It’s a really good feeling to witness your peers who you’ve matured in the industry with do so well. I’ve known Dave for a very long time. I would say about nine to ten years now. We both started as college reps for Atlantic Records then both migrated to Atlanta, still working in marketing/promotions. To watch Dave go from an intern, to club promoter, to tour manager, to now business owner and influencer is so inspiring. I’ve always been his cheerleader and supported his events, artists, etc. We’ve always supported each other’s endeavors. When Dave first told me about Intecoo and the Millennials Brunch, I was super excited for him. The platform that he and his business partner are curating for millennials and also companies who are looking to engage with millennials is so innovative. I had to sit down with him to discuss this journey he’s on so it would hopefully inspire you to pursue your dreams and career goals.
Describe your cultural, educational, and professional background.
My name is David Melhado. Born in Elmont, New York & raised in Florida. My background is Jamaican, American. I went to college at University of South Florida. That’s how you and I met, through the college rep program. That was about 12 years ago. You were at Southern University and we’d be on conference calls every week promoting the Atlantic Records brand. That’s where I started. I did an internship with the Mauldin Brand Agency working on the Scream Tour. When I finished my internship that summer, I took it all back home and hit the ground running. I worked in radio with iHeartRadio, 95.7 The Beat in Tampa. I was an Atlantic records college rep, Interscope college rep, and So So Def college rep. I did nightlife promotions and created a successful night life brand in Florida that people still talk abou to this day.
What brought you to Atlanta?
I graduated school right as the recession had started and I couldn’t find a job. I took a part time gig with H3 Enterprises. They had this company called Hip Hop Soda Shop. Serial entrepreneur, Brian Peter and Dr. Ben Chavis started a hip hop / gaming / restaurant concept. I worked there for about a year then I was laid off because the company closed. That was really my only job. When I got laid off, I was like, “Wow, what am I supposed to do?” I really wanted to work in entertainment and Tampa didn’t have the opportunities like a big city such as Atlanta. I felt stuck honestly. In radio, I met a couple people who helped me make the decision to move to Atlanta. Court Luv (Manager of Bobby V & Khalid), Ray Daniels (manager of Rock City and also an A&R at Interscope) and Mark “Biddy” Barnes. I just stayed in contact with them trying to figure out ways i could add value. I told Mark one day, “I think I’m going to come to Atlanta.” He said, “Yea, come on Dave. Let’s go.” The first week I moved to Atlanta, I was on the road with Verse Simmonds.
Have you ever had a regular 9-5?
No, not since I’ve been out of college. When I was in college, everything was a job. I worked for Verizon’s call center, I worked with Bank of America, I worked as an orientation team leader, and I was promoting parties. I was the ultimate hustler. I saw my dad always hustling and that’s what pushed me to go out there and get it. There was never a situation of me trying to figure out how I was going to make money because I didn’t want to be on the sideline.
How many businesses do you have going on right now?
I’m a partner in a couple of other businesses where I have small percentages. I’ve also worked with numerous startups, one being Audio Common. Day-to-day of running a company, I’m a co-founder in Intecoo Group, which is my latest venture. It’s an influencer marketing agency that activates influencers for companies who are looking to launch Influencer campaigns.
What are some of the struggles that you’ve faced while in Florida or in Atlanta and the mentality you’ve had while maintaining entrepreneurialism?
I would say a lot of determination and perseverance, really. I uprooted everything, all my relationships in Florida and said, “Hey, I’m going to Atlanta.” Everyone back home thought I was crazy, saying, “You just had a crazy party last week. Why would you want to leave?” I just knew there was something more for me at that time. I knew if there was going to be any time to take that leap of faith it was right then, and that was 2009. So me and my best friend, Sean, who’s actually a radio personality at V103 in Atlanta now, we took a leap of faith and said, “Yo, let’s go up there!” We took his truck and an attachment we got from UHaul and put it on the back with all of our stuff. Sean secured a job as a leasing agent for a new property. We were able to move into that property for half rent so now we’re splitting $1200 rent and got half off the $600 so we’re only paying $300 each. Sean would work during the day so I would be able to use his car during the day to make moves. When he got off work we would just go to as many clubs and meet as many people as we could. Our mentor, Biddy, he opened up the doors and he would tell us to go every club and say we know Biddy. That’s what we did. Some spots it worked and some didn’t forcing us to build relationships of our own. That’s how we got in. We started meeting people.
