Actor Damon Wayans Jr. needs no introduction as you can Google him to peep his resume. Tech entrepreneur Kris Jones needs no introduction either as his resume is also a Google search away. Both men recently chopped it up with The DigiSpot about their Special Guest App as well as other things. You can give what was discussed a read below…
VannDigital: How did the idea of Special Guest App come about?
Kris Jones: Damon is a stand-up comic. He was doing an open mic in LA and a young woman (singer-songwriter) performed before he went on stage. She was electrifying. So talented. As she was exiting the stage and Damon was going on, he asked “Who are you with?” He was referring to what agency represented her. She said “OMG – I do not have representation. I’m just trying to make it. I typically don’t get paid to perform.” A lightbulb went off in Damon’s head and it lingered for some time after that night. He wondered – “Why is it so hard for talented people to get discovered and paid for what they love to do.” Special Guest was born and is a mobile and web app that helps talent get discovered and booked.
What made you decide that you wanted to jump into the tech lane and what role do you play in Special Guest App?
Damon Wayans Jr.: I grew up in and around the entertainment industry. My dad has done some apps. It really bothered me that I have so many talented friends that don’t have representation and struggle to find paid gigs. I thought that building an app was the answer and was fortunate to get an intro to Kris Jones. I’m co-founder of the app and I deal with a lot of the top talent in the app. I also work closely with Kris and our investors. I’m very involved on a day to day basis with Special Guest. It’s my baby.
How long has Special Guest App been in existence?
Both: We started building the app in 2016, launched it for talent in 2017, and in 2018 released a version that helps venues manage the entire talent booking process from discovery to payment. Here’s a video to show where we are at with the app…
What do y’all hope to accomplish with Special Guest App?
Both: We want to become the De Facto app for anyone, anywhere that wants to book live entertainers.
How did you come into contact with Damon Wayans Jr.?
Kris Jones: We were introduced through a common friend. I’ve always loved comedy and have worked with other celebrities – Damon and I hit it off and we’ve become great friends. I’m stoked to be working with him on Special Guest.
Are there any celebrities that use Special Guest App?
Both: The app isn’t for celebrities – it’s built for non-managed and up and coming talent.
Are there any other investors involved in Special Guest App?
Both: We do have some celebrity investors such as Kevin Hart, Marlon Wayans, Jake Johnson, Damon Wayans, Sr., and Lamorne Morris.
If Joe/Jane Citizen wanted to invest in Special Guest App, how can they go about doing so?
Both: So far we’ve raised about $2M from several venture capitalists from the Silicon Valley and the celebrities we mentioned above. We have not raised any money from the general public – we think the real benefit to the public is making is dead simple to book LIVE entertainers…and of course for the entertainers to get paid to do what they love to do!
What film and/or television projects do you have in the works, if any?
Damon Wayans Jr.: I did a movie this past summer that should be out later this year. I have a production company with CBS and I’m working on several pilots. Also writing and co-starring in a few upcoming shows.
Do you plan to invest in anything else entertainment related?
Kris Jones: I’m heads down on Special Guest and run the company on a day to day basis as co-founder and CEO. So no investments for me! However, I did recently acquire a five story building in my hometown and turned it into a business accelerator. So I’m not completely out of the weeds on the investor thing!