Demeris Morse: (00:00)
Hey everyone, Demeris from Digital Niche Agency. I’m here with Cihan Fuat Atkin, founder of XCINEX. And I’m really excited to be with him here today as XCINEX is live on Wefunder with an equity crowdfunding campaign. And equity crowdfunding is a relatively young phenomenon. So I want to sit down with Cihan today and talk about equity crowdfunding, why XCINEX is going down that route and what he hopes to achieve through this new fundraising option for early stage companies. Cihan, welcome. Can you just tell me a little bit about yourself and just intro for the audience?
Cihan Fuat Atkin: (00:41)
Sure. And thank you for having, Demeris. My name is Cihan Fuat Atkin and I am founder and CEO of XCINEX. I am an entrepreneur, a father of two and a husband. And I’m really excited to be an immigrant chasing my dream here in America and trying to bring some exciting product, our product Venue, to market, and really revolutionize the streaming entertainment space by bringing the opportunity for everyone, regardless of where they live, what their economic status is to be able to tune in and watch what’s brand new, what’s streaming live or filmed around the world. So very excited about what we’re doing.
Demeris Morse: (01:19)
Awesome. And I am too. And I really want to delve into this concept of equity crowdfunding. Because as I mentioned, it is a young phenomenon in the space and not every investor really understands the concept. So, Cihan, in your words, can you describe equity crowdfunding for me?
Cihan Fuat Atkin: (01:36)
Absolutely. I think of equity crowdfunding as a super mini IPO offering, right? The thing is with crowdfunding, the minimum is pretty low. It’s like $100. So everyone is able to participate, right? It’s also regulated by the SEC. So there are some security measures there. And on top of it, it’s open to the world. So regardless of US or Europe, or Middle East, Asia, regardless of where your potential investors may come from, you’re able to solicit and get people involved, which again creates inclusivity and gives everybody an option to invest early in startups that they may like, that may have really big returns for them in the future. Before crowdfunding, I mean, this opportunity was only available to angels and VCs and accredited investors, right? Albeit even on crowdfunding, you have to be an accredited investor to invest a certain amount. But below that amount, it’s open to the whole world.
Cihan Fuat Atkin: (02:36)
And again, it brings inclusivity, creates an opportunity for someone who may not ever have had a chance to come in early at a startup and invest and potentially reap the benefits of that big upside. Now they’re able to do that with crowdfunding platforms and with the crowdfunding system, which I think is super. It’s really cool. But also it gives startups like us that are pre-revenue that may not have the traction to go out and raise big VC money right now, the ability to raise the funds we need to be able to execute on our plans and create that traction without having to worry about just raising from friends and family, right? Because you can cap out your friends and family pretty quick. And being able to reach out to the world of individuals who may think your idea, your startup is pretty cool and throwing in 100 bucks or 1000 bucks, whatever the case may be to help support your drive, I think is a super exciting and super helpful tool for not only us, obviously, but all startups kind of looking to raise funds.
Demeris Morse: (03:39)
Mm-hmm (affirmative). I like to say equity crowdfunding is a democratization of investing. Because as you mentioned, only VCs or angels would previously have the opportunity to invest in early stage or private markets. And now with Title III of the JOBS Act, everyone can invest in early stage private companies through a Reg CF campaign or Reg A campaign. And there are various different campaigns as you know, in the equity crowdfunding space with their various limitations and requirements. But me, someone who is definitely not a VC or an angel investor can back a brand that I love or feel inspired to support for as little as $100, $250, $1000 if I have it.
Demeris Morse: (04:26)
So I think it’s a really great opportunity for people to see the brands they love come to life or see the next generation of products come to life and also make an impact for the startups that are trying to make a social impact. We see a lot of emerging portals that are focused on just health care, et cetera, et cetera. So it’s a really great opportunity for impact investing and supporting the business you want to see really, really come to life. So I’m really excited to see XCINEX taking this route. So talk to me, why did you decide you wanted to go down this route? What were the choices you made to say, equity crowdfunding is for XCINEX?
Cihan Fuat Atkin: (05:12)
Actually in the beginning we didn’t know too much about it so we were kind of like, what is this? And our biggest concern was if we do this, how will this impact our future raises? When we go to the VCs for a real equity round, are they going to look at this and say, we’ll pass because you guys did a crowd fund, right? And when we found out more information about it, the fact that you could have 1000 investors and it only shows up as one line item on the cap table, right? All these different things that we kind of found out about as we got into the process, made it pretty cool too, hey, we were like, hey, you know what? That won’t affect anybody because we’re not going to have 1000 people on the cap table, right? We’re going to have just one line item. And so it doesn’t really turn off VCs. Also, you’re building a brand, like you said, it’s pretty cool how you can get engagement from a world of investors.
