Determined, disruptive, and optimistic are three words that Issac Hayes III — founder of social networking app Fanbase — says define who he is.
“I’ve been an entrepreneur my entire life,” Hayes said. “I think to step into the space of entrepreneurship, you’ve got to be determined, you’ve got to have faith and optimism, and you’ve got to be disruptive because you’re going against the grain.”
Hayes has always been the kid down to make a buck. From mowing lawns to cleaning pools, he has always been an enterprising young person. He was raised by his parents to earn his own money and continues to go down the same path throughout his journey as an entrepreneur.
He may be known as the son and heir to his soul icon father’s — the late Isaac Hayes Jr. — estate. However, he first began his multi-ventured 21-year career as a songwriter-producer before ultimately transitioning into scoring music for movies and television networks.
Now he’s on a new path as a CEO and first-time founder of tech startup Fanbase — a photo, video, and live streaming social networking app enabling users to monetize posts.
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During a phone call with Hayes, AfroTech was able to discuss what makes his app, Fanbase, different from other social networking platforms, how he’s managed to raise $2.5 million in seed funding through StartEngine, and the importance of Black creatives having the opportunity to monetize the content that platforms usually take from them for free.
AfroTech: What is Fanbase for those who may not be familiar with the app?
Hayes: It’s an all-new social network that allows users to have followers and subscribers simultaneously. We leave it up to the user to decide what content is created for the followers and what subscribers will have access to. For $3.99 a month, users can get access to all the extra stuff like docuseries, videos, photos, etc. and anyone can do this, not just particular users.
AfroTech: Sounds really neat. What would you say sets Fanbase apart from other platforms such as Instagram that provide similar features?
Hayes: What separates us from the other platforms is full content monetization on every type of content that you post: video, photos, stories, long-form content, pretty much everything. I believe that we’re the only true social network that allows full content monetization for every user. Everyone’s trying to figure it out and it’s great to be in that space. We have a great opportunity to lead the way in the best way to do this.
AfroTech: That’s so dope! As the second Black man to raise a full $1 million on StartEngine, the crowdfunding app, tell us your secret!
Hayes: Three phenomenal Black women! I was looking into how to raise money for the platform when a mentor of mine in the tech space, Monique Idlett, who also happens to be a venture capitalist, suggested that I try StartEngine. Also, I had known a friend of mine, Dawn Dixon, the first Black woman to raise $1 million on StartEngine, and another mentor Angela Benton raised $1 million for her company in just eight days. Through Monique’s suggestions, Angela’s introduction to StartEngine, and Dawn’s coaching since she’d done it before, I have these three women to thank for my success in raising the money on the platform. I’m grateful to all three of them for showing me the way.
AfroTech: Come through Black women! I love that for you. What was the experience like crowdfunding through StartEngine?
Hayes: When crowdfunding on platforms like StartEngine, it allows the public to invest. The majority of our investors are first-time investors, investing in smaller amounts, which is very different from what that looks like in an area like perhaps, Washington, D.C. where the minimum to invest can start at $100,000. On StartEngine the minimum amount to invest is $256 which is a huge difference.
AfroTech: That’s awesome that the public can invest. How does this fall into Fanbase’s commitment to the importance of monetization for Black content creators?
Hayes: The fact that the African American community owns part of this company and Black culture contributes so much to social media, makes this the perfect marriage between our capital and our talent at the same time. This is how the platform will continue to lift others as it climbs. I, as well as FanBase, will continue to keep in mind the community that helps it become the app that it will become.
In most instances, a lot of Black creatives feel marginalized as platforms get more successful and make way for whiter audiences, ultimately taking something to build off of the back of Black culture without keeping them in mind first.
We’ve raised $2.5 million so far and will probably cap funding at $3 million. However, we’re still accepting investments and giving the African American audience the opportunity to invest in a platform that keeps them first.