Kevin Jones — Founder of Blue Wire on Getting Fired for a 49ers Tweet, $3.5 Million from WynnBet, and the Future of Sports Podcasts

May 5, 2021 by  Chris Erwin

Today we publish our 11th podcast episode.

The interview features Kevin Jones, founder and CEO of Blue Wire. Blue Wire is a sports podcasting and media platform bringing together the next generation of journalists, influential fans, and commentators – from social media to developing former athletes. The company’s mission is to lead the conversation in sports on social media and continue that conversation on hundreds of sports podcasts that reach fans across the globe.

We discuss getting fired over a 49ers Tweet, when it makes sense to be a bad Facebook employee, why 500 Startups first turned him down, his groundbreaking new WynnBet partnership, and why Kevin wants to be the Ted Turner of this generation.

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Interview Transcript

The interview was lightly edited for clarity.

 

Chris Erwin:

Kevin, tell me where you grew up.

 

Kevin Jones:

Chris, I grew up in Chantilly, Virginia, about 30 minutes outside of Washington, D.C. and then 10 minutes from Dallas airport. I was lucky to grow up in a diverse area, Northern Virginia, heavily populated with just diversity. Honestly, I went to college in North Carolina, at East Carolina, where it was really all white people and black people. And now looking back, growing up in Northern Virginia, it was a really eclectic place to grow up, close to the government, lots of just different types of people. So super fortunate to grow up in Chantilly. Chantilly Charger, that’s that’s my high school. So shout out to the Chargers.

 

Chris Erwin:

How many people were in your town? Was it a few thousand or bigger than that?

 

Kevin Jones:

40,000. It’s a nice little suburb for sure. My high school had 3,500 kids graduating class of like, 800, 900 kids. It’s a healthy suburb, Fairfax County, huge school district in Northern Virginia. It’s a nice place to grow up for sure.

 

Chris Erwin:

Is that considered part of Appalachia?

 

Kevin Jones:

No. We’re basically D.C. It’s the suburbs of D.C.

 

Chris Erwin:

Got it. What was your household like in terms of where you grew up?

 

Kevin Jones:

I would say sports was very center to my life. My parents would put the Washington Post sports section in front of my breakfast every morning, where I read Tony Kornheiser, Michael Wilbon, before they became TV hosts. Watching what was then the Redskins and the Wizards and the Baltimore Orioles before the Nationals arrived. Caps was never a big thing till Ovechkin came, but they were always around. And then there was D.C. United winning.

 

Chris Erwin:

You said Caps. You have to excuse my limited sports knowledge, who are the Caps?

 

Kevin Jones:

Washington Capitals. We name our teams, Caps, Wizz, Nets. We keep it short. I think that’s because like CIA, DEA. I think we’re used to just abbreviating everything, being close to the government. All the parents jobs are like, not mine specifically, but friends growing up were in the government. I was a news junkie as a little kid in a bizarre way. My parents, our daycare provider, I had a separate room upstairs. I would bring video tapes of the Masters. I would rewash games of the Redskin season, NFL films. I did their yearly yearbook. The sports obsession was really real as a young kid. I loved information. I loved new information, having information, sharing information with adults about sports. And so I always knew I would end up in sports.

 

Kevin Jones:

It always felt I was operating at a high level, consuming that information, sharing that information, whether it was newspapers with friends, et cetera.

 

Chris Erwin:

You said your parents were also really into sports. Did you guys watch a lot of games together?

 

Kevin Jones:

Yeah. I would say for sure. Redskins was number one in my house. My dad grew up in a nearby town, went to the Superbowl, the first one the Redskins one in 83 in Pasadena, flew himself out there as a young man. The Redskins won three super bowls in the 80, and that culture was really instilled in kids my age. Redskins fandom, even though it’s really tailed off, the organization’s poorly run by Dan Snyder now. That was the highlight from September to January, every Sunday, making feast and watching the game, analyzing the game, thinking about the game afterwards. I felt like I was recording a podcast with my dad and my friends all the time, looking back on it. But I think baseball was huge for me. Cal Ripken was a big figure and then I played basketball. It was probably my best sport. So always had the Wizards on too.

 

Chris Erwin:

It seems that was the next logical question, is like, did you participate in these sports as well? Or did you more enjoy observing the commentary, the stories around it?

 

Kevin Jones:

Wasn’t the most athletic, was definitely one of the most passionate. Anyone listening, I compare myself on the basketball court to maybe a Joakim Noah, clapping a lot, I’m talking a lot of crap. Definitely not the most athletic, getting a lot of rebounds, definitely tall. I was shy, I didn’t try out for the team. I didn’t want to get cut. I played in the youth league. We had a really competitive youth league. My team won the championship. I won the MVP. I regret looking back now as a 30 year old, should have probably tried out for the high school team. I was the captain of the stands, we treated our stands like it was Duke, we have the fingers in front. We were trying to be the Cameron crazies. We called ourselves the Purple Platoon. Our high school had the colors purple.

 

Kevin Jones:

I really actually leaned into that. I became the student government association president, really got the buy in from the community and it was a tough place to play, Chantilly for basketball and really wanted to own that. I play softball and I’m still competitive, but now getting that competitive outlet through my business, Blue Wire.

 

Chris Erwin:

I like how you said captain of the stands. I haven’t heard that before. And then that’s a logical segue, grassroots, man of the people going into student government president. I see it.

 

Kevin Jones:

100%, One by one, getting people to buy in. This is how serious I took it in high school. I would stand in the middle of the stands, not the front where all the seniors would be in the front. I would make sure the sophomores and freshmen were cheering as loud as they could. I always took this onus of being the group’s leader for sure.

 

Chris Erwin:

You’re like a hype man, right? Before a comic comes out on stage. Every CEO is a hype man for the company and team and mission.

 

Kevin Jones:

100%. I compare Blue Wire to, it’s 1995 and I’m a rapper in New York on the streets handing out CDs. I’m definitely that hype man.

 

Chris Erwin:

That’s awesome. You had also mentioned that in your teenage years, I think your radio personality started to come out. You were calling into radio stations to talk about sports. Right?

 

Kevin Jones:

Definitely. The sports junkies gave me a little bit of a platform as I was just starting to get my feet, high school summers home from college. I was writing some articles, at the time RG3 was getting big. They would let me call in even for 10 minutes at a time here, instead of just the typical, all right, let’s go to Kevin and Chantilly. It was like, all right, coming up next, we’ve got Kevin Jones, up and coming blogger, D.C. young guy, follow this guy. Some of it was late at night. I think that’s when I realized, wait a second, people are listening to what I have to say. I’m saying some different things. Then I started naturally gravitating. Okay. How can I start building my own voice within media? I think this is possible.

 

Chris Erwin:

Wow. So you were becoming a known personality. You were not just a one-time caller.

