(Photo by Tony Abraham)
In the remix to Kanye West‘s “Diamonds From Sierra Leone,” Jay-Z asserts, “I’m not a businessman; I’m a business, man.”
That line of thinking — that the brand of an individual takes precedent over individual brands — is a strategy hip hop owns, practiced by myriad moguls from Dr. Dre to Snoop Dogg to Sean Combs and beyond. It’s a business strategy the Institute of Hip Hop Entrepreneurship (IHHE) will help its first cohort of 24 entrepreneurs actualize.
That journey began officially this past Friday at Center City-based coworking space Pipeline Philly during an opening reception for the Knight-funded nonprofit.”
“Hip hop was probably the only thing I’ve ever seen to give more people a chance, to make them be in charge of their own fiscal destiny,” said Tayyib Smith, standing alongside his fellow IHHE and Little Giant Creative cofounder Meegan Denenberg.
Smith’s first lesson to the cohort? Look at the opportunity that surrounds you.
“Take advantage of some of the people in this room,” he said. “You have some successful people in this room who are willing to offer their mentorship or their ear or answer questions for you.”
The room was indeed packed with talent, including:
- Akeem Dixon, Director of Economic Development, New Kensington Community Development Corporation
- Erica Atwood, CEO of First Degree Consulting and senior consultant at Cities United
- Archna Sahay, Director of Entrepreneurial Investment at the City of Philadelphia
- Patrick Morgan, Philadelphia Program Director at the Knight Foundation
- “Grouchy” Greg Watkins, cofounder of AllHipHop.com.
For the next nine months, IHHE’s first cohort will be receiving hands-on guidance from Smith, Denenberg and their network of successful entrepreneurs and businesspeople. And Smith and Denenberg will be hoping their model will open the doors for the world’s next Jay-Z(s).
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