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Ice Cube Interviewed by Hamêt Watt | Upfront Summit 2020

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Upfront Summit 2020
January 30, 2020, Pasadena, CA, United States
Upfront Summit 2020
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Ice Cube Interviewed by Hamêt Watt | Upfront Summit 2020
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About speakers

Ice Cube
Singer
Hamet Watt
Senior Advisor at BCG Digital Ventures

About the talk

Topic: Business

Ice Cube sits down with Hamêt Watt (Share Ventures) to discuss his entrepreneurial journey in founding BIG3 - where his drive and work ethic come from, why the league is on track for profitability and longevity, the importance of authenticity and really listening to the customer, and how he remembers and honors Kobe Bryant's legacy.

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I'm so honored to be here with Ice Cube. Yeah. Yeah, how you doing? Does anyone remember when NWA drop their first album, what year was? Somebody in 85 when was the to copy came out in 1989 but our first single which was actually he's he's first single of Boyz in the Hood released 85-86 that's a while ago. I submit it really is innovating for a long time. And there's a lot of folks that have innovated some got a lot of innovators in this room. Would you be intubated and wrap

a whole new genre of rap TV film and now Sports it must have been a hell of a ride. It has been a hell of a ride. I've been blessed to be in a position to you know. Creatively show the world, you know some of the things in an Entertainer world for a long time and it's cool, you know, you know, we've mastered music and movies and we are on our way to Master Sports. We know what what amaze me so much about your career. A lot of people don't realize this but you're obviously a

performer but you're also a Creator and it Entertainer and now there's a whole new element which is entrepreneur and so I'm curious if we just to get started. What is what has been the Common Thread what has been that that drive that has given you the Curiosity to pursue all these different areas. I mean recognizing the position that I mean. And a lot of guys from my neighborhood, you know, didn't make it didn't didn't see their dreams come true, and I've been in the position and blessed

to see my dreams come true. And the last thing I wanted to do was hold myself back. Okay. Bye. Fear or any of that stuff that that keeps saying when you're stepping into a Arena that you're not used to something that you've never done before has it gotten easier has it gotten any less scary when you go I mean certainly in the in the origins of gangster rap that had his own challenges with moving from there to TV to film now the sport has it has gotten easier in any way or is it the same thing? It hasn't gotten easier because my work ethic I go

110% So I'm giving my all okay, even you know when some people think we're done here. Okay, nothing else to do here and I want to go that extra mile think it's important, especially when you're the Creator you have to show the passion the Drive Leadership, you have to have vision and conviction, you know, cuz a lot of people are going to die out. you know that ultimate goal that you have in your mind lot of people are going to tell you why you can't get there and in the reasons

why it's hard the word hard tends to make ours out of people when to me is like You know growing up in my neighborhood, you know, it's going to be hard like what else is new. You know what I mean is like not going to be hard. It's going to be Thursday and it's going to be Friday Saturday Sunday and you have the opportunity to accomplish something that you know, people think it's hard so they scared to do it. Yeah and nine times out of 10. They don't even try. Yes. We will you think about and I actually I don't know if many people know yet about the Big 3 but you over already

overcome some incredible odds, because to start a new sport to start a new league. We've all seen them come and go and they usually haven't lasted as long as you already already gone. Yeah. Can you give us just the the the kind of the latest and greatest on your journey now and sports. Well, it's been three years since we started to pick 3. Like you said a lot of sports don't make it past year one. We saw what happened with the aaf league and I mean me and my partner Jeff crying as we knew

why that leave was not going to make it. You know, we we we have started their business model early in and so we wanted to elevate something that we saw happening everyday, but hadn't been elevated to the professional level, which is 3 on 3 basketball, you know, it's probably more than playing five-on-five definitely more than you play sound on find International internationally is bigger than it is here while I'm internationally in it in a lot of places

