From Grammy-Winner to Entrepreneur: The Story Behind Devo Harris' Adventr

Summary of Episode

#79. Devo Harris went from grammy award winning producer and founder of GOOD Music alongside Kanye West to successful tech startup founder. Harris founded Adventr to introduce interactive video marketing to the mainstream and to create valuable experiences for consumers. On this episode of the podcast, we chat with Devo about how his background influenced his entrepreneurial journey, the ways venture capital needs to change, and how working with Kanye impacted his story so far.

About the guest:

Devo Harris is a Grammy award winning producer, entrepreneur, and founding member of Kanye West’s label GOOD Music. Harris is notably responsible for propelling EGOT winner John Legend to fame by signing him to the label. His startup, Adventr, has caught the attention of major brands including Adidas, Nike, Lexus, H&M, 23andMe, Paramount+, and NASCAR.

Podcast Episode Notes

[00:01:04] Could you give us a little bit of a highlight reel of the entrepreneurship journey that you've been on?

[00:03:53] Do you think that having an impact is the main driver to entrepreneurship in general?

[00:05:08]How did Kanye West influence your entrepreneurial journey? 

[00:08:24] Is confidence the key to Kanye’s influence? 

[00:12:12] What is Adventr?

[0014:48] Can you tell us the problem that Adventr is solving with this software?

[00:18:14] Do you see other use cases outside of the marketing industry adopting this approach to video?

[00:20:40] Who is currently the main user of Adventr and who else would you like to see using your platform?

[00:22:33] Can you tell us kind of how this idea of Adventr came about?

[00:26:00] When was Adventr created?

[00:29:55] In your experience, is venture capital a meritocracy?

[00:32:40] How can we change this? 

[00:34:45] When you were a producer, how did you decide the type of experience you were trying to create? 

[00:38:35] For those with less experience, how would you recommend the best way that they learn to build experiences? 

[00:42:21] What is your #1 piece of advice for early stage entrepreneurs?

[00:42:46] What’s next for Adventr?

[00:45:20] Where can people connect with you online and how can our listeners support Adventr?

Full Interview Transcript

Ethan Peyton: Hey everybody and welcome to the Startup Savant podcast. I'm your host, Ethan, and this is a show about the stories, challenges and triumphs of fast scaling startups and the founders who run them. Our guest on the show today is a Grammy award winning producer and songwriter. He's worked alongside big names like Kanye West, John Legend and tons of other huge artists. 

He's now moved into the world of tech entrepreneurship with his AI powered interactive video startup. Adventr and he's here to receive a new award today He doesn't know this the highly coveted startup savants most interesting founder award. His name is Devo Harris. Listeners remember to click the like button and subscribe to the show and let's get right into it Devo I am super happy to have you here today.

Devo Harris: I'm excited to be here too. Thanks for having me.

Ethan Peyton: Awesome, awesome. All right, so thank you. Thank you for being on the show. Let's jump a little bit into your kind of entrepreneurial history before we jump into Adventr. Could you give us a little bit of a highlight reel of the entrepreneurship journey that you've been on?

Devo Harris: Sure. I graduated from Wharton many moons ago and I worked at PWC, which had like 40,000 people or consultants at it at the time. It didn't matter if I was there or not. So I hated it. I couldn't, in my mind, provide an impact. So I knew I needed to do something where my presence would make more of a difference. So I went from PWC to a company called Venture Architects here in New York City, which was a startup itself. And we helped other startups raise money. We helped them get their strategies right and their pitch decks right. And so I was exposed to a lot of startups at that point. More like series B and C sort of startups. And so from there, that's how I got the bug, “Oh, you can just make crazy ideas and convince people to buy it and then scale the company and then there's exits.” And so from there, you know, September 11th happened then and there's a whole lot of fallout from there. And now my cousin had moved to the New York area around that time and he was a producer and aspiring rapper. And I thought what he was doing was really awesome. So I started working with my cousin to add some business structure to what he was doing. His name is Kanye West. Now at that time, no…

Ethan Peyton: Mmm.

Devo Harris: …one had heard of him and he had no record deal. And I started working with Kanye and we grew his profile as an artist. And then we started a record label. And those are some of my first early on career engagements with entrepreneurship and calling your own shots. and eating what you kill. And so that was the start of my journey.

