Using entrepreneurship to protest

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For years, I thought protesting was a waste of time. To me, the only thing that works is to actually come up with something better. So I’m really excited that today’s guest John Laster, somebody who had been out there protesting and finally said, “You know what? Why are we protesting? Why aren’t we doing something about it?”

And he decided he was going to do something about it. John Laster created an app called Blapp, which is a marketplace of black owned local businesses. I invited him here to find out how he did it.

Jon Laster

Jon Laster


Jon Laster is the founder of Blapp, which helps users discover black-owned businesses.


Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey, they’re freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs who built a successful companies for an audience of entrepreneurs who are building successful companies. And I’m one of the early entrepreneurs that I interviewed on here, was the founder of 99 designs.

And I kind of knew Matt offline too. And I said, Matt, do you know that after I interviewed you, I got a ton of hate. He goes, yeah. I said, doesn’t it bother you? He said, look, there are a lot of people who don’t like this idea that we’re opening up designed to the crowd that any, that if a, an entrepreneur like you, Andrew wants to get a design set up.

You can list yourself on 99 designs and hundreds of designers will submit work. And you only pay for the one that you like. There are people who are upset that the. Designers, aren’t getting paid. I said, I get it. But aren’t you upset that they’re upset in public that in the comments, on my interview, he goes, nah, hold that talk is useless.

Let them complain all they want. And if anything, actually, when I thought about it actually helped them because all those, all the talk about 99 designs help grow his business. He said the people, I really respected the ones who were coming up with alternatives like Andrew Hyde, who complained and then also went on and created his own design plan.

And I thought about that for years, I think protesting often is wasted time. The only thing that works is to actually come up with something better and maybe it’s unfair, maybe it’s wrong, but it works. And so I’m really excited that today’s guest John Laster, somebody who had been out there protesting.

And I wonder how he feels about my characterization of the effectiveness of protesting, but he said, you know, Why are we protesting? Why aren’t we just shouting black lives matter? Why aren’t we doing something about it? And he decided he was going to do something about it. John Laster, successful comedian decides, you know what, I’m jumping in and I’m going to create a startup.

And he created an app called blap, which is a marketplace of black owned local businesses. And I’m excited to have Mon here to talk about how he did this and we can do it. Thanks to my sponsor. HostGator. If you need a website hosted and John, I think you might need one. I’m going to urge my listeners and John to go to later.

But John, good to have you here.

Jon: Yo great to be here. Uh, before we get started though, um, black is not only local businesses, um, around the world, but you can also shop online for black owned businesses on the app as well.

Andrew: Oh, I didn’t realize that. So if I decide that I want to buy something for my wife for Christmas this year, that is, uh, from black owned business, I can go to your app and buy it and it’ll come in.

Jon: Absolutely.

Andrew: Are you making big money from this?

Jon: You know what, not

Andrew: No, not a penny. What is going on?

Jon: better, penny. This is all sweat equity right now. I mean, they’ll, there will come. They’ll they’ll, they’ll come a day where, you know, the, the money comes rolling in, but yeah, right now, no, it’s all sweat equity yet. So don’t not making any more.

Andrew: I heard one of your shows where in the middle of a show, you said anyone Jewish here, which is something only a comic can do. And a guy who says I’m Jewish and you say, good, I’m proud. You. You don’t just protest you protest with your wallet. I feel like that’s what you’re trying to get done here. You say we, my, my community is not doing that enough.

Is that is black. Your response to what you said to him.

Jon: Black is not only is it my response to what I said to him, but it’s something that I believed in. Time. I was an econ major with a, with an emphasis in poverty. So I understand, I understood way back then, you know, in my late teenage years that if you’re not circulating the dollar, if you’re not able to, um, to move the dollar around in your community, you don’t, there’s no.

You know what I mean? You’re just gonna keep chasing your tail and end up with these same problems. We live in a capitalist society. So I understand all the March and the yelling and screaming, the a problem. I totally get that. I’m not knocking it, but that’s not a sustainable solution.

Andrew: All right. Do you think that people will just shop based on the background of the store owners? Won’t they shop based on the better product, the better delivery, the better experience, et cetera,

Jon: Absolutely. But I, I don’t, I do believe that there are lots of people who are willing to support. There are a lot of people. Let me see, let me start with saying this. I think there’s a lot of people that know that black business owners. Since the time that we got here 400 years ago have had headwinds.

I’ll just call it headwinds. I don’t want to get any political or racism. Cause then you know, all of that or anti-racist you’re, you know, you’re this you’re that, but I think that we can all agree. If you came here as slaves that you had, so

Andrew: Okay.

Jon: that you’ve had a tougher time building wealth. So there’ve been headwinds, and this is a way to, um, to combat that.

And there are people who look for black owned businesses, knowing that we’ve had headwinds. And this is by far, I don’t think anyone would argue the easiest tool to find black owned businesses in the history of this country. That’s a fact, I don’t think anyone would argue that.

Andrew: Okay though. I have to say I went in and I use blap and one of the local businesses that I saw, we like to be vegetarian. My, my kids are raised vegetarian. It was next level burger. I said, wait a minute. I’ve seen next level burger. That’s amazing. Oh, I thought they were owned by whole foods. So then I went out in line and they’re not owned by whole foods.

