Eric Spivak on running an innovative marketing firm and disrupting the web3 space
Photos provided by Eric Spivak
Eric Spivak is a man of many talents: he runs a multidisciplinary creative agency and marketing firm (Urconduit) that's worked with a wide range of people from YG and A$AP Rocky to even Barack Obama. He has worked with hundreds of artists in the electronic music and hip-hop space, taught people how to earn from art, music, fashion, tech, and web3, built multiple creative spaces and photo studios, and managed talent from models to rappers. Eric himself has always been an artist first, but also an advocate and activist. If this isn't enough, he's currently building out a conference that would be focused on counterculture with the intention of strengthening conversations of the subgenres and formats in the cultures that get forgotten.

In this interview with Composium, Eric talks about how he manages to balance all of these ventures, innovate, and his plans for the future.
It was a casting call for a Burger King commercial with Snoop Dogg. The admin assistant that was taking notes upon entry simply walked out of the job – there were still seven hours left. Having sent over 50 people for that casting call and wanting to make sure that everything runs smoothly, Eric arrived and quickly replaced the assistant, getting people to sign their consent and release forms, coordinating the casting, and everything else that wasn't his job. He didn't have to do this.

The woman eventually came back and suggested they grab dinner together as a thank you to Eric for helping out voluntarily. At the time, the mogul was busy running GorillaMic, which was gorilla marketing with a microphone. The concept behind it was that everybody had a voice and at any point during the GorillaMic events, people would come to the stage and grab a mic. The main intention was to empower and let everybody have a voice with a pre-built audience.

Hearing this story, the woman dubbed him a conduit. "I'm a dot connector, an expeditor, a bridge, and we're all conduits," Eric says. "You're attached to people, places, things, [and] knowledge that other people don't have access to." Since then, he rebranded GorillaMic into Urconduit and started doing anything for anyone at any time for any reason to see what would happen if there was an easy button for people.

So, Spivak would normally go into any conversation with an open mind asking what people's Achilles heel was – essentially, learning what people's problems were and how can he help them. "Typically, if you ask people questions, you get answers. If you provide solutions to those questions pretty rapidly, then there's a level of trust that exists," he continues. "I started looking at problems that existed in the businesses with the people around me and as I asked more questions, I'd get more answers and come up with more solutions for their problems." It almost sounds too good to be true: before he knew it, the client list was growing rapidly and easily. Building out the creative strategy, consulting, and advising, Eric has directed people to the finish line based on what he saw to be easy but what they found really hard.

The first project was with ASAP Rocky. The entrepreneur wrapped up a rave at 6 in the morning and headed to bed. At 7 am, his phone started buzzing. Hey, we need a warehouse with an 80ft high ceiling, generators, water, security, catering, seating, and tables. "How soon do you need them?" Eric asked, still sleeping. Yesterday.
Whatever needed to happen could happen, but it needed to happen immediately. On no sleep, Eric began calling and waiting on places to open and people to open their inboxes. By noon, he had 80% fulfilled. The show happened and went well.

Projects came in one after the other, and soon enough, he built a reputation that he can deliver on his word. "As I get older [and] build more of a personal brand, I'm getting closer to having this Midas touch that I want: if there's a problem, let me wave my wand over there," Spivak says.
"I'd love to go around the world and just solve problems. I'm doing that now by being paid to think with consulting and advising, but I'd love to do it on a big scale to solve world issues."
From there, Spivak has worked with Cardi B, Heineken, Steve Madden, and hundreds of people and companies alike. "Urconduit slowly started taking shape as this handholding training wheel helicopter deck getting from point A to point B," Eric explains. "It was just a shift in the narrative – a solution-based company focused on fixing people's problems."
Before Covid-19 hit, Eric was focused on building an international womens' music festival – Daughters: A Showcase for Today's Women of Tomorrow – and WeSeeYou (WECU), short for Womens' Entertainment Credit Union. Acting as a social platform for females, it would tie into a creative space and assist in finding housing, employment, free hygiene products, workshops, and more. The space would have fashion, art, music, and tech wings, with each wing serving as an accelerator.

The entrepreneur had the location ready to start building the space when the pandemic happened. He had to pause the project, but he was still able to help out the community by putting together an index of tools and resources for people to find support for everything from child care to animal resources.

The pandemic gave way to the growth of a plethora of new social platforms, with Clubhouse being one of the ones that got the most hype. Early on, Eric decided to utilize the app and educate people about music and marketing, running weekly rooms with Leila Steinberg, Tupac's manager. "We'd bring in people like Rick Barker and have drop-ins from others like Scooter Braun. Then basically educate 300-500 people every Tuesday for a couple of hours at a time and attendees would just come on stage and ask questions on anything they want to know around the music industry," he elucidates.

