Ray J – Nearly broke to $116 million earbud business

Ray J, the musician and TV star, wanted to be a tech entrepreneur like you.

He launched an electric bike, but it didn’t go as well as planned. “I wasn’t listening to anybody,” he says of that time. His finances suffered from unfruitful startup attempts.

Then he teamed up with Ray Lee, whose family was in the electrics business, and opened himself up to helpful advice.

Today, he makes RAYCON earbuds. Not only is the company generating real revenue, but it’s products are loved by both celebrities and YouTube tech reviewers.

Ray J

Ray J


Ray J and Ray Lee are the founders of Raycon, a wireless audio brand.


Full Interview Transcript

This interview is sponsored by Rippling the all-in-one HR platform. To get a demo, go to rippling.com/mixergy.

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. Joining me is like a major freaking celebrity. Yeah, man.

Ray J: man. I’m just a worker, man. I just, I just, I like to execute. That’s it.

Andrew: that’s what I’m seeing. Do you know what? I had no freaking idea that Ray con, this earbuds company that I see on YouTube all the time that it was created by you. All I see is ads for these little earbuds, smaller than AirPods in many ways, about what half the price of AirPods, right? colors. And then, so you guys do the ads and I think, ah, yeah, sure.

And then I see a team of like YouTube owners out there who are skeptical and trying to figure out is this any good? And they all walk away saying, you know what? It really is good and it’s half the price and wow. And then I found out that I could have the founder of Ray con the company that makes these ear buds here on Mixergy.

And then I hear it. It’s RayJay the guy who I somehow knew is a celebrity for, for years and years. Anyway. So I’m excited to have you on here and sitting next to you is it’s a little bit awkward Railey, the co-founder of the company. Is it weird that I’m just talking to Ray the whole time and not to you?

Ray Lee: Oh, it’s totally, you know, we’re a TAC team, so it’s always teamwork here,

Ray J: Yeah, we’re both raised, so it’s all good.

Andrew: Well, thank you both for doing this interview. I wanted to find out not so much about the celebrity stuff that I did find out. Apparently you dated Kim Kardashian. You’re the younger brother of an artist who I love Brandy is your older sister.

Ray J: Yep. Yep.

Andrew: Snoop dog, cousin, reality TV show musician. Sexy. Can I, I can hit it.

What? I need all this stuff. I was listening to all day today in preparation, but what I want to find out about is is this electronics business of yours. How much revenue are you producing with this Ray J.

Ray J: Well, we started out where we’re a three-year company. Our first year we started out, we did 7 million in sales. The second year we did 36 million in sales and in the third year, which was just last year we did around 73 million. So we’re growing, right now. And, um, you know, we’ve got big plans for 2021.

Ray Lee is my CEO. He’s also a founder. we’ve been working 24 hours a day, man. Just trying to push this thing out and make sure everything is good.

Andrew: Is not your first electronics company. From what I understand, the first one was Ray tronics Corp. Am I right?

Ray J: Yes,

Andrew: How did you get into electronics?

Ray J: Well, I started out being just an independent artist, so I ran my own music label. And I came up with a few templates on how to sell my own records. And I ended up, I ended up doing 500,000 units sold on an album called radiation. We came out with a hit called one wish. And I started to kind of find out how to market and how to build.

over the years, you know, we did multiple TV shows. We dropped multiple albums. I felt like it was time for me to advance into something more so in the digital space. And so I started to try bikes, smartwatches. Um, I went through a bunch of different products and items. And when Ray and I started re con we, we really felt like the earbuds was booming and this was, two and a half years ago.

And then I think we shifted all of our focus to, the earbuds and that’s when everything started to happen for us. We’re Ray con and we’ve been scaling ever since.

Andrew: Ray Ray Lee, I went onto your LinkedIn profile to get a sense of your background. where’s the electronics part of your background? What were you doing before?

Ray Lee: electronics and e-commerce, I’ve actually always been apart of my life. Um, I’ve always just been a mentor, entrepreneurial things. Uh, so straight after school jumped into that world and that intersection and that’s always where I kind of thrived. Um, one of Ray’s close friends. his name is truth. as soon as we met, uh, we just immediately started chatting about what was missing in electronics industry. Um, and I think we realized that, consumer electronics was a dinosaur industry.

even like my experience and seeing how consumer electronics worked, um, in the past there’s just, you know, everybody was, they moved really slowly. Prices were just too high. There wasn’t that much, um, innovation in terms of like the business model, um, and really looking out for the customer. I’ve always kind of felt that when I was always working, um,

Andrew: Where were you working? So I looked you up you’re Stanford university grad, right? Or.

Ray Lee: so I was actually a Dartmouth college grad, spent some time at Stanford, um, with entrepreneurship.

Andrew: Got it for a year there. Oh, you went to Stuyvesant high school. So you started out smart even back in high school, but then I’m looking at what you were doing before sky town. Is that where you got your electronics experience, experience?