Ethan Peyton: And what a journey it's been since then. So let me just dive into one thing that you mentioned from that. You said you worked at PwC, and you hated it because you didn't feel like you could make an impact because there were so many people there. I'm sure it was just an amalgamation of your accuracy and just everyone kind of striving and kind of getting lost in the noise. Do you think that that's the kind of like the main driver to entrepreneurship in general, not necessarily your journey specifically? Obviously it played a big role in your journey, but do you think that that's what leads a lot of people towards either working in smaller companies or founding these new ventures?

Devo Harris: Yeah, whether you work at a big company or not, I think that with entrepreneurs, there's a certain level of self-belief or even delusion at times. But there's some belief that I have some ideas and these ideas are worth being shared with the world. And if I'm not sharing these ideas or trying to get them out, there's a disservice being done. There's an imbalance. So I think that's the root of people starting to take their destinies into their own hands, the belief that they can.

Ethan Peyton: All right, let's jump back into the history a little bit. I know that you mentioned you started a label with Kanye West. I think people probably have heard that name before. The label was called Good Music. And in the company profile that you helped us write or that you wrote, people can find that over at slash podcast. There was a quote about Kanye in there, and I wanna read that and then kinda get a little further insight into what your thoughts were on this quote. The quote is, if it wasn't for Kanye and him showing me and all of us how to make exciting products, I wouldn't be doing this. Can you give us a little bit of insight into that thinking?

Devo Harris: Yeah, I mean, we can go back to, you know, you asked about advice and I said, don't listen to what people say. Don't listen to what the experts say. And so the experts were saying to Kanye, you can't rap. No one wants to hear you rap. Keep making music. And he had this belief like I have something to say. And I think people want to hear what I have to say, even though the experts are saying they don't, I believe they do. And so there's a small group of us that believed him too. At least we had nothing else to believe in at that time. And so, and it proved to be correct. So I think all of us just saw this every day, this passion about, I have a belief, I'm worth being heard and it's worth taking risks. It's worth compelling people to believe in your vision. And... That's a model. You know, I was thinking about the other day, I feel like Kanye has had more people that came from his sort of tree. More people from the Kanye tree that have went on to do amazing things that weren't doing anything spectacular, but saw the same influence that I did. And then that empowered…

Ethan Peyton: Mm-hmm.

Devo Harris: …them to go make their dreams happen from Virgil Abloh, right from Louis Vuitton and Off-White. Don C that made Just Dines, probably the top streetwear designer in America. DJ A-Track, John Legend. John Legend was my roommate. We just lived down in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. And now he's a global superstar, EGOT winner. Myself, we actually have patents. We've invented all this amazing technology. And I'm telling you the genesis of where these concepts come from and to keep challenging yourself and to just don't even think about things iteratively. How can we just totally shake up the space that we're in? So when you just see that everyday and you see everyone saying, no, you can't do it, but the person says, yes, I can. And they do it every day. And they say, Hey, that woman on TV, whatever her name is, Kim Kardashian, I'm going to marry her.

Ethan Peyton: Hehehehehe

Devo Harris: I'm going to be with her. And then they do it. You realize the world is yours to make anything happen. And so that's what I meant by saying that. And so many of us are able to achieve different levels of success from seeing that every day.

Ethan Peyton: So what do you think it is that kind of rubs off of that essence that allows these other folks to go and accomplish big things? And I think even that question assumes that kind of the magic dust kind of flows off of Kanye and just kind of like rubs off on everybody else. But I don't necessarily believe that. I think that my guess is that there's something within or something that kind of spreads out from him that allows people to unlock what they were already able to do. Is it just kind of a confidence is the kind of unlock or what is it that allows the folks that seem to be around him to take off and do big things?

Devo Harris: Yeah, I think it's, I think it's that self-belief. There's also an example of work ethic. There's also an example of attention to detail and pushing boundaries. This is the same thing. You know, I don't want to deify this one person, but I do want to point to the value of strong role models for lack of a better word. This is why. When we're…

Ethan Peyton: Sure.

