One evening I was invited to a show by an artist, Angelina Sherie, here in Atlanta. I had never heard of the showcase where she was performing, but I was very excited to see her show. I walked into the venue and it was a packed house. The branding was on point and it seemed everyone was having a great time. Surprisingly, the rapper Future walked in and at that point, I had to find out who was responsible for this event. Shortly after spotting Future, I was introduced to Drew Sanders, the curator of the RnB Untapped showcase. My mind was set that we would eventually work together and a year later RnB Untapped is the first R&B showcase at the A3C Festival here in Atlanta, REBEL is a sponsor, and two of my artist clients are featured on the inaugural line up.

I recently sat down with Drew over lunch at Chipotle to get more insight into his humble beginnings, how he started RnB Untapped and what his goals and missions are for the platform in the community. His story was very inspiring to me, and I hope it inspires you as well.

Can you describe your cultural, educational, and professional background?

I am an African American man from Spring Valley, New York. My professional background includes an array of things: tv/film, public relations, talent management, and marketing. Now, I do live and special events production. I graduated from Tuskegee University in 2010. That is where I studied sales and marketing, and now I’m out here being a young black man trying to get it!

The entire time I was at Tuskegee I had no interest in working for corporate America. All of my college internships were at Universal Music Group under SRC and Geffen records. After I graduated, I interned for a couple of artist management companies in Los Angeles, CA.

The only reason why I went to Tuskegee was because they advertised entrepreneurship, but they never had the course when I got there so that’s why I ended up majoring in sales and marketing. I love sales and marketing! I’m actually reading a sales book right now. I always knew what I wanted to do going into college. I always knew I was going to be involved with entertainment, I just didn’t know in which facet.

Have you ever had a regular nine-to-five outside of entrepreneurism?

I have actually. I’ve worked for a PR firm, off and on since I was 13. I’ve worked for BET/VH1/TPS as a production assistant in various departments. My most recent job was being a tour manager for an experiential marketing firm. I’ve definitely had my share of nine-to-fives!

Can you describe that moment where you realized that working in a nine-to-five isn’t where you were suppose to be?

Well, it didn’t even last long. It didn’t even last a year. I think during that time I was just doing it to gain more experience in that world. I wanted to better understand that culture. I also wanted to pay the bills (lol). I always knew that was a stepping stone so I wasn’t going to be there for a long time. Actually, what really provoked me to move on was a conversation I had with one of the executives.

What did he say to make you realize that?

To be honest with you, I got laid off. I look at it like a blessing from God that I got laid off because it gave me all of the energy that I have now to really go hard for mine and don’t look back. That’s the REBEL in me. I was never about the system.

Did you have any money saved up?

Yes, I did! I told myself, “I’m not going to be here long, let me just save up some bread.” I’m happy that I saved up some money. I still save today as well because you have too. The thing with entrepreneurs is that you have to sacrifice. You may not be able to go to the club tonight and have fun, or you may not be able to take this girl out to dinner. The financial side of things is critical.

Mentally, what was that transition like for you coming out of that corporate job into entrepreneurism?

Well, it’s funny because you caught me at a great time especially because all of this is brand new to me. I got laid off this summer so right now I’m reprogramming my mind. I’ve always been relentless with everything that I do. If I say to you, “Joy, I’m going to make a $100,000 this year,” I’m going to do that shit. That’s the type of person I am. You should have a super-hungry mindset as an entrepreneur. You have to activate that animalistic side in you.

Survival…

Yes, exactly! Almost like a killer! That’s the mindset you have to have! First and foremost, you really have to believe in yourself and don’t be deterred by what anyone else says. Really go with what God has instilled in you and don’t look back!

Now that you’ve come out of that corporate situation, it’s clear you have the mindset to be an entrepreneur. So let’s talk about the next phase of your life! Outside of your ambition, is there anything else that keeps you motivated to keep going with RnB Untapped? Also, can you give us a long term goal of this vision and brand?

What keeps me going is the audience saying at the end of the show, “Man, I needed this.” If an artist tells me that this is the best show they’ve ever performed on then just hearing those responses from people keeps me going and it forces me to take it to another level. Because I’m all about the experience. I just want people to have an incredible experience. I want people to be like, “Who was that, that just performed?” Or, “I just saw my favorite artist perform because Drew brought them out.” That sh*t keeps me going – the whole experience factor. My long term goal is to turn RnB Untapped into an international platform. Hit six to eight different cities by next year and then hopefully have our own festival in 2018. After that, take it to London, China, and Japan. Basically, make this an international brand because everyone loves R&B music – Black, White, Asian, Latinos – they love R&B music and I just want to continue to put great content out there! I support artists who have GOOD music. I’m not just putting anyone up on stage. That’s one thing that’s special about RnB Untapped – it’s highly curated. We’re not just putting any and everybody up on stage. We’re really putting great artist on that hopefully will be superstars tomorrow. That’s the goal.

What would you say are three signs someone can look for in themselves to tell them they are ready to transition from a corporate job into full on entrepreneurism?

One sign that’s very important is if you dread waking up in the morning to go to work. My friend who is a teacher is drained every day when he comes home from work. So waking up in the morning and feeling like you don’t want to be there and leaving work feeling drained is two signs because you have to look at your quality of life. You have to look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself if you’re actually happy! If you can’t say yes, then you need to change some sh*t up!

You mentioned earlier that you love to read, so this is the perfect question for you. Are there any books that you like to read that helped you personally transition into this new phase of entrepreneurism?

I have to give a big shoutout to my yogi – Russell Simmons. I’ve read a few of his books, Super Rich, by Russell Simmons just to name one. Overall, I definitely look up to him as far as being an entrepreneur, businessman, and spiritually inclined individual because that’s the type of person I am. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, by Deepak Chopra is one of my favorite books. I recommend that book to anyone. When I find time, I like to go to a Buddha temple to meditate. I also listen to Bohdi Spiritual podcasts because anyone can do what they want, but you really have to have self-love and be really inclined with who you are to know your purpose in life. That all comes with seeing yourself with self awareness. That’s exactly what I like to promote. By being more in tune with God and allowing Him to guide your steps, you can do anything. Another favorite of mine is The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. Those are some of the books I like to read.

REBEL is actually an acronym for Revolutionary Entrepreneur, Business, and Entertainment Leader. Why do you consider yourself a REBEL?

“What makes me a REBEL is just me being me. Really walking without any fear in the world and letting God’s light shine through me. That is what makes me a REBEL!”

How can our readers support your business?

They can follow us on Instagram and Facebook at @RnBUntapped and like our page! They can follow me personally @IamDas. You can follow the organization page as well on Instragram and Facebook at @FlyNationMovement.