Master P
Master P

Master P: Corporations – It Pays To Diversify

[text_output]Mogul, Entrepreneur, Rapper, Actor, Investor, Author, Filmmaker, Record Producer, Philanthropist and former basketball player Percy Miller (aka Master P) is the CEO of P. Miller Enterprises. With a $10,000 inheritance in 1991, he opened a record store, No Limit Records, which became the foundation for his own record label, famously negotiating an 80/20 deal and securing the ownership of his masters.

Building a $200m business by creating ‘blue oceans’ in new market spaces and creating new demands, Miller leads a purpose-led family business, which takes lessons from targeting niche audiences in music to creating a portfolio of businesses from food, rum, wrestling, fashion, film and sneakers. He shares his blueprint on how diverse businesses can get a seat at the table and take ownership of their destiny. As told to Zena Tuitt[/text_output][gap size=”1.313em” id=”” class=”” style=””]

Master P
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We wanted to have representation in stores. Representation of people who are moving the culture to the next level; especially as Hip Hop is now the number one music genre in the world – an art-form that we were told wouldn’t last for more than 5 years. Now we are at a level where the world understands what Hip-Hop is. When we launched Rap Snacks, we started putting Hip Hop artists on the [crisp] bags because we looked at African American people in the food market and realised that we only have pictures of Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben on our food reflecting our image. Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben don’t represent who we are today.

Rap Snack Noodles

There was nothing in the food market to show young people and consumers in general, how far this generation – the culture has come. We started with me and my son Romeo on the [crisp] bags, and now we are able to put Cardi B and the Migos on the bags. People don’t know that we have been around at least 20 years. It’s a dream to be able to be in Walmart at 4,500 stores and available worldwide. We started on the corner putting our [crisps] in Mom and Pop stores in the same way I started with the music.

If you look at Cheetos or Fritolay, they are billion-dollar companies, in America, there are not many businesses with faces like ours behind them, that are able to access the distribution; which we are doing now as a minority owned business. We have national distribution and we are going to do the same with noodles – ‘Rap Snack Noodles’. Hopefully, we will inspire other minority owners to see that if we can do it, they can do it too.

 We made the case that there were no African American or minority owned food products in Walmart. There were products with faces that that look like us on some of the products but nobody owning them. We showed them that the first major beauty brand, Johnston & Johnston were black owned. We have black hair products, but we aren’t in the food market – we showed Walmart that this is a problem, we can help them fix.

Often minority businesses have great ideas, but we can’t get to distribution of our product, so we end up having to sell it off or give it to somebody and be the face of it. So, we are definitely changing that. I went to school to understand the business, in the same way I did with music, to know how to negotiate an 80/20 distribution deal. To control your own product is incredible.

 I took basic business and applied the principles I learn in music to my new business ventures. If you believe in something – market it and promote it. No one expected Rap Snacks to be around 20 years later. They didn’t understand what it was. We were focused on making our product look the best. From when you open the bags up, the way it tastes, you don’t have no other product like it. Our flavours are different from what’s on the shelves right now. We got the best of both worlds, when we look at it from the packaging to the flavours.

Once somebody opens that bag up, they have to know that the taste has to sell it. The product has to be A1. We have great flavours in the bag, so when you come back and get the Migos, the Cardi B you know the [crisps] are going to be good. We are doing the same thing with noodles. Now we have the Rap Snacks Noodles, and our first flavour is the gumbo and chicken – you never heard of that!

We are not just creating companies. All the money we make we are able to put back into the community. It’s all about educating the next generation. We are focusing on the young kids, Rap Snacks has a programme called ‘Boss Up’. We teach inner city kids and college kids how to be entrepreneurs. It’s important. I went to school and college and didn’t learn about entrepreneurship and economics. Those are the things I’m really focusing on right now so by the time kids, get to college, they know to take an economics course along with being an athlete. It’s all about bossing up with Rap Snacks.

 Without the product development, you have no business, so first, you have to develop your product. That should be your first investment. Then you need to know how to market the product to get people to buy it. Even with us being in Walmart we still had to market because we wanted the product to sell off the shelves, so they can replenish with more product. So, the whole thing with me and my partner James Lindsay, was to show that we have the best tasting product. We had to get out there and market this to the world. What I find is, people aren’t committed to their brands. You have to be committed to your brand. You have to put in the work and sacrifice – you gotta get it out there.

Start small. Build.

 My thing is, I want to create more African American and minority business owners – show them what I’m doing and say look, get you some products. If I can do it, you can do it. Start small. Build. Rap Snacks didn’t happen overnight. This is a twenty-year business. I know that everybody can’t go out and just quit their job. I’m not telling people to quit their job. Pay your bills, but make it your business to find something that you love and create a brand and find a product – something you can invest in.

Start small and it can get you out of whatever situation you are in. I think if you don’t have that entrepreneurship mindset you are going to be a worker for life. There is nothing wrong with having a job and saying that OK, I’m going to do my best; but find something that is going to take you out of the situation, if you want another lifestyle.