Devo Harris: …in the workplace, we want to lead by example. This is how your parents relate, and have such an effect on you. So I think in that particular situation, it was just self-belief, even in the face of everyone who's supposed to know better, saying what is the right thing or what you should do. But that wasn't just self-belief for the sake of it. It was. followed up by hard work, a lot of dedication to your craft, and taking risks. 

Ethan Peyton: Definitely, yeah, I completely agree. I completely agree with you that kind of putting, you know, one person up on a pedestal and kind of saying that they've got, you know, they've got some sort of magic or that whatever they have, you know, allows other people to do extraordinary things. I don't think that is accurate. I think that just like what you're saying, I think that seeing this person who just has so much stick-to-itiveness and ability to prove people wrong, I think that just really carries. So my initial question that I had written down here is, what can founders learn from watching Kanye's businesses that they can replicate without being him? And I think that you've answered that question. It's believe in yourself, work hard and don't listen to the experts when they say, no, I don't think that's for you. Do you think that's a pretty good summary?

Devo Harris: Yeah, I think there's a lot of similarities. I wrote them down somewhere. I don't have them here. But between a Kanye and a Steve Jobs, both in terms of a relentless pursuit of excellence. What is the phrase that they use about Steve Jobs as a force field, like a delusional force field? And he'll pull you into…

Ethan Peyton: Oh.

Devo Harris: …his force field, so you start to believe in what he's believing. And then these, a lot of these concepts of, you know, having this phone in your, having this computer in your pocket that you can make phone calls from and then making a store where anyone can put their wares in it that work in that computer. That's pretty revolutionary. And, you know, remember back in the days where I got no one needs a computer. And only big companies need to need a computer. Now everyone has multiple computers around them at all times. So yeah, I think those are good things to take out of it. And just, yeah, the power of models, the power of who you get to see every day really affects you positively or negatively.

Ethan Peyton: All right, since you mentioned the relentless pursuit of excellence, can you tell us what is Adventr?

Devo Harris: Yes, we're still keying in on our elevator pitch, but…

Ethan Peyton: Hehehe

Devo Harris: …I'll give you a bit more elongated sort of explanation. But, you know, Adventr is a pivotal product and way of thought when it comes to media. Adventr is a cloud-based platform that allows media to be connected to software at scale. You can check it out at Adventr, It's a freemium creative platform anyone can use to make what was previously impossible possible. So when you look at, this is always fun to like talk about it, because it's such a visual medium that like you need to see it. but I'll do my best to just explain so folks can understand. But we all love video. The vast majority of the internet is video in terms of internet traffic. What we do is make that video intelligent. And so typically video is just a big file that you look at and hopefully it works for you, whether it's entertainment or it's marketing or it's educational content. What we do is make that video smart. and responsive. So now you can talk to it, you can touch it, it can be connected to your CRM. So everyone that you send out a video to gets their own personalized experience based on data that you have. It can be tied into external systems. So, you know, Ethan, you and I can both get the same video from Walmart, but you will have a different experience and see different items in that video because of your browsing history because of where you are.

Ethan Peyton: Okay.

Devo Harris: I'll have a different experience. So we're gonna really bridge the gap between video and data and software.

Ethan Peyton: So I know that you've released this new, you know, SmartListen software or app that allows people to even talk to their video. So it's a really interactive experience that you're creating, not just kind of a one to many singular experience that is essentially how we've been creating video for 100 plus years now. Can you tell us what the problem that Adventr is solving for the folks who are using the software?

Devo Harris: Sure. Video is a key part of most businesses' communication right now. And it tends to be a one way communication that goes out to people, whether it's marketing, education, etc. And hopefully it works. Hopefully I send you this video with a t-shirt on it and you like it. And you buy the t-shirt next…

Ethan Peyton: Mm-hmm.

Devo Harris: …time you think about buying a t-shirt. What we do is allow for much more efficient, more productive communication because the viewer, number one, we make the content more relevant for that viewer and give the viewer an opportunity to communicate back and take action. So…

Ethan Peyton: Mm-hmm.

Devo Harris: …if you may say, hey, watch this video and then we want you to contact our office and text this number to this number so then we can send you to a website, you can get a car insurance quote.

Ethan Peyton: Mm-hmm.