Ray Lee: Yeah. So sky town was a marketplace for is consumer electronics. Uh, so we sold a variety of electronics. , we had, uh, hundreds and hundreds of skews. , so I was able to scale that to, , to a million dollars in the first, year. and I think also another aspect is, my family was also just in consumer electronics industry.

So, you know, my father, my uncle, , had some cousins in electronics industry. So I’ve actually been around CES, the consumer electronics fair, um, in Las Vegas for the past 15 years.

Andrew: What’s your what’s your family business.

Ray Lee: there’s just a variety of consumer electronics brands. Uh, we did brands like, Sony, some family members from Sony Kobi, um, a variety of different brands.

Andrew: Ray Ray tronics was the first company. What’s the first product you created there.

Ray J: I had every celebrity in the world, pretty much on the bikes. and that’s kinda where I got, my energy to keep going. I felt like, after I sold the company, it was time for me to start focusing on a product that I think everybody could afford. Uh, we were around $1,200.

And so,

Andrew: How did you come up with the bike? Why a bike?

Ray J: it was around the hoverboard time. Right. And I was out I’m in Miami now and I’m kind of, this is where I came up with the idea, but there were these scooters, these electric bikes, and there was a few different style of bikes.

And, um, they just caught my eye and I felt like I showed them to a few of my celebrity friends and they were like, what the hell is this? And they all started calling me. They all started posting. I never asked him to post anything. I got a rush. I started to feel like this could be, you know, this could be my thing.

I felt like a young Michael Jordan per se, with them, with my logo on the bikes. And, um, I just, I really got a rush. So I started to put all my time, all my money, everything into skin to that brand. and then it went to a level where I felt like. It was time to move on. Lyft was out, bird was out. Um, the competitors was w it was, it was, it was overwhelming at the time.

So I felt like it was good to let it go. And it was good to now start focusing on products that I felt like were more affordable and I could tap into the, to the culture just in a bigger way globally.

Andrew: And so you sold the company to loop share. I read in black enterprise magazine, you sold it for $34 million in 18 million common shares. Does that sound right

Ray J: Yeah. A little bit around that. Yeah.

Andrew: overall profitable for you?

Ray J: it was overall profitable. It was, it was hard to let go, Cause I felt like that was my baby, but I felt like it was, it was the right time  I learned a lot just by all the kind of mistakes that I made, just going through the business and, getting too many retail stores at one time and so on and so forth.

just learning from the mistakes helped me understand that, listen more  so I just started to back up from that business and then we focused on Ray con

Andrew: you tell me about one mistake, one mistake that you had that you learned from

Ray J: I had five retail stores, five retail stores. I only needed one. I had one in San Diego. I had one in Miami. I have one in Santa Barbara. I had one in New York and Hoboken. moving way too fast. And I wasn’t listening to anybody who was trying to help me at the time.

I felt like I knew everything.

Andrew: What were they saying that you wish you’d listened to in the past?

Ray J: I wished I listened to some of my, close family members. Like my mom, my mom saw me kind of get into excited and just feeling the rush of success and something that was very unfamiliar at the time. you know, listening to Ray Lee and his family and, and them telling me about products that we’re at a better price and that we’re more affordable.

And I think $1,200 was a little bit out of my range at the time. just all of those things helped me kind of like just reset rebrand and start all over again. And now, now I listen more now, um, 10 times more focused on team and execution. And so I think it was a good ride for me too, to start with that and then ended up where we are today.

We’re right. Time.

Andrew: You would have wanted retail stores, that bike looks striking. It had a look that was different from other bikes. Right. And so I imagine it was the same Apple experience. Like we could tell you this is better, but until you touch the computer until you see the bike, you won’t get why it’s different and why it’s worth what it is.

Ray J: And there was a part of the green initiative as well. So that was really big, you know, the whole message behind it. it was strong man. And it was, it was, it was, uh, it was a great round for me.

Andrew: What are some of the products that you were kicking around when the two of you are starting to think about a partnership?

Ray J: We started on, we started with like smartwatches. We started with speakers. We started with, different kinds of lights, uh, chargers. Uh, we started with 13 skews

Andrew: Oh, so 13 different experiments

Ray J: Yeah. And, and, and, you know, they weren’t, they were out on the market and, um, everybody gravitated to the earbuds and this is before earbuds started booming.

Um, and, and that’s what we kind of knew, uh, where our focus should be. And so we kind of moved everything out of the way and we just became a straight earbud company.

Andrew: Let me ask you this way, day that a lot of there was a lot of speculation online that maybe you’d gone out and bought an existing product and put your logo on it. Is that the way the first skews, the first products came out where you said I’m going to find the best of these lights, the best of these smartwatches, a brand, them myself, and then see what hits.

Ray J: Well, it was, it was kinda like that, but it was more so on. How do we find. Quality products. How do we find products that were, were, were in demand, but that had really good quality and which, which, which skew are we going to focus on? Right. So it was, it was kind of like a trial run. And once we found, once we found our, our product that we felt could really be successful and that was still unique and that really wasn’t extremely, extremely popular in the market yet.

