ABOUT THIS EPISODE

For this special episode, we feature an interview that host Steve Bertoni conducted with actor and investor Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary, investor and entertainment businessman, at the 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30 summit in Boston. Hear both Kutcher and Oseary speak frankly about how they leverage lessons learned in their day jobs as top players in their music and entertainment fields to their investment philosophy and how they determine value in companies.
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TRANSCRIPT

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00:01:07equal housing lender licensed in all fifty states animal as consumer access dot org number thirty thirty this is the Forbes interview on podcast one and I'm your host steeper Tony they show a deep dive interviews billionaires entrepreneurs this is the face you see on the cover for anything
00:01:25on the cover easily could be everybody is laurel executive producer of Forbes podcasts Steve is still away on assignment so for this week's special episode feature Steve's interview with Ashton Kutcher actor and Dio sciri musician manager who run their eighth grade investments together here they all are at
00:01:45the two thousand sixteen Forbes thirty under thirty summit to read have you guys here on your right into it %HESITATION movie right are the top of your game in your entertainment fields music media name it why invest why bother you why tack but I think we have different
00:02:04reasons of why we got involved in in investing I started a record label many years ago and looking for talent looking for young talent and new ideas and some of the same skill sets of identifying talent and and then bring them out to market place is the same
00:02:23as it is with finding great founders and great ideas and I'm I look at almost the same way that they have their music to share their ideas their voice and so it's the same skill set that I've had since I was seventeen or eighteen years old just trying
00:02:39to find the next great artist next great founder %HESITATION and I've always been a lover that idea that you can help someone of from nowhere to somewhere great and so it's the same attraction is the same at the same time doing the same thing basically for twenty five
00:02:56years yeah I when I was like twenty years started my own production company and %HESITATION and then in in the media industry I started noticing like pawprints be three faster faster online and not to be a migration of media %HESITATION to the to that space and I was
00:03:14actually just looking for technologies to disrupt my space %HESITATION and then not much with the company but my domain and %HESITATION and then %HESITATION started stumbling into these interesting %HESITATION things at at a very prime time when it was like a smartphone was just sort of being introduced
00:03:35and and %HESITATION and in the end I had just started investing like right before that service ramp that consumer apparatus took off and I just haven't seen all these interesting companies start to percolate that I that I thought were going to disrupt other space is the same way
00:03:50as I was browsing for companies to to disrupt my space I hate that I could say my space in this I have a versus eighty so so yeah I guess I just sort of got in today in in into the investing environment I think at the right time
00:04:06you get a different if I don't talk backgrounds in music in Hollywood such what skills does that bring to investing you have a different tool kit what do you how does that help you being in the Hollywood world in the tackle I think I think it is the
00:04:20well and a bass player I was a biochemical engineering student in college so I I had a little bit of an understanding about how technology and engineering %HESITATION can change %HESITATION the way you solve a problem %HESITATION it so I think that was like a a a a
00:04:36base to start with but I think like when it when it comes to like dissecting and breaking down %HESITATION characters as an actor you have to have empathy for characters in understanding of characters that are that are not yourself and so whenever you take on a role whatever
00:04:52your plane you end up like doing these like really quick deep dives into these environments where you're playing a closet builder as the you end up in a workshop figured out how to build closets and what that looks like in and what your sort of day to day
00:05:04behavior would be relative to that particular profession or or maybe you're a dancer and you have to go learn ballet he remarks he played a possible before I play the closet builder okay and I went to a closet warehouse in Brooklyn and spent a week there interning with
00:05:17this dude it was really weird when I showed up at people's houses like the builder closet so %HESITATION so but but that same sort of learning curve applies to investing which is you have a very limited period of time to go really really deep and then gain empathy
00:05:37for consumer for whatever product it is that you're looking to invest and and and I think being able to sort of put yourself in the shoes of the consumer but also %HESITATION learn a trade really really quickly I I think those two elements are really super useful in
00:05:51any of us and you might think I you spend your days with rock stars are there any similarities between tech founders and rock stars well that something earlier that the founders today are the rock stars %HESITATION you know that one and that's how I immediately identified with them
00:06:06because they would come in with their %HESITATION their their music %HESITATION but I wasn't there within our space we were sometimes in in the music world especially there's %HESITATION %HESITATION a lot of the companies that %HESITATION are innovating music sometimes one of the first doctors to to that
00:06:25space so we're able to see things early on and I I think for %HESITATION and especially my space I have to say that because you know that Chris pulled William twelve million %HESITATION musicians or use my sis but so many so much today an artist trying to reach