Devo Harris: A much more efficient way to do that is to say, hey, we have the best insurance rates. Tap right here in this video and your text, your SMS function will open up and we already have it populated. Car make and model, just put it in, hit send, and we'll send you a free car quote. It's a much more efficient communication format that has way higher conversion, completion. all the engagement metrics are significantly higher. If anyone out there has watched a minority report, there's a scene in the movie where, there's a few scenes, but you see Tom Cruise running through a hallway, a public hallway, and they're saying, hey, John Atherton, hey, your American Express is about to expire. And it's all this personalized information that's coming to him, just relevant to him that he goes into…

Ethan Peyton: Mm-hmm.

Devo Harris: …a Gap store and there's a hologram there that says, hey, welcome back. How'd those tank tops work out for you? This is how we see the future. It's not just about interactive, but connected. So in this example, he goes into the Gap store, there's a woman in a hologram, says, how are those tank tops? He could touch the hologram, he could have spoken and said, oh, the tank tops are too small. Media of the future will understand what he's saying. And not just that, but it will be able to communicate to the gap system and say, Oh, he had medium last time. He said it was too small. Do we have large in stock? Let's see if he'll take 10% off of large right now. And then we'll just ship it to them. That is how we see media being connected to other systems. That's way more efficient than just a video. Hey, buy tank tops. And so we're building the infrastructure for that connectivity. So not just interactive, it is more about connected, smart media.

Ethan Peyton: So do you, so this obviously has obvious impacts on marketing and sort of, you know, creating very low barrier and very frictionless kind of like marketing campaigns through these interactive videos. Do you see other use cases outside of the marketing industry adopting this sort of approach to video?

Devo Harris: Yes, I think in 10 years from now, what I'm saying to you will be like, yeah, duh. Of course, I can touch…

Ethan Peyton: Hahaha

Devo Harris: …a video or I can talk to it and it gives me what I want. It's the internet. Why wouldn't that be the case? No one has made those tools yet. I think education, like teaching you Spanish and you literally saying, uh, yo, Abloh, oh, okay, hold on. Let's go back. And that's automated all through video.

Ethan Peyton: Mm-hmm.

Devo Harris: That's going to be a real thing. Even right now, I just saw yesterday Netflix announced a new interactive rom-com that they're putting out. So we don't look at this as necessarily a vertical specific application. We look at this as a media application. Whatever you're using media for this, although it's new and there's new practices that come with it, is more effective.

Ethan Peyton: Right.

Devo Harris: Whatever you're trying to do.

Ethan Peyton: Yeah. And with the, yeah, with the explosion of this, this generative AI since kind of late 2022, it, I've heard a lot of things about personalized media and, and how, you know, we're not just going to have, you know, Disney or whoever creating one movie they're going to, and maybe it's not, you know, even a big name, maybe, maybe this democratizes the entire system. Generative AI does and allows anyone to create, you know, an experience that is slightly different for everybody. So you and I go in to watch the same movie and it's slightly different for you than it is for me, based on, you know, my likes, your likes, that sort of thing. This really feels like, this really feels like a step towards that, you know, this is, this feels like a step into the future. So it's really cool to see what you're building over here at Adventr. And just like what you said, it's definitely more of a visual thing. So folks listening or watching, check out, and just check out some of the videos over there. It's really super cool. So a question for you, who is currently the main user of Adventr and who would you like to see more of using your platform?

Devo Harris: Our main users are marketing agencies looking to make high performing, more higher performing content for their clients. And that's great as an early stage company, that's a, it's a faster turnover, higher velocity sort of sale. Now who I want to see is I want to start to branch out to which we are doing. branch out to educational organizations, training organizations, and especially media organizations. So you'd be surprised… some of the folks that have been and are reaching out. Large national and global entertainment and news companies that wanna make their content more immersive, more personalized at scale. And so, you know. My goal is that this becomes mainstream. Like that's gonna happen regardless. 

Ethan Peyton: Mm-hmm.

Devo Harris: But we wanna be the sort of Photoshop that just a regular tool everyone uses to create this. And so the more we have scaled entertainment, I believe entertainment and media creates culture in ways that marketing and small advertising transactional experiences do not.

