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Do you feel that Web 3.0 pillars like NFTs, blockchain, and the metaverse will never impact your business? Did you ever think the same way about websites, social media, or smartphones? In today’s interview, we chat with Andre Kay who shares how businesses of all sizes are approaching Web 3, and how you can, too.
Rich: My guest today is a husband, father of three boys, author, investor, and a successful entrepreneur. He’s the founder of Socially Buzz and Best Date Ever, and the co-founder of MetAiBlock and Kids Maker Lab. Woo, he’s staying busy.
He’s a leader, an innovator, and a philanthropist. He has been recognized for his creativity, innovation, leadership, and impact on social good. Today, he and I are going to be talking about the Metaverse, NFTs, and whether they can help you engage your audience and build your business. Welcome to the show, Andre Kay.
Andre: Rich, it’s a pleasure. And thank you for having me.
Rich: So there were a lot of companies I just mentioned there. Tell me a little bit about Socially Buzz.
Andre: So Socially Buzz, I’ll say my baby, but Socially Buzz started about 14 years ago as the first social media agency that exists in the entire world. Yes, they had advertising agencies that dabbled in social media, or they had PR agencies that dabbled into social media, but we started as a social media agency. We have grown from zero to over eight figures. I work with clients like Domino’s Pizza, Jamba Juice, TGI Fridays, and other businesses as well, generating millions of dollars in sales. So pretty much Socially Buzz, we exist to help businesses grow using social media data and advertising. That’s it.
Rich: All right. So how did you go from there to move into the Metaverse and NFTs?
Andre: So for us, it’s always what’s next. And not just what’s next in the sense of hey, I just want to figure out what’s gonna be the next thing so I could jump on it, but literally, how is humanity moving forward. How do we, as humans, going to connect together in the future? And that was one of our drivers of what is this thing that we need to be a part of that’s going to help us get there so we can start educating people on it.
So similar to Socially Buzz, when social media came out, it was this is a new way we’re going to communicate. A lot of people didn’t understand it. Some people still don’t understand social media even now. But a lot of people it took a very long time for people to be like, oh, this thing matters, and I need to be on it. But we were there six, seven years before. So it’s similar to now, how do we as humans gonna connect?
And when I think about it that way, I think about this. I think about when we started as humans, we’re talking about pen pals, snail mail, emails, chat, social media, FaceTime. Now it’s, how do we connect better as humans? And that is the thing. This is where we’re able to immersively connect with each other. And if we’re gonna immersively connect, where are we going do that? And the Metaverse is what triggered the thing, then okay, then people are gonna be there, business are gonna be there. Let’s start educating ourselves on what this thing is and share that education with others.
Rich: So for you, that through line is the fact that these technologies ultimately can bring us together. That’s what got you excited about social media. That’s what’s getting you excited about the Metaverse.
Andre: Exactly. Exactly.
Rich: Cool. So I feel like a lot of people, even people savvy enough to be listening to this podcast, don’t necessarily see the business model for the Metaverse and NFTs, at least for small to medium sized businesses. So how might you convince them otherwise, or at least get them to start thinking about the possibilities?
Andre: No, that’s great. Right? And that’s with any great technology, that’s with anything new, right. Very similar. And I’m gonna put, I’m gonna continue using past references is because I think it’s a great for people to connect to it. Right? It’s very similar to social media when it first came out. It was how do we connect with, how do we put our business there to be seen? How do we utilize this to drive customers to sell more, to click leads? No one knew at the point. Facebook came out, Facebook didn’t come up with Facebook pages first. They came up with Facebook, and then they came up with Facebook pages for businesses. Right? Same thing with Instagram. Instagram came out as a way for users to connect. Then they were like, oh now you could set up your business on Instagram as well as a professional account and create as accounts and so on. So it’s gonna be very similar with the metaverse, and NFTs, and artificial intelligence, and so on.