That's when Spivak began getting into blockchain and web3 heavily. With that, he shifted from doing music marketing and art spaces to leaning more on the future side of things. "I've always interacted with tech in different ways but I've never really embraced it," the mogul recounts. "During Covid, I understood QR codes, how to do contactless things, remote work, and adopt these new ways of doing business." Clubhouse played a big role in that vision, and as Eric shifted his focus from music marketing to cryptocurrency, so did the topics of his daily 'rooms'.
"Every day, we'd be onboarding people into the space – we'd teach them how to set up a wallet, bring them over to marketplaces, then to metaverses. It was very early on and because of that, there was a four-six month headstart we had over everybody else. The people coming together brought a really strong community that had the same idea of elevating the artist and propelling the arts forward. The excitement was around ownership, self-sovereignty, accountability, and transparency."
Getting more involved with crypto, Eric ended up building the largest NFT de-fi community in the world. "That brought me into a very fast-paced environment with a lot of money, influence, and power, but also a lot of disconnects, misconceptions, and [individuals] that don't have people's best interests," he says.

Analyzing the market and the opportunities, Spivak realized there are a number of ways to apply crypto and web3 to change the way the world works:

Customized experiences. With this new technology, there's an opportunity to shift the paradigm. People do things the way they do them out of convenience, safety, security, peace of mind, ease, and comfort. For example, if you go to in-person checkout at the grocery store, there's a human transaction there, whereas self-checkout is a different experience because you're trusting yourself to scan the barcode properly and not create a holdup. Right now, the opportunity to give various customized experiences is endless with this new set of tools that web3 opens up. That brings new problems and, in turn, new solutions.

Looking at a web3 toolbox is similar to putting a hammer in front of someone's door: it's up to that person to use it either to build something amazing or smash windows and rob cars. What society ends up making out of web3 is largely up to the individuals.
Backup. Right now, people give their data away freely and companies make money on it. The moment one hits publish, one loses all autonomy over one's videos, photos, music, and writing. "It's important for me to back up my shit and have these repositories and archives of backup," Eric says. "One of the promises of blockchain is that once you publish something, it stays in the same shape and form forever. It can't be modified. It provides a timestamp, and it can't be argued. That's the future promise of things."

Ownership and transparency. The concept of ownership and rights plays a crucial role in today's world. Whenever you need to pull out a certain amount of money from a banking institution, you either have to go to an ATM, call a phone number, wait until a new business week, or get boxes checked in order to make a decision with something that you think is yours. If a bank says no, is closed, or you get frustrated because you can't immediately access your money, there's not really much you can do about it.

The possibility to have your own bank and ownership of such changes the equation. Trustless transacting and the opportunity of changing the way people do things is yet another application of this technology.

Still, businesses and different individuals have their own understanding of how things should be done in web3. "Without communication with one another because of business, non-competes, and everyone having their own vision, that creates a weaker end product," the entrepreneur sighs. "There's no general consensus and … there's still these disconnects. It's getting better, but there needs to be a unified front."
To solve this and many other underlying global problems, Eric has brought it back full circle to the art, music, and fashion by using this technology for a new brand that he filed as a LOC: New Friendship Tech.

In a nutshell, it's a technology for creating new friendships. The events that are produced are completely free, inclusive, and diverse. As Spivak puts it, the project has a unique model where all of these events can not only turn your social currency into equity by way of participation – that is you can get compensated for attending something that's free to attend – there's also a method of using smart contracts and web3 tools where just by being an active participant, the company can fix some geopolitical, socioeconomic, and ecological issues.

A growing group that is also tied to in-person events, it held 15 events over the past six months in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Chicago, and Las Vegas. Each has been completely free. The next step, in Eric's words, is figuring out how to provide round-trip transportation. "If you have that, free food, free drinks, and free entrance, there's really no reason for you not to be there unless you don't want to be there," he says. "If you get compensated two weeks later [for attending], that's a whole other twist on it [as it's] testing new models where you have value the moment you step foot onto a venue."

The tech behind that is straightforward. Nowadays, whenever you do a transaction, there's a payment processor that is allowing the tech for that transaction to go through. A fraction of that price, also known as the processing fee, goes to crypto miners. If the purchases that you make just had that fraction go into a pot, it would fill up after a certain amount of transactions. Once that happens, Spivak explains that it's not difficult to split and distribute the funds back to the attendees.

Five to ten years from now, the founder looks at New Friendship Tech as being a philanthropic vehicle for change. "It's a Trojan horse to institutions that have been taking money from people and putting boxes for so long. It's going to break the mold and set a precedent for how we should be treating each other in these different spaces," he shares. "It will set a template and standard of what can happen if people come together and believe the same thing."

Even though there is a lot of hype around web3 and blockchain, there is a huge opportunity in ownership and accountability that is yet to be fully tapped into. "We haven't used these models in the world yet, so until we experiment more, it's going to be another tool that sits on the side that people don't use," Eric says. And that's exactly what he's trying to do – experiment and innovate new models for a more sustainable future.
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