Ethan Peyton: Mm-hmm. Gotcha. And I know that you, you know, in your previous work as a, you know, as a producer, have done some kind of choose your own Adventr, you know, interactive media that wasn't specifically advertising in the past. Can you tell us kind of how this idea of Adventr came about and maybe when it turned from let's do this for one thing into let's create that use case, let's create that tool for other people to use?

Devo Harris: Yeah, the... Man, was this 2012 or even 2010? We were making a music video for a band signed to me called Riot in Paris. And so the band's called Riot in Paris. The song is called Attack of the Five-Foot Hipster. You can still see it on YouTube. It's a terrible video. 

Ethan Peyton: Hahaha

Devo Harris: But the point is we shot this video with the iPod when I was in grad school. An iPod is the predecessor to the iPhone. For like a lot of people listening to this probably not have heard of an iPod. But in any case, we shot this music video. Again, with Kanye and these guys, you have to be pushing the envelope. This was over a decade ago. So we put out this music video, regular music video on YouTube, you see the comments like, I don't know, this song kind of sucks. And

Ethan Peyton: Hehehehe

Devo Harris: so... The next week we put out the same video for the same song, but we had hacked YouTube so that you could choose which scene you saw next. That was the only difference.

Ethan Peyton: Oh cool.

Devo Harris: And there you see the comments saying, oh, this song is awesome. I love this song. This is gonna be a hit. And it was like night and day how people perceive the song based on, in one format, they're able to have a little bit of participation. And so... It was really interesting. And the next thing you know, all these media companies start coming to me saying, how do we do that? And I said, well, why would you want to do this? And they said, well, this looks way more, this before engagement was a buzzword, but this looks way more engaging. And we think kids will watch this more and then we can show them more ads. So I started researching, I was like, oh, this makes sense. Cause I'm, I'm a big like media format. fan. When I started working for Kanye, one of my first jobs, my main first job was burning CDs. 

Ethan Peyton: Hehehehe.

Devo Harris: And so people remember, you used to need a CD burner. You had to hit burn and play and pause. And it was very manual. And it took the length of the actual music to put it on a CD. And so then we went, it was from Dats to burn to CDs. And then iTunes came out and you didn't have to do it in real time.

Ethan Peyton: Mm-hmm.

Devo Harris: Then MP3s came and then streaming. So I've always been like, what's next? You can't get any better than MP3s. MP3s is the ultimate final destination of audio, which totally it wasn't, right? So when I started researching, I'm like, oh, one day our media will be more personalized. It'll be more connected to the internet as opposed to writing on top of the internet. And so that's when I started diving into video and... video protocols and a decade later, we have multiple patents and we work with some of the biggest brands and media companies and we're just getting started.

Ethan Peyton: So that video, Five Foot Hipster came out in, I think you said 2010. And when was Adventr, the company, kind of formed and started?

Devo Harris: Well, I'll give you the sorted story so that the founders out there can have a bit of color and maybe can inform people's experience. But I originally started to make a corporation and try to do something formal in I think 2013, I want to say. 

Ethan Peyton: So pretty soon after this video.

Devo Harris: And yeah, pretty soon. I was like learning how to code Flash. You know, this is old school stuff, but yeah, I started experimenting with very simple clickable videos and, you know, try to raise money. I had, you know, thousands of users and but it was very hard for me to raise venture capital, uh, at that time. It's a number of reasons, but, but yeah, in the early 2000 and teens being black raising venture capitals. It's a mess now. It was a hot mess then.

Ethan Peyton: Mm-hmm.

Devo Harris: And especially being a rap producer, it was very challenging. So that had its own sort of, that was its own experience. I ended up going to work at Vimeo. I shut that company down, went to work at Vimeo. I sort of reset my career so I was no longer. Other friends of mine didn't need such a reset. 

Ethan Peyton: Sure.

Devo Harris: But yeah, I went to Vimeo as a product manager there. That's my only job for 20 years. And so sort of change my corporate brand, if you will. And then took that information about sort of scale technology platforms and started a new company in 2019. And that was based less on the Choujin Adventr clickable video and more into…

Ethan Peyton: Mm-hmm.

Devo Harris: …more in this AI, how do we connect media and software?