 

Kevin Jones:

I would say I turned that into a job at my first role at WUSA9, they had heard of me. I had a few thousand Twitter followers, mingling with the radio host on Twitter. This was 2010. Twitter was very nascent and young, but it was gravitating towards that platform. Wait a second, the radio show doesn’t end. I can actually message the host right now, directly, we’re texting. And so that kind of phenomenon, I really leaned into Twitter and WUSA9, who was a CBS connect affiliate at the time in D.C. I became the high school sports producer there. They were like, all right, we see you, Kevin, you’re making noise. Here’s a way in the door. We need you Friday and Saturday nights to work at the station. These high school coaches are going to be calling in or texting, here’s the scores. Here are some of the stats. People are going to be feeding random video clips in, you got to help us put this together.

 

Kevin Jones:

That was my first getting thrown into the fire. I knew I wanted to be talking to the Redskins. I knew I wanted to be talking about other things, but I got my foot in the door and I started working fall 2011, high school nights. Then I started coming in Sundays as well. Hey, can I watch the Redskins games here? Would you guys mind? Do you guys mind if I write an article about the Redskins? That was a part time role that eventually turned into a full time role. They were like, Kevin’s making too much noise, we have to add him to the team.

 

Chris Erwin:

And as you got more involved in the actual, the business side of it, where you’re being hired by radio stations and networks, was that increasingly exciting to you? Or were you seeing a dark side, where like, wait a minute, this is not what I expected?

 

Kevin Jones:

No, it was not what I expected. My journey is about this realization that being the sports guy is going away of going to Syracuse, moving out to Wyoming and getting all these reps, that’s going away. Now, you build your own audience on Twitter, Snapchat, and YouTube, and then you can present it to brands yourself. What has happened, Chris, is pretty obvious. The world used to be a bunch of newspapers, 20 or so radio stations in town and a hundred cable channels. Now the world is 33 million YouTube channels, a million podcasts. Choice is now available. And what once was a prestigious job at a radio station is now not. What I ran into Chris, is they don’t develop young talent. It really came to a head for me in San Francisco, my last stop in traditional media. KNBR is a legendary station at San Francisco. 680 AM, they’ve been around since the 60s.

 

Kevin Jones:

They were one of the first ones to really lean into sports radio as a genre. They developed great personalities, but they have not developed young personalities the last 10 to 15 years. Everyone there who has a show is in their 50s or above. I got in the door there to revamp their website and call into these shows as I had in the past, with the goal of one day, getting my own show. A year in, I realized there’s no chance of ever getting a show here. The culture is so backwards. They’re valuing people’s voices and ratings that they deliver on radio and don’t care about social media profiles. Don’t care about none of that. The way radio is thinking about the future was not the 33 million YouTube channel, 1 million podcast model. It was, more big bad KNBR people are going to listen him no matter what.

 

Kevin Jones:

Tom Tolbert has been in town for 20 years, everyone listens. And so I realized, wait a second, Radio is about to hit an iceberg. They have no talent here, and people are going to literally leave the platform, leave the dial. The technology is all changing. There’s a lack of innovation in radio, because everyone’s a fat cat. Hey, it’s not broken. We’re all making a lot of money, but it’s clearly not the future. And so that was my big aha moment. I’m never getting a radio show in San Francisco. This is my dream job. I’m in this big market way cross from D.C. I’ve made it technically. And then I was like, wait a second. I have not made it at all. I want to have a radio show, grow. There’s no opportunities to really grow within those stations.

 

Chris Erwin:

We’re going to get to talking about how that’s the impetus for the founding of Blue Wire, but we’re going to rewind back a bit, Kevin. I think that you have this, after undergrad, I call it the post undergrad bounce, where you’re bouncing around to different teams and radio stations and sports media companies after you graduate from East Carolina in 2011. So I’m curious to hear during that journey, you go before San Francisco, you’re in D.C. area, you’re in Cleveland. Tell me a little bit about that story, right? As you come out of undergrad, you have the special moment in conversation with your dad where he tells you to go to Cleveland.

 

Kevin Jones:

My dad was one of the inspirations behind Blue Wire. Obviously got me into sports. He got very sick, actually right after I graduated from college in 2011. He had cirrhosis of the liver. He was a long time alcoholic and needed a liver transplant. Like the movie John Q. I was like, should I go? I need to do something. It’s a really helpless feeling when a family member you know needs an organ transplant or really dying right in front of you. That was going on. While I was at the TV station in D.C. what I was talking about, I got my foot in the door, my dad was sick. I would drive up to Baltimore at night and sleep in his hospital room actually, at Johns Hopkins and then drive the next morning to Washington D.C. I was living still in Chantilly. My mom’s house. My parents were separated at the time, but back and forth all three.

 

Kevin Jones:

Looking back on it, it was a really challenging time. My dad actually did get the liver transplant and then unfortunately actually started developing a really bad drinking problem again, after the transplant. It’s so tough to watch that happen. He was on his death bed really and I got this job offer from Cleveland. I was a little torn, because I wanted to be there for his final few months, but he really encouraged me to go. I went, he passed away a month after I took the job in Cleveland, it was really tough. I drove back and got to his room where he was at. He had one of my articles up from the Browns on his iPhone.

 

Chris Erwin:

Wow.

 

Kevin Jones:

It’s crazy. My dad had a little bit of money, I ended up never using it to go to Europe, never using it to go on vacations, buy cars. I use it to fund Blue Wire eventually years later. Crazy story, man. And then he died and I jumped right back into the Cleveland Browns where this was a huge role for me, because I was on the radio everyday representing the team. I couldn’t actually say everything I wanted to. I had to be a good steward for the team as a 25 year old. It was amazing role and very challenging, I think personally, now looking back seven years later, like, wow, I was going through quite a bit losing my pops and thrust into this first really big job. I think it’s only made me stronger. You do have connections with certain people who’ve lost their parents.

 

Kevin Jones:

There’s a bond you have with a lot of folks who have been through a lot. I think when you lose a parent, it’s definitely probably the most devastating thing you can go through if you have a good relationship with the parents. For me I feel I can go through anything now, if we’re late on a deadline or the investor’s mad at me, it’s like, hey, I’ve been through a lot more than that this.

 

Chris Erwin:

I’m curious, was your father very supportive of you entering sports media since an early age? And then so the second question is, with him passing, did you feel that that energy support, that there was a void there afterwards?

 

Kevin Jones:

He was supportive for sure. He was more of a realist actually. I think if he was alive, he would think Blue Wire is too risky and I shouldn’t be doing this. It’s a catch 22 here. His death gave me more opportunity in maybe believing on myself. When you have the parent here, they sometimes talk you out of doing things that are risky. I think as weird as it sounds, I wish he was here to see all this, but it might not be if he was here. Everything happens for a reason, I would trade Blue Wire to have him back. But I think he’d definitely encouraged me to pursue my passions. He was a mechanic who rose up and became this manager of a bunch of mechanics where he was at. Blue collar dad who was definitely in my corner.

 

Kevin Jones:

And then I really took the anguish of losing him and saying, hey, I’m going to found a startup. What the hell not? Everyone says, this is the hardest thing you can do in your life. I feel I’ve been through so much. I can do this. And that’s where I lean on in my story of, hey, it was dark, but I tried to turn that into light.

 

Chris Erwin:

It’s amazing to hear you say, you would trade Blue Wire in a heartbeat to have your dad back, yet your dad’s passing actually created space for Blue Wire to exist, what an interesting dichotomy.