Apparently they’re just in whole foods, a supermarket. But then there was an about page and I saw the people owned it. They are the opposite of black. I don’t know, actually that there’s an opposite of black. They definitely are not black. Where do you get your data and how do you ensure that the data is accurate?

Jon: Yes, the data is public data. And trust me, there is no a hundred percent accurate public data, which is why we built right into the app. And the next time you see this, Andrew, you just check the top right corner. Of whatever it is that you’re looking at. And you can flag that business to let us know that it’s inaccurate and all of that is all of those businesses that shouldn’t be in there or taken out on a daily basis.

So that’s as simple as just tapping the flag and telling us, Hey, this is an accurate,

Andrew: All right. I didn’t realize that I could do that. All right. For the, for the

Jon: well, I’m glad you asked, just in case other people have that problem. They, they can quickly do the same thing. It’s a quick fix.

Andrew: All right. I like how, uh, easy the app is too. I kind of feel like Shopify needs an app. That’s this good? Like, why do I have to go and figure out what the alternative store is to Amazon? Why haven’t they yet come out with like, basically what you’ve done is I feel like what they should do A mall that just works.

Um, all right. Let’s talk about how.

Jon: A long time to do that.

Andrew: I don’t know. How long did it take? I actually, I know the development company that.

you worked with its top towel, right? It’s not like you hired a developer yourself. You didn’t, you’re not a developer,

Jon: No, no, I definitely definitely had to reach out and got some very, very, very competent people at top tower. But we, we worked our butts off man, probably for the last eight months. And I’d been working on it for around five or six before that, to make it very simple, to make sure that it was super simple

Andrew: So how long did it take you guys to have this developed?

Jon: about a year and a half.

Andrew: Oh, wow. Uh, from conception to final launch a year and a half.

Jon: Yes.

Andrew: Wow. And that is that a long top tail took to build it

Jon: No, I didn’t take top tail that long. They were only they’ve been on board probably for around seven months. Eight months.

Andrew: seven months to launch.

Jon: Yes.

Andrew: Got it. Uh, I see. And the time before that was you sketching out thinking it through, figuring out how to get this whole thing done, raising money for it, et cetera. Got it.

Jon: Getting the prototype. Um, so there was a lot of that and then getting feedback, making the adjustments before we, before we handed it over. Yeah. At the top top,

Andrew: One of the co-founders of Venmo invested.

Jon: yes. Just as a matter of fact, I, I literally literally just hung up with Ingram before I came on with you. I was like, oh man, I gotta, I gotta jump on with, with Andrew.

Andrew: How do you know, how do you know him?

Jon: You know what it was a mutual friend, um, who, who saw black and was like, this is incredible. You should meet a buddy of mine. And, um, and Anna, you know, made the connection and, and the, and to be honest with you, me and ECRM hit it off immediately. You know, it was like a bromance. Day one, you know, and we went to eat and then we, we ended up hanging out like another three hours or something like that.

And, and, and, um, and this guy’s has been, uh, beyond valuable, um, a buddy of mine years ago. I don’t want to name drop. So I’ll just, no, no, no. He, he, he told me, he said, John, if you’re the smartest guy in your crew, you need a new crew. Um, so I, so I keep people that are much smarter than me. Like.

Andrew: Alright, this is your first startup, but let’s go back and just understand how you built your career because there, first of all, you’ve got a successful comedy career, which is tough enough, but also one where it’s, I just had way more videos of you on other shows on programs, uh, stand up online to watch than I ever could.

I wonder how you did that. How old were you when you started in.

Jon: When I started in comedy man, 21.

Andrew: 21. no experience before that you were just a student studying poverty? no,

And then what got you started in comedy.

Jon: I was actually playing. I was a ballplayer before. Um, and I, um, I don’t know, I was just terrified of, of a nine to five and getting up in the morning, you know, I, that’s just not, you know, it’s not my thing. So I, um, I was always the funny guy in the locker room. And, um, and I had a talk show on campus and I wanted to be a talk show host, actually.

And then somebody told me that everyone that I had seen on TV or the movies that I had mentioned a hundred percent of them were stand up comedians first. So I packed one box and, and moved out here to New York to my sister’s couch and put the box down and started balling.

Andrew: literally crying.

Jon: Oh, my sister was terabytes.

She was like, oh, don’t worry. I can buy you a ticket back home. You know? And I wasn’t, I wasn’t crying because of, cause I wanted to go home. I was crying because I knew once I set that box down, I was never going back home under any circumstances unless I was in a box. That was, uh, that was my commitment to myself.

Andrew: that you’re going to make it Or die. Trying

Jon: Or literally die drive literally.

Andrew: did you feel like you had the need to do it so badly?

Jon: Um, I just, I had made the mistake, uh, as a ballplayer. Uh, I was, I was, um, playing college ball and I remember my high school coach telling me once you pick a school, no matter what, stick with it, it’ll eventually work out. And I transferred from the first school that I signed with back to another school where the head coach despise me and it probably cost me an NBA career.

