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Adie Akuffo-Afful, a seasoned entrepreneur, recently shared insights into his remarkable journey from the front end of a Dunkin’ Donuts store to pioneering unique ventures. In an engaging conversation with Maureen, Adie delved into the lessons learned and the evolution of his entrepreneurial spirit.

Foundational Beginnings: Lessons from Dunkin’ Donuts

Reflecting on his initial stint at Dunkin’ Donuts, Adie emphasized the pivotal role it played in shaping his entrepreneurial approach. 

Beyond the donuts and retail environment, the experience taught him invaluable lessons about dedication, customer interaction, and collaboration. Adie highlighted the importance of showing up, giving 100%, listening to customers, and adding value – principles that continue to guide him.

Adie’s journey expanded into the realm of venture capital, where he discovered a passion for advising and supporting early-stage founders. 

Drawing from his experience in Ghana and internships, Adie became a catalyst for streamlining business systems. His insights into hiring and marketing challenges resonated with entrepreneurs, emphasizing the need for strategic approaches and measurable ROI.

WeFunder: Nurturing Entrepreneurial Dreams

Adie’s four-year tenure at WeFunder showcased his versatility, from inbound representative to leading the business development team. WeFunder, a regulated crowdfunding platform, provided a unique avenue for early-stage businesses to secure equity-based funding. 

Adie’s role involved collaborating with incubators, CDFIs, and corporations to foster partnerships, exemplifying the importance of efficiency in fundraising strategies.

Taking a Career Break and Entrepreneurial Resurgence

Adie’s career break in 2023 wasn’t a traditional hiatus but a strategic pause for reflection. During this time, he explored various projects, including FeastPass, a customer engagement platform for local businesses, and a fractional art investment platform with a groundbreaking approach to supporting emerging artists.

Fractional Art Investment: Revolutionizing Art Ownership

In a sneak peek into his latest project, Adie introduced a fractional art investment platform designed to benefit artists and investors alike. His innovative model aims to delay art sales, allowing artists to earn a living wage while providing investors with an opportunity to engage in art ownership. 

The platform’s unique approach targets three key stakeholders – artists, investors, and the platform itself – fostering a symbiotic relationship.

Looking Ahead: Nurturing Stakeholder Happiness

Adie’s immediate focus revolves around nurturing and expanding the fractional art investment platform over the next few years. He envisions a product where every stakeholder, from artists to investors, experiences satisfaction and success. This commitment to holistic stakeholder happiness reflects Adie’s dedication to creating ventures that make a positive impact across the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

As Adie embarks on this exciting journey, the entrepreneurial community eagerly anticipates the continued evolution of his groundbreaking projects and the transformative impact they may have on the world of business and art.

Transcript

This transcript has been edited from its original form to support readability.

Maureen Ballatori: I’m Maureen Ballatori and this is Spilled Salt, a podcast on the thrills and spills from the food, beverage and agriculture industries. 

Today’s guest is Adie Akuffo-Afful and he is really a jack of all trades, which he calls himself that on the podcast today. I am so excited for you to hear Adie talk about his journey from the world of Dunkin Donuts as a donut shaman way back when and how he reflects fondly on that time.

 But really like Addie is an innovator and has spent a very long time in the investment space in a lot of different ways that are atypical. He’s not just a traditional investor, but he’s really innovating in the way that that space is managed, which is what he talks about a lot today in terms of some of his work history at WeFunder and some other organizations and right up to some of the startups that he is building himself with some partners today. Enjoy the conversation.

Maureen: Adie, how are you?

Adie Akuffo-Afful: Hey, hi, fine. Thank you. And yourself, Maureen?

Maureen: I’m so excited to have you on the podcast today.

Adie: I’m so excited to be here. Like truly, I know it’s been a while.

Maureen: Thank you. Yes. So usually my guests on the podcast are doing like they’ve spent their entire career in food and beverage. I wanted to add on because you have a little bit of a different kind of angle on that and it’s more in the fundraising and investment angle. And so I’m excited to dive into that, but you started as a donut shaman and now you’re here. Take us back to the beginning.

