Ronnie Madra, 1OAK nightclub founder // turning down the noise
The Nightlife King
Ever wondered what it’s like to own a nightclub?
What goes on behind closed doors, hanging out with a-list celebrities at the Oscar’s after-party?
That’s what I wanted to ask when I met Ronnie Madra, the co-founder of legendary nightclubs: 1OAK and Up & Down.
But what I didn’t expect, was a deeply personal story, that lead him onto an unusual path.
In this revealing conversation, Ronnie shared stories he had never shared before: from growing up on a coconut plantation in Guyana, to landing in NYC as an immigrant – a minority amongst minorities.
How he dealt with bullies as a kid & getting into trouble with a gang.
His path has been an obstacle course of dizzying heights, and deafening noise.
Between him & his business partner, Richie Akiva – they’ve built one of the leading food & beverage (F&B) brands in the world.
Their instagram feeds show them partying with a-list celebrities & hosting after-parties for the Met Gala & Cannes Film Festival.
And along the way, they’ve built a monster of a business, with properties in NYC, LA, Vegas, Tokyo, Dubai & Maldives.
But after 25+ years in nightlife, life started to catchup with Ronnie.
When The Music Gets Too Loud
Ronnie developed a severe hearing issue called tinnitus – causing a constant ringing in his ears.
And once he dug into this issue, he realized that it was a huge problem.
1.1 billion people will develop hearing issues in their lifetime – and with his new company, EAROS, he’s trying to prevent others from having to deal with the same issues he had by developing an in-ear protection system & an acoustical filter to filter our harmful noise.
Five Things To Listen Out For:
(1) Childhood – growing up with no electricity in Guyana, landing in NYC and how his early experiences shaped his outlook
(2) Fitting in & dealing with a bully – a raw and honest chat about dealing with bullies, trying to fit in and finding the confidence to be yourself.
(3) Building a name – attracting A-List celebrities like Jay Z, Pharrell, Rihanna, Kate Hudson, Kanye, Gigi Hadid and others to their venues. We go into all the details of how they started and built a name for themselves.
(4) Coming up with business ideas & developing a product – scratching his own itch, why he started EAROS, ways you can think about finding inspiration for ideas and knowing how to take action.
(5) Building Brand & Service – learning from his experience in creating a brand, product development, making people feel safe.
2:34 – What Ronnie is known for: 1OAK, Butter Group & Earos 5:25 – Scale of their nightclubs & restaurants 7:42 – Growing up on a coconut plantation in Guyana 11:16 – Landing in Queens, NYC 13:15 – Teenage Ronnie 13:55 – Dealing with bullies 19:38 – Early signs of entrepreneurship 23:02 – Listening to all types of music and wanting to fit in 26:32 – Becoming comfortable not fitting in 31:26 – What lead to 1OAK being formed? Finding an A-Team. 36:15 – Starting 1OAK with Richie Akiva & early investments 38:06 – “Pioneers of the pop-up” 41:40 – How to choose partnerships 44:24 – What is next for 1OAK? 47:40 – Attracting A-list celebrities 51:20 – New venture – Earos 55:10 – Developing hearing issues – tinnitus 58:52 – Idea and need for a new type of ear protection 60:50 – Going beyond looking like a hearing aid 66:48 – The process of developing a new product 69:45 – Sound vs. noise 71:35 – The process of reaching out to great people through Linkedin 75:58 – Working day vs. night 79:44 – Pitching the idea to investors 85:16 – When do you know you’re finished? 87:06 – 20 years into the future 91:10 – Closing remarks