It’s literally, as a business you need to start exploring now, right? It’s not, oh my God, how am I gonna sell something right now? How am I gonna make money immediately? Just after anything else I would say start exploring, learn about NFTs. If you have an Oculus, jump into the metaverse in Horizon World. Explore, look what other people are doing, get a feel of it. And then from there, when the time is right and it’s time for you to really bring your business on board, then you truly understand the technology a lot more than trying to figure it out when it’s kind of too late.
Rich: Okay. So in the same way that when we first started hearing about social media and we didn’t necessarily understand how it had anything to do with business, you’re saying we’re at the similar phase.
Now, when it comes to NFTs, the metaverse, that we should at least be exploring. Because even if it’s not ready to set up our business right now, the bottom line is there are companies out there figuring out and we should start exploring ourselves.
Andre: Exactly. And there’s multiple ways to even look at this. So as a business owner, you don’t always have to think, how am I gonna use this to attract customers? Or from a BDC standpoint, figure how you can use this thing internally. Right? So can I use the metaverse with training? Can I use the metaverse to show off my business in a different way? So there’s different ways to start engaging with that platform, with those technologies, right now that don’t feel as if, oh my God this thing is too crazy. I don’t understand it. Explore, educate, learn. That’s the biggest thing I will share with anyone today.
Rich: All right. So what would you say are some use cases? Like, you’re in this world right now, so what are some use cases for, I know you work with some big companies, but for the small to medium sized businesses, are you seeing them right now using the metaverse. Any ways that you could give examples for us?
Andre: I don’t see a lot of small businesses used in the metaverse right now, once again, it’s still new to them. And to use it just like with anything else is figuring out, okay, how do I build on the world. How do I build my presence inside the metaverse? I don’t have the resources for that. It’s very similar to when websites and internet came about, you needed a web master to create a website. Now it’s easier because you could drag and drop different platforms. But just like that as well, it’s still new. But I’ll say explore.
I keep going back to Oculus, right? I think the cheapest one is $200, right? Buy an Oculus, you might want to wait until after October because I believe the meta is coming up with a new hardware. So you could buy now, but I’ll say recommend wait a little bit until after October 11th, I believe is the is the conference. That might be coming with new hardware, but buy one, right? Buy one, jump in. Don’t have to spend all day in it, just 30 minutes a day. One hour a week. Just jump in and explore. See what’s there. And you yourself as a business owner will be like, oh, this is my business. Oh, I can see how this could relate to my business in here. It’s creating experiences.
So one great example I would say is that, imagine you go in there, you’ll be like, yes, I could do this with my business. First, I’ll say create a world. You’re gonna build a world. Something simple in the world, there’s ton of resources out there to do that. We offer that services as well. So build the world to figure to yourself what are those things that’s gonna get my customers to engage and interact with each other. Right? So whether it’s, I have a small burger shop, let me create a burger basketball. So my customers come in and they could play inside the metaverse with my brand. Right? If they shot a basketball, we’re gonna get them a coupon code where they could come inside my store to now get that discount off of something. So now you’re taking someone from virtual world and bring them into the real world. So you’re saying they’re engaging online in the metaverse, now they’re gonna come inside the store to actually spend some money, right?
Another way to do it as well is take one or two Oculus’s – or whatever platform – and bring them inside your location. If you have space and create like a little place inside the location itself, where you can make like a game fun room, or when customers come in you’re like, “Hey, try on the metaverse, go check it.” Or metaverse world right now that kind of gets customers engaged. Customers be like, “Hey, you know what? I just went on to ABC Burger and they have this metaverse thing in there. You should go check it out.” They can see how more customers want to come in because you also want to have that experience in your location. And people coming inside your doors means more money for you, in some capacity.
Rich: And Andre, you and I were chatting right before we started recording, that I just came back from a conference for event planners and they actually had a couple sessions on the metaverse, which I thought was surprising, because people who are putting together events in the real world might feel that’s their competition. But the way that it was presented is this is an add-on, this is something that you can put into your events that would cause even more people to come. And where you might be limited to 50 people or 500 people in your current space, if you open this up in the metaverse and let people attend from all over, you could sell 5,000 tickets or 50,000 tickets or 5 million tickets. It’s virtually limitless. So those are some of the ways that I’m hearing that maybe some medium to bigger size brands are starting to use these platforms, too.