Adie: Absolutely. So my first ever job growing up was at Dunkin’ Donuts. I’d say that was probably, funny enough, everyone’s job is usually in some kind of retail or some kind of small restaurant space. It happens, right? It’s always around food or something close enough to food where it’s like in a mall, you’re just working at a retail shop, right? 

Maureen: I started in a grocery store.

Adie: That was my first ever job. I remember initially I was just the front end person. Just pretty much asking folks, do you want a donut? Here you go. Let me sling these donuts over to you. How much do you want? 

From there I got to start baking in the back and then also just going back and forth and seeing so many, having so many different hats associated with that role. But it definitely was one of those roles that kind of instilled aspects of how I operate now as an individual.

I learned to always show up, make sure you’re giving 100% of your time, make sure you listen to customers, make sure that you’re actually adding value where you can and also how to collaborate with people in order to get like, at the end of the day, complete something or complete a mission or anything you have in mind. So it was, yes, I’d say it’s a lot of different things I learned in that small role that has definitely been with me ever since growing out of it. 

Maureen: I love the way that you reflect on tha. It’s not just, oh, that was a silly little job I had when I was a kid. You’re thinking of it as foundational work that is informing the work that you’re doing today. 

So then you leave the donut world behind begrudgingly, I’m sure. From there, you started dabbling in investment like pretty early on, right? Doing some advising and investing. So tell us about that.

Adie: Absolutely. So I’d say my first ever time I acted as an advisor to our company at any point in time was back in Rochester, New York. I think I’d just recently come back from Ghana. I’d gone back to school during that time because I left for about four years overall. When I came back, I had all this experience just helping out with my family’s businesses. At the same time, I was also doing internships and all that kind of fun stuff in between.

I dived into venture by doing an internship with this early stage venture capital (VC) firm based out of West Africa. During that time when I first came back, I realized, wow, there’s just so much I’ve learned during this time that I would love to help like early stage founders, early stage business owners who are not streamlining their systems in any kind of way.

There’s always stuff where it’s like, hey, you guys are spending too much money on this, where are you getting your produce from? How are you doing your marketing? How are you dealing with customer engagement, all these kinds of areas that they were missing out on because, again, they were mostly focused on making the next dollar at the end of the day and making sure they’re keeping the lights on versus anything else. So they weren’t really paying too much attention to how their customers felt or any of that stuff or how to expand their businesses.

Maureen: They were kind of missing the forest for the trees, right? That they were so focused on bringing in that top line revenue that underneath the surface, it’s like a duck, right, with their little feet just swimming and going so quickly. And it’s like, whoa, we can coast a little bit here. Let’s get some processes in place. 

Adie: Exactly. I think the first role I ended up jumping into is with the Center of Urban Entrepreneurship. They were hiring individuals for the summer to work with students.

After the summer and going through that program they brought me on more or less in a part time role to start working with adults [rather than students]. During that time, funny enough, there’s some local folks that I’ll mention from upstate New York and Rochester. 

The folks I first started helping with were Luis from Munchies Empanadas, but he just had his first location and didn’t have food trucks or any of that stuff. And Katboocha. Kat, who had that point in time, was still working over at Fuego. Working with these individuals and being like, hey, what are you guys doing in terms of expanding? How are you guys looking at things? And just being a soundboard for them. 

And all of a sudden, remember for Kat, she expanded extremely fast at the end of the day. She knew exactly what she wanted. She won the pitch competition afterwards and then expanded. Luis is at the same thing where now he has, I think, two food trucks. He’s able to do catering and all that kind of fun stuff.

Afterwards, it just kind of snowballed from there, where it was first initially food, but then it started expanding over to like more tech focused startups.

Maureen: What are some of the most common challenges that you see? You spoke to streamlining processes, but what are some examples? Can you give listeners an idea of what you’re most commonly advising on?

