MIX TAPE VENTURES 2030 VISION
After eating way too much bacon I walk out of our large training room as the monthly leadership meeting has just wrapped up. I am proud of our platform company managing partners, brand managers, and a handful of front line employees in attendance. I am excited at all the fun, growth, and profit our leaders are creating. It has been years since I was directly making decisions in any of the mature platform companies and brands however I feel like through the metrics, dashboards, and communication rhythms we have, I know exactly what's going on. I thumb through my upcoming travel schedule smiling at the places I will be visiting as I get an espresso and head into a themed small meeting room to have my daily huddle meeting with the MTV operations team.
Mix Tape Ventures (“MTV”) is different things to different people. For our servant-leaders in our platform companies and brands, MTV is the backbone of support services such as accounting, human resources, branding and strategy. This support allows each platform company and brand to operate as lean as possible while also pooling resources to get the best talent possible. Much of our growth and success is driven by these central services. It’s what differentiates us from others. For our silent investors, MTV is an opportunity providing outstanding return on capital. Over the years we have reached out to individuals and businesses for capital. Typically silent (not involved in the day to day) with minority, non-controlling interests (less than 50% of the equity in a business) they have equity, debt vehicles, and/or lines of credit in some of our platform companies. This allows us to scale, acquire and grow add-on brands to platforms yet keep operational control and keep bank debt to a minimum. Often these investors provide additional benefits other than just financial capital. Our systems and transparency allow our investors to be both comfortable and confident their money is in good hands. It is very rare that investors pull money out of our company, because investing money in MTV is the best opportunity they have to build wealth. For employees and our community, MTV is a mystical force of uplifting experiences. Always getting better, MTV is a place people want to be, and our team has effectively no turnover.
I smile as I walk by a wall of awards and fun pictures knowing it was in part due to our role as servant-leaders and coaches to our platform companies and brands who combined now employ over 300 people and impact over 1,000 lives! MTV is not a large organization and we often go unknown in the business world. There are 4-6 key employees that operate MTV with Brian and I. We operate out of an office building inside the perimeter (ITP) with all the front office and support staff of the platform companies and brands. We have wide open spaces with fun work spaces, break out areas, small and large conference rooms and an amazing kitchen stocked with all sorts of healthy food and drink. We have held onto most of our employee activities over the years adding as we grow, and things like Beer 30, Birthday Dinners, 5 year sabbaticals, free Uber, and Thanksgiving Hams are considered tradition.
I get an alert on my apple implanted eyephone about the scheduled yoga class in our quiet room about to start. After class I take a quick shower in our locker room and notice the travel and training board with training, seminars, gazelles coach meetings, adventures, and speakers covering a broad array of topics. It confirms why our budget for learning and uplifting experiences for employees is our top expense category behind wages. Uplifting experiences through unique and customized perks, great medical benefits, and amazing life experiences is a given now at MTV, but our humble faith-based personalities prevent us from losing perspective of how good we have it. This perspective on life is what drives our core value of Exude Happiness and Positive Karma. Everyone has access to the MTV plane, beach, mountain, lake, and city properties available for team retreats, get togethers, and personal use.
It seems like just yesterday but I realize it was 14 years ago, back in 2016, when this vision was drafted and approved by our original team. What started as a group of 8 businesses has now blossomed to 7-10 platform companies and 14 - 20 brands built on top of our platform companies. Each platform company has one or two managing partners that are playing the long game. They understand and believe in what we are trying to do, and they have made the mental commitment to build their careers into callings with us. Our team of platform managing partners treats each other like family, and even though we don’t always get along or agree, we trust each other and together we help each person be the best they can. This dynamic is important enough to us that one of our core values is Don’t Screw Over The Team. Many have been with us 10+ years and all are compensated well above any industry benchmarks with short and long term vision and have real ownership in the business. The brands typically have wicked smart people working in the brand manager role with career paths available to move up in our organization or they have clear visions of professional careers outside of MTV and we are helping them get there. We have created a never ending pipeline of talent and career paths for every team member in the organizations we own.
Often I am asked what our “secret to success” is. It’s simple. We find businesses located or re-locatable to Atlanta that are lacking empowered people and scalable systems in niche industries. We insert our servant-leaders who embrace our systems and culture and coach them to grow the business through decisions in line with our core values. We have structured our systems around a few key concepts including LEAN, Gazelles Rockefeller Habits, and Scrum. Our way of doing things is more than just how to act at work Monday through Friday. Almost all of our employees (including production) have developed a personal one page strategic plan based on their own personal success visions they have drafted. The team at MTV works hard to help align each business with the employees personal goals to create alignment and long-term success. Employee success visions are their first step towards making job into careers and then careers and callings.
Dropping in for lean clean at our insanely large, state of the art warehouse and manufacturing facility in Norcross I chuckle at how many dock doors there are and remember when we only had one. I walk in the back and observe a sea of trained staff doing light manufacturing and other jobs adding value to our products. I quietly make my way to the break room and hear the whistle go off... it’s 3:45. I jump in with one of the teams and for 15 minutes lean clean with everyone. It’s as much team building interaction fun as it is cleaning, and I know our entire organization is participating in 3:45 lean clean at all our facilities. After I attend huddle, I notice the same lingo, love, and cultural ticks that are in our ITP offices. It was years ago we transitioned our front office, sales, business development, and support staff to our ITP offices and I am aware of how much time and effort was put in over the years to keep our culture at top of mind while operating multiple facilities
Looking back over the last 14 years, there were good and bad economic times but our core values, family-like team, strong financial capitalization, and early investment in our infrastructure were how we survived. Through the years we have exited businesses and even had to close some down that were not successful. Those failures were critical to our success today. While we still have a strong focus in the commercial food service and overall kitchen supplies industries we have expanded to many other niche industries with the common focus of online sales and light manufacturing or personalization.
We have become significantly more faith-based in our decisions and continue to take steps in that direction every day. Living the value Learn, Change, Grow, Repeat Quickly, we will always be changing and evolving with the times. MTV is a force to be reckoned with, a cohesive entity moving forward with conviction as a team spreading fun, happiness, and an uplifting message to everyone we cross paths with. Brian and I see our future with the company in developing the next generation of leaders to run MTV as we take a more passive approach to the business and become silent partners. As I head home in my self-driving car I get email alerts from several different groups of employees having fun at Rocky Mountain Pizza kicking off happy hours and celebrating a new employee joining our team!