Ethan Peyton: So you mentioned that, I wanna talk a little bit about this funding and the kind of issues that surrounded that. And that you've mentioned it's better now, but it was definitely a hot mess back then. And what comes to mind to me is we see a lot of founders and people who get backed by angels or VCs or whatever, who come from a high performance history. They've been high performers in consulting or, and that one's kind of obvious because it's business related, but you see a lot of high performers in sports. 

So, you know, former Olympians or people that were, you know, in the NFL or in the NBA or something like that. And it seems that they can get this funding based on this idea that they have shown that they have the ability to be super dedicated to a craft. But it seems to me that the work that you were doing, I mean, you won a freaking Grammy for the work that you were doing. It shows obviously that you were super dedicated, that you have high capability, that you are able to produce. And so many times the ability to produce in one area. equals or doesn't necessarily equal, but really shows the ability to produce in another area. So I guess what do you think, I mean, does it all come down to who has the money and who's asking for it and what they look like and male, female, black, white, gay, straight, does it come down to that or what?

Devo Harris: Well, yeah, I think a lot of it does. I believe now there's starting to be a bit more empirical, starting to be slightly a bit more empirical ways to judge potential success. But early stage, when it comes to capital for early stage companies, there's not a lot of data to go off of. And so there's a lot of pattern matching. 

Ethan Peyton: Mm-hmm.

Devo Harris: And at that time, I don't match any of the patterns. So I went, you know, I got my first attorney, he was like, you know, lead attorney at the top tech law firm in New York. And I remember them, I said, this is my idea, I wanna do this and this. And look, I already had these customers doing this. I remember doing diligence. I helped do diligence on some startup at some point. They're going for like their series Bs. So I had all their financial documents to write up this diligence report. 

I was like, wow I looked at, they got their original funding, they made X number of dollars in their first year after being funded. And I said, wow, I made that much money in my first week being bootstrapped and I couldn't raise money. And so, but when I went to this attorney and I said, hey, I wanna do XYZ, he said, this is great. You're super cool. Every investor is gonna wanna get a beer with you. None of them are gonna invest in you. And I said, to your point, that's crazy. Do you know who I am? Like, I got all the degrees. I got all the crazy stories. I've made millions of dollars for the groups I've worked with. Everything I touch turns to gold. Of course I'm going to get funded. But he was right. And Paul Graham talks about this. Well, I invested in these guys because they look like Mark Zuckerberg. 

Ethan Peyton: Mm-hmm.

Devo Harris: At that time, if you were going to drop out of Ivy League college, you're going to get money because there's a story there that's familiar to you. My story was not familiar, but like I said, I do think now there's a bit of a starting to get more empirical data points that people can speak to and investors can believe in. But the pattern matching continues to be an issue, but I feel like there's a little bit of leeway has been introduced more recently.

Ethan Peyton: So this may be asking a lot and I don't necessarily think that we are going to solve this problem right now, but it is clearly an issue and I think it's a ridiculous issue, but in your kind of opinion, what are some of the things that you and I can, what are the actions that we can take that will actually make a difference for folks out there who don't match those patterns to have a fair shot at? at funding or anything.

Devo Harris: Yeah. Well, I think me being here is a great sort of step in that direction. The more that we, you know, shine a light on, on founders and people, not even just founders and people wanting to be coders, wanting to be product managers or marketers, um, that don't sort of look the part. Shedding light on, on these sorts of folks that are in the space and are having some success that starts to fracture the patterns and widen what success looks like, what this industry looks like. This has been the most heterogeneous industry I've ever heard of. It's pretty wild. And it shouldn't be that way, but yeah, the more that we can shine a light on people that don't fit those patterns and whatever our respective opportunity, I think that's a step in the right direction.

Ethan Peyton: All right, let's move on to another topic. And this is creating experience. And I know that this is something that you care deeply about. Obviously, when you were producing songs and albums and music videos and that sort of thing, it's all experience. It's 100% experience. And I think that people who are creating businesses sometimes look at their business as... as just that, it's kind of transactional, it is just a business, it's I am selling you a product, you are buying a product, whatever, but I think that is a real missed opportunity to kind of create a beautiful experience. So when you were producing a song, or like I said, a music video, an album, whatever, how did you decide what type of experience you were going to try to create with that particular piece of work?