Adie: Absolutely. It initially would be hiring. One of the biggest challenges is always hiring and then second to that would be marketing. At the end of the day I think a lot of individuals, especially mom-and-pop shops, don’t focus on how much money they’re actually putting into marketing. When I ask what are you doing for marketing, it’s most often, we’re spending four thousand dollars on this radio campaign.

Then I’m going to ask what’s the conversion on that? How are you tracking this? Who are you going to reach?

It comes to a point, if you’re a big enough company, sure, you can go ahead and do a radio ad, right? Just spread it out. But in the very initial stages, you want to see the return on investment (ROI) associated with anything you’re doing. 

For me, it was always, maybe you should think about this a little bit more productively. Choose tactics where you can go ahead and see the results of it to test out whether or not it’s working for you. And so basic stuff like that. Sometimes it’s to advise that I am not an expert in this, go ahead and talk to an expert.

But initially you should think about this way and test it out with a little bit of dollars versus spending so much on the ad that you think you may get returns off. 

For me, it was always tracking. Track everything, your expenses for marketing, whether you’re looking at hiring someone. I think that especially during the early days, it was for the amount of time the individuals are working at your location, how much money are you making during that time?

And I think that’s always when we decide whether to reduce our hours or not. I remember initially we were hiring some employees and it was to cover a lull between 9 a.m. to around 12. For us it’s like, hey, maybe we kind of push this back or they do more of the prep work or what else can we have during this time when there’s a lull than just there. We were able to kind of change it up a little bit in order to get ahead and reduce our overall expenses, but at the same time also utilize them correctly.

Maureen: What you’re speaking to is something that we are often helping clients of all sizes approach as well. Efficiency, right? You’re talking about it in terms of ROI and making sure that every dollar is spent smartly. 

It’s a phrase that I use often with clients too. And I’m consulting to say if you’re giving me a dollar and you’re asking me where I would spend it, it’s not on that thing. They’re asking if they should spend $25,000 on a trade show booth, to  get in front of retailers. Yes, but have you gotten into every independent retail door you can first right now, right before you do that so that you’ve got some efficiency in the game. 

It’s just interesting to hear it’s a challenge for companies of all sizes, that kind of efficiency approach.

Adie: Absolutely. I think it’s something I know for a fact that it’s something that has to be learned and it’s usually by failure, right? It’s usually like, hey, I’ve failed once at this and luckily enough, I think when you get into that position where you’re an advisor to many different people or just a soundboard to many different people, you’re able to see their failures and then basically take that information and help out an earlier stage company that’s like right on that cusp of doing something like that. 

Maureen: Love that. Okay, I want to talk about WeFunder a bit. So you spent almost four years there. What is WeFunder? Talk about, I can’t even ask you about your role because you had multiple roles there. So take us through that a little bit.

Adie: Yes. Absolutely. So WeFunder is a regulated crowdfunding platform that is focused more on equity versus gifts or products at the end of the day. What I mean by that is WeFunder allows anyone who has an idea for a business and incorporates it to fundraise so that their idea or concept is something that can happen.

What we’ve seen is that a lot of companies that come onto our platform are usually consumer focused or may have a B2B play where individual stakeholders who either purchase their product or in some kind of way admire the product are able to invest into it in the long term. And so now they have a stake in the growth of the company. 

Where we see that being a huge benefit for a lot of these early stage creators is that now they have almost like a street team who is willing to shout their name from the top of the building. It pretty much says, Hey, look, I’m backing this company. I think it’s amazing. I think you guys should utilize it. 

Going back to something, I remember the early days of WeFunder was always  focused on that street team effect. Allowing your fan base and consumer base to invest in your product is the way for you to expand your reach, especially if you’re a CPG product or just a physical product. It’s a way for you to almost expand your marketing team or your sales team. These individuals, you can activate them and say hey go to your local independent shop and if you’re selling wine or something and they request our wine. Now all of a sudden you have new distribution from a new location who says we got requests associated with your product.