00:06:43your you know reach more people or or or share whatever is working on there's so many ways to do it and and %HESITATION to think ahead and innovate there these companies and we always want to be ahead of that I think the other thing that I would say
00:06:57collectively for us is you know every time guy back as early in our dates with like spinning up a new brand new but new band did a spin up a new brand and every time we go out and watch any movie or television show whatever it is we're
00:07:11spending up new brands and you get in a lot of the similar marketing tactics apply when you're spinning up a new company expressly super early stage I think like the sweet spot that we found as investors is like that AB round when you start to have some marketing
00:07:26dollars available and you're trying to like sort of guerrilla market figure out I mean guy guide was behind one of the earliest street teams ever in marketing and and and so I think like our understanding of branding and marketing really applies to our thesis around investing which is
00:07:41if we can't be helpful to a company we don't look to invest and I and and and I think that that sometimes you see something where you go wow there's there's consumer market fit here and if you apply some gas through capital and and smart strategic marketing branding
00:07:54you can really excel rate the growth of the company some letters of the building almost a story we had a company like me doing a story for film or TV rebuilding almost characters as in your marketing needs these companies well owners of the product you know is that
00:08:06there's a great book called sapiens that I just read that was really this is a really interesting pieces in it which is like the fabric of humanity is a collective fiction that we all choose to believe and whether that fiction is a consumer brand story or whether it's
00:08:20the Bible or whether it's a law document or a piece of money that we all go this has value because we all agreed to believe this piece of fiction you know building out a company brand story is a function of creating that connective fabric of humanity through a
00:08:36fictional tale that you're creating around the sort of mystique the brand the competency and the capacity of whatever your product is and so I think it's all of those things sort of have a similar over line fabric that that we can all relate to the coming hyper the
00:08:52building a real a real story I think it's both I mean I you know we won't invest in something if we if we don't believe in the product like the the pro it's for the best piece marketing you have any company is a great product and so you
00:09:06know people are always looking for like these crazy growth tactics early stage like all we got to grow tobacco company the best growth packing is building a great product this guy interaction that does this also micro tacking blog that he's always figure in it like the first fundamental
00:09:21is like you have to have something that people love and are willing to talk about and share what marketing is actually taking the things that people love and want to share and putting gas in that village and like that and and that's that's that's the that's the secret
00:09:36fabric and we're taking a quick break to say the show is brought to you by the business platinum card from American Express whoever you move your business forward with business platinum is not about where you are it's about where you want to take your business next and nothing
00:09:50helps you like the resources and know how of the business platinum card backed by the service and security of American Express company from scratch or helping build these companies think what time and effort you guys both have full time jobs in a whole other industry how do you
00:10:06time to do you're investing your VPC working also keeper day jobs guy doesn't sleep well %HESITATION yeah I think they go hand in hand today I think a lot of companies today if you want to moving forward you've gotta get savvy on innovation and destruction and %HESITATION I
00:10:25think my position at this stage with the artists like personally mark within with the artists that I support the managers I support %HESITATION is to educate them on new ideas and new ways to to %HESITATION outreach in new ways to reach a potential fighting at this stage because
00:10:43of what we've done and we put so much time into this people are looking for us to put time in this area in order to help the traditional business attritional business is pretty much gone %HESITATION it to innovate what's your tracking your movies and shows and this is
00:11:05in the army for an answer from somebody out here I don't know I I %HESITATION you know that those %HESITATION Adam grant read this book called originals any talk about like all these %HESITATION Nobel laureates in that they all had some %HESITATION passion relative to %HESITATION %HESITATION culture
00:11:23and the arts and it was like a sort of one common thread that all these people that were there was like interested dancer music classical music whatever it is and and I think that having a creative outlet for me in my court job I think is is fundamentally
00:11:37helpful in %HESITATION in venture it because you have to be a very dream a little bit to be a venture capitalists like it to be able to think and believe something that doesn't exist can exist in the world can be better for it and I think that that
00:11:54I think that they have been a foot in the arts is really helpful in maintaining equilibrium for that mission common thread under certain characteristics that you look for in a founder or in a company before you invest others in certain positive flags waving warning flags that you look
00:12:11for a if we put money in absolutely I mean we can to rattle off a book I think it was a recipe it's a combination of lots of things I mean set one is domain expertise like I should be probing your questions about your company that you have
00:12:29been at least explored mentally at some point you have to have like an absolute domain expertise you need to understand the debate the data need to understand the competitive landscape and so many times with the double the founder and they just don't do it we don't have any