3 on 3 is bigger than 5 on 5 because you know just because they haven't had the traditional building these gymnasiums and people stick a quart wherever they can and they play have court and and so we saw a void in the industry something that That we said why why isn't this here? Why doesn't this exist and we looked around and it was no reason for it not to exist. It was do we have the will and the vision and in the talent to bring it into you know it existed and we looked around and we say yeah we do

and you know, we thought about it for a while me and my my guy Jeff Klein and sweet, you know, my wife can tell you we kicked around the side did forever. you know and then one day we said. Would you have called me? He said do you want to you ready to burn the boats ready to burn the ships burn the ships? And it was after Kobe Bryant scored 60 points. In his last game we knew that this idea. Would work because there's a sleep out there. who still have gas in the tank fan base and

we can invent the sport specially using former NBA players, which was in 2017 hours. Are you no bake basic idea. This is what we want to do. What makes a lot of sense cuz it's incredible. You could have an athlete that is still performing at a high level has an incredible connection with their fans and then they retire and it just like now what are some of them dudes don't even know they retired, right? You know, it's like they all think contract and they sitting here waiting on a phone call and it never comes

in a like well Will get a call during All-Star break, you know that the trade deadline will get the car and who's the first call you made when you decide you want to do it? We caught a few people. You know people like Kenyon Martin. Okay, Gary Payton who the coach was a coach George Gervin Jay. Allen Iverson the big names and yeah, you know Jermaine O'Neal and and Chauncey Billups. We knew we needed to start you want to start something new like this. You got to start with credibility and

we knew grabbing Hall of Fame basketball players to To endorse this league and to become a part of this league was our first step to gaining credibility, which without credibility we wouldn't be here, you know without respecting the sport and its Essence we wouldn't be here when we build gaming and we wouldn't be going to do with you. And so we know that's that's the the Cornerstone for something like this and and then we start to build on top of it. But you know the league started in one spot and what's the reason why we're still here is we've been able to evolve

we've been able to read the tea leaves we've been able to read the audience in the fan base and also, you know, we've been able to To learn a lot. And so we haven't been rigid. We didn't think like a man, you know, you know, it just ain't nothing. It's so much like starting a company. We have a lot of entrepreneurs in the room. We have a lot of investors and entrepreneurs in the room and to innovate is really about finding that problem and being flexible and

Nimble and the rating until you have a great product. I went to your the championship game last year the big three witches fantastic had a great time about my son and it wasn't like a normal energy in the room. It was a very different product that you said, it does respect the game, but it's a very different problem. What what was the journey like you have a 4 Point Circle? How do you decide? How to how do you bridge that that that gap between like respecting the game at a deep level and then pushing it so that it's super engaging and it really works. Well, we knew we

had to make the adjustments to make sure that our game was elevated to a professional level right and in so we looked at FIBA 3 on 3 rules and you know, they're pretty amateurish and kind of boring so we knew we couldn't do that we knew okay. This is why this hasn't been elevated. We got him a the adjustments in You know, my crush is sexy, you know, basically, yeah. Yeah, we have to make it better. We have to make it, you know a fun experience. We can't be stiff like some NBA games and I don't want I don't want just corporate guys out there, you

know, no offense in the carpet guys. Speaking. Of course. I don't want the guys has been a suit and tie arthritis families out. The I want, you know, there's music and I want that because that's what's missing in you know, American Sports going to the arena is seeing whole families that can't afford to be there. And yeah, so we were doing things to push this along and make sure that our sport was unique and We said we would changing the games and we did and that's why we've decided that what we

have is really Fireball 3. So that's what the game is called. Now Fireball 3 the style that we played as it's called Fireball 3. Yes. The league is still the big three right like you got the NBA they play basketball. Yep. The big-3 we play fireman venting a new sport was like we were told you that was calling it different stuff other than just three on three, you know, and one of the names that some of the youngsters were calling it was 5 or 3. So it is like lean into that. I don't be like

that in the beginning like you want to lean into where and evolve with the fan base. Yes. I learned that from from scripts from doing movies. You know you write a script you think, have Denzel play this part now Pacino here guide Robert De Niro here, you know, you start thinking of all these great actors. That's about to be in your movie yet. You get the budget right? Then you realize you know, I don't have Denzel Washington money, you know me and I don't have Al Pacino money. So you make an adjustment and you can pout and say it's

not what I thought of or you can make the adjustment and say look, Imma, make the movie better. Even though I can't get the actors I can get in even though I written in the script that we got explosion here. And then we're going to shoot in Saint-Tropez, you know, and now realized the explosion is not going to happen to San Tropez is not going to happen What are you do you make the adjustments and you make some the wind you don't make them just because you have to you like I'm going to make this adjustment, but I'm going to make it better. Yeah.