Maureen: I never really thought of it that way. I always thought of it as, it’s a simpler way to do a friends-and-family fundraising round, which is also true, right? But I love the concept of advocates. 

It’s also something that all companies need, you know, advocates, champions in their corner. And the fact that, I love the way that you’re talking about it in that you have this audience that has your back, that you can say, okay, we just got on shelf at Sprouts. Please go to your local Sprouts store and buy our product and tell all your friends.

So talk a little bit more about WeFunder. That’s a great sort of one-on-one of the company, but talk a little bit more about your work that you did there.

Adie: Initially, when I joined the team, I was an inbound representative. The earlier story was, initially, they asked me to join the team in order to travel around the US and open up these satellite community circles.

I was going to go to different regions to start this community or backing or group of advocates who were focused on regulation crowdfunding. And then March 2020 happened and they brought me in house.

I joined their inbound team where pretty much all I was doing on a daily basis was chatting with founders. I was doing some of the due diligence behind them and making sure that they were okay to go onto the next individual. If they weren’t then I was making sure that as an account manager I’m helping them throughout this entire time. 

So I initially started off as a representative that went on to lead the inbound team, and had a few folks underneath me. I built out the processes regarding everything from diligence to then pretty much making sure that it was almost like a white glove service. 

If they need their financials reviewed, we would send them over to a CPA. We would send them over to a marketing team, all the fun stuff. 

From there, I joined the Business Development (BD) team where I was mostly focused on either working with incubator programs or individuals who were in some form working with early stage companies. This could be a great opportunity for them to raise capital from, like you said, advocates or individuals who wanted to join in, or this was like an early stage friends and family.

We were working with key stakeholders that had access to a lot of these individuals. So again, incubators, incorporation companies were always a big one for me, and building out those partnerships. 

Then from there, I tapped into the venture side of it, where we started working more or less with (community development financial institutions) CDFIs, matching funds or corporations that had some kind of incentive they wanted to push.

Companies like Visa would be interested in a fintech company that’s based in this area. They’d ask us to have a look into who was raising capital and offer to give them a 50k check.

It was different programs like that even from a national or I guess a statewide lens. We started doing stuff with Alaska in New York where it was social matching funds based on geographic location and stage. 

So that’s where I spent the bulk of my last couple of years. I was mostly focused on these kinds of programs where I was working with key stakeholders within these regions to send us more deal flow but then also creating initiatives and programs regarding that to then help out the founders and so super fun stuff at the end.

Maureen: It sounds like it. And I didn’t realize that you had that kind of corporate partnership angle. 

I recently had a call with a state innovation organization, not New York State, but a different state with an innovation program. And they’re putting on this incubator that is similar to what you’re talking about, which it’s interesting to hear that continues to pop up, that these corporate partners are like, we’ve got the money. We want to back your innovation. 

That’s a whole ecosystem of interesting stuff. What are some of the other things that you’re seeing in that vein? Because I’m sure that for our listeners, that’s piquing some interest. They’re thinking, wow, I can go get visa money. I can get investment from American Express. Say more. What does that usually look like?

Adie: I would say it’s mostly based upon the industries that they’re looking to invest in. 

Usually, if you go over to any kind of corporation’s website and you see what they’re usually giving back to, you’re able to track that and reach out. That’s one of the biggest ones. 

I think for Visa, I remember their main focus during that time was mostly MENA, the MENA region. So like Middle East Africa and North Africa. They were also looking to expand past that over to East and South Africa

M&T Bank is doing a lot of stuff locally as well. And I think they’re looking at providing mentorship or something like that, but I can definitely see an angle where they’re also potentially looking to provide some kind of capital, even something that suits their programming and initiatives. 

KeyBank is always a big one. KeyBank is looking at so many different incentives for individuals within the Chicago and New York state regions. But again, that’s mostly industry-focused. They always have some industry or something they’re kind of focused on. 