And I wasn’t going to make the same mistake.

Andrew: Uh, All right. And so New York is a really good place to get into comedy because there they’re comedy shows, right. I’m talking about everything from the ones that we’ve seen on television to some random thing and alphabet city and somebody who’s bombed out apartment. Right.

Jon: Yes,

Andrew: The thing is though that a lot, I saw my sister do the hat.

It was

Jon: I’ve done comedy in a laundromat. So your

Andrew: literally in the laundromat while people are doing their laundry.

Jon: literally.

Andrew: Is that the weirdest place that you’ve done it or the toughest.

Jon: The toughest spot was probably giant stadium getting booed by 5,000 people at, uh, they couldn’t see me. I mean, it was, it was th th they refused, they wouldn’t let chairs be put on the, on the field because they didn’t want the field messed up. And the first person. So the first person is probably a hundred yards from me.

Keep in mind that this is a music concert. They’re setting up drums behind me. They’re setting up the music. These people couldn’t see me. They just handed me a mic and they were like, Hey John, I’m sorry. Good luck.

Andrew: What was the show that you got, uh, that you were performing

Jon: Budweiser super fast, man. And I went down in flames and then I started snapping on some people. Like I started pretending that I could see them. So I was like, oh, I know that’s not, you balling me with your big feet, your feet. So big. You always halfway home. I threw a couple of those little stack jokes out there.

We all started laughing and I took off running.

Andrew: Ah, all right. So you get to your sister’s couch with your box. You’re ready to be in New York. How did you get started?

Jon: Um, going on stage and bombing every night, man, you

Andrew: Did you make it up as you went along or were you somebody who’d write it out ahead of time?

Jon: I would write it out ahead of time, but none of it worked, you know, and then eventually you get one laugh and then you throw another, you know, you tag that on to something, get a second, laugh with another laugh, and then eventually you find your way into people like, oh, this guy is going to be okay. And, um, and then, and then it got it.

Got good to me.

Andrew: I’m seeing her in so many sirens that is such a New York thing. I used to live on like The,

12th floor and I would still hear sirens.

Jon: yeah.

Andrew: Then you leave New York and you realize not every city puts first of all, sirens everywhere and puts their garbage, like right in front of the front door. All right. So you get getting on there, your stent, you’re doing stand up. How many times a week?

Jon: back then it was only three or four. I mean it eventually evolved into six or seven.

Andrew: Six or seven times. And then you’re telling your jokes. How do you pay attention for, for good re uh, reactions? Are you recording it so that you can repeat the ones that were.

Jon: Yes. And then you start milking where the laughter is.

Andrew: When you recorded, do you go back and listen to it? You go back and read the transcripts of everything. What do You do?

Jon: You go back and listen to, or, I mean, now, you know what I mean? We’ve all got cell phones, so you’re just watching the video.

Andrew: And you watch yourself on video.

Jon: Yeah. It’s terrible.

Andrew: that’s so painful.

Jon: worse than watching yourself on video. Um, but that’s what you gotta do to, you know, to, to figure out where what’s, you’re doing good and pull the weeds out where it’s bad.

Andrew: Do you remember One of the first ones that worked

Jon: One of the first jokes that I w that I told, um, I, I, I remember it was, you’re talking about many moons ago, but I, the joke was about the movie dances with wolves and it was like, Hey man, you know, I’m glad that, you know, we don’t name, you know, we don’t have names like that or nicknames like that for our friends anymore.

Can you imagine if we all had nicknames like that and the. I hope I don’t get in trouble for this, but I was like, like, so then I would pour it, this other one in the crowd. And I was like, what if your name was sneaking out of a fat page is created? I don’t think you can say fat anymore. I don’t even think you could say fatty

Andrew: What happened to you? This is the second time that you’re worried about. and.

in our, what has been 15 minute conversation, second time you worried about what you’re saying? Is it because of that, that thing that happened in Atlantic city,

Jon: Oh, no, not getting thrown out of the casino. That was totally different. That’s that’s just people who were just, uh, you know, Trump crazy.

Andrew: I saw it on vice. What you said was not even, I don’t even think it was offensive or shocking at all.

Jon: not at all. They just, they

Andrew: just

didn’t want any politics. And then there are people who are sensitive to pub

Jon: talking about Trump. They didn’t care about politics.

Andrew: you mean the audience? Didn’t

Jon: Yes. The audience was a lot older and very conservative.

Andrew: So that’s not, what’s making you so touchy now about what you’re saying about politics

Jon: No, I mean, now you just never know, man. There’s always looking for something that you said that’s offensive or triggering, or, you know, you hurt so-and-so’s feelings, so you

Andrew: do you not pay attention? I, you know what? I used to worry about that so much in my interviews. I said, what if I say something that comes across as racist and I don’t even mean to say it, but it comes across. Right. And so I would avoid it completely. Some dude would say, I’m in India and this is what It’s like in India.

And he’s trying to like pour his heart about India. And I go, yeah. So tell me about what’s going on online with a the servicing, like what the hell.

Jon: Yeah. There’s there’s people that no matter what you say, they’re gonna, they’re gonna, they’re gonna go through with a fine tooth comb.