Cihan Fuat Atkin: (05:59)
And we have that. If you look at our campaign, we have people that invested that dropped a note, did a shout-out of why they invested or how they’re excited about it. And it’s really cool. It’s really motivating for a startup to be able to see that type of engagement, see that type of feedback and positive support from people around the world that are just finding out about you, right? And being able to build a brand with them and for them to come in early and enjoy that growth, that journey with you, right? They may not be on the actual management team, but as an investor early on, they get to be included in all the update emails, in all the seminars that we do. Everything that we’re essentially doing to build the brand, they get to be a part of that. And so it’s a really cool way for them to see early on how a startup kind of struggles through that process and then finally launches and is potentially able to succeed, right? So I think that’s a really cool thing that, again, you were never able to do before crowdfunding.
Demeris Morse: (06:56)
Right. And there’s something exciting about potentially investing in an early stage startup that is the next big thing, the next Uber, the next Airbnb. That next unicorn out there that just all of a sudden goes public and has their IPO. You can only imagine how you would feel if you did that. You would consider yourself, I bet, a really savvy investor for investing in this company. And then just be elated that you’re enjoying such huge financial returns from maybe a very small initial investment. So there’s also high risk investment, but also really potentially high reward, right?
Cihan Fuat Atkin: (07:33)
Absolutely. Absolutely. As things are with startup investments to begin with, right?
Demeris Morse: (07:39)
Cihan Fuat Atkin: (07:41)
And also for us, it was kind of like, hey, we need interim funding, right? To execute on our strategies. And we’re in the middle of a pilot and we’re distributed product and not quite generating revenue. We’re still pre-revenue. So to raise the amount of money that we were looking to raise in the next round, right? To be able to take the product and actually build a market, have a full on nationwide market launch, we need institutional funds, right? So this is a way for us to kind of… it’s almost like bridge funding, almost. I don’t want to say a loan, because it’s not a loan. But a bridge funding. Almost gives us an opportunity to not only build a brand on a global platform like Wefunder, but also raise funds to help us bridge that gap from the pilot to the actual revenue generating stage.
Cihan Fuat Atkin: (08:29)
So then when we go to the VCs, we’re not like, Hey, we’re pre-revenue we have no traction. We can tell the story and we can actually talk about the brand we built, the money we raised. The outreach and the feedback we were getting from not only the Wefunder crowd, but now with the pilot being initiated, we have actual users that are using the pilot product and giving feedback on whether they like certain features or don’t like them and how we can make them better. So with all this, at the end of our pilot, with a successful Wefunder campaign, we’re able to really put a story together on how we were able to go from A to B, to C and now we’re ready for executing the final launch. And I think that’s really the story that VCs want to see, right?
Cihan Fuat Atkin: (09:13)
They want to see traction. They want to see some type of market product fit, right? Engagement. And really that’s what we’re doing, building the story piece by piece, putting things together to really show these institutional investors, or maybe even strategic investors like technology companies that may strategically align with us. It’s a good way to show them, hey, look at this traction, look at what we’re doing and know the story. So that’s really exciting for us and having a platform like Wefunder to be able to do that is very helpful.
Demeris Morse: (09:46)
Right. I totally agree. Not just for you, but for all startups that are going down a similar path that you are. So let’s talk more about the goals that you have for your equity crowdfunding campaign. I know you have probably, as an early stage startup, have a ton of ambitious goals that you’re trying to meet. So tell me, how much do you want to raise on Wefunder? What are you looking to raise and how is that investment going to help you meet those goals?
Cihan Fuat Atkin: (10:09)
Sure, absolutely. Like I said initially, this is kind of like a bridge funding for us to get us into our final stages of our pilot and into launch and so we can raise the next institutional round. So we didn’t have this gigantic big, hairy goal at the end. We set a pretty modest goal. 600K was our goal. We’ve already raised about 360,000 from about 112 investors. So our first goal was 300K. We met that essentially within the first couple… I would say maybe the first eight hours of going live on Wefunder. And we hit that pretty fast. And then, and then we had more engagement and then the platform kind of stalled a little bit because of the updates in software with Facebook and iOS. So as we were kind of… Now, we just got done kind of repositioning our marketing strategy to incorporate those changes and we’re now spinning it up back up again.
Cihan Fuat Atkin: (11:08)
So we do have until July 12th for everyone that’s out there to be able to participate and get in on this awesome opportunity and be a part of our journey. So we are looking to hit that 600K. Now we’ve kind of increased our goal from three to 600 saying, hey we have three weeks left in the campaign. We’re just now spinning up the marketing campaign again. Let’s see if we can push ourselves to hit that 600K. So that’s our goal. And the funds are being used especially to roll out the pilot and execute the pilot products going out, the customer service and the logistics. Those types of things are what the funds are going to be spent on. And that’s why we didn’t need to raise a big daunting number. We just wanted to raise just enough to be able to execute the pilot, build value as we go towards our equity raise. Probably looking to start the equity raise and that engagement towards August, end of August.
