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    • Well, my music is on Obama’s YouTube page! I have such a weird mish-mash of a career that it’s sometimes like I’m three people in one. I started as a songwriter and film composer in LA. Discovered that there was a big gap between music and technology. Set out on a goal to be the bridge that connects entertainment and tech together. And that’s led to a handful of startups, some that have been successful, some that have failed, to try to connect entertainment industry and tech, and that’s what GIFPOP is, it’s a new type of merch for kids that only have $5 in their pocket.  That’s really all it is! For kids who want to feel like they can contribute to their artist with just a few bucks. 

    • GIFPOP describes itself on Instagram as “Animated emojis for your favorite celebrities.” Where did the initial inspiration for the idea come from?

    • When I realized that other gif sharing sites weren’t connecting with musicians, entertainers and athletes. They weren’t creating emojis or stickers for them, they were expecting them to develop them themselves. There’s too many artists out there for them to work with. There’s thousands! For example, one of the biggest influencers in NYC is a guy that nobody has probably heard of - his name is Fatboy SSE. He’s a really creative social influencer and has a massive following in the urban hip-hop scene. He has over 5 million followers on Instagram. Most sponsors would never approach a guy like him - he’s too far off the popstar path. But he has more attention than most popstars in the world.  He’s one of the guys who’s asked to have his emoji released through GIFPOP. So we’re reaching out to a more alternative crowd of musicians and artists. Also we’re creating a new way to monetize that other GIF sharing sites aren’t offering. They might create sponsorship deals, and do great things with the top 10 - making lots of money for a Taylor Swift, partnering her up with big brands. But the other 99.9% of artists and influencers aren’t getting that kind of attention, and that’s where we come in.

    • That was a never-ending challenge for the past year for me! Traditionally, you hire an agency that does computer animation, you pay them $50,000, and they go through a tedious process of creating an animated rig of a celebrity, and then they would create keyframes to try to trigger movements around the mouth and eyes - a complicated process. So I found an alternative way. We create an illustration of the celebrity, and then we use the new motion-capture technology that’s built into the iPhone X. It lets us create the animation movements using our own faces. So we’re able to create facial movements for the celebrity 100 times faster than ever before. It’s really cool: I gotta praise Apple for this, because it’s the first facial detection technology that’s getting it right. I also want to give a shoutout to MugLife - it’s an app that lets us set up the animation sequences.  Whenever you look at these funny looking animation sequences for an artist, you’re seeing my expressions captured in a coffee shop in Brooklyn! I get a lot of funny looks from people. 

    • All praise. 100% praise. No questions asked. Celebrities are like “of course, we’re in!” And for me, I’ve never had this kind of position before, and for years I’ve tried to get talent attention, it’s kind of unbelievable we’re getting this much support this quickly. Which means we’re here at the right time, and we’ve found the right way to take advantage of social media in the right way, without stepping on anyone’s feet. We see other GIF sharing competitors as companions not competitors. That’s one of my #1 goals for a startup - be everyone’s companion, not a competitor.

    • Getting to go to a recording session, making a documentary in Michael Jackson’s Thriller recording studio in Los Angeles. That was one of my most favorite experiences. The studio, outside all you see is a cement wall, which was designed to keep it from standing out intentionally, and as soon as you get inside, it looks like 1975 - stone walls, Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson photos all over the walls, and then you realize you’re using the recording studio that Michael Jackson used for Off the Wall. It’s an amazing experience for anyone who gets to go inside. 

      For me, getting to write the music for Obama was the biggest musical experience of my life. Getting a phone call asking if I could put together a few different types of music to match the different emotions they were asking for in a short period of time, and then getting a phone call a week before the election- it was one of the most unforgettable mornings of my life, waking up to 20 different messages, all from Obama’s ad agency, saying they needed me to give them written permission to use my music, because Obama had voted it into his ad personally. And they couldn’t use it until I gave them authorization. I still have Facebook messages from it! That was an insane morning for me. I gave them authorization and within less than a week it became his biggest ad around the world, and they later came to me and said that they think this ad was what won the swing states for the 2012 election. 

    • That’s a good question. Probably that it takes longer than one would think to get funded. Most startups are created and operated by 1-2 people inside their homes. A lot of us have to have part time jobs simultaneously. Cofounders are the last to eat dinner at the table. Money will come, but don’t quit your day jobs until it does!

    • You’ve also been a hands on person with your own line of handcrafted tables, Wine & Hammer, made right here in NYC! What do you think is the secret to making furniture that people love?

    • Blood, sweat and tears. Most people want to buy furniture from someone who’s literally put their heart into it - handcrafted, versus manufactured. And that’s why up until now, people haven’t gone to Amazon to buy furniture. I’ve spent years building my tables in a 350 square foot apartment, and selling them around NYC for very reasonable prices. I’ve made over 500 tables, benches and desks. It’s unbelievable, I originally thought I was going to make just ten, now it’s one of the most well known furniture lines in NYC.

    • Your first few failed startups are actually gateways. Each of my first few failed startups boosted my reputation as a survivor, a fighter in tech. Also, prepare to go crazy trying to get everyone to understand the problem you’re trying to fix. Most of them probably don’t even know that specific problem exists. AirBNB was completely laughed at at first. But look at it now!