Andrew: I’m surprised that that doesn’t stop you from that. Doesn’t get you in your own head. I had to just let it get out of my head completely, or else I couldn’t function.

Jon: Yeah. I mean, you know what, normally I do, but you know, some of this, you know, you never know what they’re going to dig through. This is going to come back to haunt you, you know? Right. When things get good, it’s going to be like, look what the CEO of Blab said about,

Andrew: Uh,

Jon: about larger women. Like, no, it was, uh, I was saying it was an old joke, like

Andrew: oh, wow.

Jon: black.

Andrew: I see you’re in like a CEO mode. Cause you know what? I saw your butt like naked, full on, but online.

Jon: Yes. Yes.

Andrew: You’re not doing that anymore.

Jon: a comedian, it’s like, whatever, but when you’re representing

Andrew: I see. Now you got the black shirt on with the black logo. You’re talking as got it. That’s why.

Jon: When you’re representing the startup, you gotta, um, um, um, um, yeah, I’m going to be very much.

Andrew: let’s get into business then. So then you’re, you’re telling your jokes. And then at some point you decided you were telling me before we got started, that you were going to produce your own, your own shows.

Jon: Yeah. You know what? I wanted to get into the business of comedy. And I got into that pretty early. So I started producing my own weekly shows and I ended up having like four shows a week, which is unheard of in New York city.

Andrew: The way it works is if I understand right, you team up with a bar or, or a club, right. They let you bring on the acts that you want. And then I guess they pay you for that. Or do you split the door or something?

Jon: I mean, there’s a million different ways. It’s, you know, it’s, it’s your, it’s your own business. So you figure out how to do it. You know, some people like took the door. Some people ask the bar for said budget and let the bar keep the door and the drinks, my, my deal was always the same. Ideal was always, I was going to take the door in 20% of the.

Andrew: Get out the door and 20% of the bar where’d you do this?

Jon: Oh man. I don’t even know countless bars in Brooklyn.

Andrew: And so you just get a mailing list together. Is that what it was that you use to promote it? How’d you get your email list?

Jon: Um, I mean, it starts with you just probably being out, you know, and saying, Hey, this is where I’m going to be. Let me get your information, you know? And then eventually we moved to, you know, you’re promoting online and more and more people follow you online. Hey, this is where I’m going to be this week, come down, come down, come down.

And then, you know, people come down and you get their information, emails or phone numbers,

Andrew: What’d you do at the door? You you’d have somebody check their, check their ID and then say, enter your email or write it out here. Got it. To know about the next show. And that’s how you’re building your list. Wow.

Jon: Yeah.

Andrew: that’s a. That’s so familiar. I started Mixergy with local events. I thought that, you know what, if I do local events myself, then they could spread boot beyond me and then I could grow my list.

And so on. It was kind of fun. And one of the fun things about it is that when you do online businesses, the way I have my, my whole life, my adult life. There’s it’s all numbers on a screen, but when it’s real people coming in the door, you get to feel it, you get to see the size grow, you get nervous. Will you see enough people in there excited when they come in?

You know, at some point every extra dollar is a profit. It’s kind of fun.

Jon: Yeah.

Andrew: Yeah. Um,

Jon: Well, it goes both ways. Cause in the beginning it can be very stressful, you know, when you’re sitting there and you got to host a show and there’s only seven people there,

Andrew: Right. And then what are the people? What do you what was your deal with the comics who are standing up with you?

Jon: Um, I, you know what? I paid them, um, you know, different based on how long they’ve been doing comedy, but it was, it was the same rate. You know, that all the other little bar shows were

Andrew: But it wasn’t a bringer show or it wasn’t them having to pay, you know, God, it wasn’t that. So worst case you just let them down and you spent money on them, but it’s not terrible. It’s not like they brought their friends in and now they’ve got nothing but their friends to perform for.

Jon: Yeah, and I was always fair with the money. So, I mean, you know, you can’t, you’re not going to stay in business very long if you’re not taking care of people appropriately. If you’re not giving people what you told them, you were going to give them. So some nights I was losing money,

Andrew: Wow.

Jon: but that’s just the nature of the beast.

Andrew: And you are during the day I picked her, you just making phone calls to local clubs, seeing if you could get on stage checking to see who’s a funny person. That was the whole thing,

Jon: Right. And jokes, working

Andrew: writing jokes.

Jon: being hung over, being hung over.

Andrew: I’m so lucky. I have not been until recently. I didn’t get hung over, but COVID ruined that streak because I got out of practice. And then suddenly I sat on the couch with Olivia, my wife. We just had a few drinks and the next day I felt it, it was like, oh, that is why. When I went out with friends, they watch how much they drank, like grandmothers it’s because it really is painful.

Jon: Oh, it’s very painful.

Andrew: you can’t function very well. It slows you down. You feel like you’re walking through molasses instead of high energy. The way I usually am. Uh, all right. Um, my first sponsor, I should say, or my only sponsor for this interview, it’s HostGator. I got to tell you, John, I looked you up before you came on here.

You don’t have John You don’t have a home page, a home base. I feel like that’s a mistake. Why don’t you? Why is it that what I see as Instagram, but nothing else.

