For Roy Scott, founding Healthy Hip Hop was an opportunity to blend his love of music with the entrepreneurial mindset he picked up while learning to sell his CDs.
“I came up in the hip hop generation,” Scott told Hypepotamus. “I was really influenced by the culture, but I didn’t have a lot of guidance around me and I didn’t understand the importance of education.”
He started pursuing his rap career after high school, and inadvertently picked up key entrepreneurial skills like pitching, selling, and marketing while trying to get his music out to the public.
“It’s a similar mindset, it is just about applying your street knowledge and your street hustle to the corporate and legal and startup space.”
The real ‘light bulb moment’ that brought Scott into entrepreneurs came one day picking up his kid from school.
“He was about four years old at the time, and I noticed him repeating my lyrics word for word. Those lyrics were promoting drugs, violence, degrading women. That was when I knew I was done — I can’t be this kind of influence on my son or anybody else.”
Healthy Hip Hop was born as Scott worked to incorporate positive messages into catchy hip hop beats.
Scott chuckled. “Think ‘Wheels on the Bus’ going hard.”
Hip hop has been the biggest music genre in the past few years, making it a unique avenue to connect with young people. For Scott, changing the lyrical narrative creates a “positive alternative that parents can enjoy with their kids, while still getting an hip hop experience.”
The startup got off the ground by working directly with schools to bring their music to classrooms. They quickly booked close to 250 in-person assemblies and even performed for national organizations like the Lebron James Family Foundation, NFL, and MLB.
What started as assemblies and CDs for schools ran up against COVID-related closures for districts across the country. But Scott’s entrepreneurial attitude helped the company pivot from a B2B to a B2C platform rather quickly.
Along with additional educational curriculum, Healthy Hip Hop launched an app where kids can upload and create their own custom music videos to share with a trusted group of family, friends and educators. Think TikTok without the fear of swiping into an inappropriate video.
Healthy Hip Hop’s media ecosystem has only grown during COVID, as parents and teachers alike are looking for fresh, educational content. “Kids were being pushed home, parents and teachers were looking for things for kids to do to stay engaged. Our users increased organically,” said Scott.
Really, it makes sense that the “New Age Sesame Street” would come out of Atlanta.
“Hip hop was born in New York City, but it has lived in Atlanta for at least the last thirty years.”
“I knew I had to be in Atlanta, because this is where you can create waves. This is where you can make stuff happen.” Noting that the city is seeing a Black Tech Renaissance, Scott added, “Silicon Valley had their time, the East Coast had their time. But now, Atlanta is emerging as a leader in the tech space.”
The app’s growing user base was not the only reason for the startup to celebrate this year. Scott recently received $100,000 from Google for Startup’s Black Founders Fund, and completed Techstars Atlanta Social Impact cohort earlier in the year.
Scott says that the team will be spending the winter updating their UI/UX, working to get up to 25,000 active users, and ultimately bringing on new team members to help scale the tech portion of the business.