00:12:43competitors or our competitor is a you know don't exist yet if the Indians like will hold on would say if you don't have a competitor today you have one that's coming right behind you because clearly you've identified some green grass that this is a company starts to be
00:12:57successful you're gonna have so you already have competitors with the you know it or not this ahead like absolute domain expertise I think it's just core foundation number one number two I think they have to be able to sell the product %HESITATION and and they have to have
00:13:12a charisma that inspires you to to say I would work for that person one of the things we always do to each other when we're looking at a company's will meet with a veteran yeah we look at each other literally go which work for which you work for
00:13:24what is that the person that you want telling you what to do every day is that the person is that is that the team you want to join a because it does it as founders that earth investors that pride ourselves on being helpful the company we work for
00:13:35our company and so I think that's the core question and the third thing is just great %HESITATION this great book called the will power instinct that I would suggest anybody wants to learn a little bit more about great reads that it's it's fundamental capacity to overcome obstacles no
00:13:52matter what they are and in in in that is time tested but a lot of time to tease that out open of of the early meetings with founders and and just get an understanding of how they're going to deal with adversity and sometimes you can create adversity in
00:14:08a in a in a pitch meeting and watch how they overcome that adversity she'll like tool tests and in meetings and see %HESITATION country one spot yeah that it you know it's a sort of subtle but you can create adversity for them inside of a million and a
00:14:22Navajo recognition of how they're going to navigate it I think there's some subtleties that you can't really you can't point to the just subtleties %HESITATION and when I started signing bands around seventeen eighteen nineteen for many years you didn't have until you could look up cops and you
00:14:41just you just have to know and so you build a little bit of that %HESITATION that feeling it's you can't put into words the feeling that's along all the other stuff that we have to come and got the gun is a very important piece of the puzzle I
00:14:54think all the stuff that we do the Intel the analysis is is is is key but for me got plays another is a very big role and that's how I signed the most my you know all my successes were basically back then and music were all got just
00:15:11something we told you about her I just met you know heard one this about collaboration guys that got killed and I'm always trying to deconstruct and understand what the data is that I actually could be because there's usually dated notes that are like supplying got I like this
00:15:30team he's out like losing what and if you got on with the time the the data back up the instinct a lot his track record speaks for his guts really good and and you met him before that you you guys work for your your company founders know it's
00:15:49there's so much money sloshing around up there that a good company a good idea has no problem getting money why does %HESITATION a public company take your money what we offer something that no one else can offer where unique and in our community justice system give you some
00:16:06background alone a lot of you like me don't leave at this when we started weren't spending money they're not used to to investing our money they're used to getting an incoming call say Hey we'd love for you to be involved this company and then the manager or the
00:16:21agent would say okay my client needs documents right there we know how to make those deals because they would understand the company so it is a really is not even doing it when we were doing it we were actually called the company to sell they were calling us
00:16:34so we're going we've identified you we really like you we can we can bring something to the table it's different so we were unique I think that is a few more people in our in our world who are for doing that maybe not to the to the extent
00:16:45that we are as a as a business but were able to get people point of view that they normally wouldn't get with all the other investors they have a sense of collectivity they would have with all these other investors and %HESITATION I I think I think there are
00:16:58that over the last few years people be able to see that you know not just not just hear back I can see it in play and just a quick break to say business can be done from anywhere in the palm of your hand to hand out the source
00:17:11however you move your business forward with business platinum it's not about where you are it's about where you want to take your business next and nothing helps you like the resources and know how of the business platinum card backed by the service and security of American Express marketing
00:17:27is it presses a branding also utilise everything else we have we have a social media marketing team %HESITATION that's in house with us we have we have %HESITATION branding marketing support that we spotted companies think we also have just a totally different network that and we're not afraid
00:17:44to leverage on behalf of the companies that we work with and it's a global network I mean one of the great things that happens in our diverse to the multi faceted careers guy into traveling around the world with bands meeting with people all across you all different sectors
00:18:00%HESITATION then we also or LP's are really important %HESITATION the risk capital and and live nation %HESITATION you know they they have their own sort of weaponry of of support that they can supply the companies but it's a lot of it just comes down to caring enough to
00:18:16show up yeah I ask that is a lot %HESITATION you know with the study companies sell the company and they come back with their next company for investment I'm like what's a differentiator what what why are you coming back to us like what are we doing that other