Andre: No, absolutely right. And you never want to look at it as a threat to what’s already existing. To yourself is how can we use this new technology to enhance what we’re already doing.
So even to give a perfect example. One things that we’re building out right now is, when you go to an expo and you walk up to a booth and they’re telling you about their business of whatnot. They’re telling you about business, but they’re giving you brochures, they’re giving you business cards. Imagine you could say to them, “Hey, with this headset you could actually get an immersive experience of my true business.” They’re walking through, they’re touching stuff, they’re moving things. Now that experience feels a lot different than just being, hey, here’s a business card and here’s a brochure. So you can see how that could enhance the user experience for you as a business owner at these shows.
Rich: You mentioned that people could pick up an Oculus, which is for those of you who don’t know, a headset that Meta – the parent company of Facebook – puts out. There are other ones as well. You mentioned something called Horizon. So I want you to just talk for a little bit about, and I’m certainly not the expert here, that there are open worlds that anybody can join into. And then some brands have created closed worlds where you’d only be in their little, tiny sphere. So can you talk a little bit about the difference there?
Andre: Yeah, absolutely. So our think about Horizon world as Facebook, or Instagram, or YouTube, whatever. So now Horizon world is where you will go in and there are millions of people in there in different worlds on different pages. So you go into a Horizon world and Horizon world is literally a world where you could go into different, smaller worlds. Right? You could go into a world that’s just already, there could be anything. There are closed worlds where you might have to get invited to those worlds. But there’s different worlds you just walk around. Think about it. When you go on Facebook, you could go to a hundred different business pages. You could jump from one business page to the next business page, and a Horizon world is in the metaverse in Oculus. And Horizon world lives on Oculus, right in the Oculus on the Meta platform. Where once you go in it’s free. Horizon world is free. So you just get the Oculus, download Horizon world app inside the Oculus, and you can go explore, walk around, search for things. You might have specific things that you want to look for. You might want to engage with just search and just go into the world. You see other people inside the world simultaneously, which you could actually engage with. You could talk with them. You could engage with them in real time.
Rich: So for people who have never seen this, we’re talking about virtual reality when we’re talking about something like Horizon world, right? So I can go in my avatar, my character that either looks like me or I choose not to look like me, could bump into you, or maybe we set up some time to meet. And we come together, and we can have a real time conversation in this virtual reality that’s been created by somebody else. So that’s one of the aspects of what we’re talking about in the metaverse.
Andre: Absolutely Yes.
Rich: So once people get a taste of it, what do you think the next steps might be if they see, depending on their business, that there’s an opportunity here. Should they try and build something in an existing world like Horizon, or should they think about building something that’s their own little space?
Andre: So if they try to build something as their own of this space, they’re going to probably end up spending in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. So I would say build first in a Horizon. It’s smaller and easy to do it, you could probably do it yourself, right? If you wanted time to learn to do it, you could do it.
So I would say to start building. So build something small, maybe it could be a duplication off your existing business. Where whatever that business is, be a duplication of that. And then from there once you build, then you start inviting people in. This is where you start telling your customers, “Hey, customers, join my business in a Horizon world. We’re doing a lot of giveaways. We’re doing some stuff where you can win discounts in free products.” That’s one.
And it could also go inside a Horizon or same place in the Horizon world, go to other worlds and talk to people like, “Hey, I just built my restaurant or my shop over blah, blah, blah, blah. You should come check it out.” So now you’re getting people inside the metaverse to also come support your business in the metaverse, in addition to also utilizing your existing social media, email list, personal network, and having them join you as well inside the metaverse.
