Raj Kotecha on the importance of the neverending hustle
- Raj Kotecha is a serial entrepreneur who participated in Chivas' The Good Bartender series
- His company - Creative Content Agency (CCA) - specializies in helping B2B brands create their own content
- He has started businesses in London, New York, Toronto and now Dubai
- Previously, he was worked with the likes of Gary Vaynerchuk and Fatman Scoop
Raj Kotecha career started out flyering on the side of the road.
Today, he’s an international entrepreneur, with investments in content and social media. By day he’s the CEO of Creative Content Agency, helping brands and entrepreneurs embrace the world of digitally-savvy consumers, but spends his evenings organising events that aim to connect like-minded people together. He’s also a prolific podcaster, co-hosting with none other than Grammy Award-winning producer and DJ, Fatman Scoop.
He's on this week's episode of the Esquire Q&A Podcast - which you can hear by hitting the play button below. And we've also provided a snippet of Kotecha's best bits below
ESQUIRE: Let’s say you’re at a dinner party and no one knows who you are. How do you introduce yourself?
Raj Kotecha: Well, it’s hard to say. I think it’s taken me the last 20-years to figure that out. I started off as a flyer boy, promoting parties in Manchester in the ’90s. Then I built up a business in Canada. And now I am in Dubai, helping brands plan, produce, publish and promote content. But I’m also a DJ, a podcaster, and I organize events. So, I guess I do a little bit of everything.
ESQ: That’s a lot of very different jobs...
RK: In a way, yes. In another way, they are very similar. I started flyering on the streets because I needed money to pay for my school fees. After that,
I ended up becoming a DJ—I thought, why just settle on being the middleman promoting someone else, when I could just promote myself. That was an interesting job, as it first thrust me into online content and YouTube—each time I would play with an international act I would do a quick interview with them, so I actually ended up rubbing shoulders with people like Kendrick Lamar and the Wu-Tang Clan.
Because I was getting a name in the promoting world, I ended up launching parties for Russell Peters, and then Gary Vaynerchuk—I actually launched some of his books over in the UK. And then there was the ringtone business that I helped push in Canada back in 2004. I have always been very diverse in what I do. I guess that makes it really hard on something like LinkedIn, where you are supposed to create an entire bio around being one thing.
ESQ: Loads of people want to be serial entrepreneurs. What do you think gets in their way?
RK: Lots of things. What I really benefitted from growing up was learning from my family. My grandparents moved from India to Africa, and then when the British left they came to the UK. It was that classic story: we had nothing. I was born in Bolton, my family had a two-bedroom place above their shop.
There were seven of us in the house— I slept in the living room above the shop. We didn’t have the things other kids had, but we had drive.
You don’t often get that drive unless it’s born out of necessity. I think for true entrepreneurs, there is always that necessity to solve some problem, or build that business. For other people, they may want to start a business. But it never becomes something they have to do.
ESQ: The UK, Canada, the US. Why now the UAE?
RK: I love Dubai. And when I say that, I mean it. I have always been good at seeing opportunities. When I was in Manchester, it was garage music. In Toronto it was mobile phones and ringtones. Then I moved to London, and I saw social media and YouTube coming so I jumped into the content game.
When I look at Dubai, it’s not like I see one big thing happening over the next few years—I see everything happening. There is so much opportunity here now, and for every one person who says that it’s a big bubble I get more and more positive. This is now a country where anyone has a fair shot if they are willing to put in the work.
But Dubai is not a place where you can just take, take, take. No, you have to give back to the city—create something unique and original—and then you’ll find success.
ESQ: You used to flyer on the side of the road then moved onto promoting gigs and becoming a DJ. Then selling ringtones, and now you help build content. All that begs the question, what’s next?
RK: I couldn’t possibly say. All I know is that even though all the things I have done might seem quite random, I picked up those skills and moved on to the next idea. And then I picked up those skills, and moved on again.
The ‘me’ of today, that’s one big blend of knowledge, skills, drive and passions—and that’s how I know that whatever I end up doing, I can win. Today, that's about growing the agency, building MFYF and improving the content we make. I really want to scale the impact we make on the future of Dubai.
Esquire talked to Raj Kotecha as part of The Chivas ‘Success is a Blend’ initiative —a series of events that sees some of the region’s leading entrepreneurs, businesspeople and entertainers tell their story in front of a live audience.