That’s what we said, let’s become a yearbook company. And then we started to just master our earbuds and make them better and better and better.

Andrew: weren’t manufactured just for you. Am I right where they, it seems like you bought something that already existed. You added the brand name to it, right? And then you started tweaking the design Ray. It looks like you’re leaning forward to say something about it. What do you, what

Ray Lee: Yeah, we had a, a lot of our vendors too. Um, so we did take, uh, some of the models, but we of course like made it, uh, you know, custom to our own. Uh, so I think there was just like a lot of various things, you know, upgrading the components. Um, I think getting like the design, um,

Andrew: Even if even of the dozen or so different products that you came out with at first, you were adjusting the components on those too.

Ray Lee: Yeah, across the board actually, just cause we knew, um, you know, just, you know, if you just go out with a generic product, um, you know, it’s pretty much gonna gonna fail. So we definitely made like tweaks to it. Um, and, and customize things as well. Uh, and then across the board, I think Ray was mentioning, we did kind of take like a shotgun approach we launched with like all the categories that you could imagine.

Um, smartwatches, uh, chones speakers, everything. Um, and then we really found that it category, which was the wireless ear buds, um, just had like explosive, explosive caker. Um, and, uh, the, the market was just, you know, it was just moving really, really rapidly. yeah, in the beginning we did always, I think, like we always want to, you know, our, our mantra is like designed for the customer.

Um, so we never want to just produce products that, uh, you know, Are just generic or anything like that. We definitely put a lot of thought behind how the customer uses it.

Andrew: How did you market all these different products when you were just getting started?

Ray Lee: I’ll let raising that, um, marketing

Ray J: Well, I used, I used the rage. I sauce, you know, I, um, I reached out to all of my friends, all of my celebrity friends, um, and also all of the channels I have throughout television and music. And, you know, I asked for favors and really gave them the product and, you know, wanted their criticism and, and, and, you know, their opinion on the products.

And so, you know, I flooded it. With celebrities and with close friends of mine and really people that could really tell me if it was good. It wasn’t good because I know if it wasn’t good, they wouldn’t have said anything online about it. They would’ve said, Ray, you got to come better. So, you know, for me, I think our marketing skills, uh, really led us to a certain point to where we then.

Got a great CMO who really took us to the next level. Um, and so I think creating the buzz is what I’m really good at and having the right infrastructure around the buzz around, you know, the whole industry of mine and the entertainment industry, or be at the sports industry, talking about this product, you know, now we have to back it up with the good product and also with good customer service,

Andrew: How, how systemized are you about promoting it or getting celebrities that you know, to try it out, to talk about it, to give you feedback? Is it more like I’m just going to go through my phone and I’ll find the people who would make sense to, to ask or are you like a CRM type of person?

Have to have it all written down somewhere and follow

Ray J: Well, I think my team does that for sure. For me. It’s, it’s my Rolodex. It’s my relationships. I think, with the infrastructure that we have now, we kind of jotted down and we kind of put a list together. And, um, we kind of put it, put it in the system, but I think starting out, you know, when I first started, it was just a lot of phone calls, a lot of, you know, just hard nights drive in and delivering the product and hopefully they’ll show up and things like that.

Um, just to build it. But now we have this system in place.

Andrew: Now there’s a team that does this, but at first it was you personally driving over to your friends, showing it over.

Ray J: Yeah, I had the, I had the van. I used to drive my own van. I literally did, and I felt good about it because I felt like them seeing me drive the 16 passenger van. Shows them that I’m really dedicated to my, so my company. And so I didn’t have no shame, you know, and it went from that to, you know, to now having Raytheon and now having Ray Lee and everybody on me about budget spending about, you know, uh, just, you know, yearly planning and so on and so forth.

So it’s just a whole new world now. Um, and I think I see the numbers are totally different and how we’re moving up every year. Um, it’s just, it’s been a good ride, man. And I’m still here to learn. I’m still here to, to, to, to listen. You know,

Andrew: I see down on the site, you’ve got celebrity sightings, everyone from Mike Tyson to Melissa Etheridge, to so many other celebrities on the site, you pay them to promote, you pay them to be a part of the site.

Ray J: those are my friends. So my, I just got off the phone with Mike today, you know? So these are, these are people that I know. Um, these are people that are support. Uh, and so for me, I, it’s hard for me to go out and ask somebody to do something for me and give them some money because usually they already have a lot of, um, so from my end, from the strategic marketing side, it’s a lot of strong relationships.

I think from the, the acquisition side, they have so many different ways they market inside of the team. Um, so that’s, uh, that’s a sauce. That I really can’t speak on, but I know from the strategic side, what I do

Andrew: You like selling you like

Ray J: I love it.

Andrew: you do what makes you so good at it? And why do you like it?