00:18:30people and you know what small fundamental things like I felt about you guys came to office twenty investors and three of them came to our office and actually cared enough to get to know our team this couple companies are good people right and people need support especially when
00:18:49all you're doing all day long is working on your company is a sometimes like foundational support is you know a dentist sometimes foundational support is is actually being there with some is going through a tough decision of is it time to sell is it time to go out
00:19:04and do another round if we go out and do another round how do we go about it when's the right time who the people we should be talking to like just little simple fundamental support and then senator did using the products you know the the dirty secret is
00:19:19eleven fatter knows exactly who is using most of the products that you know with with one of the best use of the product any shocking bit several best but down but what will the most optimized for the product with most optimize audience exertion finals are learned like look
00:19:38at the data explore it without a send out a monthly report emailed that we get on every single one of the companies we work with what at the bottom there's three requests that I stayed at the bottom here whether we can fill that are not put three requested
00:19:52for all of your investors and leverage your investor network to actually build your company and just responding to those things even if you can't and saying I can't help you here I can't help you here but I might be able to do so many of them to try
00:20:05that small touch is so much more than what most people do it shop you've mentioned that seems like you guys started out with your own money but now you have a piece here at a BC fund has that chain had I have in other people's money now to
00:20:18invest it changed anything you do I don't think it changes the way we look at companies %HESITATION only because we I think we were both like ego maniacs and want to win so just like just appeared like just we want to win and want to you know be
00:20:40a great companies to help them build great things like that desire I think he's like a W. change anything for the perspective of the second this reporting %HESITATION the there's different internal infrastructure stuff that we that we've had to be a little bit more responsible about you being
00:20:55with us here on money would you feel this here so to speak but now you do deals that you wouldn't know that you have kind of other people's investment that you're in charge of that change alcohol will have what we have to funds we have one LP in
00:21:06both and they're very supportive %HESITATION and we don't feel sense everything we would make this as we go we would we put our money into it for doing around the answers it's not yes we don't do it yeah the bottom line is you know we we have it
00:21:20out with their fun which is you know if if the fun collectively passes and one of us wants to make the investments so you know when it's a stand on the table one of what one of our partners is standing on the table going if we don't do
00:21:32this I'm doing this personally I think a pretty good signal and I think in you want every investment to be there right it so I think I think internal processes that the the the I think creates a really nice checks and balance because we know it at at
00:21:48some you know with your own you're like not being what it is there is it's like sorry whose so in this internal practical sense of responsibility to anyone but you know we don't have %HESITATION Kalispell piece temperatures here are you to ponder to work with start ups in
00:22:06the tech world right now all right one hand do you have any advice for this great ideas out here the fact is that %HESITATION workers start up well we engage ourselves %HESITATION but I might be different I would I would say I would see this if you're in
00:22:37an early stage startups metrics count the discount so much more than you know if they if if they don't help from now they will cal officially and if you can't measure it you can't improve it so measure everything you could possibly measure %HESITATION and then the second piece
00:22:52of advice is there is generally no substitution for hard work %HESITATION the you know the one common thread is the you know boot strap or not boot straps the people make it through the other side but the people who just grind grind grind but they don't grind selfishly
00:23:13the grind generously and they work on behalf of others %HESITATION it because but also from from all the start of work that I've done the most connections I've made in any start up that I've worked on is a non profit that I work on it because it's shocking
00:23:34the number of people that will show up relative to a nonprofit negative work in parallel with the nonprofit whether it's internally within your company figure out a way to make a generous company or whether it's a nonprofit individually where you're applying your talents that because the number of
00:23:48chasing connections that you make through nonprofit work are extraordinary like people that you wouldn't get in a room with otherwise end up in a room with you and then you can apply those relationships back to whatever your company is in a super powerful way and end when people
00:24:04see you Jack being generous and makes them want to be generous on your behalf so find a way to be generous with your work and and measure everything I would say %HESITATION originality %HESITATION one of things that we see when we travel and go to all of all
00:24:21these different conferences Hey I'm a member of an on Airbnb %HESITATION bananas up and it's it's this this does I haven't seen those work you know the value of you be you know be yourself to really make sure that you're part of the original and and the other
00:24:39thing is is who is speaking on your behalf so whatever company you work for or with who the evangelist who is the person at the forefront explaining what you're doing I used to when when bands to come to me and they don't sign me and and and I