Jon: Good point and I need to get, uh, uh, John I had John Laster, um, comedy and it is, it was hijacked.

Andrew: Oh, you mean literally somebody took it.

Jon: By some Chinese hackers who turned it into an online casino.

Andrew: Oh, wow.

Jon: Yeah. Very disturbing

Andrew: That is disturbing. Actually,

Jon: to see your name as a Chinese casino is like what happened to your people? Um, so yeah, they hack my, my, my joint and now it’s an online casino, so yeah, I do need a

Andrew: We need a brand new one. It might be John Lasseter, businessman, John, whatever it is, I’ll tell you why. We’re Googling you before we come on. And right now, all I see is what other people have said about you. And then some of it is good. Some of it has fricking titles. Like John should not be treated that way.

I like that. Your eyes just did that thing. When I said typos like that, I was saying it as like a, like a joke, a little comedy or a comedy, a little lighthearted way, but you got, you took that seriously. I like that. You care about the details like that. You do.

Jon: Yes, absolutely.

Andrew: Yeah, it was like on somebody’s bio about you.

That happened to show up as I was scrolling through, but I feel like if you have your own domain, you could decide what I see about you could be your about page. And I read instead of, I don’t know, what am I seeing? The stand NYC dot comes about page and a couple of others. All right. Listen to people. If you’re like John, and you don’t have a web page with your own personal name on it, just go and get it.

Even if you have to do John Lasseter comedy or John Lasseter, not casino, whatever. Get it build a page. You could even ignore it, frankly, what you want is something that can build a little bit of credibility over the years so that when someone’s Googling you and it’s going to be people like me for interviews, it’s also going to be, I Google the CA the parents of the kids that my friends are hanging out with.

I want to know who they’re hanging out with. I should see the pages that they want me to see, not some random thing. And it’s written on the internet about them. And same thing goes for my audience. You should decide what people see about you when they Google you. And the best way to do that is to go to and create a page with them.

It’s an expensive, you own your own domain. If you’re not happy with them, you get to take your stuff and walk away. But if you use my, your URL, you get a super low price. All right. Um, At what point did you feel like? I think I’ve, I’ve done doing my own shows and producing I’m too big for this

Jon: Yeah. You know what I mean? I started doing a bunch of colleges and then I wanted to start working in the mainstream clubs in Manhattan. And the two just didn’t work going to go together because it was just too much. It’s too much effort and energy for the bar shows to actually be, you know, the, the, the legwork that you have to do to get into those clubs.

It’s a lot of, it was a lot of just hanging out. They just want to see your face. They want you to show up and kind of smooth. Um, and that, that wasn’t gonna, I wasn’t going to gel with producing a show. So, you know, I was able to make that transition. And now I’m at the greatest show on earth, down at the comedy cellar.

So it.

Andrew: But the upside of having done that work was you get to do your own standup. You get to introduce people and move it along. You get to see what’s working by paying attention, other comics. What else? What did you get beyond the money?

Jon: I think more than anything is you get the network because if you’re just going out as a comedian, right. And you’re just getting on the show, you walk in, you get on stage and you know, maybe you hang out and then you leave. But as the person who was running the entity, I’m putting money in people’s pockets.

You know what I mean?

Andrew: so now

Jon: I am putting people on shows with certain people. There are people who’ve made to see me that also would say, come to my spa comedians that were in front of me, that would say, Hey, John, I’m doing this big show. You want to host it?

Andrew: Uh, Yeah. Got it.

Jon: So the network that came from that was way greater than had I just been coming as some hired comedian.

You know what I mean?

Andrew: I do. You know what? I remember reading a biography about Howard stern. And one of the things that stuck with me was the biographer almost said it as a put down that Howard would get on the air every day, do a show. And then right afterwards, go and talk to reporters and say, here’s the thing that I did.

Here’s the amazing thing that I did. And the writer almost acted like how, how little of this guide have to go and tell everybody how, how big he is. And I thought that’s actually pretty smart. Did you do a lot of self promotion? How did you get out there beyond the.

Jon: Um, I think that as comedians, we all do some self promotion. I don’t think that I’ve been as smart as about that as some of my counterparts,

Andrew: I’m not either like you don’t even go online and say, here’s the show that I was on. Here’s this wacky thing that happened backstage. You don’t do that at all. Right. Or a little, you do that.

Jon: I mean a little bit, but I have friends who are, who are much more skilled at that and I’m getting better at it. And I’m, and, and for all of the things that I screwed up with that in comedy, I’m trying to make sure that I don’t make those same mistakes with, uh, with Blab. So, um,

Andrew: meaning now you’re going, taking on media now. Got it.

Jon: Yes. I’m much more media savvy with black. You know what I mean? I mean, we just launched, you know, we’re talking about a couple of weeks ago and there’s already been five or six write-ups so blap is much more immediate darling than John lasts forever was.

Andrew: I saw that. I think the latest one that I saw was, was it the daily news?

Jon: Yeah.

Andrew: Yeah. So how is that working? How do you do, how do you get that press.