 

Kevin Jones:

Yeah, I know it’s not a apples to apples thing here, like, he would be here cheering me on. It probably wouldn’t be as weird as that is to say.

 

Chris Erwin:

That’s amazing. But I do think that you express that your mother was more of a risk taker, because she was actually an entrepreneur. Right?

 

Kevin Jones:

My mom, Bonnie, was a recruiter for her whole career and eventually got tired with a boss, on top of just treating people terribly, bad breath in your face. It’s just like this whole combination, I don’t want to be around this person at all. My mom in high school went out on her own and started Bonnie Jones Associates. She took her recruiting clients. So she recruited for law firms, different government agencies around D.C. and stepped out on her own. I don’t know how much of her own money she invested, but still operating today, still thriving today, strong, yearly six figure business that has supported her and my family for a long time, of her just being an outsource recruiting department for a lot of different places.

 

Chris Erwin:

Is she very supportive of Blue Wire? Let’s like, hey Kevin, this is your destiny, go forth?

 

Kevin Jones:

Oh yeah. She was like, I knew you were going to do something. It was hard to figure out what exactly that was going to be as a kid. You were an eight year old at a dinner party for two hours talking with the adults. And they were coming back to you, trying to learn more, it was just strange. I want to call myself an old soul, but it’s a little limiting I think in that context. But I think she knew I was destined for more once I became the student government president, was on stage at the high school all time. I’ve wanted this, for sure. I was scared of business man. I never knew I was going to be a startup. I thought I was going to become a big media personality, be on TV, write magazine stories. I was scared of numbers. I was scared of math.

 

Kevin Jones:

In college, I knew right away I was communication major. I was like, I actually don’t want to be a sales person. That seems like a bad life. So complete role reversal when you’re selling something you believe in. And it’s a media company, it makes a lot of sense now. Shout out to my mom, she’ll definitely listen to this. This is the longest answer I’ve ever given about her. She’s definitely my support system. She’s a solopreneur. She’s has a couple of collaborators, but I can go to her for mom’s stuff, not the entrepreneur stuff of having a 30 person team team now like we do.

 

Chris Erwin:

This is actually a good segue then into, you were talking about your experience at KNBR. The frustration there that you’re never going to have your own necessarily radio or TV show you were saying. And so you felt like you have to build something different, but what you just said, Kevin was, you thought you were going to be a sports broadcast or a media personality, not necessarily a company builder. When did that thinking in your brain change?

 

Kevin Jones:

Actually got fired from KNBR. It was my doing, I was creating this atmosphere. I was creating the best content at the station, my opinion, non radio, which was, I got our website up to 2.5 million monthly uniques. I inherited something like 200,000. I completely rebuilt their entire website, had a great content strategy role. It was making $50,000 a year. I was covering both the Warriors, 49ers and Giants as a part of this content strategy and was really running myself ragged for nothing, basically. They were taking profits from the website and not giving me any. They were selling all these segments on the website that I basically built. I was like, this is complete bullshit. I would like to be paid 80 to 85,000, a normal livable, barely livable wage for a journalist in San Francisco.

 

Chris Erwin:

What were you actually making at the time?

 

Kevin Jones:

$50,000. I took the role from Cleveland to come here, because I really thought it could be my big break and that I could meet the right people in the building and shake the right hands and get a radio show. And I realized, it ain’t like that at all. I needed support from my family to even make it in San Francisco on that salary. It was becoming so untenable. I completely rebuilt their website. I was developing a crazy relationship with the 49ers. I was breaking news. Jed York, the owner did not like me and my coverage. He pays the bills at KNBR. They have a big partnership where he pays the station a lot of money for the 49ers coverage. There’s a lot of money exchanging hands for different things there. But essentially 49ers did not like my coverage. They’re in bed with KNBR.

 

Kevin Jones:

This happened to be a tweet I sent that a training camp where a player got hurt in the ambulance came on the field. I tweeted out a picture of the ambulance on the field. There was also fans there that day, tweeting pictures of this. They said, no media is ever allowed to take pictures when anything like this happens. In hindsight, it was bad a player was hurt. But I posted it. I was like, this isn’t China. Literally you have fans in the stand posting the same content. You’re saying that journalists here can’t do this. Call my bosses, do whatever. And they did. And they all threw a fit. They’re basically like KJ. We don’t want a report in this role, we want a robot to just be the post-contact, don’t ask hard questions at the press conferences, don’t have a personality.

 

Kevin Jones:

I was like, all right, cool. We’re done. This is great. I tended to say, I got fired. It could be, I quit. But I say that to be like, they fired me. They’re fucking dummies.

 

Chris Erwin:

There was intense energy around the separation.

 

Kevin Jones:

Yeah. I was throwing myself out there, basically you’d be like, this is just such bullshit. You’re underpaying me. I’m going to be taking a lot of chances and risk here, because I’m going to be a journalist. What you hired me to do. I’m not going to be a robot. I used them as chip on my shoulders without question. Jeremiah Crowe, the boss who fired me there, Justin Hawk, those people will never go away in my mind, even though it was not going to work out with me there. They didn’t understand my talent and couldn’t harness that energy of like, this is something special. Total flame out. And so got really confident that I could get any job. I almost took a role with the Brooklyn Nets. Almost took a role with TMZ Sports, almost took a role with the SB Nation. It was interviewing for months.

 

Kevin Jones:

Took a role at Facebook. I was like, you know what? I hate sports right now. I hate the industry. I’m not going to make 50K anywhere else, anymore. I have to start valuing myself. Facebook was finally making six figures. I was a content strategist on the help team, help content. You log in, there’s some advertising help center. How to make an ad on Facebook. I would write different types of content for that. It was obviously completely boring. I was still tweeting about the 49ers and podcasting all the time about them. I was like, I don’t need KNBR anymore. I have 15,000 Twitter followers. I can just feed them. I was growing that, and got the idea for Blue Wire, really sitting at Facebook being like, this is not the longterm for me. This is what I want to be making or more money.

 

Kevin Jones:

I was surrounded by smart people at Facebook. I was like, wow, man, not terrible bosses here. I do like the people, they’re thoughtful. There’s good people that exist. I did like the organization. Sports media is chaotic. Everyone’s running with their hair on fire. Facebook obviously is a machine. They assign you tasks. 3396, it’s do 21 days from now. Please send a progress update to Tanya, on how everything’s going. It’s like, holy shit, they have scaled the whole organization. Every task is being filed. Facebook awoke me to, hey, I can’t build a Facebook, but I could build something around podcasting, is what I landed on.

 

Chris Erwin:

It seems like, you can bring some organization to a scaled media business better than where it’s at. It seems like there’s some low-hanging fruit to make it better.

 

Kevin Jones:

Exactly. Listeners were leaving radio, and now I gained the confidence by being inside of Facebook. I can run an organization confidently, because Chris, before this, I never sat at a desk, the eight years before Blue Wire and Facebook, I was at the scene talking to players every day. I’d never really, I’d been in some community relations meetings at the Browns, but I’d never done that nine to five thing ever before Blue Wire. I think that’s the crazy part about this.

