109: Talking Heads Jerry Harrison Creates First Themed Investment Community With RedCrow
What happens when you put tech royalty and a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musician from one of the greatest bands of all times, Talking Heads, in the same room? The answer is RedCrow. RedCrow is a crowdfunding platform that was co-founded by CEO Brian Smith, a former Morgan Stanley financial advisor, and wealth manager. For many people listening the chairman will need no introduction at all. His name is Jerry Harrison, and he’s more than just a rock star with Talking Heads he’s a serial entrepreneur too. Unlike any other crowd funding portal, RedCrow allows the public to invest alongside industry experts who serve as RedCrow advisors and strategic investment partners. It’s a big honor to speak to these guys today.
Considering your background you guys are the epitome to me of tech royalty and in your case Jerry music royalty. You’ve got invaluable experience with some very big names. Can you tell the listeners a little about your own personal journey, experience and expertise and how that’s going to help with your role now?
Brian Smith: I moved to San Francisco in 1994 from New York City. My wife had a frightening experience with a homeless woman trying to stuff moldy bread into my little girl’s mouth so we started looking around for places where I could still be a record producer, where there were recording studios and where people might like to come. We came here, and as it turns out, there is a whole history since the summer of love. I found there were many studios to work at. When I got here, it was apparent that music and the Internet were beginning to come together.
Jerry when did you start getting involved in tech?
It started when I moved here. A friend of mine from college had founded a company called Micro Unity. Before that, he had a company called Maps which was the first successful risk processor business outside of the IBM development group. It had its ups and downs, and he was pushed out of that company and formed a new business called Micro Unity I think 30 years ago now maybe more. The concept they had was they could create a chip, a general services processor with the speed of ASIC (application specific integrated circuit). They ran into disagreements with the board of directors who were some powerful people. Everyone resigned from the board. I had been on the board of advisors, and I volunteered to become a member of the board of directors.
What makes RedCrow different from all the other crowdfunding options out there?
Brian Smith: RedCrow for me as much as it’s a professional journey is really based on a personal foundation. Our first child was born too early and did not survive. No one else in my family had ever experienced that so it was an awakening for me. My wife and I got involved in March of Dimes and a lot of other different causes that focused on labor and delivery and making pregnancy safer. When I was working at Morgan Stanley and sitting on the board of March of Dimes, I was introduced to a company based in Boston that had a new fetal monitor device.
I became very passionate about it, and I knew the doctor that was behind it. They came to me because I was at Morgan Stanley and had access to accredited investors. I wanted to help them in the worst way, but I could not direct client assets into a startup company or an investment that Morgan Stanley did not represent. I decided to leave Morgan Stanley and take on a business development role for this company and help them to find some strategic relationships and the right investments, and that is ultimately what happened. The company was funded, got its FDA approval and is now in the hands of an investment bank.
My eyes were opened that especially for accredited investors there was an appetite for investments outside of traditional stocks, bonds and mutual funds. I became involved in some other startups connecting to accredited investors. In part of my journey, I met Jerry through members of a band called Live that Jerry produced in the 90’s. I eventually relocated to San Francisco and Jerry, and I became close family friends. As we watched the Jobs Act unfold and watched what was happening in the crowdfunding space I started talking to Jerry about forming a company based on equity crowdfunding and making it specific to the healthcare vertical given that we both had experience in health care. But we also had contacts and relationships that could help us secure these opportunities.
RedCrow is an equity crowdfunding platform that is focused on specific verticals with expertise in those verticals that can help curate these deals. We also have the crowd being able to weigh in before we even raise money. As we grow and get really good at our first vertical, we will begin to roll out additional verticals.
Can you talk anyone listening through the selection process for funding and how they can get the ball rolling?
Brian Smith: The first thing they would want to do is go to www.redcrow.com. They can register there, and investors can do as well. It’s a great opportunity now to start submitting your company. We will take it from there and go through the process of where they fall today. We have a team that will work with each company to make sure the documents are in place. A key to this as far as getting ready to go out and do a crowd funding campaign is marketing your story and making sure you have your story buttoned up, and all the pieces are in place.
What are your goals for the immediate future and beyond?
Jerry Harrison: We’re still at the point of finishing the website and getting it up and running, introducing the companies that we’ve selected and building an audience. We intend to add verticals regularly and quickly. We think of it as a step by step process.