I’ve been in Atlanta for seven years and it took me six years to get stable. For the first three years, I was basically interning with Verse Simmonds doing whatever I could do for him and finding ways to add value. I knew if I made myself an important piece it would be hard to replace me. He had a song called “Buy You A Round” and he had another song with Kelly Rowland called “Boo Thang that kept us on the road. We would travel every single weekend to another city, two, three days out of the week; four days sometimes. I never really got my footing here in Atlanta. I didn’t determine what my core values were because I had just got out of college. I was trying to hustle. I was trying to gravitate wherever I could to get in the door. I never knew what I really wanted to do, honestly. I was just letting the wind take me, going with the force, and it wasn’t until when things started slowing down when I started spending more time with myself and understand who I was growing into as a man.
“We connect brands with influencers who actually love their brands. We feel like that authentic engagement is important.”
What is Intecoo, and its mission in the community?
Two years ago when I turned thirty years old, I started feeling like I needed more. I loved the entertainment business and what it has brought me, a lot of success, but at the same time I felt I was here to do more. My idea of success had changed. The only way I was going to be able to do more was to dive into the books. In 2014, I probably read fifty books. Sometimes, I would read a whole book in one day. I read Smartcuts by Shane Snow in one day. I downloaded the audiobook and listened on an 8-hour trip to Florida. It’s basically about your journey and knowing when the right time to make a pivot. Not taking shortcuts in life but looking for the opportunity to make a smartcut. It teaches you how to use the things you’re doing right now to pivot into other areas and still have that authority in the area that you’re in. My friend and I, my business partner, Kerry Abner, had just got laid off from Turner Broadcasting where he was doing insights & innovation where he would study marketing and technology trends and bring it back to the upper level team of executives. We were just trying to figure out what we were going to do next. We would meet once a week, sitting on his couch, and throw out ideas. We tried to launch a few startups. We started seeing that the conversation about millennials was really negative. We realized that we were the people they were talking about. We said that didn’t feel right and it wasn’t the character traits that we have. So we were focused on trying to help change that narrative. We created a couple programs, which we didn’t know what it was going to be. We created a panel where we brought thought leaders together and it started off by us just asking our friends to sit on a panel who work in cool jobs and did cool things. We started filling rooms of a hundred plus people and then we realized we had some real value. Simultaneously we created a brunch. We were like, “Yo, I want to open my phone book and invite my friends to lunch to meet your friends.” We created this thing called Millennials Brunch where we’re on our seventh millennials brunch now and it’s grown to something that’s been featured in Huffington Post and Hypepotamus. Large companies are hitting us now looking to find ways to get involved. We’re not only creating this program for millennials to help change the negative narrative, but we have companies coming to us that want us to consult them on how to better engage the millennials employees that they have and how to sell their products to millennials. That is what Intecoo is. It stands for Intelligently Cool. It’s a compound word. We just kinds of smashed those two words together, and it’s doing really well for us.
What keeps you motivated to keep going?
I read this other book, called The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. To be successful, there’s a series of things you have to do, not just one thing that you have to do. If you’re knocking one thing off that list everyday, you’re getting closer to your goal. The biggest idea in the book is, if you eat a donut a day, in forty-five days, you’re going to gain some weight. But, if you eat a salad a day, in forty-five days you’re going to lose some weight. There’s tons of examples in that book that really resonated with me. I just applied that to my life. Every single day I get up, and I create a routine. I wake up at 5am and I study what the most successful investors and businessmen are doing. They wake up early at four or five o’clock in the morning. I said let me mirror that, let me mirror some of those same traits: 5am prayer, 5:30am workout, 6am to 7am read, 9am rest to open up my mind and let new ideas come in. I don’t check any emails until 10:30am or 11am, and I have my phone on do not disturb. These are some of my productivity hacks, the things I had to put in place for myself, accountability things to push myself forward.
You mentioned The Compound Effect, and you also mentioned Smartcuts, are there any other books or motivational speakers you would recommend that helped you transition into this entrepreneurial lifestyle?