Ray J: I have fun. It’s fun. It’s fun. It’s exciting. I just, I, you know, when you’re out buying something, usually you, you’re not in a good mood. Right. And then you have rage. I want to put you in a good mood. I want you to smile. I want you to feel good about the experience of you purchasing something or going out and spending your money.

So I think just the excitement, the, the love I have for it, you know, it’s a brand new market is totally different from, from entertainment and television and, and it’s fresh. And so I feel, I feel like it’s a world that that’s just so. Unfamiliar to, to the regular people I work with. And so for me to start first and then to bring everybody in later, um, to me, is it could, it could, it could, it could be really extremely profitable.

It could be successful. It could be game changing.

Andrew: Do you have an example of a celebrity friend who you went to and said, here, these are my earbuds are here. This is my, my smartwatch. And you presented it in a way that was especially exciting.

Ray J: From Snoop to, uh, Diddy. Um, I remember I showed Diddy the bikes at Snoop’s house and he said, what at all was. And I said, Uh, these are, this is the new wave. And then I came back later with the ear bud. And when I showed him the right time, earbuds, I went and customized all the boxes for them, just, just out of love to show them how fast I could move.

And, um,

Andrew: What do you mean customize it for them?

Ray J: Um, it took me literally six hours to customize the boxes. And then I ran to the houses and I waited outside. And when they showed up, I had all the customized Raycom boxes with the earbuds and, um, and that got them going. They

Andrew: What made it so custom?

Ray J: I just, I just customized the box.

Andrew: You put their

Ray J: cussed them out.

Yeah, just put them, I just put PDD Ray con here and I put the bad boy sign on the box. I put the bad one sticker on the earbud. Right. Um, which is his company. And so from there they felt like, you know, I put more time into it. It wasn’t just, you know, a quick splash. And so from there, they, they, um, they support it and they listen to the ear buds and they critique them and they told me what could be better.

And, um, I went back to the team and we upgrade. So. These are my little experience to that we do on a day to day. But, um, it does help when you have people like that, you know, giving you their opinions and their score

Andrew: What about all these tech reviewers who’s going after them? How are you guys reaching them? That’s you Ray, Riley, how are you doing that?

Ray Lee: Yeah. For tech reviewers. We, yeah. Know, we have obviously a lot of, um, you know, we work with a lot of influencers. Um, today’s like influencer age. So, um, with tech influencers, we typically tend to like check in with them, um, every, every quarter or so. Um, and I think what’s really useful about it, you know, I think we’re very, um, you know, I think we’re going to have a good combination of humility and ambition.

Um, and I think it really grounds us. So when we go through a lot of these reviews, We actually also utilize that in our product development. Um, so both, I think the, uh, the reviews that we get from a tech, uh, editorial, um, tech editors, or, uh, YouTube, uh, tech reviewers, um, we literally listened to every single one, our team. And team, um, we go through all of our NPS and our, and our customer reviews and we literally pinpoint, okay, these are the trends that, you know, customers are actually, um, you know, having issues with and we incorporate directly into our product belt. Uh, so yeah, we actually view them more, not just as, okay, can we take a good review or a shadow of what attributes we actually just incorporate them into our product development, um, and use them as partners for our business.

Andrew: I saw when I saw Mark Michael, Brian, I think he said these aren’t waterproof enough. And then there’s an update afterwards. So it’s actually, they do have water resistance and it seemed like somebody had gotten to him and said, yes, we see your problem. We’ve got it.

Ray Lee: Well, I think that’s one of the things that we found that was really interesting. And when we chat with reviewers, um, like, like Mike. Um, they actually like are big electronics parents. They don’t reach out to them. They don’t, they don’t have conversations. Uh, we actually like follow up with them and we say, thanks for the feedback.

Um, and afterwards we actually, whenever we launched new products, we send it to them again. And then we ask them, Hey, what what’s, you know, what’s your feedback, no pressure on any reviews or anything like that. We actually genuinely just care. Like, did we get it right this time? Um, so I think that’s some of the, you know, Some of the differences between us, uh, and like the other grants out there.

Andrew: All right. I told you before that my is rippling. I want to do my ad for rippling real quick. And then I’d love Ray, Jay, and I love Ray Lee. If you guys gave me like feedback from marketer’s point of view, here’s Andrew, where you didn’t nail it. Here’s where you could have done better. Okay. I don’t need the Pat on the back.

All right. Here it is. Rippling is a way to pay your people, right? Full-time employees, contractors, people outside the country. They make it super easy, but here’s what I love about them. You know, you onboard a new customer, a new employee on your team. You got to get paperwork to them to sign. It’s a pain in the butt.

Rippling does it, right. They’re just digitally signed. You want to give them an email address at your company, right? Which what’s your domain right now? What’s the email address domain really? What’s the website. Recon global. So imagine it’s like you hire Andrew, you need andrew@reconglobal.com. Right? It’s a pain to go set up.