 

Chris Erwin:

Did you have a podcast at this point? Had you launched your own podcast yet?

 

Kevin Jones:

I actually brought it from Cleveland to San Francisco, and KNBR was like, we don’t care about it. It can be your pet project. We don’t know what to do with it. We don’t know how to monetize it. And I was like, okay. I just continued to record. Eventually I found my footing in San Francisco. I became the 49ers guy. I went to Warriors games. I went to Giant stuff and I participated. People came to my Twitter, our website, for my thoughts on the 49ers. They were two in 14. They didn’t have a lot of attention at the time. A lot of the 49ers reporters are the same. I say that in a good way. They’re good guys. But they just report the facts of the day, that was giving opinions and different, hey, this is what they should do in 2020, a few years down the road, it was just different coverage.

 

Kevin Jones:

So kept podcasting two times a week on the 49ers. It was called the Kevin Jones podcast at that time. Post game would do a show and then mid-week would do a show, roughly half an hour, sometimes at our guests. I tweeted and I treated my tweets as articles. I would take 10, 15 minutes to carefully craft the tweet and would tweet two to three times a day of what would have been blog posts, here’s my opinion on Rubin Foster. Here’s my opinion on John Lynch. Those were getting a lot of engagement. I just looked around the rest of the internet, man, I was like, there was a Warriors guy named Sam. There was a Raiders girl named Fallon. They’re doing the same thing I’m doing right now. They’re not on a team, we should band together.

 

Chris Erwin:

When you left Facebook, did you know that you are going to start this company or did that just come together?

 

Kevin Jones:

We were going at Facebook. I founded it before Facebook, there’s this legal loopholes. I technically founded it before I got to Facebook. So they don’t know any of my IP. I was working on it at Facebook and I started telling coworkers about it, at Facebook. I was a contractor there luckily, not a full timer. Facebook has a lot of contractors, on an eight month contract, so I could have other projects and openly talk about it. It’s so cool there, looking back, I had some people take, I was creating content. I signed my first big deal ever. I was negotiating in a room at Facebook and I saw some random person take a picture of you signing that paperwork. I posted it. I was actually the first six months. I took a second job at Salesforce after this ran out, the contract at Facebook. Not many people know this.

 

Kevin Jones:

I was contracting up until I got into 500 Startups to keep paying the bills, because I made no money in radio. Now I put $17,000 of my own money in Blue Wire. I barely had enough to pay rent every month.

 

Chris Erwin:

Geez.

 

Kevin Jones:

And so yeah, floating by on the skin of my teeth here just a couple years ago, the Facebook thing ended in December of 2018. I luckily got a new contract position at Salesforce, which was fully remote and I didn’t have to go into the office, which was a game changer for me. I was barely making it by, I was not a good contractor. I was abusing Zuckerberg and Marc Benioff could, can hammer it and yell at me now, I did not work 40 hours a week. They can come back and sue me, I guess. I was definitely building my startup while I was working in tech as a contractor. I actually really recommend that model for people founding a company.

 

Chris Erwin:

So you knew that Blue Wire was a future for you, but you were just saying, I don’t have enough cashflow coming in yet. I’m going to subsidize using contractor jobs, but I’ll get there. And then summer 2019, you get into a batch of 25 at 500 Startups. Kevin, I just want to commend you because I really liked the notion of you’re burning the candle at both ends a bit, but you are taking this contract to work, to fund the beginning of Blue Wire. Knowing that there’s some things that you needed to prove out in the model, make sure you had product market fit, build out your content portfolio, get some maybe advertising partners in the door. Knowing that that’s probably going to give you a little bit more focus and clarity of what you want to build and what’s working, and then also get into the incubators or to raise funding and have more leverage over that process.

 

Chris Erwin:

I think that’s smart where sometimes people have an idea, but they just want to raise money, but don’t want to prove it out. But I think you went after it in a really smart way.

 

Kevin Jones:

Bootstrapping to me was exciting. I’m a ready, fire, aim type of person. I don’t like aiming all day. I thought if I was going to plan this thing for months and months and months, I would never do it. I think that was big. And then Chris, the point of contracting, the tough thing about podcasting the business model is, ad revenue comes in 90 days after a campaign usually. I had to give people my own money at the start of this. We really like to pay our podcasters after that month of content, we’ve kept it that way as our business model. First of all, we didn’t close an ad deal, because we didn’t have any content at the beginning of this, we didn’t close our first ad deal till February or something.

 

Kevin Jones:

There was 17K, my own money to pay some of the podcasters. There’s a little to come on the team. And then almost just to pay them a little bit monthly at the start of this, like, hey, I promise more is coming. I really didn’t know if it was, but basically I was going to take a shot that we could figure it out.

 

Chris Erwin:

Hey listeners, this is Chris Erwin, your host of The Come Up. I have a quick ask for you. If you dig what we’re putting down. If you like the show, if you like our guests, it would really mean a lot if you can give us a rating, whenever you listen to our show. It helps other people discover our work. It also really supports what we do here. All right, that’s it everybody, let’s get back to the interview. So were you scared? You said you were making $50,000 a year in San Francisco. It goes up to maybe barely six figures at Facebook, but still seems you’re living by the skin of your teeth. That’s an expensive city. And now you’re fronting 17,000 to podcast partners saying this might work, but that money could also totally go away.

 

Kevin Jones:

I think my mom was terrified. We’ll have to get the real truth from her now that there’s success. I think she thought I was a little crazy that I shouldn’t be doubling down on sports media, that I should actually be moving home to Virginia, going to work at Deloitte or something. That my background as a writer is going to be received really well. People are like Blue Wire man, looks cool. Congrats. I think people are just a little like, okay, Jay’s is going to try something, I guess. It was risky because I didn’t have the full support of everyone around me. Publicly I did, but I could tell, they weren’t asking me questions about this thing. They were just like, oh cool. Let me know how it goes and not like, holy shit, Blue Wire, no one saw my vision.

 

Kevin Jones:

I ran an article about Entercom at the time, they rebrand it to Odyssey, right? As I was founding the company invested a bunch into Cadence13. I kept seeing that company name. Beyond, I knew Barstool and Ringer. Everyone knew those two at the time, but cadence 13 was the company for me. I was like, they’re making this happen. They’re making content. They have advertisers. They have investors. And to me, when people were doubting me, I was like, there’s other people doing this. There’s a few others ahead of me. I’m not the first person to launch a podcast company.

 

Chris Erwin:

I remember that, Spotify had bought Gimlet and then Spotify had bought the Ringer. And then Entercom was being acquisitive as well. They bought Cadence13, and then I think also Pineapple Street as well, another podcast studio. You’re looking at these and saying, hey, they’re building content and they’re up for sale. Maybe this is validating for Blue Wire.

