Black social media users set widespread trends daily through timely posts, memes, and videos. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, over 70% of Black and Hispanic Americans scroll social media regularly, and at higher rates than white Americans.
However, Black representation among developers has been slower to gain popularity. Music producer and influencer Isaac Hayes III is shifting this by disrupting these spaces in real time as the founder of Fanbase.
“This is something that I lean on and I take pride in,” said Hayes, son of late, legendary R&B singer/songwriter and actor Isaac Hayes.
The ios App Store describes Fanbase as a photo, video, live streaming, and long-form content app that lets you monetize your posts by gaining subscribers for $4.99 a month. Fanbase users can like content for free or use the virtual currency known as “Love” to tip other users half a penny per love.
“We were building it [Fanbase] and then we were submitting to Apple for what we initially wanted to do,” explained Hayes. “There were no apps in the marketplace where you could subscribe to someone via an in-app purchase.”
The inspiration for Fanbase came in 2018 when Hayes saw a viral video of a youth from Memphis dancing while wearing a Spider-Man suit. He had an idea to create a social media site that would allow creators to monetize their content.
“I wanted something that was seamless and instantaneous, so when we went to Apple, Apple said ‘no, you cannot do that,” he said. “So, I was just devastated, but my CTO who is phenomenally brilliant said, ‘no, this is a good thing because that means you’re about to do something that’s never been done. We just have to figure out how to follow their rules and still get what we want.'”
He initially invested $200,000 of his own money to create a prototype from June to December 2018. In 2020, using the equity crowd funding site Start Engine, Hayes launched a seed round campaign raising $1,000,000 in three weeks.
In 2021 and 2022, during the second and final rounds of fundraising respectively, Fanbase raised over $5,000,000 primarily from investors of color. According to Hayes, the current valuation of the platform is $85,000,000.
Though less than five years old, Fanbase has already influenced the most popular social media platforms on the planet. While reflecting on his tech start up journey during an exclusive Upscale magazine interview at Fanbase’s Atlanta headquarters, Hayes shared one of his proudest moments.
Hayes recognizes social media users give platforms their value, but for ad-based platforms, users are treated like competitors. He seeks to change this by empowering Fanbase users.
When looking to the future, Hayes says “Disruption is at the core of what technology is. So you are changing and disrupting industries that are kind of like mainstays. They are the standard, right? So if you’re not pissing people off or scaring people with what you’re building, then you’re not building the right thing. I want to be disruptive because one of the things that Fanbase does is it democratized distribution of content to every single user on the planet.”
Download the free Fanbase app in the ios App Store and Google Play. Follow Isaac Hayes, III and Fanbase on all social media platforms