To get to the place where I’m at today, I’ve studied Tai Lopez, a business entrepreneur. Also motivational speakers, Eric Thomas, and friend, Tony Gaskins. I went to college with Tony. There’s so many of them. I’ve read so many books, listened to so many podcasts, and read so many articles on Huffington Post and Fast Company. I made it a daily routine. There’s so many things that I picked up from all these articles and I really started seeing the things that it took to be successful were common in the different stories. I recently read a book called Built To Sell by John Warrillow. It talks about how to build your company to be able to sell it down the line so focus on specializing in something rather than doing general services. For Intecoo, we specialize in millennial marketing and millennial consulting. Rather than just doing logos and websites and being an all encompassing Marketing Agency, our specialty is creating millennial programming that can engage millennials to be able to take it to companies that are looking to engage with millennials, and then also hire millennials.
Would you say having a spirituality and some type of connection to a greater being is very important to finding yourself, knowing who you want to be, and becoming an entrepreneur?
I think that having faith and prayer has helped me tremendously with having a core value and spiritual grounding. This world is tough being out here. That’s one of the biggest things, you have to have some sort of grounding. If you don’t know your core values of what you stand for and believe in, it could be the single most destructive thing that could happen in your life. That’s very important because there’s been times when I have wavered and been discouraged but it’s only because I’ve gotten away from my core values and my spiritual grounding.
“Fail fast. Find things that you can try and if you fail, that’s good… if you turn failure into feedback, you can switch up your game plan and know what not to do the next time.”
What are 3 signs that someone can recognize in themselves when it is time for him/her to make that move into entrepreneurialism?
I think it’s a process, like i said, the compound effect. If you’re paying your bills off of your job, then I wouldn’t recommend just quitting your job. Unless, you were laid off. If you were laid off, that is absolutely the best time for you to start working on what your passion is or trying to figure out what your purpose is. But, if you have a job, you have to start making small steps in that direction of what you’re trying to do. Experiment in as many things as you can. Try it out. Launch a couple different side hustles or businesses that you can use to accompany what your nine to five is because that is what’s going to be able to help you determine what you actually want to do.
Fail fast. Find things that you can try and if you fail, that’s good. A lot of people look at failure and it discourages them, but, if you turn failure into feedback, you can switch up your game plan and know what not to do the next time. Or, look at what other people have done to fail and use their failures as feedback.
Another thing that’s helped me was having mentors; going to mentors and adding value. There are a lot of people who have a lot of different experiences, connections and relationships. Adding value to them in some sort of way, whether it’s graphic design or web design or something that you’re really good at and adding value to them. They’ll give you back their wisdom. I definitely would say there’s no better time than starting where you are. Take those small steps. If you’re laid off, dive all the way into it. In my case, I was laid off from my job and I dived all the way in. It’s been quite a journey. I wouldn’t have done it any other way.
Are there any tools like books that you may have read or motivational speakers you’ve listened to who may have helped educate you and helped your transition into entrepreneurialism?
I look at everything that I do and I try to approach it in a new way. The only way to be a rebel is you have to be innovative. You have look at things from a different lense and be open too. Go hard at it. If you go a hundred miles an hour at it and crash, it’s okay. Get the f**k up and try something else. That’s what makes me a REBEL. I’ve hit the ground running. I’ve seen a lot of doors close in my face. I’ve used that to fuel my passion to be able to create something else that has value. When I started Intecoo with my partner Kerry, people were looking at me like I was crazy. No one came to support me. I only had ten people in the room. Now I have an event that has over fifty people who come to the event every month and I turn people away every single month, because I just can’t.
REBEL is an acronym for Revolutionary Entrepreneur, Business and Entertainment Leader. What makes you a REBEL?
I look at everything that I do and I try to approach it in a new way. The only way to be a rebel is you have to be innovative. You have look at things from a different lens and be open too. Go hard at it. If you go a hundred miles an hour at it and crash, it’s okay. Get the f**k up and try something else. That’s what makes me a REBEL. I’ve hit the ground running. I’ve seen a lot of doors close in my face. I’ve used that to fuel my passion for being able to create something else that has value.
How can REBEL readers support Intecoo?
We are IntecooGroup.com. You can subscribe to updates on our site and come experience what we do. Come to one of our events. That’s like our first step. Events are our business card. Come experience that and then let’s sit down and talk. Lets talk Influencer Marketing and how our platform can help your company. We want to hear about what you’re passionate about.