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.

Humble Beginnings

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.

International Brand

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.


Time Stamps:

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

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