 

Kevin Jones:

The first legitimizing thing that happened for us was, we were founded before Spotify bought Ringer. We had this vision before that happened. Hashtag Sports is a popular newsletter that came out. They had a headline that said, two peas in a pot. And it had picture of Bill Simmons and it was talking all about Blue Wire. These two podcasting companies. We had gotten a lot of coverage from an awful announcing article. And then we started getting just looped into headlines with the Ringer and Barstool. All of a sudden it just started happening and people were like, wait a second. What is this Blue Wire thing? More creators, I just started signing more creators. I started showing the press like, hey, we’re making moves here. And then all of a sudden, yeah, 500 Startups, man, really changed the game for us.

 

Kevin Jones:

This is how green I am. I didn’t know Y Combinator or 500 Startups was a few months before I applied. I had no idea that those types of things even existed. I was Googling angel investing. I read Jason Calacanis’s book as a self-taught way to try and figure out which angel investors to approach. I met this dude, Jarie Bolander and shout out to him. He’ll definitely listen. He got me connected to Clayton Brian, one of the investors at 500 Startups, who had always been interested in sports and media, and they ended up taking a shot on me. They grill you for a couple of interviews. I thought they weren’t going to say yes, 500 Startups, because they were basically like, how does this become a billion dollar company? I was like, it’s not, it’s not going to become a billion dollar company. They were like, okay, we don’t want to invest in you.

 

Kevin Jones:

I was like, you’re making a huge mistake. We’re going to be one of the biggest brands on the internet, but just because we’re not going to be a billion dollar company, doesn’t mean this is a bad investment. I was learning the whole BC model, live on the fly there. I’m so green to it. Now I obviously know a little bit more, but they saw my passion, me fight back in that meeting. I was like, I would love to exit this thing for a couple of hundred million dollars. I can show you the path to that. I don’t want to build technology and stuff. I want to be this content studio. Are you okay with that? We got on the same page. 500 Startups makes a bunch of investments, so they were like, this makes sense. It’s podcasting, it’s hot. Spotify is getting into it. Let’s do it.

 

Kevin Jones:

And walked in day one, still working at Salesforce. It was now down the street from 500 Startups. I was going back and forth during the day. My mentor Taz was like, this is crazy. You got to pull the plug here. Eventually that contract ended in July and I was then full time at 500 Startups every day. Looking back, I would say a top three experience of my entire life. I have lifelong friends from it. I have, a couple of other entrepreneurs are now invested in the company. Shout out to Andrew Beatty, threw a really big check in. I learned so much, man. I learned, I can’t even think about it, man. I’m getting like Russell Crowe – all these numbers in my head, how to stand up a business, everything it takes, how to deal with investors, how to deal with rejection, how to position your business.

 

Kevin Jones:

Marvin Liao was a really good mentor of mine. Ahmed Bedier. Taz Patel, all my mentors, there are Asian, Indian, black. 500 Startups fits my ethos, as I mentioned, the beginning of this from Northern Virginia is a really eclectic place. My best friend Namibil Amadeia. I felt at home at 500 Startups. I do feel like an outsider. I have my whole life, even though I’m a white guy, as weird as that has sounded. 500 Startups has that outsider mentality in San Francisco, they have more investment money in Southeast Asia. They have more women entrepreneurs than most venture funds. It was really exciting to be there, man, before this whole diverse movement became this talking point, 500 Startups was living and breathing, and to be a part of it, and to get knowledge from Marvin and Clayton and Taz and all these people, just looking back on it, it’s a melting pot there and I’ve grabbed so much. I’m at a loss for words right now, man, reflecting on how much 500 Startups was able to change my mentality as a business owner.

 

Chris Erwin:

That’s incredible. I do think about though, I was going to ask if you felt odd man out, because maybe you were the only media business in probably a batch of startups, that was primarily tech enabled or tech oriented.

 

Kevin Jones:

Yeah. Definitely. Like, you don’t have SAS? I felt most people didn’t give my start up attention, they’re like, there’s no $20 billion chance for Blue Wire, make sure they’re not getting full attention. From some of the people, yes. But because I had sports and I came with a user base, I had 200K users by this time, May, this is monthly, 200K downloads by May of 2018. I had the biggest user base in the program by far. A lot of them were early nascent startups. What they liked about me was that, he’s got deals with Harry’s Razors at this point, and he’s got hundreds of thousands of people listening, monthly. There was early signs. They like the branding. We’ve always had good look and feel on our website. So I checked enough boxes for them. Feeling like the outsider, because I didn’t know anything.

 

Kevin Jones:

A lot of these were second, third time founders had already sold their business. They easily got into 500 Startups. They have a quick idea and a quick business plan. I did feel I don’t know anything about cap tables. I don’t know anything about MRRs. I’m Googling things late at night. I’m creating a glossary of flashcards for myself. My dad was sick. I was constantly hustling back and forth places. I’m like almost, I can’t relax. I think that has to do with my upbringing, some of that trauma I’ve been through, man, but I channeled that into learning all of the time.

 

Chris Erwin:

You’re saying that you feel like you always have to be doing something, you don’t sit still.

 

Kevin Jones:

In a good way, man. I definitely read for leisure as well. I read for fun, but I think that stimulation is so important. It has been a part of the whole journey of Blue Wire. Hustle is our main core word of everything we do.

 

Chris Erwin:

I just want to also acknowledge that I was not aware of this, but with 500 Startups that the diversity of the different mentors and founders that you had access to, plus I think that their investor base includes Southeast Asia and some other international regions. That’s great to hear, because you hear about like, I’m at an incubator in Silicon Valley or in SF, is it just a bunch of rich white guys?

 

Kevin Jones:

I don’t want to be that guy. Someone texted me, you’re this VC guy. Like, no, no, Dot Capital who’s our lead investor is a micro VC who has a small fund. This whole Andreas Halvorsen staying in Tiger Global, is the big thing right now. I think it’s cool. I don’t want to shit on startups to do that, but I’m not a silver spoon guy. I’m not. I feel I’ve been encountered out radio stations, other people, and this ethos abandoned together. The diversity thing is so big. Our three core words of Blue Wire are hustle, innovation and diversity. We’ve done that the whole time. We’ve remained true. That’s what feels great about our journey. Baron Davis is an investor. Prakash Janakiraman is an investor. These are self-made entrepreneurs or athletes. This is not pension funds investing in this company.

 

Chris Erwin:

Kevin, looking back, a wild run since the summer 2019, I think that you raise around 150,000 from 500 Startups, and then February 2020, seed round of 1.2 million. December of 2020, five million from Dot Capital and some other investors. And then most recently in February 3.5 million from Wynn. I’m curious to hear, where is Blue Wire right now? And where are you headed?

 

Kevin Jones:

The journey for us has been audio centric. We’ve been one of the best at sports audio, outside of ESPN, Ringer, Barstool, who else is playing, Blue Wire as been a solid player in audio the last couple of years. Where are we heading? Doubling down on audio and then of course adding video and live rights. Now that we have a stage at the Wynn, by the way they invested in us, because we bootstrapped, shout out to Craig Billings, the CFO who negotiated the deal with us. He initially discovered us and liked our story and our hustle. He’s an entrepreneur himself who sold his company to the Wynn. We’re just identifying with people like that. And the Wynn, we feel we made it. We feel like we made it onto a stage. And now we can now talk to the world and host events, conferences, post our fans for Premier League Palooza and the NBA Summer League.

