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What’s the big deal?

DREAM TEAM: Chris Nathaniel (left) and Paul Boadi

SINCE the announcement last month that Jay-Z and Ashley Cole are teaming up to open a club in London next year, the name NVA Entertainment Group began cropping up in a number of reports on the world wide web.

Founded in 2005, the British entertainment and management company represents a host of talents from the worlds of music, film, sport and fashion, and it was they who brokered the Jay-Z and Ashley Cole deal.

The well-documented project will see the US rap star team up with the Chelsea football star to bring his (Jay-Z’s) 40/40 club franchise to London next year, in time for the 2012 Olympics.

The multi-million dollar deal was a huge achievement for NVA Entertainment Group, run by businessmen Chris Nathaniel and Paul Boadi.

Here, the dynamic duo give us the inside scoop on the nine-figure Jay-Z and Ashley Cole deal, and offer advice for any budding entrepreneurs looking to get their foot in the door.

Who are some of the entertainers you’ve worked with over the years?
Paul: We have worked with several top talents across the board from Katie Price, Rio Ferdinand, Usain Bolt, Robinho and many more.  

How did you get involved in the Jay-Z and Ashley Cole deal?
Chris: It was always a dream of mine to merge the rap world with the football world. Before the Jay-Z deal, I managed to get Rio Ferdinand and P.Diddy to form an entertainment company but due to time conflictions with both parties, the deal was postponed.

Not long after that another opportunity presented itself. I heard through contacts within the industry that Jay-Z was looking to partner with a premier league footballer to start an entertainment company, so I then pitched the concept to the most sought after footballer, which was Ashley Cole and again through contacts, managed to convince Jay-Z to endorse the deal.

UNDER CONSTRUCTION: (l-r) Nathaniel, Ashley Cole and Boadi are getting ready for the opening of the new 40/40 Club in London

Tell us about the deal itself…
Paul: It’s great business opportunity that will see us open a restaurant and a nightclub early next year. The great thing about this project is that we will provide jobs mainly towards the disenfranchised and unemployed youth within the urban inner cities. We also aim to support entrepreneurs by giving them the skills needed to succeed in life.

How long did the deal take?
Paul: It took nine months of solid hard graft. It was also painful at times when it looked like the deal might fall apart.

Did you learn much from your meeting with Jay-Z?
Chris: He has many traits that I believe are important in being successful, like a powerful demeanour. His office was impeccably neat, with not a single book or piece of paperwork out of place, and he made sure the seat he was in was higher than ours, which made it clear who the boss was in that particular meeting!

I have a lot of respect for how he has gone about his business, putting his career first and then his personal life. Many people his age and with his success would have had 10 baby-mothers and 20 kids by now, but he has done things his way and I admire that.  

TALKS: Nathaniel and Boadi brokered the deal with Ashley Cole (2nd from left) and Jay-Z (3rd from left)

How were you able to create a successful management company in such a short space of time?
Paul: From the beginning, we concentrated on giving our clients great value and if you offer great value, you will be paid accordingly. That’s where a lot of entrepreneurs go wrong; they think you can offer a service and charge high without giving a high value.

What was your first big break?
Chris: Our first real break was when we put a proposal to [British reggae deejay] Glamma Kid, asking him to let us manage him. At first, he didn’t take us seriously, as we were two young guys. But through months of calling him and being persistent, he managed to give us a chance.

Our first assignment was to get him a recording deal within six months and we managed to get him signed for £100,000. We then got 20% commission and a percent from his publishing and performances. The rest is history.

Within our community, there’s sometimes a sense that black businesses don’t support each other. Do you find this to be true?
Chris: Sadly, yes. The biggest critics are always our own people and that is often down to jealousy.
But, ironically, if you offered those same people a job or a chance to work with you, they would take it in a heartbeat. It used to hurt me when I heard malicious, false rumours, but now I just brush it off and see it as a positive thing that people are talking about me.

Most of the rumours stem from people who were once close to you who now want to say anything to discredit you out of jealousy. But talking to Jay-Z, Tony Blair, P Diddy, Ashley Cole and the likes, everyone who has done well gets treated that way, so I’m in good company!

BIG PLANS: Jay-Z hopes his London 40/40 Club will be a huge success

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs finding it hard in business?
Chris: I would say think outside the box. There are plenty of opportunities everywhere and what I mean by that is if you have to go to another country to make money, do that. Get out there and network more and make it happen.

How important do you think education is in becoming successful?  
Chris: For me, education is more than just studying in the classroom. For example, I would consider a lot of the things I do educational. In my free time I might play [computer game] Championship Manager because I am learning about football players that I didn’t necessarily know about.  I also like watching politicians, especially the ones doing well, so I can learn from them; from the way they speak to the comments they make.

What has been your biggest regret in business?  
Paul: Taking on the wrong employees and taking people on face value instead of researching them first. But it’s a learning curve and we will not do it again.

What would you say is the greatest black-owned company ever?
Chris: [P Diddy’s] Bad Boy Entertainment.

Apart from yourself, who is the hardest worker you have come across?  
Chris: P Diddy

Does having money make you happier?
Chris: It certainly changes your mood and the choices it gives you makes you happy!

For more information on NVA, visit


1. Don’t try and do too many things at once 

2. Stay in complete focus mode

3. Constantly think outside the box

4. Forget about rewards until you deserve it

5. Stay prepared at all times

6. Surround yourself with winners

7. Figure out a way to make it work

8. Create an impressive track record for yourself

9. Know that you can do it

10. Learn from the best and do better

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