Are You Alive and Performing? You Should Check Out This App!

by | Jan 2, 2018 | Marketing & Selling

What do artists, comedians, impersonators, magicians, photographers, speakers and balloon twisters have in common? They are all alive and performing — and now they can find gigs via a new app, called Special Guest, created by comedian Damon Wayans, Jr., and entrepreneur Kristopher Jones.

I recently learned about this new app but didn’t pay much attention to it at first. On first blush, it looked like a way to book entertainers, or if you were an entertainer, a way to get listed so people could find you. But, out of curiosity, I dug a little deeper and found that it is more robust than that. If you are speaker or author — or are looking for speakers or authors — this app can help you out, too.

I took the opportunity to email interview Kristopher Jones about the app.

Are You Alive and Performing? You Should Check Out This App!
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Kristopher Jones Chats About Special Guest

CARMA SPENCE: What kinds of speakers can you find through Special Guest?

KRISTOPHER JONES: Think of Special Guest as America’s Got Talent in your pocket. The idea is to make it easy for anyone, anywhere to hire LIVE entertainers, while making it easier for talent to get discovered. The only distinction we make in the app in terms of the type of talent that we focus on is “LIVE.” That includes thousands of different types of entertainers from speakers and officiants to musicians, singers/songwriters, photographers/videographers, magicians, dancers, actors/actresses, impersonators, and more. In short, if you are ALIVE and have a talent, we’d love you to create a profile in the app. Just a note: Special Guest is 100% FREE to talent. There is no sign-up fee and no monthly or ongoing fees.

CS: What kinds of speakers are you looking to sign up for this app?

KJ: I’m a professional speaker and I’m in the app – I mostly focus on personal/professional development topics, but I can also speak on topics like raising capital for your start-up, how to build and sell a business, and digital marketing (SEO, Google AdWords, etc.). The app is a marketplace so any speaker that is able and willing to professionally present on a given topic is welcome to sign-up for the app!

CS: What are the benefits to speakers in being listed?

KJ: My partner at Special Guest App is actor/comedian Damon Wayans, Jr. Our investors include comedian/actor Kevin Hart, comedian/actor Marlon Wayans, actor Wilmer Valderrama, and many more – I mention these higher profile people for a reason. Our goal with the app is to provide an opportunity for non-managed talent (i.e. up and comers or independent) to get discovered and booked. The app was built to help anyone looking for talent (i.e. speakers) to easily find and compare them via Special Guest. As mentioned above there are no fees to talent. In addition to discovery, the app handles all the other (sometimes backbreaking) elements of the booking process from in-app messaging, to the legal agreement, to getting paid. Each talent is able to display their skills via a talent profile within the app, which can include a bio, headshot, pictures, video, and social media handles.

CS: What are the benefits to events coordinators looking for speakers in using this app?

KJ: Makes it much easier to find a wide array of talent. Also removes a lot of the back and forth that typically occurs during the discovery and negotiation process (i.e. please send me a video, what are your cancellation policies, what days are you available, etc.) – it’s all done within the app.

CS: What gave you the idea and inspiration to create this app?

KJ: I’m an entrepreneur, investor, and app developer. I’ve been building businesses, raising capital, and using technology to solve problems for 20 years. I was introduced to Damon Wayans, Jr. through a mutual friend. Damon approached me on the basis of his idea of building an app to make it easier for talented people to get paid gigs. I began building the app for him and later we joined forces as business partners. We’ve since raised $1.5M in investment capital and appeared on Apple TV’s first original content series called Planet of the Apps.

Special Guest Empowers Unmanaged Talent

Given the rise of democratizing website services such as Uber, Lyft, and AirBnB, Jones figured “someone, someday is going to build an app that democratizes the way talented people get discovered and booked.” He and his partners believe that Special Guess is the app to do this. “We think it’s a really big idea and we have the right investment partners to build something special. However, just like Uber and AirBnB, we need our users to love the app and tell all of their friends to use the app.”

Currently, the app is only available for the iPhone. If you have an Android (like me) you’ll have to interact with the app on your computer (which I find easier to do anyway). I signed up today. it was a fairly easy process. You can view my profile here. If you deiced to sign up, too, please share your experience in the comments below.


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