Recalling the Early Days of Pitch, Inside Casa de Crypto
PITCH INVESTORS LIVE team member and writer Alice Hlidkova traveled to Weston, Florida to report on the series of events leading up to the public presale of the PITCH token. She offers insights on team dynamics and the individuals who put this project together.
The city of Weston nests beautiful homes like those found in hit movies like Scarface, where Al Pacino played Tony Montana. The mobster and his girlfriend took great care of his lavish 18-foot-high central dome adorned with 24-karat gold leaf in the Byzantine-style alcove before it was destroyed. .
Much like Montana, the PITCH team took advantage of their “mansion” but on a much smaller scale, to build out their vision, strengthen team dynamics, and launch a public token sale of PITCH. “We got this place, as our last option”, said Systems Analyst Alex Urban. “We had been looking for weeks to bring the team closer together. We had to get something fast as we were in the middle of our private sale.”
Urban liked his desk overlooking the pool, where an inflatable swan lazily drifted across on hot days that Chief Architect Damien Coughlan had recently played with during a video shoot. “Ok guys, let’s focus on the goals”, said Coughlan, as he walked over to the whiteboard. “OD — take a marker.”
Director of Photography and Cinematography Tony “OD” Morera set up his camera for team interviews. Morera, has gained great experience leading the way as Director of Photography at a leading digital education company, and worked closely with celebrities and influencers online.
“We have to interview the founders before the sun goes down”, said OD. Coughlan nodded in agreement before he raised his eyebrow. “What’s that noise outside?”, he asked.
Over by the pool, Social & Reach Architect Ben Malol was flying his drone. “I have to get some good photos for Facebook”, he responded. Pacing back and forth, Malol played with the remote in between launching ads (As one of the top facebook and reach experts in the world, he also has the largest organically grown Facebook Groups at 50,000+ members). OD walked over and said, “We’ll get it done, brother. Tell me what you need.”
Suddenly, the sliding door swings open and out come the Founders, Matthew Lally and Jonathan Foltz. “Guys! We literally have two days to get the video done and email a ton of people”, said Foltz, with Lally in toe nodding in agreement.
Brand Ambassador Camilo Montañez and Digital Strategist Chris Knight looked over from a distance and smiled.
Much of the collaboration at the mansion was a mix of organized chaos on the fly and creative flow, and was loosely structured around pending items with enough room left as open invitations for distractions.
“I wanted the team at the mansion before the token sale to get creative input and keep things organized”, Foltz told me over a cup of coffee. “With Matt only ten minutes away, we could get a lot done — fast.” This entire dynamic reminded me of what could have happened at the Facebook mansion in their early days.
Foltz and Lally put together a founding team of 15 members in four months, with 20+ additional experts. Foltz funneled most of the strategy and marketing team through his consulting and branding agency, Digital Age Business, while Lally onboarded development through his software company 2 Up Technology, Inc. All additions were fans of the project that were eager to get on board on this disruptive project in order to change the entrepreneurial landscape.
With one week before launch of the public presale that would forever change entrepreneurs’ lives, it was showtime. Computers and headphones plugged in and Monsters & juices stocked in the fridge, the boys were ready to go — creating excel spreadsheets, running the numbers, camera rolling and phones ringing.
“What happened over there Jonathan?”, shouted OD.
“I am just keeping up with everyone trying to get in on the sale”, shouted back Foltz.
Private/ presales of any token are usually sold in fundraising events that happen (1) prior to a company launch, (2) while a product is being built, or (3) after a product has been in the marketplace for some time. Most token sales last for days if not weeks and some, similar to EOS, can last a year or more.
Token sales are powerful in that they serve as bootstrapping and facilitation mechanisms for new and existing companies to take their projects to the next level. Investors and other token buyers can buy tokens at discounted rates and sell them on exchanges if they ever make it there.
Alex Urban, a 23-year-old former Director of Operations of a top mortgage company moved from Utah to Arizona in spring of 2017. Overseeing millions of dollars in mortgage transactions, Urban was looking for a career change. He met serial entrepreneur and digital marketing agency owner Jonathan Foltz at a Tecademics event in Phoenix, Arizona. “I had been learning about ecommerce and I liked what Jonathan was doing at his agency, Digital Age Business, and his other tech and ecommerce ventures.”
Foltz hired Urban, and put him on the Marketer’s Mansion Mastermind project — their first marketing event for marketers held at their mansion in Arizona. The idea for the event came from Lawrence Aponte, a successful ecommerce expert and top influencer and growth hacker who lived with Foltz and Coughlan at the mansion at the time. Urban moved in with the three men to help the team launch several ecommerce brands.
“I met Foltz at a startup event in Florida”, said Lally who visited the guys in Arizona. “I was blown away by the amount of collaboration and results the guys accomplished.”
