Williams, McMillon’s friendship leads to start-up marketing business
By Kristin Wells
John McMillon and Alfred Williams couldn’t help forming a strong friendship after they met on FAMU’s campus. There was too much in common between the two Tallahassee natives.
Both shared history as their major. They ended up working on the same jobs with the university’s food services and a local bookstore. Their work ethic was similar, too.
Their passion for succeeding at whatever they did turned out to be the impetus for McMillon, 29, and Williams, 28, to begin thinking of forming their own business. It didn’t take long to materialize.
Today, their company, Royalty Marketing Group, LLC., is growing at warp speed after starting up just four months ago.
“We always talked about wanting to do this,” said McMillon, who holds the title of CEO for the fledgling company.
The timing couldn’t have been better for McMillon. His team at a former job lost a big contract, which meant his unemployment was near. With his wedding a month away, he searched for a way to support his family.
“God kept telling me to do it and it just felt right,” he said.
It was yet another sign in McMillon’s life that change would be positive. Years ago, he left high school needing one credit to graduate. Instead of returning to receive his diploma, he set his sights elsewhere and didn’t look back.
That was until his adoptive mother pushed him towards the path of success. It was enough for him to obtain his GED and pursue college.
A pastor’s son, Williams has a strong religious background. His family taught him to stay grounded and contribute to society. Williams is doing just that in both his role as an educator and as CEO of Royalty Marketing Group.
McMillon and Williams took a leap of faith and saved up money to put their business plan into action. Unlike many startups, they didn’t take out a loan.
“Many people don’t know that it doesn’t necessarily cost that much to start a business,” McMillon said. “For us it cost us about $200.”
They got their business licenses and secured legal documents, and the company took off. The company has stayed afloat by its profits and following contracts.
They have yet to establish an office, instead meeting in public places or at a residence. Not having a traditional office isn’t a setback because marketing is the type of work that doesn’t require having one setting, McMillon said.
However, an office is in their plan for next year, he said.
Meanwhile, Royalty Marketing Group has built a base of 11 clients, some outside of Tallahassee. Establishing clients outside of Tallahassee is part of their plan to operate with no limits, McMillon said.
Giving back to their community is a huge part of their mission, too. They launched their first project with a back-to-school event for South Monroe Barbershop’s grand opening, offering free haircuts to children.
Partnering with the barbershop was easy because of a lengthy friendship they had with Chris Thomas, manager of the barbershop. Plus, Thomas saw it as a win-win for two start-up companies.
“It was a great opportunity to give back to the kids and I look forward to doing it again,” he said.
“My philosophy is if everyone plays their part, we can take it to the next level,” William says.
“It’s important to look at the bigger picture: unity,” he said. “I think this will help grow some black businesses and just the community as a whole get on one accord.”