Jon: Um, it was people that had, that had talked to me in some capacity from comedy and I just essentially pitch them like, Hey, I got this thing. It’s super interesting. And then when I, after I asked them to download it, everyone who downloads Blab is like, this is very different. Like, you’ve done something really crazy here.

And then they were like, Hey, yeah, we’re definitely going to cover. You know, which leads to other people covering it.

Andrew: Uh, yeah. Yeah. You know what it is? It is, I actually didn’t think it was that crazy or different. I assumed that other people had done it. But now that you mention it, I don’t think it has been done. I think that Shopify at one point tried creating an app. Maybe they have it. It just never took off. Well, I kind like this as imagine if black became a platform for other people to put together online stores for whatever it.

is like to create, to create malls for themselves.

You know what I mean? Like, I don’t know why I haven’t seen more of this. People who are saying, I’m not happy with Amazon. I’m looking for something else. That’s not generic, but I need more selection than going to Google and saying, now I want to buy parachute. I just want an easy thing that allows me to shop for multiple stores without any headaches.

And nobody’s done that as far as at least, I don’t know of a brand that’s done that.

Jon: Yeah, I don’t either.

Andrew: Would that be a good

Jon: So.

Andrew: That would be a good one. Would you be willing to do that, John? Would you be willing to take the app and say, all right now, if you’re an Asian entrepreneur and you want to create the black for the Asian community, this is the way to do it.

Or if you’re just somebody who wants to, I don’t know, support a certain kind of attitude, like the biker lifestyle, this is the app that lets you create that mall. Would you be, would you consider that or does this need to be focused?

Jon: Oh, I would never know. I would consider anything. I mean, the amount of effort and energy that it took us to get where we are. I’m definitely going to stay focused on this until we get it, um, to where I know it can be. And then, and then I’ll yeah, I’ll circle back around. And start, uh, and start and start looking at other ventures.

Andrew: What’s the end goal. Where are you thinking of taking this?

Jon: Um, I think that, you know, my, I have some things that I would like to see happen on black in the near future. And I think of all of those things were implemented and black was a part of the fabric of people’s shopping experience. I don’t know that there’s any need for me. Um, you know, involve that.

Andrew: So you just want to be part of the conversation of let’s go, let’s go buy something. Well, instead of go Googling it, instead of going to Amazon or local stores, let’s just put a little thought into it.

Jon: Yeah. Let’s, you know, let’s, I just want as long as every once in a while, somebody like, you know what, let’s blap it and then, um, I’m, I’m cool with that. As long as it’s part

Andrew: Why, why don’t you have a bigger ambition for it? Like, think about your career. You’re someone who’s determined, right?

Jon: absolutely.

Andrew: What’s the biggest show you ever did.

Jon: Ah, the biggest show that I’ve ever did. That’s a good question. I’ve done some, I’ve done some stadiums, some arenas, uh, maybe a big 12 conference that I did, which was a completely filled basketball arena. Yeah.

Andrew: Yeah.

Jon: So there

Andrew: What about that?

Jon: seven, 8,000 kids there.

Andrew: And then was vice the one that had the biggest, uh, viewership, the vice stand-up.

Jon: Hm.

Andrew: What are some of the big ones?

Jon: I know this is going to sound crazy. I’ve had videos go viral that had way more views than that.

Andrew: Oh, you’re saying your videos have gone viral and gotten more views than their show. The standup that you did with vice ah,

Jon: Cause this is not that kind of world anymore where you need some platform like vice, like, you know what I mean? My own platform, you know, I’ve done millions of views on video.

Andrew: It does give credibility though. Don’t you think?

Jon: I think it gives credible. I think it gives credibility. Maybe. I think that, that, that word is waning.

Andrew: I don’t think so. Why do you think that that, that,

Jon: I have friends. I have friends who are on television shows with what you would deem credibility. I also have friends who have social media followings. The friends on those television shows would struggle to fill up one night at a comedy club. Whereas my friends who have social media followings fill up could fill up a basketball arena.

No problem.

Andrew: I guess what I’m thinking is.

Jon: I don’t know if you deem that basketball arena, credible or.

Andrew: No, no, I doubt it’s it’s not, I think it’s different. I think that with good online, um, following you can definitely get more people to show up, to buy your stuff to care. But I’m, I’m saying that I feel like being on someone else’s platform, like vice adds a sense of credibility that doesn’t necessarily mean more sales, more, anything beyond just that.

It’s like a logo. People take it more seriously. It’s kind of like when Matthew McConaughey is on all these whiskey billboards here in Austin, I don’t even know what the hell the whiskey is. It’s like some no-name new whiskey, but he’s associated with it. They’re signing him up and they’re paying him because being associated with them adds credibility to this no-name whiskey.

It’s that kind of a thing. Don’t you think that somebody else’s brand attached to yours in some way helps

Jon: I think. I think that your, your, your, I think that your vision of what’s credible is waning.

Andrew: Really?

Jon: I think that’s a very old, uh, way of looking at things. I’ll give you an example, right? I’m CEO, right? What I rather have, you know, some, whatever, celebrity pushing my thing, or an influencer online, making the same video for black.