Lally pitched his idea for PITCH. It wasn’t the first time he pitched his idea, in fact, Lally had been in the tech space since early 2007. He sold his first company as the largest shareholder in a year and a half ( valued at approximately $13 million). As a self-taught software developer, he had been cited by Google and other big names for his patent application in augmented reality.
Foltz and Coughlan absolutely loved the idea behind blockchain and the decentralized consumer-facing platforms and application called DAPPs. Lally’s app, PITCH Investors Live was already available in iOS but before he could launch he needed marketing.
“We knew he had vision and understood the blockchain”, said Coughlan who, as a top business analyst, worked on many applications at Apple, hand delivering reports to Steve Jobs and Tim Cook. Coughlan along with Urban, helped build the operational skeleton for the team alongside the advisors and Ian Kilday out of the UK .
Lally brought on Rich Cavanaugh to head development. George Zhao joined development and is currently the Director of Technology for a major firm. George Levie, our CPA, added support in accounting, income tax planning, and business valuation. Brandon Young, who provided initial seed funding serves as strategic adviser. His work at PITCH Investors Live is strategic to what he already has been doing, founding Micro Venture Capital Club, a 1,200 member organization which connects investors and entrepreneurs. Matt Smith is nicknamed “Elon Musk” as his agency serves many industries beyond tech, including defense, agriculture, and real estate. Smith also founded Cyberswype, a new decentralized payment gateway for cryptocurrencies with solid VC backing. Karl Schuckert added support in affiliate management as he launched “monster affiliate chatbots”, said Foltz on the massively large campaigns that he has launched. He also has brought many Software as a Service (SaaS) apps to the marketplace.
“We have a few hidden characters”, said Foltz, about the team members who work diligently behind the scenes of the company. Livia Suzanne Caudell brought her networking experience and would later become instrumental in bringing on one of our key celebrity advisers and investors, the Original Shark from Shark Tank, Kevin Harrington. Tiffany Barzaga added her brilliant editorial skills to ensure all marketing materials were not only legible, but compliant to branding. Dyani Main became the Social Media Manager and the queen of fan and customer inquiries from PITCH’s many social media channels and groups. Abdullah Haider added his diligence to programming while Micael Dave Legaspii his mastery to branding. Jeff Fagan brought his sales and operational expertise to serve as business and finance adviser.
The rest of the team is based overseas. Umer Hadeed who worked with brands like Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Cisco, and Cheetos is based in Pakistan. As previous owner of one of the most prestigious marketing agencies in the world, Offroad Studios, according to Forrester Research, Hadeed is the creative brain of PITCH. Montañez, based in Colombia, joins branding with his own list of large companies including Maserati, Jaguar, and Volvo. Dimitris Skiadis, a gifted Google Analytics expert, joins the team with a background in digital marketing and ecommerce. Based in Greece, Skiadis contributed to 80+ entrepreneurs, 1-on-1, to scale their online businesses from seven to eight figures.
The team wouldn’t be complete without an impressive list of advisors. Based in Weston, Florida Adam Kemper heads legal. “We have to be SEC compliant”, he said over the phone during a team call. At any given moment, team members ask questions to which Kemper responds ,“I’ll check with Rose the former assistant regional director of the SEC and Finra.”
Legal is an important piece of the equation for companies launching token sales. Designing the token itself considers early backers, founding team, and future users. There is no clearly established template for token economic design, so many companies run into problems with the SEC when tokenizing products. Selling tokens, a component of token sales, involves selling of services for a utility that comes in a variety of forms depending on project.
Justin Wu has worked on many token sales and is becoming an influencer in the space, using his growth hacking techniques from the startup world. As Head of Growth at CoinCircle, San Francisco’s most prestigious blockchain consulting and marketing company, Wu helped launch UniKoinGold in which Marc Cuban invested. Wu also co-founded Sidevision, a video commerce platform that enables brands and creators to display relevant commerce opportunities next to their videos (Warner Brothers invested in the company). Wu enjoys working with blockchain companies, as “it’s something new and exciting”, he says.
Imran Rahman agrees. He met the guys at the Marketer’s Mansion Mastermind and soon joined the PITCH team as Communications Advisor, assisting in organization charts and communications strategies. Like the founders, he started many companies, understanding the power of well-balanced team dynamics and marketing to launch brands and now, blockchain.
As the marketplace becomes saturated further with DAPPs and token sales, the team focused on branding and education to distinguish itself from others. With the presale a success and now in the public presale phase, the team will vamp up its marketing and outreach efforts with its launch of a world tour. The team began with San Juan, Puerto Rico, where they received admiration from international teams, supporters, and even investors that thought the idea, team, and vision was incredible. “Up next are the major cities in the United States before heading to Asia”, said Foltz speaking on behalf of the tour. “At the end of the day though, it’s about the team.”