items at an event, it’s very rare; it’s just as similar to how i rarely consider myself a fan of musicians or public figures. However, I made the exception on that day. I picked up a mug (even though I typically don’t buy small mugs) and a Tech808 t-shirt (because they an out of #BossUp gear) two sizes too big before I left…I didn’t really have the spare cash to just ball out on things I didn’t use on a daily basis or could wear everyday, but I felt happy about it. Which leads me to the point, Brands that connect and inspire through culture, conversation, and community will ALWAYS win over the hearts of their audience because if you use your influence to bring impact, income will always be come. Anthony and James set such a HIGH standard for how brands should make their experience of their audience. The content quality of their blog reflected in their choices for their speakers and their content spoke volumes in how they gave elaborate and “real shit” answers. I didn’t feel like I could look up their responses on google and find people saying the same exact thing but rephrased. It was honest, real, genuine, and made me fall in love…just like Hip Hop. I also went in not knowing ANY of the people on their guest speakers list; granted that in the tech world, they had some major headliners. So why not use your platform to expose our community to the Who’s Who of tech that loos like Us? My follow button was on fire throughout the day and even still today I’ve gained an understanding on how big a deal those guests were and how they are killing it in the game.
Fast forward to today, Tech808 and The Phat Start Up are no longer in motion; to say I was devastated was an understatement. However, I still remain a supporter of all that James and Anthony will do in the future. I’m down for the ride. I’m a constant listener of Anthony’s podcast series “Hustle & Luck” and his newest series based off his incredible book “Don’t Dumb Down your Greatness”. The high quality and realness still reflects in his blog and podcast and choice of guests on his show. Consistency is your greatest traction.
Just about a week ago, Anthony Frasier followed me on Twitter and tweeted me “I like that mug”. I fan-girled and screenshot it, sent it to my best friend and spent over a week trying to figure out a dope way to respond. (I do absolutely way too much.) Tech808 and The Phat Start-Up’s influence and Impact on me lead to their gain of income (my purchase of my ticket, boss gear, Anthony’s book, etc). They sit high on my list of favorite brands to support. They did it right, and it shows in everything that they do. So my mugshot means so much more than my perfecting the art of the Smize, or my killer bangs that I cut myself, it’s how their impact has helped elevate who I am today. I was just a collegiatepreneur attending an HBCU from Charlotte, NC who just needed some help on how to #BossUp and walk to the beat of my own beatbox.