It’s a pain to add me to Slack. Well, with rippling, just hit one button. And then you add me to email. You add me to the right Slack channels. And if I’m a nerd, Nick, and you want to get rid of me, right? Say Andrew, here’s all the paperwork to leave. We’ll make sure you get paid. Cause rippling, Pedro, all along and.

You’ll hit a button and you take me off of your email system and off of your Slack. And there’s no fear that Andrew is going to be messing around in your system. So easy on board. Great to pay people and then easy off-boarding anyone who wants to go try it should go to rip ling.com/mixergy, R I P P L I N g.com/mixergy.

They’ll walk you through how great the software is. All right. I see Ray, Jay, he’s like leaning back at times. You thought, Oh, maybe, maybe not tell me what’s your feedback on how could I do better?

Ray J: So rippling, it’s it? It allows you to invoice people,

Andrew: Uh, pay your employees and your contractors. Yup.

Ray J: Pay your employees or contractors and add you onto different emails as far as the coming apart of the company. Okay. So it’s a one-stop shop for, for business.

Andrew: For all of your employees, make sure you onboard them, right. Get them the software that you have access to pay them. And then if you need to let them go easily revoke all those, uh, apps that they don’t want. They shouldn’t have access. Yeah. What I’m hearing you say is maybe I could have been clearer about what it is and maybe I should have used a story about a specific person.

What do you think?

Ray J: That’s what I’m saying? just a little bit.

Andrew: Yeah. All

Ray J: Yeah, just a little bit more information on it. I’ve got it though. Now. And I almost got it before, but the way you presented it still made me, you know, have some interest in going to the science. So you do you deal with.

Andrew: I like the Raley’s enjoying this. You like this part? Huh?

Ray J: 8.7.

Andrew: Eight point. Oh, all right. I appreciate it. I’ll take it. How deep into the business are you right now? Rachel, are you just into the marketing of the business? Are you walking around and getting income statements on a monthly basis? Are you making sure that Ray Lee is not ripping things off?

Cause he looks like a smart guy.

Ray J: No, Ray Lee is great. Um, you know, I’m, I’m, I’m full time. I mean, we, we have our leadership calls every Tuesday. Um, we are, we’re now set up in Miami. So, you know, we have the Miami headquarters and I’m out here running that from the strategic side. Um, again, you know, before, um, I was extremely hands on now with Ray con, we have the infrastructure to take care of most of the things that need to be done and experts that do that.

So we have our CEO, CEO, our CFO, our COO, our CFO. And for me, I’m the CSL. Which is the strategic officer and, um, and you know, strategically, I just, I have, I have my own mindset, my own way of doing things. And so I’m happy that the team lets me have my freedom to create and to, to do things. So for us, it’s a 14 unit, but I’m hands-on as well.

Andrew: what’s the strategy here? How do you go to the next product? How do you guys become a multi-billion dollar business?

Ray Lee: Yeah, I think, um, I think we see a lot of blue ocean. Um, you know, we think like the growth is just, uh, this tremendous, uh, we see. Uh, international as a really big area for us to, uh, take solid. Um, electronics is just like a great. Uh, a great category for, um, international e-commerce. Uh, so that’s where we’re really racing towards, uh, we haven’t touched retailers shelves yet, so we’ve been a hundred percent online.

Um, and I think that’s something that surprises people that we were able to grow this much. Um, and we haven’t been able, uh, and we haven’t, um, you know, uh, been on a retail store shelf. So. Uh, I think those two things are probably like they channels for us. Um, and then product categories. We are in ear buds, um, and, and headphones.

Uh, but of course there’s a lot of different audio applications. Um, and then pass the audio, uh, you know, there’s tons of categories that we can expand to. Um, but I think like overarching, all of that, it’s that again, the focus on customer, um, and then just making sure that we scale, um, practically as well.

Uh, so I think with those two things, um, we, you know, we want to grow this business as big as possible.

Andrew: First retail stores, just get into the physical stores, which nobody’s going into now anyway, but you want to get into them when they do become more popular and go international. Before you think about what other products you could create before you think about how we go beyond the earbuds and your

Ray Lee: Yeah, exactly. Yep. Yep. I think we want to, I think right now we’re just, uh, you know, crafting the, the, your butts to, to perfection. Um, and then we’re also creating that robust infrastructure to really scale kind of like what Ray was saying. Um, and then we’re, you know, then we’re going to plan on, um, you know, go into more products and categories.

Andrew: Why the runner belt on your site? I see ear buds, I see wires sport, and then a runner’s belt.

Ray Lee: Yeah, that’s a great question. Um, so I think one thing that’s interesting about our product development, um, and we’ll be seeing consumer electronics is that when manufacturers create products, they usually just create all square like models and, you know, um, products and Honda. Are made for everybody. Um, and I think for us, how we saw it differently is that, you know, at the end of the day, these end customers actually use these products and they use them typically for different things.