 

Kevin Jones:

We’re going to be doubling down on the WNBA and the Las Vegas Aces. We’re going to be hiring lots of women creators, full time, out of Las Vegas to really double down on our brand. Live Rights will be a part of this. I don’t know if it’s dodgeball. I don’t know if it’s celebrity golf. I don’t know if it’s us creating the real world or a game show, but you will be seeing Blue Wire video content and our storytelling as well, man. We’ve had some great talks with UTA and some famous filmmakers in Hollywood of how do we make podcasts in conjunction with filmmakers for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Paramount Plus. That’s the journey, man. It’s been an audio, getting people on the team, helping them set up their podcast. Wait a second, we can be more than this.

 

Kevin Jones:

We’re doing so much, reflecting on this with you makes, we haven’t even talked about our partnership with Snapchat. It’s pretty insane. I don’t want to sell the company anytime soon, man, because I think media is changing so much. There’s rumors floating about us all the time, but we’ve raised nine million. The wind gives us the stage and we’re having success for sure. We’re doing some cool things.

 

Chris Erwin:

What I heard from you that is interesting is, increasingly I’m hearing from media companies, it started out as podcasts networks or audio first. They’re now saying, no, we’re not just audio. We create content for whatever vertical we’re in or whatever underrepresented voices. We started with audio. We built out incredible talent network, and now we’re moving into video. Now we’re moving into live. Now we’re moving into whatever else. And so I think this is the first time I’ve heard from you that, the intent to have live rights and to expand into video in a meaningful way. But it makes sense, because audio is just a medium for you, right? Just one channel, but you’re an omni-channel business.

 

Kevin Jones:

We believe in audio so much. I don’t think that’s ever going to go away. I do think that’s going to be the core pillar of the business for the next 10 years. That being said, entertainment, when people sit down at eight o’clock at night, most times now listen to a podcast. It is trying to figure out what they’re going to watch. And so we want to be a part of people’s morning, their afternoon and their night. And as we evolve as a company, we’re going to have to create video content and be a part of people’s night. We’re going to need video content during the day, of course, social, excited to talk about do or launching their podcasts. There’s a ton of video involved in that. My mentor Taner said it best, audio is the thin wedge to build a media company. It is easier to produce it’s readily available. It’s disruptable right now.

 

Kevin Jones:

And then from that audio, you build video, merge licensing and anything you want here. American Prodigy is probably our best example of what we can show here, of like, hey, we launched this podcast. It’s a documentary series, season one on Freddy Adu. Season two on Ken Griffey Jr. I believe American Prodigy can become not only a Netflix series, a video game, as weird as that is to sound. Once we get enough characters, reliving Freddy Adu’s life, reliving Ken Griffey Jr’s life, as AI, the glasses become such a thing. Could it become a theme? Right? Could American Prodigy at Nike become a fit? I believe in these brands, we’re building. We have the rumor coming out that’s going to be all about sports mystery and kind of, they start as audio brands and they become a lot more. That’s the future for Blue Wire. And I believe others are already utilizing this playbook. And this is the future of media.

 

Chris Erwin:

These American Prodigy, these are originals, that are produced and financed by your team, right? These are not just network programs. Correct?

 

Kevin Jones:

Yeah. We have our podcast network where we sign licensing deals with existing podcasters. A lot of those we bring home and cut them long term deals and share IP ownership. And then yes, we have original programming. This year we’ll produce 10 different stories, Chris. And that’s my bet, man. I’m not the only one to bet this. Hernan Lopez bet this at Wondery. I read an early thing on what advice he would give young podcast founders. He said, go find your Dirty John. Go make franchises. He made this franchise called Dirty John. It was a story in conjunction with the LA Times and it blew up. It’s a true story. It became a hit show on Bravo. It’s now syndicated on Netflix. There’s now season two’s and books and other things coming out from it.

 

Kevin Jones:

I think American prodigy, maybe not on that scale yet is our first foray for our Dirty John at Blue Wire. We are focused on our originals becoming like that. How do we make stranger things? We are getting into fiction. We’re going to have a baseball comedy next year that’s based on a true story, that’s like the Office, on some baseball players from the 90s who are real people. I can tease a bunch of different things now, man, but building a catalog, almost a sports Hulu or Netflix is actually realistic over the next three to five years of how much volume of evergreen stories we believe we’re going to have. Some of them are going to be duds without question. Netflix and Hulu produce content all the time that flops. We’re living in that reality. But we’re trying to stand up as many franchise brands as possible.

 

Kevin Jones:

We can lean on talent like Grant Wall and other things that TV shows, they bring in stars. Podcasting, same thing. You can bring in a star reporter and marry him or her to a story. I think what Grant Wall did with Freddy Adu opened up our whole eyes. We are creating a factory, Chris, of how do we make this faster. Holy shit, we’ve discovered gold here, with American Prodigy. Coslight just came in for an awesome partnership, for season two, so we can make money on the advertising side. And then the downstream side of this after audio.

 

Chris Erwin:

Makes a lot of sense. I have to go back to one of the pillars where you said, a value of Blue Wire is innovation. Thinking about the audio format, you’re starting to see the emergence of live audio, look at Locker Room sale to Spotify, and the recent, I think the billion dollar valuation for Clubhouse, supposedly they’re shopping for another round at a four billion plus valuation. Then there’s also the emergence of Microcast enabled by smart speakers, right? 10 to 15 minutes in short audio. When you think about innovation and audio and you buying live rights, is live audio increasingly important to you? Are you experimenting there?

 

Kevin Jones:

Yeah, definitely. We have a partnership with Locker Room. 40 of our podcasters are publishing there. I think we were mentioned in the Vulture article as being a part of their growth spike before they sold the company. Shout out to Howard, amazing founder. He saw this before everyone, this Clubhouse, this technology to build this. I do think that becomes a feature everywhere. I don’t know if there’s going to be a platform winner there. It feels like Twitter has the best advantage, at least for sports and entertainment where we’re playing, because people’s followings are huge. Instagram live has existed like this thing, people audio because there’s Zoom fatigue. I do think this is going to be a feature in discord feature. Spotify can get Bill Simmons and Joe Rogan in the same room, that’s powerful. They can get Barack Obama and Prince Harry in the same room.

 

Kevin Jones:

Everyone’s going to have radio capabilities, man. It’s crazy. Tech players just became radio broadcasters with this innovation, I think is the exciting thing that’s going to happen. We get to pick, I think we should bundle and try and cut deals, but I think it’s going to be a free platform. I hope they don’t throw commercials into this. You can obviously see that happening in Clubhouse. I think it’s going to be so annoying, but I think you’re going to see advertisers get in 15, 20, 30, second commercial. We’re going to go to break really quickly. How are we going to make money doing this if everyone’s going to spend hours there? It makes sense for these rooms to start being branded. Interesting, Apple has a big announcement coming up. I can’t say anything about it. It’s going to rock the podcasting industry without question. That’s all I can say. The innovation is not stopping man.