I want the person that I know does numbers. If it’s a celebrity and their social media doesn’t do numbers, they don’t have as many followers or they don’t have as much engagement. I would much rather have the influencer

Andrew: Yeah.

Jon: pushing my brand.

Andrew: I get your point. I think though that, um, I’m trying to think of what, what the guy’s name, chef, uh, Shep Gordon. So I interviewed Shep Gordon after his documentary. I fell in love with it. He talked about how he got Alice Cooper and then all these other people famous. Um, and he said, one of the things that he would do is what do you call it?

Guilt by association, he would take an upcoming, um, performer that he was trying to get, uh, Get a bigger audience for, and just get them photographed with someone like John Lennon, get them photographed with somebody who was, who had more credibility or had, was better known. He says, when you stand next to someone and people see you together, that that star power kind of rubs off on them.

I feel like the same thing happens. Now, the same thing happened to me with I’ll give you another example. I would interview people and I would, I would say, wow, you were in the New York times. It’s amazing. They would always tell me being in the New York times, didn’t give them more customers. They got more customers from some no-name blog, but putting the New York times logo on their landing pages and home page and saying as seen on the New York times that would increase sales and get more performance, more, more of those landing pages to perform.

And that’s what I’m talking about. That there’s some kind of whichever Gordon would call guilt by association. You associate. Whatever positive vibe, vibe advice, even if it’s unearned with the person who was on there, what do you think?

Jon: I, I I’m gonna agree with you in terms of things like the New York times, but you still have to know when that, when that, when that logo works. So for example, to your point about credibility, the, the press, a New York times article, I would use that for investors.

Andrew: Right,

Jon: Makes black credible with investors. Right.

Um, so I think from that standpoint, yeah, it depends on who you’re talking to, but I still think that it’s, it’s still going to be an older people who believe in this older model than say, oh yeah, that’s that’s credible now, what I mean? I think that you are very, very.

Andrew: because I, because maybe I’m using older references, like vice and New York times, I would say the same thing happens with Mr. Beast. When I see Mr. Beast on somebody’s, uh, show, I think, oh, you know what? I thought this was a little guy. I think this makes sense. When I saw, um, this blogger get into Elon Musk’s, uh, Um,

factory and then do an article.

I’m going to get the, the. The blogger on here soon because he was able to build a business based on it. I think, oh, this is somebody who, if Elon Musk is taken seriously, I should take him seriously. Right. I think that there’s some kind of guilt by association. We take these names that we’re familiar with, that we respect in some way.

And when they’re standing next to someone or when you’re standing on their stage, there’s some of that power, that star power, the rubs off on them. You don’t, you agree with that?

Jon: Right. So let me ask you this. So your point, what you just said, right? When you, when it’s someone that people deem is whatever in their field. So what I’m saying to you is some of these younger, younger people, Dean, these influencers, exactly what you just described.

Andrew: All right. I think we’re saying the same thing. I think I just, I, I just said that, um, I think maybe I used vice as a bad example, but I

Jon: I think we’re, I think we’re saying the same thing. I just think that that credibility that you’re talking about from BICE in now, there are certain circumstances where some of these people have built up such a following that they are the credibility. Meaning if you’re in the video for these people, people deem that like, oh my God, you were in video with

Who’s got 10 million followers. This guy must be good.

Andrew: Yeah. So I would even say John. So imagine if you were to do an interview show, like I’m doing here with people who are well-known in. In comedy, people who are, who are activists, and then you got to like, get a power quote from them and then put that on the app or on the landing page. And now you’ve got their credit.

It’s not that them saying something’s going to send a bunch of people over, but I think when people open up the app or when they come to the site or when they read it, It has a lot of credibility. I think we’re saying the same thing here. All right. The reason that I saw your butt is that you were promoting a show during cold people do crazy stuff in COVID.

Uh, Johnny Knoxville went all white haired and, um, so I saw that you did it and it’s because you had a zoom show to pur to promote, right. Was this your own zoom show? How was that? How was it to go back and promote.

Jon: You know what

Andrew: mean, and, and

Jon: It was, it was, it was almost like, um, it was almost like getting back with someone that you used to date. Right? You see them, you’re like, oh my God, she’s looking good. You know? And then you start talking and you’re like, Hey, let’s go out. We should get back together. And then you do, and then five minutes into the date.

You’re like, oh, that’s right. That’s why I quit doing.

Andrew: Oh, really? So the excitement was, Hey, I get to do this, make it my own. It’s kind of got it. And then what was the part that you didn’t like?

Jon: And my thinking was, wait a minute now, you know, of course I’ve got 30,000 followers, right. It’ll be easier. I can just slide them onto zoom. They don’t have to show up. They can make it from wherever they are sitting in their household with nothing to do. And then you are reminded. That. Oh, that’s right. I still have to set up these cameras, these lights.

I still have to have somebody run this out. I still have to keep promoting, keep promoting online, master this. And you’re like, that’s right. No matter what, it’s work. It’s a lot of work. It’s way more work than when I walk into the cellar. I get on stage, the places already packed. I, you know, I perform, they give me my money.

As soon as I walk in and I will.

Andrew: Yeah.