Devo Harris: Yeah, you know, that's a great question. And we could spend all day diving into that. But, you know, we would just start at what is authentic to this creator, to this artist, and then how do we create a world around that. So, you know, Kanye West's first album, College Dropout. The whole theme is around… The whole theme is how do we sort of, the bigger idea is how do we invite regular kids, suburban or college or whatever, to be in this world, this hip hop world. And so we did lots of things from the music to the skits to the music videos to the promotions to the pictures being very different, being very preppy, being satirical, having like like HBCU, like Black fraternity stepping music. We wanted to make a whole world for you to sit in, but a really fun, exciting world you could relate to, but it's a little bit cooler than your world, but it still had some of the same themes. 

Ethan Peyton: Mm-hmm.

Devo Harris: That was just something that was relevant for Kanye and was a relevant world for the customers that we wanted. John Legend, the same thing with him. It was very clear we wanna do the same thing with church as we did with college. So this first album, you'll see John in the church a lot, a lot of organs, a lot of group vocals. But we're still talking about relationships and sex and like getting high and all these things that are edgy in this church space. And so even... bringing that to Adventr, we are an experienced company. I agree with you 100%. I think the best companies, the Apples, the Googles, they don't just sell you a product, they give you a world to live in. And it's almost like a lifestyle. When I look at Adventr, I'm trying to create like a lifestyle brand.  

Ethan Peyton: Mm-hmm.

Devo Harris: And I tell our team, we're not offering... a video app, a video making software. We're offering a journey into the future. When you sign up for Adventr, you will always have the most cutting edge media tools. Don't even worry about what's gonna happen. Just know every few months we're gonna be like, okay, now you can talk to the videos. And we have a film coming out and we're gonna be making music videos and creating this pathway to the future. which you can be part of for just $99 a month. So yeah, I think you're selling yourself short in this day and age, if you're just selling a transactional piece of software and not offering a bigger experience.


Ethan Peyton: So for the people that don't have this kind of artistic background that you have, what do you think or what would you recommend the best way that they learn to kind of build these more immersive experiences even for products that don't necessarily lend themselves to an immersive experience? What do you think the best way for somebody to learn how to do that is?

Devo Harris: Yeah, well, you know, I've won awards for creativity and whatnot, but like, I'm not, I don't know how to play any instruments. I don't know how to shoot any content or how to really edit a video, but I know what I like. And I think enough other people have a similar sort of mainstream thought process to me that they might like this the same thing. But. You know, I think that for us, we offer these tools, but to your point, offering these tools to people who have never conceived of this sort of thing is not enough. So we have, we have webinars, we have a YouTube channel, we have FAQs. We have original content that we're putting out. 

We have Adventr of the week where you can see what other people are making best practices. So we are. building educational and community experiences, just like we're building these creative tools. So, if you do want to learn how to create this sort of content, again, you can go to and there's so many educational opportunities on there. 

And frankly, you don't need to be Steven Spielberg to make these experiences. A lot of the biggest success that our customers have had are with very simple experiences that are made repurposing existing content. Marc Jacobs is one of our first customers. They said, hey, we have these ads that we spent a lot of money on with all these dogs in it, just amazing, expensive dogs. And we have some Marc Jacobs bags in it. But you can't do anything with it. You don't know which bag, what that bag is called or anything. Okay. within a couple hours go in and show them you can do this and this, they took that same content. Now just put in some label saying, this is this bag. This is this bag. Tap here if you wanna learn more about this bag. And we got

Ethan Peyton: Mm-hmm.

Devo Harris: 56% conversion rates of people leaving social media to go visit the product pages of Marc Jacobs versus Zero before. 

Ethan Peyton: 56%.

Devo Harris: Just from you adding the, yes, just from you adding the ability, say, hey, this is what this is. If you want to learn more, just tap right here and we'll take you there where you can learn more. Even that is not…

Ethan Peyton: That's insane. Wow.

Devo Harris: …possible in the video, the marketing videos that you see. It does… and they didn't spend one penny on extra content. So my point is just that you don't need to have a big budget and have those big directors and you don't. Just go on here, add a button to it, that's the start.

