Everyone sees the final production but always forget the work that happens behind the scenes. One of the biggest pieces of a company that goes unnoticed is the Business Development department. Normally paired with the sales team, business development is a crucial piece of a companies puzzle. We recently interviewed the Business Development Director of Issa Rae Productions, Benoni Tagoe. From merchandise selling to content concepts, Benoni is on the front lines with a strategy. Check out our interview below!
Tell us a little about your professional background?
Growing up, I always knew that I wanted to make a lot of money and live life exactly how I wanted — I just didn’t know exactly how I would get there. I spent all of my idle time plotting, and, quite frankly, trying and failing. I can honestly say that I don’t believe I succeeded at something in particular growing up, but I was always respected for my work ethic. It was then, that I began to understand the power of trying, even if things didn’t work out. Soon after, I also learned that it isn’t about how much money you make, but about achieving the type of lifestyle you want while helping others along the way. My first professional industry job was with concert promoter, AEG. There, I would do VIP packages for all concert attendees. The first tour I worked on was Justin Bieber’s tour. I also worked on other artist tours such as Black Eyed Peas, Pitbull, and Ricardo Arjona. Soon after, I got a call to work for the Jonas Brothers. I had worked as an intern for them the summer prior, so they called me back. I started off as their assistant and worked with their day-to-day management team.
How did you start working with Issa Rae Productions?
I started working with Issa Rae in 2011. We had mutual friends and I would hear about her plans for her new web-series, The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl. Being a hustler, eh, I mean entrepreneur, I sent her a long email breaking down what I believed she needed and what I could bring to the table. A few days later, we met up and twenty plus millions of views and an HBO show later, here we are.
I heard you started working for free. Why were you so willing to work for free?
Issa Rae had an idea and vision that I believed in, so it was a no-brainer! To this day, I will consider taking on clients for a free trial run, but there are a series of questions I ask myself before I jump onboard any project like this. These questions include: How will this propel my career? Will I learn? Is there money to be made from this in the near future?
Describe your role as Business Development Director?
At our core, Issa Rae Productions is a production company. Our job is to create concepts, sell them and repeat. While that may work for some, that isn’t a long-term strategy for us. Sure, we want to always be creating, but my job is to find ancillary opportunities to create diversified revenue streams outside of creating content.
Where do marketing and business development intersect?
Marketing and business development are different, but the overlap is simple. Often times, marketing can sell the business development components before those components are fully matured. Marketing is key. I’ve seen crappy products get great runway because the marketing was on point!
For a production company, where does business development come into play?
For a production company, business development comes into play when you are thinking about how you can grow the company in ways outside of content. Whether that be merch, strategic partnerships or owning various distribution channels.
What are some tips for small businesses who are looking to grow their businesses?
As a small business owner, there are a lot of tips I can give, but one of the most important would be to focus on your mindset. There are a lot of methods you can implement to grow your business that you can read in a book or find on YouTube, but I’d encourage you to have a mindset of steadfastness and also never lose the “you” in your business. Never lose the reason why you are the person that is ultimately best suited to grow your business.
Not only do you produce your own content, you assist people with there’s. How did that business model come about?
Everyone wants to make content, but sometimes they just aren’t sure how to go about creating it. It isn’t a business model per se, it’s more about having a skill set that I can tap into whenever there is a need.
What can we look forward to from Issa Rae Productions?
For Issa Rae Productions, you can look forward to more content and continuing to help out the community of content creators who are underserved.
Why is it important for people to own their own content?
It’s extremely important to own your own content because you always want flexibility and autonomy over things you create.
What is The Bizz Plan?
The Bizz Plan is a management and consulting firm. At the moment, we represent individual talent who are excelling in their field and can have a business built around them. Our objective is to leverage true talent while finding an audience and increasing opportunities around that talent.
What is next for Benoni Tagoe?
To keep on trying like I always have, and to focus on living the best life I can.
Make sure to follow Benoni Tagoe on Instagram.