Serial entrepreneur, investor, and best-selling author Kristopher Jones has had quite the success story. Having founded several companies and raising over $35 million of funding through his technology angel investment fund, KBJ Capital, Jones is a seasoned professional who excels at whatever he sets his mind to. We recently got the chance to chat with Jones about Special Guest, the entertainment booking app he co-founded with actor and comedian Damon Wayans Jr.
Q: Where did the inspiration to create the Special Guest App come from? What made you want to turn an idea into an app?
A: After I co-founded the app French Girls, I realized that there were so many talented artists from around the world that weren’t getting paid to create art and do what they love. When Damon called me and told me about his idea for Special Guest App, I knew I had to get involved. Special Guest shares similarities with the French Girls app because both apps allow millions of users from around the world to display their work. Special Guest allows performers of all kinds to book gigs and actually get paid for it.
Q: What was working with Damon Wayans Jr like? How were you both able to translate your strengths into the development process?
A: Damon and I really hit it off from the beginning. Something Damon and I have in common is that we’re both driven and think big. Damon grew up in the entertainment industry, which was something that was really valuable to the process of creating an entertainment booking app. With my experience developing the French Girls app, we were able to bring our respective experience to the table and create an app that is designed to help talented performers.
Q: How did your previous involvement with Appek help to prepare you for the process of creating and marketing an app?
A: We started building the Special Guest App in 2016, and we focused most of our energy on what our users tell us and how our users use the app. We also consider feedback from our users to introduce and remove features from the app. My mobile app developing company APPEK Mobile Apps, as well as my digital marketing company LSEO, gave us the leverage to help us build and market the app. Damon, being an actor and comedian, is also really helpful in promoting Special Guest because he is constantly showing the app to fellow entertainers in the industry.
Q: What was it like appearing on Planet of the Apps?
A: It was surreal. I was cold-called by a producer in 2016 asking if I was interested in auditioning for the show. Damon was apprehensive at first because he’s a highly sought after actor and tends to be picky with the projects he decides to do, but I was able to convince him and we got cast on the show! When it came to filming Planet of the Apps, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous at times. In the early stages of the show, the celebrity judges (Will.i.am, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba and Gary Vaynerchuk) all gave us a “green.” As the show progressed, the judges started to drop off. Ultimately, Will.i.am chose to work with us, which is who Damon and I had wanted all along. After filming the show, I realized that, as long as I stayed authentically myself, I could add value to the process.
Q: How do you think Special Guest will change the landscape of the entertainment industry?
A: Damon and I’s mission when creating Special Guest was to create an app that allows talented performers to get paid to do what they love. We wanted to make it easier for people everywhere to hire entertainment, and turning that idea into a mobile app is making it easier than ever to do that. Unlike an agent or talent manager, the Special Guest app doesn’t take any money from performers once they’ve booked a show. The app is free to use, and performers take home 100% of the booking fee. Special Guest makes money by charging the venue/host a small fee to leverage our talent-booking technology.