00:24:55go to their shows as you can convince twenty of your friends and family to show up you can't convince your twenty people in your family to shut your own show then you're not a good sales person they don't like the music they're not they're not what you know
00:25:07so I think that make sure that whoever is at the forefront of your company's is is really able to message well and convince people that this is something great you mentioned the tier companies when you've invested in those manifestos companies and they're obviously you know just decker whatever
00:25:25unicorns did you knew you had to make special or that kind of just like I will give it a shot they stand out from the other thing Sir this data yeah I have done ashen showed me Airbnb in his office I room I I think that's like the
00:25:38first order of on or something I walked in and I said okay I did exactly what he was an investor a call made his manager at the time we didn't have our fun totally figured out and and %HESITATION I set up I'll take everything I have input on
00:25:53this company didn't they didn't they were just starting that maybe had a million the film going deep on this one and likely they let us a minute let me take all the money I had the bank unfortunately and and and put into it but they they gave us
00:26:11enough and and that's how we start as you point many you would like to get into both of those companies like will fight was selling ourselves to the founders to get into those companies %HESITATION bit there's a this court will be %HESITATION %HESITATION things that just turned twenty
00:26:28five star company was like nineteen we're meeting with them that I don't think any posted days like if you want to do the best move from somebody asks for advice and if you want to get a vice asked for an investment and it's really it's it's somewhat true
00:26:42like we did most of the great companies that that we've gotta do you gotta fight to get in and those two companies we got in a little bit later they were like seed stage and I saw great seats stage and talk with Travis about it and he was
00:26:56explaining company to me and I just didn't understand why people are going to pay a premium to ride of black cars like just didn't like it didn't click and then once the data was there is clear that there was like this consumer market fit it was like this
00:27:10right now wall we mentioned like CC come with all time what was about to be beaten but you want to move into the house and dump it all on this start what what I think I spoke to us to be there things that we had we would really
00:27:22use or things that we %HESITATION you know sometimes your ideas in a truly good idea but I'm not sure I would use it Hoover was like genius what a perfect way to get around it may be a question of people's couches and I think I did and I
00:27:36did it for you actually I've lived on the product for a year %HESITATION we first invested in free and our new baby yeah many the dog food you'd like you can invest in the company figure out what you know what works and what doesn't work and then here
00:27:50I am how many years later having yesterday had a product meeting with the team because I know the product intimately the these things are like it's it here this is the this is the quote I don't want going out the press there were no smartphones it's like it's
00:28:07like you have a good evening from Donald Trump and you know I the thing it's if you can excite eighty eight consumer base that has previously been engaged in something with a new idea this potential it seems that you know it I know it well enough is you're
00:28:50right now with the landscape of consumer attack you have to excite the consumer base that has previously been engaged to break through in some way shape or form because it's been a lot of the things that played out and so you know with those companies that that period
00:29:06of time there was consumer base that was right for destruction and they were willing to do things a little bit differently than how things have been being done historically and both of those companies challenged a natural intuition that people had about a market place and get by deluded
00:29:22expose this keeping the whole this gaping green grass that they get that they could then build their companies into but nobody had that that when they entered they didn't have any competition we have a minute they left and talk about exciting ideas I mean when I what's what's
00:29:39with friends of a company's exciting guys right now where you see the green grass all right I think I think this is %HESITATION well first of all I think this this voice enabled technology platform whether it's gonna be echo it's gonna be Google's version of this hurts eventually
00:29:56gonna be apple's version of this I think this thing is just like this is like a reset on the OS and so having a new OS that people are building technology into is really exciting I don't think we've yet to see the companies that can be enabled off
00:30:12of that %HESITATION but it's it's always out there was on always available and I think there's a consumer behavior to be set up certain five for myself what I have a relationship with this thing that they are I think there's tons and tons of opportunity you think a
00:30:27guy with a big a big guy you have one like almost every room in my house and it's it's like it's turned on my TV and my lights in my ever it's like rigidly I'm using it for virtually everything instead of Mr bugs in it but these kind
00:30:43of early toys that turn into like mixture utilities are are pretty cool so I got I love this house and I were up a lot of things just right he just about felt like Alexa please give me motorcycle need to show that it is changing at the south
00:30:59side it's really cool thank you ride the bike was a great I am thank you so much guys he lives Hey everybody show podcast one has a new act there's no other app like this there you can find out everything about your favorite shows find articles social media
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