Constellation Brands is a huge one. I remember during 2020 and 2021, they pushed out an initiative focused on early stage beverage companies. I know during that time, they were focused on minority- and women.-led businesses. 

Those two programs had, I think, a $10 million endowment from the organization. But something like that is worth reaching out to, especially if you fit the demographic they were looking for. Reaching out to them is always a big one because again, that’s corporate money, but also that’s also distribution and mentorship that can help you scale. 

A lot of organizations are pushing these initiatives. Mars is a big one that’s also pushing a lot of different initiatives all over and you just have to kind of look for them because I know Mars has their petcare side of it, and they also have their food-based side of it too. So it’s all about just looking at these large organizations and finding out exactly what they do from a local initiative-like level.

Maureen: Yes, I love the angle that you’re talking about taking with that, too. Find the folks that would be an ideal partner for you and then look at is there some sort of natural intersection with their give back strategies in terms of region, industry, mission. Look for some alignment there that helps with your initial outreach. I love it. 

Okay, so you took a career break in 2023. Was that post-WeFunder?

Adie: That was post-WeFunder. And so for that one, during that career break, I took off nearly a year. I’m now just coming back. I took off a year and I know a lot of people are unfortunate to not have that option, but luckily enough, I was able to do so.

During that time, I wanted to explore everything I potentially could in terms of any idea I’ve ever had in my life. In terms of, hey, I think I want to do something in this vein. I just did. I said I’m going to incorporate an LLC and just basically have a design studio with a bunch of friends. We’re just going to go ahead and I will do all the research regarding a project I like. And then from there, I’m going to have you guys build the initial side of it, I’ll just product manage. You guys build it, and then from there we raise capital and I will just pass it on to you guys to develop. 

I just love developing ideas, finding the right team in order to build it, and then from there just helping them scale. One of my biggest things is I personally am a jack of all trades. And in order to build something, you can’t be a jack of all trades. You need someone who is an expert.

For me, I could think about the ideas and find all the solutions and loopholes. But in order for this to scale, I need someone who will just focus on this one thing and they’re amazing at it. So that’s what I was able to do during this career break. I know initially we got into Antler and then from there we also got into Launch New York. And so it’s just kind of been expanding past that.

Maureen: So it wasn’t a career break in that you said, I’m going to go backpacking through Europe. It was a time where you gave yourself space to determine what you wanted to do next, right? You took that time to reflect and think about, what’s the kind of thing that I want to be doing and then who do I want to work with to bring that to life.

Adie: Yes, it was more or less a professional break versus like, let me go ahead and explore.

Maureen: Yes. Well, a professional break from a traditional job, right? You were transitioning into, I want to be Addie the entrepreneur. And I want to be able to incubate my dreams. I’ve been incubating other people’s dreams for my entire career. Good for you. So talk about the outcome of that.

Adie: For us, it was quite a bit. I think we went through three different projects during that time. 

The first one we did when we got into Antler, we initially tested out this concept for two days. And we realized specifically that the accelerator program wasn’t attuned to do that. We ended up switching over to our second idea. That idea, we tested out for six weeks.

And within nine weeks, we generated like 47k in revenue and we had to carry on a lot of different deals we were operating in. And it was one of those amazing learning curves where we were able to just do so much so fast with a small team. 

However, we weren’t able to get the follow-on funding from Antler at that point in time. So that was something that was extremely shocking for us. With that, we ended up taking a break from it, even though a lot of people were like, it’s lucrative, keep moving forward with it.

I think it just was a massive shock to us at the end of the day. So we said like, okay, let’s put it on the side until we’re able to put a lot more time and put a lot more of our own money into this to make it something that is truly ours and then most likely it will never be venture backable. 

It was definitely helpful for a lot of startup founders who were looking to raise capital. It was around the capital raising process and how venture capital isn’t just the only thing you can look for. 

We basically built a system that based upon a founder’s metrics, based upon a founder’s company metrics, we pretty much provided them different sources of funding they can go ahead and receive. 