Yeah, and you don't have to go to the movie going to be better in Pasadena. Right? Right. Right, right. That's you know, that's how we got in here. You know, the only League that's survive is the UFC. Yeah. I was 20 years ago. It took him 9 years. To determine profit, okay. I know my partner didn't want me to say this but we feel we're very close to do movie after the end of the fourth year. So kind of case study of success story and it's a 2 billion dollar exit that took place

arguably you build this into a big enough platform. You guys could be looking at something similar future. Is that is that your aspiration? Are you thinking about this as a entrepreneurial venture that can scale India Global new platform or how are you? Okay, what happened down, you know we have in our long game maze in the big cup meaning you don't create big three leagues in different countries in and in play like a World Cup type of big three things. You know, that's the future. That's where we're headed. You know,

we were supposed to go to China this year. I mean last year and we couldn't go okay. You know, we have no dreams of blowing this up International in creating. You know, what they have in soccer with the World Cup in create a big cut and soul to me this this thing is going to grow and be its own thing. You know, we had to establish yourself as our own sport UFC is here because they make all their self extreme boxing right super boxing and you know, they leaned into with different

we have our own athletes. We have our own Superstars, right and that's where we're headed. And we gotten younger this year as some rules now. I used to be that it was mostly just ex-nba players. You still have those? Yes, I understand us some different rules now that we wanted to alter recruiting up cuz we want the best Fireball 3 athletes in the world, which may not have ever played in the NBA may not have never played in the NBA. So we have open tryouts this year. Okay to get an invitation to our combine. You can get to the, you might

make it into the league so You know, we've done these things to put our flag in the ground and say we're here to stay and that we can survive no matter what any other sport is doing and we can coexist with those poor. So we love the NBA and NFL but Fireball 3 may become your kids favorite sport. Right? Right, right. What if it's so inspiring just the entrepreneurial peace the idea that there had been a lot of haters in the process and fighting path that

we can go back and load in. Okay. Alright, tell me about that. Or not if everybody telling you you crazy you don't have a good idea like that, but I have a good idea who is saying that what? We we stay ahead of the curve like sometime we have to sit and wait for the curve to catch up which is fine singing companies for starting companies that people laughed at initially. Yeah, and we got that to you know, so many people have tried. To start a sport and I mean a lot of people getting in their Sports Tak and these type

of things and you know, they think okay. I got this thing. I'm about to hook onto the NFL to the NBA. I know, you know what time that you know, we've owned the summer for 3 years or you know, it's right behind you 100% even Baseballs in the And middle of the season so we have a sweet spot. We have a sweet sport is hot and do you want to take it to the top well isn't super inspiring again fighting pass challenges to do it. How do you think about Inspiring a broader group of a theater athletes or

entertainers to take their influence and talents and actually even more broadly just even underrepresented groups and just their towels to an entrepreneurial direction to solve problems to engage their communities the way that you've engaged. How do you think about that world? You know just start off being the example. You never know who's watching. Yes, and you know, There's different things that we do hearing are no for the most part. Try to be the example.

