Today we’d like to introduce you to Seven Volpone.
Seven, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was born in Bronx, New York and raised on a dairy farm near Cooperstown. For as long as I can remember, I have always been passionate about creating things. As a kid with nothing better to do but stare at corn and cows, I started singing and writing songs at a young age to keep myself entertained. This passion stuck with me and I found myself paying my bills in college performing in bands and clubs all over the Tri-state area.
After years of working hard and perfecting my craft, I formed a band called Seven and the Sun and was signed to Atlantic Records in 1999 by the late great Ahmet Ertegun and now CEO Craig Kalman. We had a couple of hits like our single “Walk with Me” in 2002, which rose to the top of the Billboard Top 40 charts, and our song “Back to the Innocence” that became the theme song to the popular John Walsh daily talk show on NBC. We also had other songs featured in major motion pictures such as America’s Sweethearts starring Julia Roberts, John Cusack & Catherine Zeta Jones, and Summer Catch Starring Jessica Biel & Freddie Prinze Jr.
After Seven and the Sun, I went on to found the Country Group “Whiskey Falls” that garnered two chart-topping singles and the award for “Breakout Artist of the Year” in 2008 from Music Row’s Country Radio. While I was on the road as an artist, I started to become intrigued by the brand side of the business and the power that music played in reaching large audiences that brands wanted to connect with. So, I ended up going the entrepreneurial route, and Co-Founded and architected the music, marketing, and branding company We3Kings.
It wasn’t long before we started receiving recognition and awards throughout the music, television and marketing communities for forward-thinking business development initiatives and integration campaigns that included the likes of AAMCO transmissions, Whiskey Falls & Dale Earnhardt Jr., NAPSTER, The American Laborers Union, The Atlanta Braves, and over 220 television shows in both the scripted and reality worlds for FOX, NBC, Cable networks, Mark Burnett, and Endemol on shows like True Calling, Dance Moms, Steve Harvey, Extreme Home Makeover and many more.
My work as a creative in TV and Music Production expanded from the radio and TV screen to live events and experiences and my partners and I purchased the American Tailgaters Association where we hosted tailgates across the country at NFL events, Super Bowls, Nascar Events, NHRA events, and music festivals. Keeping brands informed on how their sponsor dollars were being spent was is a time consuming effort, and after years of struggling to put together ROI reports for brands, I turned my knowledge and experience towards trying to simplify things through technology and I developed the social influencing platform Radio Connect/TwitYap which I later sold to the Publicly traded entity Xhibit Corp (XBTC) its wholly owned entities SkyMall and SkyMall Ventures.
After the sale, I found I had a knack for consulting so I co-founded the consulting firm Push Point Management Group with my partner Brian Love and we started consulting for esports companies like ESL & Turtle Entertainment on the integration of music and lifestyle into their IEM and ESL one events and Zynga for Its Premier Brand “Words with Friends.” After two strong years with Push Point, I was offered a position I had been waiting for my whole life, that was to be the CEO and Fund Manager of Big Block Capital Group.
In this new role, I was given the opportunity to deploy a growth strategy and invest in and incubate innovative technology companies as well as provide creative services for brands and networks. Through this new vehicle, my team and I have taken two strong positions: one within esports through Subnation, an entertainment platform celebrating and promoting the culture of esports; and the other through Enterra Solutions, the leading cognitive computing, and machine learning company.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Life is full of challenges, especially when you’re an entrepreneur. There is nothing harder than starting your own business and keeping it afloat, but there is also nothing more rewarding. To me, each struggle is an opportunity to learn and grow… Even when you fail, it’s all about learning from every mistake and success and applying the lessons you learned to keep building and getting better. Being humble, staying grounded and surrounding yourself with extraordinary people is super important.
At Big Block, everyone leads and everyone follows, knowing when to do either is the mark of a great team. With that all said, the biggest challenge at Big Block is keeping up with our growth, managing the supply chain and making sure we keep innovating and delivering for ourselves and our partners. The world is evolving quickly and what we are trying to achieve is not easy, that is a fully integrated ecosystem that feeds off of our deep knowledge-based technologies and deep pool of creative talent.
Every day is a race and we are up against the biggest companies in the world so we must keep ourselves well positioned, lean and hungry.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Big Block – what should we know?
Big Block is a multi-faceted group that has an investment arm, creative services sector, and esports entertainment and cultural platform.
The investment arm, Big Block Capital Group, has made considerable investments in disruptive technology companies such as Enterra Solutions, a leading AI and Cognitive Computing company based in Princeton. We have also made strategic investments in the live broadcasting and experiential marketing company Ripplebox, known for producing the first-ever live Snickers ad at Super Bowl LI, live content experiences at the EMMY’s and GRAMMY’s, working with talent like Kevin Hart, Gwen Stefani, and Katy Perry and activating custom event broadcasts for brands such as American Express, Bud Light and Target.
We have also invested in IMGN Media, a startup producing and programming content for social audiences, and also the creator of ViralLab, a proprietary in-house technology that enables the company’s editorial team to scale content curation, channel management, and audience growth. Big Block is the creative services arm, which produces all forms of visual content for companies like ESPN, NFL, NBA, MLB, Under Armour and Ford while working with celebrity talent like Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Conor McGregor.
We have a team of 10 directors and counting, who work integrally with brands, agencies, networks, and sports leagues to develop cutting-edge graphics packages from ideation to creation. Subnation is our esports division, which celebrates the subcultures central to esports and gaming. Subnation combines lifestyle, music, apparel, fashion, comic book art, street art. We’re looking at esports through that lens. If you give fans something just a little left of gaming, they have a huge interest in it.
That’s why Subnation Live experiences feature musical artists like deadmau5 and Lil Yachty live gaming, clothing displays, live art activations from custom sneaker artist kickstradomis and Marvel artist’s custom painting the new 2019 Volkswagen Jetta. When it comes to making branded experiences, an essential component of Subnation’s purpose is to celebrate with people, not market at them. In this respect, Subnation is making “commitments” to the gaming community – not making “campaigns” for them.
The thing I’m most proud of as a company is also the thing that sets us apart: creative diversity. We have found a way to blend and leverage all of our different strong suits to optimize campaigns and offerings for clients. Our specialization and innovation in creative production is the backbone of our company, which we now optimize for clients through our investments in live experiential marketing and artificial intelligence optimization companies.
And our extensive work with sports leagues, brands, and celebrities, as well as in the automotive space, has allowed us to expand into the booming esports space and help brands connect with younger, new age sports fans.
What were you like growing up?
Growing up, I was a lighthearted kid, always singing, creating things, playing games, reinventing my inner world and striving for something. Family and friendship have always been super important to me and I value my time with those I love. I have always been relentless and hyper-focused on my goals. Quitting is never an option for me.
Actually, my birthday is March 4th and I have always thought that was kind of serendipitous for if I had to choose a life mantra for myself and all I have been through it would be “March Forth” because I just keep on pushing through!
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