Then, yes, from there a lot of people have to apply to many, many different places, right? For us, it was like one application process where we basically worked with these partners and it got sent out to them. If they liked your company, when they liked your metrics and everything, they would then do an opt-in, and then you would receive it. So it didn’t waste anyone’s time and that was the biggest one.

Maureen: So it’s kind of like, like online dating for VC funding, right?

Adie: It was VC funding. It was VC inventory revenue based, even going toward angel checks where people would put an investment directly into your venture. 

If not, then we do it through an [inaudible]. It was pretty much like a wholesome product overall where we just did a lot of it on the back end. But again, we’re doing this all manual.

That was like one of our biggest things. We wanted to build a product behind it, but we realized, in terms of time, we just didn’t have the resources in order to do so right now. And it was something where I think in the future, if no one’s built it by then, yes, we’ll go back and do it. But for now, it was one of those things where if somebody’s building it, we need to help them by giving them everything that we’ve already discovered from it, because we believe that it’s something all founders desperately need. 

I mean, to a point where even our vendors were like, why? We want to help you build it. And we’re just like, that’s great, but we need a tech team. It was just very hard for us at the end of the day. But we ended up moving on to different projects. And so we’ve kind of kept on pushing those projects for now.

Maureen: Very cool idea, though. I love it. You’re making reference to Antler. What is that?

Adie: Antler is an early stage incubator program which runs for about six weeks. They select individuals, usually between seven to 10 different teams to basically fly out to a certain region. 

Currently, I think Antler has four locations now in the US, New York City, Colorado, Austin, and then LA, but they’re a global incubator program. They bring you in, they give you a little bit of a stipend initially, or in the past they did. And then after six weeks, based upon your progress and what they like about your company, they’ll give you a 250k check for like 7% of your company, I believe. 

It’s very much like Y Combinator, but I would say it’s definitely more VC in that it gives you the funding a little bit ahead of time. These guys do it after they’ve kind of already seen how you work and see how you operate.

Maureen: Gotcha, understood. Okay, so you decided this isn’t the thing that we’re going to do right now, and so then what happened?

Adie: From there, we ended up working on two other projects. I knew I had more time and the year’s almost coming up. I had like seven more months. I had to do something. 

I ended up doubling down on two different projects. One of them was focused on the small and medium-sized business (SMB) space for food and beverage SMB owners and operators. We basically created a customer engagement platform that would be absolutely free for them and then we would just make our money based on the customer themselves. 

With DoorDash and all these delivery platforms always basically taking a cut of the SMB owners’ delivery revenue, what if we were able to increase in-store traffic? If we could increase in-store traffic, would you still give the individuals that come in-store a discount for them coming in, right? 

The biggest incentive for a lot of people at home is that, hey, I’m at home, it’s convenient for DoorDash to deliver it, but what ends up happening is that the store or the operator ends up getting like 20, 30% less of revenue or margins.

For us, I was like, hey, what’s the minimum amount you would take for margin costs if people decided not to go through DoorDash, but to come to you directly at your restaurant? Because the incentive there is like you get a larger ticket size.

Maureen: Right. Allowing them to raise their costs across the board so that they can incentivize people. It’s like the opposite, right?

A friend of mine owns a pizza shop and they wanted to try and incentivize people to do exactly what you’re saying. Come in and pay cash.I won’t explain why – that’s a different podcast. 

It’s that idea that you’re not allowed to mark up. It is illegal to mark up for credit card fees, but you can offer a cash discount if you don’t run a credit card. 

So it’s flipping the whole idea on its head, right? Allowing those food and beverage business owners to raise your costs across the board to account for what you need them to be and then incentivize people to come into the store if they want to pay less.

Adie: That was our biggest project. With that in mind, we started talking to a lot of vendors, anything from restaurants. Not Michelin star establishments but restaurants, food trucks, places that would serve smoothies, all that stuff. We couldn’t do alcohol, of course, for many different reasons. 

Maureen: Love that.