Ethan Peyton: Yeah, and this sounds like something that is in the realm of, you know, if you're a founder and either you've got some spare time or if you've got, you know, a marketing team, just like spend the 99 bucks and tell somebody to go hang out in the ecosystem for a minute and see what they can come up with. That seems like a no-brainer to me.

Devo Harris: Yeah, yeah, I think so too. And I think one thing that we're working on now is improving the messaging around that. And that the point of Adventr is not about like cool videos or fun videos. It's really about ROI for our users. People watch longer.

Ethan Peyton: Mm-hmm.

Devo Harris: They share more. They buy more. They click through dramatically more. And so we've got to do a better job at communicating.

Ethan Peyton: All right, let's move on to my favorite question that I love to ask everybody that comes on the show and that is, what is your number one piece of advice for early stage entrepreneurs?

Devo Harris: Find clarity in who you're offering your product to. Find clarity around the problem it solves for them. And market the hell out of that message to that ideal customer. 

Ethan Peyton: Sweet and simple.

Devo Harris: Yeah.

Ethan Peyton: Easy. All right, what is next for Adventr? What are we gonna see? Obviously you said that every three months something new is gonna happen, so people need to keep their eyes peeled, but is there anything that you wanna particularly talk about today?

Devo Harris: Yeah, I mean, I'm super excited about SmartListen. That's, again, that's the ability for you to talk to videos, for them to talk back to you. You can ask questions. They can ask you questions. Great for training and quizzes and just really fun karaoke experiences. So you'll be seeing, you can see a bunch of that on our site in the next couple of weeks. But outside of making these things, this technology, you know, our mission is not just to enable storytellers, but to inspire storytellers. So we got to show you what's possible and how these tools can be used. So one of the first things that we're doing to that end is a short film, the first multiplayer film where everyone watching it together controls the movie together. So it's called Lab Rat. And I'm actually headed to Atlanta in a couple hours to go show it in Atlanta. But you can go to and get more information, see the trailer. That's gonna be released to the public this fall. And I'm really excited about that. So that's something where Ethan, if you're at dinner with your friends, you can say, oh yeah, you heard of that movie. Hey, let's check it out. It's free. and we watch it and everyone with their cell phone literally is controlling what happens in the movie as you watch. So depending on who you watch it with, you'll see a totally different film. So those are the sorts of things that we wanna do to get creators excited, to get you knowing what's possible and how easy it is. So yeah,, that's the next sort of national thing that we're super excited.

Ethan Peyton: Awesome. That does sound exciting. I'm just gonna wait for that to come out so I can basically just spend an entire day with all my friends doing that. But this has been a ton of fun. I'm super stoked that you came on and we'll get you that award in the mail, the Startup Savant's Most Interesting Founder Award. 

Devo Harris: Thanks.

Ethan Peyton: But before we present that to you, one last question. Where can people connect with you online and how can our listeners support Adventr?

Devo Harris: Yeah, you can connect with me at Springsteasy. My hip hop producer name is Divo Springsteen because I'm the boss. I didn't make that up. Someone else made it up, a rapper.

Ethan Peyton: Hehehehe

Devo Harris: But yeah, on Twitter or X and Instagram. So yeah, I'm around on social. And you can find Adventr at Adventr HQ. on all the social platforms. And really, you know, check out Adventr. Just check out the website, it's tons of examples. And you know, it's hard to get a grasp sort of via audio. But if you go on there, you can talk to some Adventrs, you can play games all within videos. And I think you'll get a good grasp. And if you, it's free, it's free to sign up and start playing with it. So

Ethan Peyton: Mm-hmm.

Devo Harris: just go there and explore.

Ethan Peyton: Awesome, well we're gonna put links to all that stuff in the show notes over at slash podcast. Devo, like I said, this has been a ton of fun. Super happy you came on to the show and I wanna give you the last word.

Devo Harris: You know, Ethan, this is fun for me too. So thank you for having me. I hope that people found some nuggets in my rambling that is of value to them. But, you know, we are really a, because of the challenges that I faced whenever I came into this space, it's one of our values in our company to be inclusive. and accepting. And so if there are founders out there who wanna touch base or want some feedback on something, you can always reach out to me on social or on LinkedIn. And if it's possible for me to help, I'm happy to.

Ethan Peyton: Cool, thanks Devo.

Devo Harris: Thank you.

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