The Discovery Channel’s second season of “Undercover Billionaire” is off to an interesting start. Instead of one Billionaire going undercover there are three. The premise of the show is each billionaire is dropped off in cities they are not familiar with. They are given fake names, $100, a phone with none of their contacts, and a car. No food or place to stay. In 90 days, they will have to start their own business and build it into a million-dollar success all during COVID.
You may be thinking what I first thought, “This can’t be real. There is no way a billionaire can actually go undercover with a camera crew and no one knows.” Well, I was wrong and now I am hooked. Especially when I saw that Monique Idlett-Mosley was one of the Billionaires.
Monique Idlett-Mosley is the founder and CEO of Reign Ventures, a technology fund that empowers young entrepreneurs to create their own multimillion-dollar businesses. She made her first fortune by creating an agency that partnered corporations with entertainment and sports stars. Monique went on to become the brains behind the Mosley Music Group, in partnership with her now ex-husband Tim “Timbaland” Mosley, where she was responsible for managing the successful careers of such high-profile artists like One Republic, Nelly Furtado, and Chris Cornell.
I was so intrigued that I gave her a call for a chat. The conversation with Monique went like this. Monique’s part of the conversation will be in italics.
Hi Monique, how are you?
I’m doing great Bonnie, busy but everything is good.
Well, let’s not waste time. What made you decide to do this?
You know, to be completely transparent, I live my life with faith over fear. And when this opportunity came to me, I purposely, especially having been married to a celebrity and being a part of the entertainment industry for such a long time, I always enjoyed being behind the scenes and I liked my privacy. I still do like it. And I actually didn't see the reason to do it.
That was in January when I first started having the conversations with Discovery and the production company. And then COVID happened and seeing our nation and this world suffer in such a way and seeing and hearing so many stories of the lack of inspiration and the domestic violence was going up, all these things were happening. And when I was doing some research, I said, "Wow, they've never had a black woman on Discovery Channel. If I can use my voice, and if I could be the example for these hundreds of millions of households at this educational network is in and be that example, that we are more than athletes and entertainers. We are, we do care about business. Just add another narrative and do it and take one for the team and be that black woman, represent us as black women, represent us as black and Brown founders and just human beings, then why not do it?" Just the underdog. I wanted to represent that underdog.
What is your background? How did you get the entrepreneur spirit?
I grew up in the projects in New Jersey and my mother always told us, "This is not permanent. This is temporary. So you live with your big vision and your big dream and you don't let anything stop you. I'm grateful for that. It starts with the mindset, never forgetting that we're just human beings and that it's our job to see other human beings. So, when you take that mixture of community, when you take that idea of pushing forward and challenging yourself, I mean, it started at home with my mother and in my family and I just took that identity on. And I was always interested in entrepreneurship. And more importantly, I was more interested in why zip codes defined what type of success we would have.
Tell me, Monique, what happens at the end of this? Do you get a prize?
You know what the reward is, is absolutely teaching and supporting a community and becoming a part of a community. For me, it was about how do we show that we can be vulnerable, tell our community what we need, and build together. To me, that was the important thing, especially during a time during COVID. And this challenge is just the most ridiculous thing ever because what we really didn't talk about is that if we didn't take the $100 and turn it into a million-dollar business at the end of this, then we had to actually pay a million dollars of our own money into the company.
Monique, you were dropped in Tacoma, Washington with no place to stay. What made you decide to go to the church for help?
Well, I grew up in the church. My mother is a pastor. I am faith-based. I trust that there's something so much bigger than myself and our purposes are bigger than ourselves. And so, going into a challenge like this you truly don't know where you're going. You don't have access to anything that is familiar or contacts or anything. And what I was very conscious of is that in the first season, Glenn Stearns slept in his car. When I decided to do this, I kept thinking, "Oh my goodness, as a black woman and as a woman, I just don't want to give that message. What should I be thinking about?" And so as soon as I landed there for me, it was about trusting my faith and going to the church. My mother's a pastor. She's helping strangers, the community, every single day. And so, for me, I was like, "That's where I need to start."
I don't know if because I'm a black woman, but I really got into your journey. You are so humble and respectful, but how are you explaining a camera crew following you around?
So, there was an explanation. And in fact, what I found out after I filmed is that the camera crew had been in Tacoma filming and interviewing small businesses. And the storyline was that they weren't just following me because the city saw them interviewing small businesses, especially during the pandemic, and what I was sharing with people and what the camera crew was telling people is that they were doing a documentary that had not been pitched yet to TV in hopes that it would land somewhere good, but it was all about entrepreneurship and navigating through a pandemic and just supporting small business owners. And in a city like Tacoma, they were all for it because they do really support entrepreneurs there.
I know you are busy, but would you please give some advice to that person who just needs a little encouragement on starting a business and continuing on?
You know, I would tell everyone that first, we have to see past these troubling times and we have to trust our process and trust our journey and we should never ever give up. And I would also encourage people to start relying on their communities, start speaking to their neighbors and start taking some responsibility for nurturing their own environments as we can't rely on governments, et cetera, to fix some things. We have to be the change that we need to see. So, support each other.
Undercover Billionaire is on Wednesdays at 7 PM central time on the Discovery Channel. I’m rooting for Monique!
Until next time keep your EYE to the sky!