Jon: not the same as when you have to do your own thing, when it’s your, you know, when it’s your baby, um, there’s just so much more work. So it was one of those reminders of all. That’s right. That’s why I stopped doing this.

Andrew: How much revenue do you make from it?

Jon: I didn’t make much money at all. A couple GS.

Andrew: That was it.

Jon: Yeah.

5g six GS.

Andrew: Okay. That is a ton of promotion for that. And a ton of putting yourself out there too.

Jon: So much. I’ve got, I do have a friend though, who started, he, his thing really took off in LA. He got out in front of it. He started at the very beginning of COVID, but his, um, so it became lucrative. I know that he, his gait had to be well over 40 granted.

Andrew: What do you think he was doing differently?

Jon: Then he started, I think the timing of it, there was people had nothing to do and he won, he shot it in his, I think it was a backyard. So it looked good. There was a real stage. They were outdoor. So it wasn’t, there was no chance of people feeling squeamish about it. Um, and he started at the very beginning of the, of the

Andrew: With the live audience.

Jon: Yeah.

Andrew: Oh God. And the 40 K was from the live audience being there outdoors.

Jon: No, the 40 case, all the people that were on, on this Dick came in on zoom, but he was able to have a presentation. It felt like.

Andrew: Yeah, You know, what the people who jumped in early and were willing to look like in, in some of the, in some of my cases, some of my friends, I felt like they were bordering on scumbag behavior, right? Like they were selling, uh, like pure REL knockoffs. And I thought this almost looks like you’re capitalizing on what’s going on. But in the end, if they were willing to take the arrows, some of them ended up doing really well and helping a lot of people, you know?

Jon: Yeah, actually, I actually did a, a Purell skit where I was like a dope dealer that was selling

Andrew: yeah, it felt like that.

Jon: mega viral at the beginning of the.

Andrew: You see in that also? Well, no wonder you’re kind of laughing at the situation. You’re not seen as taking advantage of it, but if you’re a person who’s offering online courses in the early days of the pandemic and saying, look, you’re stuck from home. Might as well make money from it. Here’s the online course, that’s borderline scumbag stuff, but a lot of them ended up being pioneers in what?

Now we consider the creator economy that’s taken off. That’s just, that’s the right move. I, think to say, I’m just here creating. You know, and just jump in. Right. All right. Congratulations on Blab. I didn’t know, by the way, you’re one of the first people that top towels willing to create a full app for, they used it on my sponsor anymore.

They used to be my sponsor when they were obviously people signed up because they were there for, for years as my sponsor. But a lot of people were also upset because what they want to do. Top to just build the whole thing from top to bottom. And they said, no, we’re just in the business of getting your developers on your team.

We’re not in the business of creating the whole thing now, I guess they do. Right. They did the whole thing for you

Jon: Well, I, I actually, when I got to them, we had a, a very dope protocol. That had already turned

Andrew: that was working.

Jon: they, um, you know, they, they got the UX words now it’s, you know, I know other UX designers that are like this app is beautiful. Um, so I I’ve got a guy that’s over the top talented. I would give his name, but I know his phone will be blown up.

I want to keep them from. Well, I’m not going to do that. Um, but he, he did the thing, man. And so, yeah, but we, we had a, we had a, uh, a pretty dope working prototype and we got there and then we built out from there.

Andrew: And then they build it from scratch from, they rebuilt it. After that they took your prototype. They said, we see what we’re doing. We’re going to rebuild the thing.

Jon: Yes.

Andrew: Got it. Yeah, it does work. So, uh, I went to next level burger in Austin and I flagged it and now somebody is going to look at it in the next few hours.

Jon: That’s true.

Andrew: All right. It works beautifully. And I like how you also integrate with a Yelp. I ordinarily have to tell you, I don’t love Yelp Yelp. It’s a bit frustrating. It’s like, you go look for a restaurant there and they say, well, how about this place? And how about that place? And how about this barber? And I go, that’s Not what I was looking for.

I get it. They’re all paying you. And so you’re going to stuff, the, the results, I like the black doesn’t do that. All right now, actually it is a natural for taking some ads. And I think it’s going to be a long time before you get is I feel like they’re getting desperate where they just have to stuff it with ads that aren’t relevant.

Um, but I feel like it’s a natural people are coming in, looking for businesses to natural for some of these businesses to say, we’ll pay a little bit more to show up at the top of the search results to show up above next level.

Jon: Yes.

Andrew: Alright. Cool. Congratulations. The app is in both app stores, Google and iPhone, and it’s also got its own website. Thanks, John.

Jon: Yeah. Thank you.

Andrew: you just take a photo so that you. can post it somewhere?

Jon: That’s right, man. We’re gonna need that. We’re gonna need, we’re gonna need that promo later, brother.

Andrew: I dig it. I love that you’re doing all this promotion for black. I love that. Look at this. Like you’re standing up in the sweatshirt. I’m just scrolling through your Instagram. You’re talking it up.

Jon: Yes, man.

Andrew: All right. Yeah. And I appreciate you being on here to do it. Thank you. And Thank you, all for listening. Bye everyone.

Get out of here people.

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