That’s my thing, if I can motivate and inspire the next generation to go and do what I’m doing then I feel like I did my part. I came from poverty, I never had nothing. I want to give my people the blueprint so they can be inspired and help the next generation. I don’t want to be there by myself. I want thousands of successful businesses, where people say I was inspired by P, he did it, I can do it too. I want to sit at those tables – that’s why I have the Master P Masterclasses – a whole educational plan that I do in different cities, where we talk about ideas and how to bring those ideas to life.

 We have three generations in the house, we have my daughter, my son and me. We have a three headed monster. The best of all three worlds. We look at fashion, we look at lifestyle. We have a new TV show coming out, called ‘The Miller Family Treasures’. We are about being successful. We like nice things, but we don’t live for them. Those are not our family treasures.

The love is the ability to go out and help other people and other cultures. We look at fashion, we take it from all over, Europe – London; when we look at a tennis shoe, we ask, why has none of us created a Gucci or a Versace and even a Nike. All of those companies started from somewhere. We created the Moneyattis which is a high end, high fashion new ‘drip’ sneaker, we started as an online business and created a whole brand, from just being different and unique.

No Idea Is A Whack Idea

No idea is a whack idea, it’s never a loss for us, it’s a lesson. Everything we do, we learn and get better. What a lot of people don’t realise is a lot of big companies make a lot of mistakes, then start over and rebuild. We have to stop looking down on each other to create great people. We have to give people chances to get it together and figure it out. That’s basically what we do. We are always going to try – I feel like we got everything covered. We got the females covered, we got this generation covered and we got the Bosses covered with me, so we all bring our ideas together to bring them to light.

Moneyatti – is the Bugatti of shoes – we have created an incredible brand. We are even seeing Nike and these other brands which are huge, trying to knock our styles off. I got people on social media hitting me up telling me that Nike is trying to copy your leopard stuff. But I tell them, there is enough for all of us.

What makes the sneaker thing incredible for us, is that this generation respect it more because we are the sneaker heads buying sneakers, and they now know we own this. We can actually create this, design this and make this ourselves, and that is mind-blowing for young people. Nike blew up once they got Michael Jordan. That was a company that started in someone’s garage with an idea. Now this culture and the millennial generation see that we can actually do this.

Things are changing with the times. People want stuff delivered to them. They want their food delivered, they want their clothes delivered, they don’t want to go anywhere. They want movies but they don’t want to go to the movie theatres. They want everything online. They want it on their phone. They want to download it.

Trademark it

You can have a lot of ideas but once you believe in something you got to trademark it. Once you trademark it you don’t have to worry about somebody else taking it. I think for me, as soon as I come up with an idea, and I know I want to turn it into a brand, then you need to trademark it. If you want to put this on some product or social media and let other people know about it, then before you do that you should trademark it before somebody else takes it.

You got to realise that adversity comes from being successful, people are not going to believe in you. Things are not going work out. People are going to hate on you. You have to stay focused and get back up even if you take a loss. It could be financial. It could be spiritual. You have to focus on your end goal. If you know you are putting the work in – understand knowledge and education is more important than money. With the knowledge and the wisdom, the money is going to come. Some people only work for the money. Be passionate about what you believe in and about your dreams and you are going to get there – you are always going to get through the storm and get back up if you fall.

I tell people, it don’t matter if you are crawling across that finish line it’s a marathon. Keep going. You don’t have to be able to walk or run all the time. It might take you longer. Look at us with Rap Snacks; it took us twenty years. People were laughing at us. Now, they are not laughing any more. They are looking at us as if those guys are geniuses. Who would ever of thought to put some of the biggest hip-hop stars in the world on a [crisp] bag. We are setting trends. But it all started from a little idea.

Even when we went to people to try and get investors, nobody believed, so we put in our own money, kept putting in a little bit, we knew one day it was going to happen. I tell anybody when you are going through your trials and tribulations put your trust in God. You can get through anything. You put God first, you work hard, you sacrifice and stay committed and do the right thing and you will be alright. You don’t need to rush.

TV And Movies

I’m familiar with the Afrobeat scene. My advice for artists would be to expand into film and TV as that is what helped me to open my brands up and sell other products. If you are doing great in the music side, you got to make videos – so why not do TV and movies. That is going to open up your brand even bigger. It’s what gives you sustainability. I’m able to still be in the game 20 years later and be relevant because of TV and movies.

I just put out a movie, ‘I Got the Hook-Up 2’ which is the number one urban comedy in America. It outsold many great movies because of the fanbase and because of what we have done in the past. We have been able to bring the millennials and the culture together which was incredible and important. You look at a Black Panther, it was a great movie, they spent a big, big budget in this movie but at the end of the day this is a movie that is owned by Disney. We only own 5% of the production in Hollywood. We are making all these great blockbuster movies, but it’s not owned by African Americans or minorities – Asians or Hispanics.

We don’t own anything and so that is why we have to change that. So, I say to those guys [Afrobeat artists], how you expand in music is to diversify your portfolio, cause it all goes together. You are not really doing anything different, you are just expanding. If you make videos, you can make TV. If you can do TV you can do movies. You just have to think outside the box. And we need to own it. My superpower is having faith and trusting in God and if I could go back and speak to my young self I would tell myself, don’t worry, take your time and keep going. There is no limit from there.

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