We’ve all known people who make things happen against all odds. We, at The Chief’s Digest, believe that’s what leadership is all about – making things happen. Influential leadership is taking one step further beyond. It involves performing at a higher level, developing excellence, while also bringing a positive difference in the lives of others.
Speaking of influential leaders, The Chief Digest is thrilled to present our readers with the story of an influential trio – Darren, Omi, and Justus, who have strived to help creatives in the sports and entertainment industries, whether by buying their products or funding projects.
Artist Crowdfund Exchange: Getting Off the Grounds
The idea for ACE came after emergency financial support for the largest international concert in East Africa was provided by the community. The night before the event, top-tier musicians from the US and Europe refused to perform without pre-payment. The organizers were out of money and the event sponsors had backdated all checks. No bank, institution, or organization would step in. One of ACE’s founding shareholders stepped up to arrange secured financing in less than 48 hrs. The show went on!
This led to a period of discovery and research by the founders. Rising creatives from a variety of segments: music, sports, gaming, fashion, actors, and comedians from all over the world voiced a need for financial support in pursuit of success. The concepts of crowd investing and digitization of real assets were becoming more mainstream. Fintech began to employ decentralized ledgers and smart contracts. Private investors in the entertainment space needed a secure, intuitive platform to evaluate and act on opportunities. The time for ACE was just right.
Interview Excerpt: Darren Moore, CEO of Artist Crowdfund Exchange
What does Artist Crowdfund Exchange aim to offer?
The Artist Crowdfund Exchange, or “ACE”, is a social platform that allows artists and entertainers to sell exclusive access to themselves via ethereum-backed non-fungible tokens (digital assets on the blockchain) and interact with fans in varying degrees based on a tired-access model.
Fans can in turn sell their access to other fans and earn a profit.
There are six tiers of access on ACE: Tier 1: everyone on ACE. Tier 2: followers of the creative. Tier 3 (aka kittens): 1+ tokens. Tier 4 (cats): 10+ tokens. Tier 5 (lions): 100+ tokens. Tier 6 (bosses) is 1,000 tokens. The feline connotation pays homage to CryptoKitties, the first-ever NFT collectible platform.
ACE’s tiered access brings two solutions:
- It provides new revenue streams to artists, athletes, and creators especially in the early stages of their career, monetizing the emotional demand (and speculation) of fans and followers who know and believe in them…helping avoid predatory contracts, maintaining their independence, and ownership of their craft.
- It provides fans more ways to connect with the creators they love and follow on an exclusivity-based model that’s more than a payment gateway. The tiers give fans more access, more content, more merchandise, more tickets, more discounts, and the chance to re-sell those tokens for a profit.
Tell us about your challenges and how you managed to overcome them.
We understood the two problems we are solving quite well. The challenges we’ve faced are more about what and how to apply the multitude of solution-sets we could make work. ACE is truly, truly disruptive tech that plays at the intersection of finance, entertainment, social media, and engaging with largely yet-to-be understood customer target segment: young millennial and gen-z.
So we had a number of challenges to face, and pivot off, while learning. To name a few: financial literacy across a very diverse set of users, the regulatory landscape around digital (blockchain) assets, user behavior as they encounter a new social media application that has a very structured financial backend, or simply the ‘idea’ of a fan or community member being able to grow wealth from the entertainment space (versus spending, spending, spending).
On what ideals are your work culture and business ethics based?
Our mission is to break down economic and socio-demographic barriers, empowering the community to confidently invest in the entertainment space. ACE connects emerging creatives with resources to grow. The platform is inclusive and evens the playing field so everyone can succeed and GROW TOGETHER! Our culture is built around this mission.
What do you think is the most unique aspect of your business?
The fact that we’ve been able to commoditize and price the emotions and needs of fans to be close to a creative to form capital for the creative is unique about our business. That is done in a way that is not exploitative and enables the fan to make money and grow wealth through a social application. It has a very ‘stock exchange’ feel to it, and it’s immersive. The app pairs well with live events, games, and festivals, and the fans can have a 4th dimension to their live experience.
Where do you see your company a few years from now?
ACE will be a way of life – a culture for future generations to grow wealth through the artists and entertainers they know and love. If in your mind’s eye, imagine an ecosystem that’s a combination of the entertainment world with the stock market with investing all on social media and integrated with live events.
Professional teams will be majority co-owned by the fans who love the team. Where fans can buy in and sell their stake without any red tape – accredited and non-accredited alike. There will be TV programming blending Jim Cramer’s Mad Money with ESPN SportsCenter – imagine the token price of players scrolling and moving while they show highlights of the player’s last match. Creatives at any age or stage in their artistic journey will be able to convert nascent ‘followers’ to active investors and backers – all on a border-less, regulated, transparent, and inclusive platform.
How has your journey been so far?
To quote Conan O’Brien: “Try to do what you love with people you love and if you can manage that, it’s the definition of heaven on Earth.”
So far, with ACE, it’s been heaven.
The Influential Leadership
Darren Moore, Co-founder & CEO
Darren is a serial entrepreneur with 11+ years of C-suite leadership and a track record of 10x avg compound average growth rates with companies he has founded. Prior to starting ACE, he had 10+ years of investing in rising creators.
Omi Iyamu, Co-founder & Chief Product & Technology Officer
He’s Ex-Microsoft and Ex-Google senior product development leadership with 14+ years in the industry and a strong background in Machine Learning. Prior to joining ACE, Omi built his career on a foundation of privacy and compliance, while investing in rising creators for 8+ years.
Justus (DJ) Adeleke, Co-founder & Chief Operating Officer
Prior to joining ACE, Justus spent 11+ Years leading operations in security and high tech sectors, including with NASA and the European Space Agency. DJ has been investing in rising creators for 9+ years himself.
“Problems can never really be solved because they evolve. So must your solution to the problem. Evolve, pivot, and continue to pursue fit.”