How to Balance Finances as an Entrepreneur. Bboy Spot’s Mex breaks it down.

5 Feb

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For a recent project in my Finance class in my Master’s program at Full Sail University, I interviewed David “Mexone” Alvarado, henceforth referred to as Mex. He is the founder of The Bboy Spot, B&B Printing and Biggest & Baddest clothing in Orlando, FL. His three businesses are run seamlessly as a unit, piggy backing off of each other creating a culture and community of hip hop.

I chose to interview Mex after visiting The Bboy Spot January 19th for a live broadcast of the local radio show, OUR Show 91.5 (www.itsourshow.net). I was extremely impressed with the venue, the culture and sense of unity that I found there. I was also taken by the fact that someone else was doing something very close to what my husband and I have wanted to do with our businesses, as far as the collaboration of fashion and music. It was very refreshing to find a place that has kept the values and traditions of hip hop, even with the major mainstream turn the industry has taken within the last five years or so. Continue reading for a fresh perspective on entrepreneurial finance.

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The Bboy Spot venue, which includes an open area for events and break dancing classes, a warehouse style screen printing area for B&B Printing, and a retail area for the Biggest & Baddest clothing brand, is located at ‪7033 Stapoint Ct, Winter Park, FL 32792, (321) 295-7902, website: www.thebboyspot.com. Mex has licensed The Bboy Spot to two partnership locations, one in Europe and another in Asia. The Orlando location currently has eight people on staff including Mex, the Founder, Spen, head designer, Gina Betetti, operations manager, and John Nguyan, store manager.

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Mex came from humble beginnings. He grew up poor in Mexico, but had a go-getter mentality from the start. His first dabble in business was when he was five years old, carrying ladies’ groceries home from the market for tips. He didn’t have television for much of his childhood, so his imagination kept him busy. His step dad, a business owner, came into his life at twelve years old. This gave him a taste of the business world at an early age. As a bboy (or break-dancer) in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, he began to build a network of people who knew and trusted him in the hip-hop and bboy community. He emphasized building himself as a brand before he actually owned a business. This method of relationship building would later assist him in getting the connections he needed to catapult his business. Mex still puts this in practice today.

In the hip-hop world, looking out for others’ best interests is one of the smartest business and personal moves to make. Currently, he even acts as an agent to bboys and bgirls without taking a cut. This in turn provides him with a loyal community that will promote and support the businesses. In 2003 and 2004 Mex sold VHS’s of bboy battles at hip hop events to generate income. After VHS, he moved into DVD’s until Youtube took over that market. He then found a niche in foam hats that are a key product for bboys and bgirls. Mex would sell the hats at events, taking home $1,500 per event at times, while continuing to build his network. He used this income to invest in his first warehouse in 2008.

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Mex then released his clothing brand Biggest & Baddest in Japan. He used a credit card to make the trip. Mex and his head designer/partner of Biggest & Baddest, Spen Oner, made the trip and sold all their merchandise at the release. This allowed them to pay off the credit card and invest the rest back into the business.

This method of money management is usually discouraged, but Mex is against investors. His main concern is the community and culture of hip-hop. He would rather take a longer period of time to earn the money himself than give an investor who doesn’t care about the community a percentage of the money. All of his funding has been organic, grass roots growth with no bank loans or investors. Mex is very committed to the idea of keeping tradition of hip-hop culture, communication and giving back to the community.

The Bboy Spot website is not only for selling clothes, but a great communication hub. Mex and his staff keep the site’s blog updated with current events, information, and articles of interest to the hip hop community. They have also established a scholarship fund in which $1,000 scholarships are given to three lucky dancers/students. The forum on the website has become globally popular and a great place for bboys and hip hop heads to unite. Topics discussed include music, clothing, dance technique and world news. The forum is a place for learning, promoting yourself, and communicating with the global hip hop culture.

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      Mex has friends in Europe and Asia that bought into the business with a licensing agreement, which gives them the right to use The Bboy Spot name. They are not franchises they are more like partnerships. They share a webpage, but the Asia and Europe branches purchase the Biggest and Baddest clothing products at wholesale prices from Mex and sell it in their own facilities as well.

Since Mex owns three businesses that are intertwined, revenue comes from many different facets. Biggest & Baddest clothing is sold online at retail price. Mex also buys from affiliate brands at wholesale price and sells them for retail price in the online web store. He sells the Biggest & Baddest brand at wholesale price to the Europe and Asia branches. Bboy events bring in money from cover prices, and provide a place to sell his clothing. Mex also has affiliates in different parts of the country that buy Biggest & Baddest merchandise at wholesale price and sell them at bboy events, building the brand on a wider scale. He is also a consultant for Red Bull BC One (a renowned bboy competition). Mex’s B&B Printing pulls in revenue from screen printing tees shirts, printing flyers, pins, and more for various clients. The Bboy Spot then makes money from bboy classes and venue rental.

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Mex admits that his bookkeeping was not great from the start. He did not go to school for business. His basic set up was to live a minimal lifestyle and invest everything he made back into the businesses. Now he uses QuickBooks and the help of his sister during tax time, who happens to be an accountant.

Mex’s goal now is brand expansion. As popular as The Bboy Spot and the Biggest & Baddest clothing brand have become, they are both still relatively in the underground hip-hop market. The next step is remodeling the storefront area of his current location to make a better retail space, and eventually having another retail shop location in Orlando, FL. Also, he is seeking to get placement in retail shops other than his own as a way to create brand awareness and generate sales. He is looking for shops that are also independent, but says he would weigh the option of bigger retailers if the opportunity came up. Though he knows that some of his loyal clients would feel negatively about him selling to a big box retailer, he considers what the money from a large, reoccurring order could do for the community and business expansion. He says he looks forward to facing a problem like that. Mex also plans to increase promotion and create a buzz about the brand to bring in new fans.

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    The recession hasn’t had much of an effect on Mex’s businesses considering he opened the doors around the beginning of the recession in 2008. The only thing that he says slowed him down was unexpected rapid growth. Keeping up with the demand took some adjusting, but it wasn’t a bad problem to have. He just purchased a $10,000 piece of equipment that will provide him a means to create a better quality product for a lower cost than he was previously making it. Reinvesting in assets is continuing to grow the business.

Mex says that he regrets not going to business school, but at the same time, entrepreneurship cannot be taught in school. There are some things about business that must be attained by life experience. Another main point of his was to always keep integrity. He keeps a strong morale, and it is by this that his customers and affiliates remain very loyal.

In closing, Mex brought up five extremely important points in turning a dream into reality.

1-An entrepreneur must study to learn all that they can about the business or field of which they want to get in to.

2-You cannot have fear. Do not let fear kill your dreams.

3- Understand the steps to make your dream reality.

4- Network as much as possible. He notes that you will only go as far as your network takes you.

5- Ideas have power, but above ideas are actions. Every action has a reaction that the community applies to it. So in the end, it is the community, or the people, who have the power.

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Though some may not agree with his tactics, especially that of not believing in investors, his method has been working so far. At only thirty years old and only four years into growing his businesses, Mex is certainly on the way to making the brands solidified as number one in the market.

~A.Rozier

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