Isaac Hayes III wants to change the world differently than his legendary father did. Social media is his avenue to do it.
Hayes recently raised over $6 million without venture capital funding for his Fanbase app. Here are eight things to know about Hayes and his journey as a startup tech founder.
1. Isaac Hayes III founded the subscription social media app in 2019 after noticing a gap in the social media market for content creators.
Isaac Hayes III doesn’t just get his name from his iconic father – the late R&B icon Isaac Hayes. He also inherited his father’s business acumen.
According to Variety, he founded Fanbase in 2019 after noticing the immense amount of time and effort people put into making social media content without getting anything aside from likes and shares in return.
“My original goal was to provide monetization for every single user on social media,” Hayes told Variety. “People are spending so much money and time and creativity on these platforms, which are making billions of dollars from that content without passing that money on to the users of the platform.”
“My inspiration came from a young creator who had gone viral by dancing in a Spider-Man costume,” Hayes recalled. “He can’t monetize Spider-Man, but he could monetize his dancing, so why wasn’t there a platform where people could give him money? Sure, there’s Patreon and OnlyFans, but they’re not community-driven platforms, and we are.”
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2. Fanbase allows users to monetize their social media content through the app.
A subscription-based social media app, Fanbase allows users to get paid for posting a variety of content. Whether text, photos, videos, audio chats or live streams, users can monetize content as soon as they join.
“Fanbase is a social media platform that allows anybody to monetize their content the moment they join,” Hayes explained during an interview with The Breakfast Club Earlier this year. “It’s free to join, doesn’t cost any money, but you can decide if you want to have subscribers or followers. You can have both on the same page. … It’s a great way to monetize your content.”
Users can follow any creator for free but spend $4.99 to subscribe to exclusive content from their favorite creators or love a post, which pays creators a penny per love. Creators can also unlock a post for 100 loves for a total of $1.
The company’s website describes it as “a new frontier of social media, placing microcast and monetization capability at the forefront to the benefit of all users.”
3. He raised over $6 million for Fanbase through crowdfunding.
The tech founder decided to forego the traditional venture capital fundraising route many tech companies use. He turned to crowdfunding instead.
Through microdonations from celebrity and lay investors, Hayes has raised over $6.5 million in funding through the Start Engine platform.
When Trapital founder Dan Runcie asked Hayes why he didn’t go the venture capital route to raise funds, Hayes said there were two reasons.
“Two things: one was just a recommendation by a really good mentor of mine to do so. And it was in COVID, because, you know, we couldn’t move. And I had a real kind of like off-putting conversation with a VC,” Hayes said.
4. Isaac Hayes III credits his music industry background with helping him succeed in tech.
Hayes said his conversation with the VC reminded him of the music business, where artists make labels rich before making any profit, not the other way around.
“And it immediately reminded me of the music business. And so in my mind, I immediately thought, okay, VCs are like the label and I’m like an artist trying to get a record deal,” Hayes continued describing how his conversation shaped his thinking.
“And so Start Engine gave me the opportunity to go independent and sell my shares out of the trunk of my car to the tune of $6 million, which gives us better leverage and lets people know that we don’t need venture capital to raise serious cash. And so that’s really how it, you know, wind up that being that way,” Hayes said.
5. Snoop Dogg, Charlamagne Tha God, Kandi Burruss and Roland Martin are all Fanbase investors.
In the latest investment round on Start Engine, 1,183 unique investors have helped raise #898,451.40 in funding to date. In the previous rounds, $5.73 million were raised.
Among Fanbase’s investors are Snoop Dogg, Charlamagne Tha God, Kandi Burruss and Roland Martin, the latter of whom encouraged Twitter user ditching the platform after Elon Musk’s takeover to join Fanbase.
“Y’all dropping Twitter? It’s time for #BlackTwitter to move en masse to @fanbaseapp,” Martin tweeted on Oct. 30. “The hell with losing followers and dealing with a resurgence of racists. It’s time to create a billion dollar Black-owned social media company. We made @jack Mark Zuckerberg & others enough money.”
The minimum to invest in the Start Engine campaign is $244.90. The cost is $3.95 per share.
6. Hayes believes monetization for users is the future of social media.
During his appearance on the Trapital podcast, Hayes expounded on why he believes monetization through subscription is the future of all media.
“I think monetization for every user is the wave of the future. I keep saying it. I think that there isn’t a person right now that isn’t subscribed to at least one thing,” Hayes said. “And one subscription becomes more and more the common vernacular of how we engage with content. Social media is the last, you know, frontier that’s left.”
“You know, when you think about TV and film with Hulu, and Netflix, and Disney+, and music with Spotify and Apple Music, and print media with Forbes, and The New York Times, and Billboard, and then productivity software like Adobe Premiere Pro, Microsoft Word. … You’re subscribed to something,” Hayes continued. “You’re probably subscribed to an app on your phone that allows you to edit your photos. And so subscriptions are just the language. And so I think that’s going to be the language of the future moving forward.”
7. Fanbase is currently valued at $84.93 million.
Fanbase’s total valuation is $84.93, according to Start Engine. Hayes said the company is investing the money it raises in making the platform great for users.
“It takes a lot of money to scale platforms. You got to think platforms like TikTok and Instagram got billions of dollars worth of resources to continue to scale and build the platform,” Hayes explained. “So right now, we’re just scaling, adding users, having a great time building the company. We’re growing pretty fast.”
“As you can see, the world is evolving and kind of coming around to where Fanbase is. Other platforms are starting to mimic what we laid the groundwork to do,” Hayes added.
8. Hayes said Fanbase isn’t just a ‘Black app,’ but rather an app for all social media users with a Black founder.
Hayes is a proud Black man who described Black people as “the apex of innovations. However, after being described as a “Black Clubhouse,” Hayes said he doesn’t want his platform limited to labels.
“Fanbase is a platform; it is not a Black social media platform,” Hayes said. “I’m in the same position that Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat were in — a seed-funded social media platform with the ability to scale — and I’m a Black founder, but I keep in mind the equality of every user: It is an even, level playing field for everybody.”
PHOTOS: (L-R) Screenshot of Fanbase app interface. (Courtesy of Fanbase) Fanbase founder Isaac Hayes III. (Courtesy of Isaac Hayes III).