Um, so, you know, we have to every day here, uh, that’s really just for everyday, um, everyday use listening to audio on the go commute. Um, but then you also have the performer year. Let’s just for fitness. I think a lot of people, especially nowadays. Uh, they’re, um, you know, they’re working out from home, they’re going out for runs.

So we actually develop products around that single use case, um, of, you know, uh, customers eventually using these for, uh, for sports and fitness. I mean, that’s where the runners ball came out. Um, and you know, that idea came out. It’s like, okay, if these customers are going to be using it for fitness, um, and a great assessory is you don’t want that here, but.

Uh, going out in your, you know, flopping around in your shorts everywhere as you’re running. Uh, so that’s why we came up with the runners belt, um, just in everyday, you know, really useful thing that P like ordinary people will actually use. And so, yeah, that’s how we approached it.

Andrew: Feel a little bit inadequate. X-ray Jay, like, look at him, look at him, look at how he looks. Look at his background. Right. Do you ever feel like man, I got it. I got to get this to multi-billion dollar status and then he’s going to show me how to, I don’t know, get dressed, put an earring in.

Ray J: close.

Ray Lee: No. I mean, right. I think I was just really impressed by how much you knew about consumer electronics. You know, he wasn’t just like, um, a celebrity that was trying to make a quick buck or anything like that. He was telling me, Hey, what do you think about this manufacturer that I met in China last year, or this model, this model number, um, of, you know, an obscure model number, only people in the industry knew.

Um, so I think that showed me that, wow, Ray’s actually really passionate about electronics. He actually puts his time in. Um, and I think that’s what really inspired us in the beginning. So it wasn’t anything like, Oh, like, you know, of course, like we’re practical about the business and revenue and supporting all of our, our coworkers as well.

But, uh, what really tied it together was just like that passion and that really that spark that was like, okay, we’re going to come in and we’re going to make an, a grade electronics brand.

Andrew: Rachel will you, will you entrepreneurial like that as a kid?

Ray J: Um, I’ve always been since, since I’ve been running my own record label and putting out my own music because it’s, you know, it’s not, it’s not easy, you know, uh, making hit records and you get a lot of nos and a lot of nos and a lot of, I don’t like it. And I think now that fuels me to like really not prove to them, but when I know something’s good, just, just prove it to the world that this is what it is.

And this is great stuff. So I just, I took all of that and just, and just multiplied it into the tech business. And, um, and I understand now that the team matters the most though, so I can Mark it. I can, I can make it super loud. I can, I can have everybody talking about it, but without the team being able to take that and make that a business and put the right infrastructure behind that, then it will never be anything.

So, um, so, you know, I’m, I’m excited that, that the team was strong and now we’re moving. Like we’re moving.

Andrew: How’d you do that in the record label?

Ray J: You know, it was six to seven, eight months of just going around to each city, really talking to all of the program directors, all of the musical directors and the DJs and spending time with them every day in each city. Um, and then they started to play the song. And then I got a lot of call outs and a lot of people calling to request a song, but it took me to spend time with, with everybody in each city.

And build with them and let them know how passionate I am about my music for them to take it serious. And once they did, uh, the world then started to gravitate to the music. And so I think that that same drive in technology with the right team, um, it creates magic and, and when we’re creating it, now we’re humbled.

We got a long way to go. Um, and we’re learning along the way, but I think that we’re, we’re in, we’re in pretty good shape, you know,

Andrew: Wait, but you’re saying you went like a door to door salesman almost here is the music. What, what w what were you doing to get people? What was the personalization touch that you added at that point in your

Ray J: Just spending time, you know, really not even talking about the music, you know, really just spending time with them and just vibe and then talking about, you know, other things and going out to dinner, or we went out to play basketball, or we went to an event they wanted me to go to or a party to just show up and just show up.

You know, it was just so many different, random things in different cities, but it all counted, you know, and they’re still friends of mine now, and I can call on them. Um, and then that they can call on me and I, so it’s just really building those relationships and really letting people know that, you know, you care about not just the music, but the people that are success that selling the music, the people that’s buying the music.

Um, it all goes hand in hand. And, um, and if people know me out there, they know if 10 of 12 or 20 people want to take a picture with me, I’ll take a picture with everybody, you know? And, and, and I bond with the people because I felt like, um, I’m with the people. So with that, with that energy. And with great product, you know, um, you know, magic can happen.

Andrew: Why, why are you doing this? Like I saw even before we got started, I think you and I were the first ones to connect here on zoom. Rarely what happened to kilowatt. But, uh, all kidding aside radio is like incredibly nice and welcoming. I talked to him about my sponsors. Yeah. Very encouraging. Go ahead. You got to hit the business numbers, right?

I wonder why you’re still doing it. At this point, you have your TV shows, you have your music, you have, everything’s working out. Why do what’s the drive? What is it that makes you say I have to do this. I have to deal with Andrew and his and his goofy humor. I have to get honest zoom. I have to do the next thing and take photos.