Rich: So I’m just thinking back to the early days of say Facebook marketing, where you would build your page out and then you would have to go and promote it. And you could promote it on Facebook, you’d say, “Hey, look, I just created a page for my business, come visit.” But you would also maybe have a sign out front that would say, “Find me on Facebook” or “Like me on BA”. So that’s kind of the mentality that we’re talking about here, but we’re just taking it from web 2 to web 3.
Andre: And, Rich, Amen. I love the way you think. You get it. So that’s exactly what it is. And I think the way you’re position it is that it’s not scary. Right? It’s not scary. People thought social media was scary.
Rich: Some still do.
Andre: Some still do. Right. So it’s literally just adjusting that mindset to something new.
Rich: All right. So you have a company, and I’m not sure I’m pronouncing it right, MetAiBlock. How do you pronounce it?
Andre: Met – I – Block.
Rich: MetAiBlock. Thank you. So what does MetAiBlock do? What is your business model for that company?
Andre: Awesome. So MetAiBlock, which stands for Metaverse, Artificial Intelligence, and blockchain. It’s all those three words together that created the name, MetAiBlock. And the purpose of and what MetAiBlock does is that our goal is to help businesses find their purpose in the metaverse. Whatever that thing is. So we’re here to help you to build it. So build it wherever you want it. We’re here to amplify it, which means that you’re gonna promote it.
We’re gonna show you how to monetize it. And it’ll also show you how to scale it. So that’s the core focus of why we’re here. And we’re also here to educate businesses on web 3, metaverse, and so on.
Rich: Thinking back to, we were talking a little bit about how this is similar to when social media and social media marketing started. And the other connection that you kind of touched upon is the fact that you might be creating a presence here for brand awareness, engagement, what have you. But just a Facebook page might promote a coupon that you would use in the real world, not on social media. You’re also suggesting that we could create things in the metaverse that would be redeemable in the real world with real money. And that’s one other method that people might monetize or create value or extract value from the metaverse.
Andre: Absolutely. Absolutely. And that’s real, right? Because at the end of the day, it’s gonna be fun to be in the metaverse just as it’s fun to be on social media, Facebook, so on. But how do you truly monetize this thing to actually generate revenue, a new source of revenue? So it’s been opportunities to do those things, coupon codes, which is now a great way. Rewards is a great way. And we talk about rewards is a great way. We can even talk about NFTs. And the way I see, NFT is literally not the way everyone’s seen NFT right now, where it’s the picture of a cat or picture of a monkey. Yeah, it is cool. It’s great to have, great value. But for everyone else in the world, it has to be a little bit different.
And think about it similar as well as a reward system, you know what? I’m gonna create an NFT for my burger joint. I’m gonna have a blue burger, a green burger, red burger, blah, blah, blah, whatever. One with a pickle, one without a pickle, da, da, da. And what I’m gonna do is that I’m gonna give this out to my customers. “Hey, customer, buy this NFT”, which is a digital asset. So NFT became such a big word, but NFT is just another digital asset within the metaverse within web 3. Right? It’s not scary. So now you give to your customer, hey customer, I have 10 of these NFTs. If you buy the blue one, you’re gonna get one free burger per month for the next 12 months, you’re gonna get access to any concerts or anything that we do. You’re gonna get first know”, and so on.
So now imagine this. A customer come, they bought that blue NFT for whatever the dollar is. They use their credit card to buy it, easy. They buy this NFT. Now I love burgers. I’m eating burgers for the next six months. And eventually I’m like, Rich, you know what? I don’t want eat burgers no more. I’m gonna go vegan, whatever, but you know what? I want to sell my burger NFT. So now you could now go sell back that NFT you just bought to someone else that loves burgers. And now you’re enjoying one of the perks of the NFT that you bought. But now you just sold the NFT for more than what you bought it for. So now you got return on that as well. Right? And as a business owner, you are getting revenues from every time the NFT exchanges hands, right? So every time someone sells, you’re getting revenues from that as well. So that’s another way to generate revenues as a business owner.