Adie: We started talking to a lot of these individuals and they all said, yes, you can get me more people into my store. I’m happy to go ahead and provide them a discount. And so we started realizing, okay, that’s fantastic. 

But how else can we be of value to you, the restaurant or business owner? So we started doing more stuff like content for them, basically doing everything from content, events, experiences, because we started realizing, I’m pretty sure you know about these guys in upstate New York, the Rochester Brainery, right?

We started looking at all the stuff that we’re doing and realizing, hey, Rochester Brainery is almost this extra ancillary service that can work with a lot of local businesses that are doing food. 

If you can imagine this, you go to a bakery, you love that croissant, right? And you’re like, oh, this croissant’s amazing. However, what if that bakery decides to open up a class where it teaches you to make a croissant, right? I’ll charge five bucks for you to come and learn to bake a croissant.

Now they’re making more revenue by customers coming in to make that croissant. But guess what? Customers are most likely never going to make a croissant at home, but it’s an experience you would love to have. Right? You need that experience to realize how extensive it is to make a croissant. And you’re going to love the bakery’s croissant more often, but you’re still going to love that experience. 

We started seeing this Airbnb experiences model mixed with like working with local businesses to have these courses. And we started finding ways to generate more revenue from that, as well as work with all these local businesses to have more of these experiences and events. 

We’ve been doing stuff like taco wars where every single Tuesday we’ll have two different taco restaurants create a certain tacos. They also make different tacos for different people, too. People can order out what they think the best taco is but the chefs are the ones basically facing off against each other. The competition is kind of this extra experience.

We just started playing around with that and it really started taking off where vendors really, really started reaching out to us to say we want to be a part of this program. 

Now, we are taking more time to develop the entire platform, redevelop the website, do everything, and then relaunching. It just took off from there. And so now that’s something that my buddy and I, that was three co-founders, and then we have an engineering team. I’m finishing up the product, but then they’re going to go ahead and manage the company.

Maureen: That’s awesome. Can we make a plug for that? Does that have a name? Can we help promote it?

Adie: Hopefully right now we’re going to be starting off in Austin, Texas. So right now the company is called FeastPass but we’ve just basically closed off everything and are restarting. 

As we scale, I think we will be in the upstate New York region and keep on bouncing to different locations. Absolutely so, we’d love to work with any vendors who are listening today, and so on. It’d be fantastic. 

Maureen: Very cool, that’s awesome. There’s another one too, under that same umbrella, right? 

If you could just give the high level of that, because I love that one too. It so deeply connects to your work history too, with WeFunder and everything. So what’s the other project that you’re working on?

Adie: Absolutely. So the other project we’re moving forward with, which I’m mostly putting a majority of a lot of my time into right now, and probably will be the one I sit on for a very, very long time, is a fractional art investment platform that focuses on physical art. Pretty much what we’re doing is, if you think about it from a level of fractional ownership of real estate, we’ll help you own this piece of art “real estate”.

As an art owner, you’re able to rent it out to people and any revenue that’s generated from that real estate, you split up the dividends between you and the original owner or artist. 

Let’s go ahead and think of our art concept,considering that if we take this same practice, what we’re doing is we’re working with emerging artists to delay the sale of their artwork by allowing their audience base to invest into their artwork in order for them to earn a living wage.

From there, the ownership of the piece is split between the artist, the investors, and the platform. Anything we do at that point in time, we generate revenue from different ways, from renting out the art, from creating different things from the asset, the intellectual property of the art, and so on. And then at the end of the day, any revenue that’s generated from that goes back towards the stakeholders. At the same time, what we’re looking for is an exit of the artwork in the long term, where it gets exited to a third party individual for single ownership. 

Based upon that model, everyone gets paid back a portion of the profit that’s made from there plus their principal back for the investors And then the artist also gets a little bit as well that they’ve already pre-staked initially in our agreement. Everyone basically makes money from it at the end of the day.

That’s the kind of concept we’re going with, where it targets three different stakeholders and at the same time, it works with galleries, curators, all these individuals who are looking for some of these artworks. 

