In this episode, we had a fascinating conversation with DeVon “Devo” Harris. Devo transitioned from producing platinum records with G.O.O.D. Music to establishing Adventr, an innovative AI marketing tool designed to enhance content interactivity. Adventr simplifies the process of crafting intelligent, interactive video content, empowering viewers to connect with your message instantly on their terms.
Devo’s upbringing was quite diverse. Born in Georgia, he lived in multiple states across the United States, including Kansas, Texas, and Arizona. He also spent some significant formative years in Germany. His global experiences cultivated a worldly perspective and a natural ability to connect with people from all walks of life.
From a young age, Devo had a deep passion for building. This drive manifested itself in music and business alike. After completing his undergraduate studies at Wharton, he embarked on his post-college journey as a strategy consultant at PwC. Yet, an increasing sense of motivation pushed him beyond the confines of convention, particularly following the burst of the internet bubble and an economic downturn. During this transformative period, Devo’s cousin, Kayne West, was striving to make a name for himself in the music industry. Devo played a pivotal role in supporting Kanye’s music journey, ultimately co-founding with Kayne the record label G.O.O.D Music.
As Devo’s career continued to evolve, he transitioned to working at Vimeo and his focus shifted towards the realm of video formats. Devo realized there was room for innovation in the space and this is what sparked the concept behind Adventr, a pioneering AI-powered interactive streaming platform that provides creators with the tools to craft immersive and highly personalized digital experiences.
In this episode, we discuss three key themes: when to use the art of “fake it till you make it,” how to challenge other people’s perception of you, and the future of interactive content.
Theme 1: The art of “fake it till you make it”
Devo shares the story of John Stephens, who underwent a name change to become John Legend, a commanding stage name. The idea of a stage name was a prominent topic of discussion for Kayne and Devo as a means to navigate the competitive music industry. At this point in time, Kanye had yet to secure a legendary status in the music world. However, ultimately, Kanye made the bold choice to embrace a stage name, a decision Devo now regards as one of the best decisions Kayne made for his career. This highlights the transformative power encapsulated in the age-old adage: “fake it till you make it.”
This narrative underscores the significance of vocalizing one’s aspirations, speaking them into existence, and allowing the market to respond accordingly. It demonstrates the profound influence wielded by words and names. Importantly, this lesson transcends the realm of music and extends to broader business and entrepreneurial pursuits. If you are a founder, perhaps consider embracing the art of “fake it till you make it” and manifesting success into existence.
Theme 2: How to challenge other people’s perception of you
Devo’s journey was not always up and to the right. For years, Devo struggled to raise money for Adventr. Despite having an impressive background, legitimizing himself as a tech entrepreneur proved to be a formidable task. In an effort to establish his credibility in the tech industry, he took a detour to work at Vimeo, aiming to gain valuable experience in the corporate arena.
Fast forward to the present, and Devo has successfully raised over $6 million from venture capitalists, defying the prior struggles and fundamentally challenging the initial perceptions that others had of him. How did Devo do this? First, he managed to identify individuals who believed in his vision and mission. Second and most importantly, Devo remained resolute throughout the entire journey. This was not always easy as Devo admits it was a challenge for him not to allow other people’s perceptions of him shape how he presented himself to the world. However, Devo took on adversity headstrong and achieved remarkable success.
Devo’s journey imparts vital lessons. It underscores the idea that even when faced with initial challenges, it is possible to reshape other people’s perceptions of you; these perceptions are not immutable. It’s crucial not to allow these perceptions to deter you but rather to persist. Regardless of your unique journey, whether it involves pursuing the next promotion or embarking on a new venture, Devo’s story stands as a testament to the formidable impact of relentless determination and hard work in attaining success.
Theme 3: The future of interactive content
Devo envisions a future for media that is both highly personalized and deeply interconnected. To illustrate this concept, he recalls a scene from the movie Minority Report, featuring Tom Cruise, where Cruise interacts with a holographic salesperson regarding tank tops. In this futuristic scenario, Devo explains that media of the future will possess the ability to not only understand individuals but also respond with tailored recommendations. For instance, the system could recognize that Cruise typically wears large tank tops and respond with “ we have large in stock and offer him 10% off knowing his purchase history”. The hologram would also be able to “access the gaps inventory in real time and make him an offer in real time.”
This vision aligns precisely with what Devo and his team are crafting through Adventr. Their long-standing goal has been to transition away from traditional video clips and create a fully generated experience. A component of this involves smart listening — where users can engage with platforms through spoken commands and the platform would be able to understand and implement a person’s request. AI plays a vital role in driving these concepts into existence.
In summary, Devo’s vision encapsulates the future direction of media: a landscape where content is not only highly personalized but also intricately connected, with AI serving as the driving force behind this evolution. We are so excited to see Adventr continue to revolutionize the future of media.
Thank you for listening to this episode of The Room Podcast!