Rich: And that’s an important fact that not everybody gets with NFTs. So if you’re, and correct me if I’m not getting this exactly right Andre, but if you create the NFT and you sell it for say $10, and the next person turns around and sells later for $100, you get say 10% of that sale and every sale that’s ever made. So it’s kind of an interesting way of funding some growth in your company. It also causes you to continue to add value to that NFT as well. So there’s an interesting dynamic that we haven’t seen yet, at least to my knowledge, which is happening with these NFTs. And there may be ways that businesses can figure this out.
Andre: So there’s not. So there’s nothing out there right now that’s doing it as deep as the way we’re thinking about it. And the reason being is that a lot of people are scared, because it’s a guy in the back of a room, lights off, building these NFTs that’s hiding their face because they want to become anonymous. They don’t want to show their face. And that’s a part of the crypto world. That’s a part of the, you have to be the secret person. You’re not showing yourself, but that’s completely against everyday business owners and users that want to see who they’re doing business with. Right? Right. So that’s why it’s easy.
So when someone creates an NFT, you don’t know who they are, where they’re from, what they look like, it’s easy for them to run away with your money two years from now, or six months from now. They sell you this fake thing, and then they’re gone. But when you attach a NFT to a Starbucks, to a Domino’s Pizza, to a Jamba Juice, to a bigger brand, those brands will never run away. So now it becomes more loyal, right? Because someone should never say, “You know what, I’m gonna pull this thing out from you guys and take all your money.” Never.
Rich: So you would not expect that. That would be a surprise for sure.
Andre: Right. So when that starts happening a lot more, then there’s gonna be a lot more people being involved with NFTs, buying NFTs, and utilizing NFTs more. So that’s what we’re working on more.
Rich: And I think NFTs, cryptocurrency, the metaverse, they are scary or unknown concepts for a lot of people who haven’t been playing around in there. But on some level, from what you’re saying, is you can approach them the same way you did social media or did with websites. The early adopters have some advantage to getting in there and understanding what it looks like. And that can be a competitive advantage for sure. And this is probably not going away anytime soon, that this is the next iteration of business and the web, and this is something that we should be paying attention to.
Andre: We should, right. In some capacity, definitely pay attention to it. Once again, if it’s just saying, you know what, I’m gonna follow Meta just to see what they’re doing. I’m gonna just have some resources, I’m gonna follow Andre, just for the resources, just to get the information, just to get the knowledge. I highly encourage it. Don’t feel like, oh this thing is too hard to understand. Please pay attention. And as you mentioned, there’s an advantage to being first.
Rich: All right. For people who want to follow you, nice segue, or people who are interested in learning more, where can we send them online?
Andre: So first place you could go to sociallybuzz.com. S O C I A L LY B U Z Z.com for anything social media related. To learn more about what we’re doing with the metaverse, you could go to MetAiBlock, which is M E T A I B L O C K.com. And then if you just want to connect with me personally, ask me any questions, you could find me on Twitter at @MrAndreKay.
Rich: Excellent. And we’ll have those links in the show notes. You know what, as I asked that question today I was suddenly wondering, are there addresses in the metaverse? Like, can you tell people, ‘find me here’, and that is a universal thing like a Twitter handle or a Facebook or LinkedIn link?
Andre: Not yet. Not yet. I believe that will come soon. Right now just more of just search by my name and hope it’s me. But eventually.
Rich: I expect that’s probably gonna be your next business, Metaverse directory. Excellent. Andre, thank you so much for your time and explaining all this to us today.
Andre: Rich, awesome, man. I appreciate the talk.
Andre Kay may have his fingers in a few different pots, but he’s always ahead of the curve when it comes to the next big thing. Whether it’s social media or NFT’s, Andre is pioneering the way for others to follow. Check out what his team at Socially Buzz is doing to help clients get more leads, sales, and customers. And if you’re curious about the metaverse, AI, and blockchain technologies, check him out at MetAiBlock.
Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine, and founder of the Agents of Change. He’s passionate about helping small businesses grow online and has put his 20+ years of experience into the book, The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing.
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