Why, why are you doing it?

Ray J: You know, there there’s always the next level, you know, and I think that we’re, we’re so young in this business and I think there’s so much more to do. There’s so much more to learn. There’s so much more to more, just so many more people to meet. Um, and I think as a bridging the gap between entertainment, music, technology, and prison, it, you know, globally, I think we can be one of the forces to do that.

Um, and to

Andrew: I just love the challenge because you say, I think I could do this. I want to see how big I can make this. I think we can. Is that what it is?

Ray J: I think we can be number one. I think we can be great. I think all people can be creative. I think we can all be great together. I think we’ll all make mistakes. We’ll all learn from them, but with unity and with, with, with great product and being honest and transparent every day, I think we all can do it together.

And, um, and you know, I just want to be a force in that world.

Andrew: How do you get that kind of confidence? And where does that, where does your confidence come from? It’s just part of you.

Ray J: You know, it’s just, it’s just, you know, it’s, I think it’s just from me being, you know, being told no, a lot and being told that I couldn’t do a lot of things. And then overcoming those nos really help, help. It really helps me understand that it is about the people. It is about the consumer because once they gravitate to something and nobody can stop it.

Andrew: What’s the biggest, no, that you overcame that in the back of your head. Now, when something goes wrong, you’ll I overcame that? No, I could do this one.

Ray J: I mean the whole tech business, you know, people laughed at me when I started and when I had, you know, uh, when I had bikes and smartwatches and stuff, they were laughing saying, Oh, I see you only get a little scooter. I see which your little watch and is ha ha. You know what I mean? But for me, I felt like that was something that was needed.

Even with the earbuds. It was kinda like, yo, I got the new earbuds and it’s like, what are those things? And, you know, they had all the time. All of these different things to say about why it wouldn’t work. But I just know in my heart when something is great, and I know that when the team feels the same way and when we push it and when we stay up late nights and when we wake up and when we’re on time and when we’re sticking to the plan and execute things can happen.

And I think the air, but is booming. Everybody wants some earbuds, right? And so now we’re on to something again, and God is good.

Andrew: Vulnerable with me though. They were saying, Hey, this is, this is a guy who thinks he’s going to be an electronic space. It he’s no Steve jobs. Was there a time when you said maybe this is a mistake? Why don’t I just stick to what I’m good at?

Ray J: Yeah. It was times where I felt like, you know, I was, I was all alone and I didn’t have. I didn’t have the right team. And I was going broke. You know, I was spending all my money on products and it was getting, it was becoming too expensive for me because I was given a lot of them out and I was giving them away because it was a lot of times where I needed to give people things so they can show me love at the same time.

And it got tough man. And, and right before, you know, Ran. I started to talk. I felt like it was, I was just gonna like move on because I was over, it was, I was way over my head. I mean, the, just even the wholesale prices for me were way too much for me by myself. And so talking to Ray and talking to the team and to the new team and they were telling me, you don’t have to go that big.

You don’t have to have that kind of product. These are the things you should be focusing on. And with the right team around you, with what you can do from the marketing side. We can win. You just got to start over and you got to listen to us. And so, um, that’s when I kind of just backtracked and started over, but I was a time where I almost went broke.

I almost didn’t have any money.

Andrew: How close did you go to being broken?

Ray J: I mean, literally like maybe $50,000 in my account, you know, I mean, and, and, and that’s, you know, with me having to pay bills and survive and now having to do another show and waiting for my new show to come out. But, um, everything started to turn around when I started to find the right product.

And I started to listen to my team that I have now. Um, and, and we’re doing well, man. And every day, whenever I get that drive to write, really get excited, always pull back a little bit and go just humble yourself and take your time and just listen to it.

Andrew: What’s the percentage ownership of the business. Do you have half of it?

Ray J: We’re we’re we’re we’re we’re

Ray Lee: That one. Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, we have a few, a few partners, but I don’t know if we can disclose that. Um, I think our CFO will probably

Andrew: Is cowboy wholesale, a partner in the business? Is that connected?

Ray Lee: uh, so Catholic wholesale was there a wholesale distributor in New York? Um, they had helped, uh, initially with vendor financing, uh, but in the end, you know, with all on here, but we didn’t end up leveraging that as much. So now they’re not a partner anymore, but they’re still a great company. And, um, they were, they were, we had worked with them like for a brief period of time.

Andrew: visioning with me. What do you see the world going in, in electronics? What are you seeing that we will live through in say five, 10 years, that you will be a part of? Where do you see us as consumers? Either

Ray Lee: Yeah. I mean, I think it’s going to, you know, I think now everything’s good. I mean, maybe Ray’s going to probably add to things, but on the tech side of things, um, I think like, obviously, like AI is just becoming a huge thing. Um, I think we’re just seeing a lot of the hardware, software converge. Um, and I think AI is just going to be a natural extension of that as well.