 

Kevin Jones:

So for us, gosh, it’s becoming so crowded everywhere. We really do want to bundle and figure out, okay, who is our live radio partner? We feel like Blue Wires powers, we can bring 150 treaters at one time somewhere, but we just did a Locker Room in a really powerful way. Our Warriors post game show there is getting 300 call-ins a night. It’s replacing radio. Fans are venting, it’s giving fans a voice, which they hadn’t had in podcasting before. I think for sports, it makes so much sense. For Twitter, Twitter is so late to the game. They should be slapping themselves in the face. What are they waiting for rolling spaces out? They’ve been so slow in product development.

 

Chris Erwin:

They’ve been notorious in slow product development. But I think what you’re getting at Kevin, is that, you’re creating the content, you’re building the audience, you’re building the IP, the talent network. And then you’re going to use the proliferation of all these new creative monetization tools that are emerging, all these different ways to distribute your content and your talents voices. And that’s where your win is. It sounds like with Apple, I know there’s been a lot of rumors of, are they going to launch a new subscription product? I think that they are and that’s going to be the new announcement. I don’t think that’s been public yet, but that’s my-

 

Kevin Jones:

That’s a good guess. And I’d say Patreon, the recent fundraising round, Cameo, the recent fundraising round. I think there’s eventually this decade. I cannot predict linear growth for creator economy. There’s got to be burn out at some point from people being on their phone for 12 hours, years, and years and years and years. However, the next five years, this doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down. It looks like more people coming out of college, are going to look to become creators or join Blue Wires, figure out how they can grow their brand. And now, the number one profession in the country is a YouTuber. I do think there’s going to be more Patreons, more Cameos.

 

Chris Erwin:

I think it’s important to emphasize this note, with all these new creator tools. I think burnout is a real problem, but you have to find sustainability and balance, because I saw this when I was running Big Frame, it’s just to be on 20 different channels on YouTube, on Snapchat and Twitter. Thinking about monetization and keeping up with the Joneses, what are your peers doing? It’s a brutal lifestyle and it’s not going to last long. And so we cover this-

 

Kevin Jones:

Someday AI is going to sort information better for us at some point, is the hope here. People are going to log into their computers and the important stuff, the content they actually want to see. Someone’s going to solve information diet, is my prediction. I hope it’s a new startup and not a current one. And no one does. I’m post Blue Wire. That’s what really excites me, is information diet. I feel overwhelmed when I log into the internet in a terrifying, but… There’s another notification. I try to mute them too. This has got to calm down at some point, in my opinion. People now are in control of their own content like they’ve never been before, and have gone crazy a little bit, the 80s, 90s, you just watched MTV or whatever, and had to entertain yourself a little bit.

 

Kevin Jones:

And now the addiction is just so real, the content that I want to acknowledge it. I still want to serve fans. I don’t think people are like, oh my gosh, they’re ruining their life listening to a Yankees podcast, but it’s just the whole thing together is like, geez, people can’t sleep at night and have more anxiety. I think Instagram to me and the pressure to be cool is way more of a problem than content. There’s way more things on the internet. You group in content as everything to be honest. So that’s the difficult part. What I love about audio and why it’s a pillar of our brand is, you don’t need your eyes for it. I’m a big believer in audio and you can be listening to our podcasts, climbing a mountain. You can be washing dishes, typically on Instagram, you’re just so lost in it. You can get lost in something else with audio. And so, yes, I don’t think audio is ever creating out either. I do believe in audio longterm.

 

Chris Erwin:

We’re move on to the rapid fire momentarily. I think a good beat to end on is, so with Blue Wire you mentioned, right, there’s all this MNA activity and capital flowing into the sports media space. I’m sure that people, companies have been circling of, how do we gobble up Blue Wire? What are you thinking about what you want to do with the company? Is this something that you can do for the next decade, decade plus? Look, you’re clearly working really hard. Your team’s working hard. You’ve made some really big new hires lately. Is an exit in the near future so that you can take some time off and go onto the next thing? Where’s your head at?

 

Kevin Jones:

My head at, is building Blue Wire for a long, long time. I would love for this to be a brand forever. I would love to be a part of it forever, but that’s likely just knowing my personality, not feasible. And just reading about other founders. To me, can we build Blue Wire into an investment capital firm as well? The things that I’m excited about, can we just make this more of a conglomerate instead of me going off and chasing and doing the next thing? That’s my goal. Man, this is a crazy vision, but I love the food truck industry so much. What Blue Wire did what we did for content creators, for food trucks, for organizations. We got more jobs out there. We were helping people expand their brands, more mobily. The information that I think, could Blue Wire just be this whole thing?

 

Kevin Jones:

I think so, man. I truly believe that people are going to continue to buy into the people we’re hiring. How we can tie some of these crazy visions together. I know I’m giving you some random thoughts right now, but I would like to keep driving this business. Does that mean one day we partner with someone else, maybe, it’s far fetched as I recall as a public company, but with SPACs and everything, with mergers happening, who knows? I feel I like not having a boss right now besides my investors. For me, unless I really believe in the vision and the price is right, Blue Wire is not for sale. I’m tempted to have a yacht and nice toys, but I know those things have never been my way of life. I know for me, I’ll be working well into my 50s, 60s, 70s. I’m not looking to retire ever.

 

Chris Erwin:

I think it seems for you, you have a very strong point of view of what you’re building and what you want to build towards. What types of partners that you want. And so I wonder, similar to the Barstool, Dave Portnoy model, where TCG came in and said, hey, you’re the creative visionary, we’re just going to give you the admin and the infrastructure to build smarter and better. But the brand is yours. Dave maintained a lot of equity in the company. And then even after the sale to Penn National Gaming, Dave is still like, he is the visual front and the audio front to that brand. Is that similar track for you of finding the right partner that can put a lot of money in your pocket, but still rallies behind your values as well?

 

Kevin Jones:

Yeah, of course. That’s on the table, I would say. I compare Dave Portnoy to a Howard Stern type. He’s more than that for sure. But he’s our version of the shock jock today on the internet and he’s done an amazing job. This is no discredit to him. Hopefully he can become more our version of Ted Turner of this generation. He obviously had a crazy bad ending. His sale in AOL and all the disaster that was, but he bootstrapped his dad’s business into this crazy conglomerate and reading his story was really inspiring to me. I don’t think I’m the front man as Dave is, he can actually move the stock market based on one of his tweets. I operating the business. I would say maybe similar to how Erika Nardini, but she’s almost become a front person too. I think there’s a need for me to become way more of a front person as Blue Wire grows, but truly-

 

Chris Erwin:

It’s in your DNA.

 

Kevin Jones:

Yeah. Totally. Totally. I want to be more on stage. I’ve been so ingrained and we’re so small, I hire basically everyone on the team, we’re now out to 30 people. You can start to see the platform being built where I can step on stage as well and be the front person, but I do admire Ted Turner. He wasn’t really on stage. He had quotes all the time. He was in the press, he was making noise. He was eccentric. Don’t want to be just like him, but that vibe. TBS, they launched things at 7:35, they were different with the programming. He founded Cartoon Network, CNN, all these things that were like, now it seems like, Oda, why don’t we do that? It feels there’s some Oda things out there, the sports narrative content I’m producing, trying to find those, wait a second, why isn’t our competition doing this? We’re going to do that.