Yeah. I know you got a lot of cool stuff going on a Foundry is as we talked about that is focused on human performance and starting companies in human performance. We think there's an interesting unlock for talent that are not for unrepresented groups that are not being represented here that may not go out and Fight Pass that initial fear to start company. So we want to go after that opportunity. You know, I would be remiss if we didn't talk about something that's been on my mind and my heart and I know it's been on your mind

and your heart and that's the loss of Kobe and I wonder if you could just say a few words about what he meant to Los Angeles what he meant to basketball. He was beginning to mean a lot in the Innovation and Venture Capital Community. but I know that was a close friend of yours, and I just wondered if you had any thoughts on how sad Kobe I've said this before. Not just Colby but a lot of our athletes, you know, become the glue that help hold the city together. and so, you

know It's like losing, you know a nail how you know it is the house is in the steady, but you think about Kobe in his spirit. His spirit is bounce back. His spirit is to never stay down, but get up fight harder. We love Kobe because he wasn't satisfied. With the talents God gave them. He wants satisfied with that you want to be better? then the talents that God gave them and that's why we admiring because most people They brag about the talents that God gave them and they're happy with it and they do little to exceed that and here's we saw a guy

who would look like tried to exceeded every day. I saw that spirit is still alive. It's a spirit that we all can. Capture a hold of and and push through this time. And approach things how he would understand. And try to do better and that's that's that's Kobe. I had the pleasure spending some time with him a couple of years ago and his brain as as a as an innovator was super impressive to me and that same intensity as you said that he brought to the sport. He was bringing to entrepreneurship and venture capital. I even

his shoes. I'm wearing some Kobes in his honor. You know in working with the Nike teams, he insisted that the fabric for this shoot as an example was the late most cutting-edge fabric and that the lacing system was the most cutting-edge licenses and you know why some of the players are out. They just want to make sure that you looked a certain way. He was really thinking about performance and pushing the limits even in that area. So I think I hope that people start to realize that that inspiration is is so much bigger than just sports or or or the stuff. We know him as I

mean, this isn't the spirit Spirit of Kobe is what we all love somebody who was never satisfied even Even being at the top he feel he can make it better and do it better and come back better come back stronger and I think we can all learn from that and and try to you know, figure out art Mamba mentality, you know, exactly make it happen exactly who was the future hold for for the Big 3 and 4 you and what are you? What are some of the things that you're thinking about in terms

of the company and yourself? How are you? Like I said if this Just leaving around a hundred years. I'm a come back from the grave and weep when we are part of the fabric of sports. We're going to continue to grow a fanbase continue to grow this company continue to innovate. Did you raise are you you were thinking about raising cattle as you think about building your business lot of investors in the room here as you think about your customers. I'm guessing you have sponsorships than that kind of thing. How does that look at? You look like well UFC

at some stage at the point, you know, we bout to do a final raise. Okay, and we want we want us to tease you a very strategic investor. Okay, you know, I think what's been smart about how we've done things is we've got a lot of Partners who are strategic and You know, we don't want you if you can't help us take it to the top right? I mean and that's that's what we looking forward looking for somebody who can you know, help us excel in areas that we may not have I down right now. So that's where you already have

you rocking Kobe's, you know 9 Kobe. I'm rocking Adidas in honor of the deal. We got with the big three, you know, we was cool about us. We want our partners to win. We want to look for things to do to not just take a check and you know sticker sign on our on our court like an Acero are something we really want to do things. We think I'll leave, you know, can you know, you got the sports Tech we got to leave that you can You know, I innovate try new things with very into that, you know, we wanted

more entertaining game to the fan. You know, we're not looking at what other leagues are doing. We want to be the first that's awesome. How can how can we help as a community? How can people here that are either building Innovative products Technologies or or or playing in this ecosystem in anyway, how do you think about interacting with the Innovation Community? I know you and cam have been working together on a lot of things are some very very technology forward organization

clearly. Want to meet with you. We want to talk to you want to see if you You don't want to be part of this family. You know, like I said everybody that we have is very talented. We couldn't put this together without a talented group from Jeff Quan needs to been doing concerts in managing. The biggest groups in the world forever. Amy trash ran the Raiders, you know, we have a lot of great people who help us do this with looking for more gray, and I can't thank you enough for spending

some time with grateful that you spend in the community and all the businesses that you started a huge inspiration to entrepreneurs and innovators all around. So I appreciate you. Thank you for having me man. Thank you for listening.

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