The art piece could potentially be more profitable long-term, if held for a very long time. And so the way we were kind of doing it is, working with emerging artists who have a good track record of already having sales, identifying those who have, in the past two years, seen the value of their art go up by 50-60 percent.

It’s a great way to target individuals who may who traditionally are overlooked in terms of their art because I’m not sure whether people know this but I’d say an artist is the only individual that doesn’t get residuals from their original artwork. Once they sell it once from an auction site, they never again get royalties. 

Every other creator, movies, music, anything else, they get royalties from their work. But an artist is the only one that would never get that, unless already contracted into something they’re doing. 

Maureen: I was just going to say unless they’re licensing, right? Which is a whole different business. 

Adie: We’ve realized this is an opportunity for us to work with these individuals who again have been, I wouldn’t say taken advantage of, but have been put to the side in terms of this where it’s mostly, most of the time it’s individuals who are usually from a different side of life who are creating these amazing masterpieces so they don’t really understand this. 

They just feel like, hey, I want to survive and make as much money as possible. But now it’s a way for us to kind of help the long-term where it’s like, hey, just like WeFunder, sell 10% of your portfolio with us every single year. Don’t do the entire thing.

Because you need the other individuals, need the prestige from the galleries, you need the prestige from working with Sotheby’s. But if you can delay 10% of your work and go through us and still make that living wage you’re looking for, why not?

Maureen: It helps the average consumer get a start in art investment too, if that’s an area of interest. So I love that it’s benefiting both sides of the coin there. I had a meeting recently with my financial planner who said, have you thought about non-traditional investment strategies that are not a 401k like art investment?

Adie: Absolutely.

Maureen: I mean, I am an artist. I love art. I love funky stuff. But I don’t know the first thing about investing in a piece of art. And so your platform would allow people like me that have an interest, but not knowledge in that space to be able to jump into it, too. So you’re really you’ve got a silver bullet there with both sides of it. What is that one called, Adie?

Adie: That one we have to keep secret for now. 

Maureen: You’ve got to keep that one under wraps. Okay. Just so that everyone on the podcast knows that I’m in the loop. I’m beta testing that service. Very excited about being able to test that out, but I’m sure you’ll share with everybody once that goes live. We’ll connect it to your podcast episode so that people can jump on board with that. 

Last question for you. And then we’re going to wrap up. What’s next for you?

Adie: That’s good, absolutely.

For probably the next two, three years, there’ll be me working on that project, making sure that it goes the distance. I want to make sure that we’re able to kind of get it from where it currently is, because right now as a product, I think we’re at the very, very early stages of it.

I’m going to be dedicating more of my time in order to make sure that it has every feature that it needs to have. And then also seeing the expansion of it, because we believe this platform, like you said, it’s almost like that early stage, like investing into startups, it’s almost like venture capital at the end of the day. 

We believe that there’s other products that need to be built, kind of facilitating this for a lot of different stakeholders that are not currently being taken care of. And so for me, it’s kind of expanding upon that in order to make sure that it truly is a value for every single stakeholder within it. 

I remember telling a buddy of mine the other day that I think this is probably going to be one of the only products I work on when every single stakeholder is happy. It’s one of those things where, for every single thing I do, I want to make sure that everyone is happy. Usually there are some counters to it. But I think this is probably the only one where I can see that if everything goes right, every single stakeholder is happy.

Maureen: That’s very cool. I love it. And how exciting to be able to work on something that is adding value to stakeholders throughout the whole ecosystem like that. 

I think that the good lesson for the listeners of this podcast is that sometimes it takes time. You took a career break to do the deep thinking to get here, right? And that it doesn’t just happen. A lot of people who are like, well, I want my next big idea now. 

It takes deep thought, it takes innovation and going about that process in the right way to get there, to be able to have something like this that’s so special. I’m excited to see the continued growth of that. Can’t wait for the launch. 

Thank you so much for joining me today and telling your story. I really appreciate it.