 

Chris Erwin:

I look at Turner today, part of Warner Media, but I love their portfolio, Bleacher Report, House of Highlights, Team Coco and Conan O’Brien, amazing audio podcast network. They’re close friends of the RockWater family. I like that reference. Look, before we go on to rapid fire, I want to give you some kudos, Kevin. I was listening to a podcast with the partners of TCG, Mike Kerns and Jesse Jacobs. I think it’s Mike that said, that they really invest in the accidental businesses. They’re talking about the luxury watch brand Hodinkee or Barstool Sports or Food52. Companies that were not, in the beginning were just creating content to service their fans, coming up with the voice. And then all of a sudden just stumbled into, hey, there’s a way to make sustainable revenues here and deliver some returns to investors, but that was never the intent.

 

Chris Erwin:

It feels like for you, and today where there’s so many businesses that just like, I have an idea, maybe I’m from a totally different industry. I want to raise money and off to the races, there’s nothing wrong with that. But I think there’s something special and different about hearing your story that we just went through for the past hour. And your love for sports, your love for media, wanting to empower voices and how building a company around that, what a beautiful thing and more power to you.

 

Kevin Jones:

I know, man, it’s really making me appreciate this whole thing more. I got to be nicer to my teammates, got to be as hard. We’re really doing some cool things. Thank you so much, man. It does feel authentic. That’s the word we really use in-house as well, to add to hustle, innovation and diversity, is Blue Wires authentic. We work with authentic people. Anyone who comes to us, is like, hey, what should my podcast be about? Actually I don’t want to work with them. We’re like, you should know, we want to work with you. You’re the star. And that’s been our ethos, man. The accidental business feels exactly correct. It feels like a great title for a book if someone hasn’t already stolen that. I didn’t want to do this at the beginning. I wanted to just launch some content, stick it back to the people who fired me at the beginning of this and say, hey, I’m not done yet.

 

Kevin Jones:

But then it was like, oh shit, I just created a magnet. And now all these people are coming, flying towards this. It’s wild. I think corporate America has downside as well. Just like people working at Hulu or the NFL. It’s not that great of experience. They’re not really loving all the bureaucracy, all these mergers happening don’t, Casey Reed on our team had great memories at Hulu too. But I think we connected at the interview, where we’re like corporate America doesn’t get it. They don’t get it. They’re too big to get it. Even though they’re doing great things, they’re producing all the big stuff, because they’re in that spot. The startup disruption is just a more attractive lifestyle to wake up and work on that every day, than just show up to corporate.

 

Chris Erwin:

All right, Kevin, we’re now moving to the rapid fire round. We have six questions. The rules are as follows, short, pithy responses, can just be one to two words or maybe just a sentence or two max. Do you understand the rules?

 

Kevin Jones:

Keep me in check. I’m a rule breaker. So if I’m breaking the rules, please yell out.

 

Chris Erwin:

Okay, we’ll do, First one, proudest life moment.

 

Kevin Jones:

I got to say this, the Wynn investment, man. And just seeing the pictures coming from this. I think to date it is closing the deal. I definitely shed a tear when I posted that, I was like, this is really nuts. We’re sharing with the world that we’re going to now have a home base inside of a pretty famous casino, man. That right there was pretty, pretty nuts.

 

Chris Erwin:

What do you want to do less of in 2021?

 

Kevin Jones:

Smoke marijuana. It’s definitely been a stress reliever for me, especially at home on Zoom meetings. You don’t want to be doing this all the time.

 

Chris Erwin:

Okay. What do you want to do more of in 2021?

 

Kevin Jones:

Lift weights.

 

Chris Erwin:

What, one to two things drive your success?

 

Kevin Jones:

Dedication, authenticity, risk taking.

 

Chris Erwin:

Advise for media and audio execs going into the second half of 2021?

 

Kevin Jones:

Invest in audio now. You’re going to be super late to the game if you don’t and call me, if you’re not invested in, whatever size company you are, you are a media company, no matter who you are. By the way, you need an audio channel as well. I do see Blue Wire getting way worse sidetrack. Here I go breaking the rules, entertainment. We’re going to be getting into more than sports of course. Sports and audio pillars, but then we have a handful of comedy podcasts now.

 

Chris Erwin:

So invest in audio. Don’t miss the boat.

 

Kevin Jones:

Invest in audio.

 

Chris Erwin:

Last two. Any future startup ambitions or side projects?

 

Kevin Jones:

Information diet, food trucks. Those are two huge passions of mine that I feel like can really be disrupted.

 

Chris Erwin:

Very easy one. How can people get in contact with you?

 

Kevin Jones:

Email. Kevin@bluewirepods.com, but emails really slowed down. We used to all the incoming bluewirepods.com messages went to my email, but it started becoming 45 a day or something. I miss it. My emails used to be so much crazier. So shoot me an email. It’s wild having a team in. I’m not going to lie. Like I told you, never done a nine to five before this. Now I have a whole team of people around.

 

Chris Erwin:

It’s funny, most people say that they want less email. And you are saying as a CEO of a fast growing startup, you want more email.

 

Kevin Jones:

More. I want more, like Mark Cuban, I want it all there. I’m trying to consolidate information. Any external information coming in, no LinkedIn, no Twitter, DMs, email. Get into to my email.

 

Chris Erwin:

Well, Kevin, what a fun high energy conversation. Thanks for being on the show.

 

Kevin Jones:

Chris, man, you’re doing amazing stuff. RockWater the content you’re creating, I think is super interesting. Not a lot of people are doing it. Thank you for creating this content and having interviews like this.

 

Chris Erwin:

My pleasure. Kudos to Kevin who really tells it like it is, whether it’s talking about getting fired or about his frustrations with past ownership, he does not hold back and puts it all out on the table, made for a fun interview. All right. On a separate note, we have a new podcast that’s coming out from RockWater. It’s almost ready, should be launching in the next two to three weeks. We’re just dealing with some technical issues with Apple, but soon as it’s ready, we’ll let you know. If you subscribe to our newsletter, you can go to our website to do that. You’ll be the first to hear when it drops. And as you know, we love to hear from our listeners. We learn a lot from your feedback and you guys also have great guest recommendations. Ping us anytime, you can email us at tcupod@wearerockwater.com or on Twitter at TCUpod. All right. That’s it all. Thanks for listening.

 

Chris Erwin:

The Come Up is written and hosted by me, Chris Erwin, and is a production of RockWater Industries. Please rate and review this show on Apple podcasts, and remember to subscribe wherever you listen to our show. And if you really dig us, feel free to forward The Come Up to a friend. You can sign up for our company newsletter at wearerockwater.com/ newsletter. And you can follow us on Twitter at TCUpod. The Come Up is engineered by Daniel Tureck. Music is by Devon Bryant. Logo and branding is by Kevin Zazzali. And special thanks to Andrew Cohen and Mike Booth from the RockWater team.

 

Ping us anytime at hello@wearerockwater.com. We love to hear from our readers.

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