Um, so in my time, like, you know, in our time, uh, I think we will see a lot of that, uh, come to fruition. Um, and I think it’s going to celebrate actually. Um, I think another part is, um, not only just like technology developing really fast, uh, but I think just that, um, the chasms between culture and tech. Uh, just kind of coming like closer and closer together too.

I think electronics, you know, when you think about, um, everybody that’s growing up, um, that’s, you know, even like five, six years old, they’re living on their, uh, their smartphone. So it’s just going to become deeply embedded in our culture. And I think Ray probably has tons of ideas cause he lives in that world, that intersection of tech business and culture.

Um, so yeah, I don’t, I don’t know if you have any other thoughts on that.

Ray J: No. I agree. AI man, AI, I think, you know, for pushing the green initiative, even stronger, just, you know, globally, just, you know, for the world, um, creating carbon offsets for everybody so that I can, you know, documented on how good we’re doing to save the world. Um, and digitally just going into like something.

That we might not even imagine where we’re all, you know, digitally doing things. I mean, you know, I’m a, I’m a weirdo sometimes with the tech, but I definitely see AI taking control, you know?

Andrew: What do you, when you say that you mean in the earbuds, like a, a personal assistant, that’s what you’re thinking. I see the eyes

Ray Lee: see something soon, Andrew, but, uh, but yeah, I think music and tech as well, you know, I think raised some of the, like the best conversations that we have is also just talking about those different worlds colliding. And it’s just like, okay, this tech world and the music world.

Um, and then other, you know, like the influence of the world and all of those, uh, kind of coming, to, to, to place together. Yeah. And it’s just, I think we just feel like that’s also something that’s just happening. Um, just as, just as a overall trends.

Andrew: Yeah. I remember there was a period where everyone in tech wanted to be a rockstar developer, a rockstar engineer, rockstar this rock star that, and then I suddenly saw a picture of Snoop Dogg, Snoop standing next to Larry and Sergei from Google. And he’s dressed in a tie in like a V neck sweater, obviously enjoying the look, but he’s like, He sees that’s the future.

He’s right. That was amazing.

Ray J: Yeah, yeah. Snoop always has his hand on the future, you know, and, and, um, you know, that’s my cousin, man, you know,

Andrew: Were you guys close, growing up?

Ray J: yeah man. Yeah, we were very, very close. Um, you know, Brandy and Snoop were in two different worlds though. You know, Snoop was, you know, super, you know, hip hop and Brandy was super R and B, so they didn’t.

They didn’t, uh, I guess their images didn’t go together at the time, but for me, I was always sneaking out, hanging out with Snoop and, and dads and things like that. And,

Andrew: What did you do as a kid with him? We used to go out with my

Ray J: we used to go to the, well, we used to go to the studio every day, so they used to come pick me up. Uh, and I like, uh, uh, 94 Cherokee Jeep.

Um, and I used to jump in the back and hide behind, you know, the seat. And we used to drive by my dad’s house and we used to go to the studio every day. Um, and then my dad found out later, but that’s a whole nother story, but yeah. But great minds think alike, man.

Andrew: All right. Ray de Riley. Thank you so much for doing this. Um, I think people can go to your website and buy Ray con. I think the, maybe the better thing for them to do is to just go on YouTube and watch these, these videos of people just saying, I don’t think it’s going to work. Let me see how good it is.

And then being blown away, that reaction is just been amazing to watch. Don’t you feel great about that?

Ray J: Good. I think that’s the last, like my day-to-day story, you know what I mean? It’s kind of like, I’m really loud. And when I express myself with these ideas, they’re like, dude, it’s out of control. And I’m when they try the product or see that what I said was real. Um, the impact is strong, so we don’t mind it.

We don’t mind that the earbuds are great.

Andrew: All right. Thank you so much for doing this interview. And I got an 8.7. I think you were being very generous with me, Ray, on my ad for rippling, I will say, I would say maybe that’s a 5.5. I mean, it should be even more humble in the, in the true RayJay approach.

Ray J: 8.7, 8.7. Cause I got it. I got to also get the, that, so

Andrew: Wait till you see what 20 looks like.

Ray J: Okay.

Andrew: Just getting started with rippling. Listen to me, people

Ray J: Whenever you want me to be a judge for anything I’m here. I’m like the black Simon cow.

Andrew: I might be in love with the guy you’ve got, like this thing that makes people like you.

Ray J: Come on, man. Let’s roll. Let’s roll. Let’s rock and roll.

Andrew: All right. Thank you so much for doing this interview. I hope one day to be in a back of a Jeep Cherokee, hanging out, going to do something with you and really hope to see you in person too. I don’t know what we’ll be doing. We might be going, getting hearings like yeah. Handsome.

Ray Lee: it. We’ve got to do it too.

Ray J: Bungee jumping.

Andrew: No that I can’t do, but anything else? Thank you so much for doing this interview. Thank you everyone for watching. Bye. Thanks guys.

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