Demeris Morse: (12:07)
Mm-hmm (affirmative). So are you saying that you plan on doing another crowdfunding raise after this raise?
Cihan Fuat Atkin: (12:14)
No. It won’t be crowdfunding. Our next one will be actually with institutional investors, VCs or strategic partners. It will be an equity raise. Our current raise on Wefunder is a convertible note. And I think our next raise will be our… Because we’ll have traction, we’ll have some exciting things to show VCs and institutional investors. So that will be our next journey.
Demeris Morse: (12:38)
Do you already have some VCs and institutional investors or partners that are already interested?
Cihan Fuat Atkin: (12:43)
Yeah. We are talking to a bunch of them. We have some that are interested, some that have passed, obviously. Just the nature of the game. But we’re very excited and we’re continuously doing outreach and introducing ourselves with…. aligning with other VCs that we think would be a good fit for us, right? It’s really important to see that it’s not just one sided. We have to have a good fit, it has to be a mutual fit, and we need to be able to bring value to each other. Obviously, we need to bring X amount of returns for them, and they need to be able to bring a certain amount of value to the table for us as a startup to be able to succeed and execute on our plans. So it’s a two way street and we’re looking for the best fit. And we’re looking for different VCs. We do have some big names in mind, but it’s just a matter of being able to align with them and align your goals and expectations.
Demeris Morse: (13:30)
Align and execute is what I like to say. So let me ask you this, Cihan. I mentioned earlier that with equity crowdfunding, it really is an opportunity for everyday investors like myself to get inspired about a brand and then want to back that brand or invest in that brand because they believe in the founder story, the mission, vision, and the potential disruptiveness that the product can have in the market. So what about XCINEX and Venue do you believe is going to be that kind of inspiration? Why do you think everyday investors would want to invest in XCINEX?
Cihan Fuat Atkin: (14:10)
Well, I think long story short is we’re finally doing something that everybody for as long as I can remember has wanted this. I mean, if you’re a consumer and you like watching movies or content, you’ve thought of this before. You’ve sat on your couch and you’ve said, “How come I can’t watch this stuff from the comfort of my home? How come I got to go to a movie theater? Or how come I got to go to an arena or a concert hall?” Everybody, I’m sure, at one point in their time has thought about this and said to themselves, “God, I wish I could just watch this from the comfort of my house,” right? So that’s what we’re doing. We’re bringing that pent up demand that everyone’s had, right? In this day and age with the technology we have and the internet and the speed of things that are advancing. And we have these beautiful, big TVs that hang on the wall that have surround sound and technology is there. How come we still have to go and physically attend these venues.
Cihan Fuat Atkin: (15:07)
So to be honest, the venue is a great experience and it can’t match what you’re going to be able to do at home, right? But it’s limited. You have limited showtimes, limited seating capacity, limited hours of operation. You also have scalpers that buy up all the tickets and you got to deal with that. And then on the consumer side, you may be living in a rural market that’s very far from the city center that you need to travel to. Then you got to worry about having a couple drinks, having fun, and then having to get back home. There’s a lot that goes into this, right? I have two kids. For me and my wife to be able to go catch a concert or a movie we need to deal with a babysitter or will grandma or auntie be able to be available this week. So there’s a lot that goes into it. Our lives are very complicated, right? But what we want to do is just bring simplicity to it.
Cihan Fuat Atkin: (15:53)
If I could put the kids to the bed and cuddle up with my wife on the couch and watch what’s playing in theaters or watch a live concert from anywhere in the world that happens to be available tonight, I should be able to do that, especially if I’m willing to pay a premium, right? And that’s what Venue does. Venue replicates that exhibition business and it’s very artist friendly. So we give the artists the ability to expand that show or that movie or that event, and be able to charge on a per person basis. So the value doesn’t diminish and people that would physically go are not like, “Well, I’m not going to go because I could just watch it at home for 10 bucks,” right?
Cihan Fuat Atkin: (16:32)
What we’re creating is that digital marketplace or digital exhibition, right? That replicates the business model, but gets the consumer into the action when it’s live or when it’s in the heat of the moment, not a week after the concert or… I think that’s one of the most exciting things that we’re doing. Everyone’s been thinking about this, everyone at one point in time has been like, “I wish I could do this at home.” Well, we’re doing it, we’re making it happen. And you can now be a part of the journey on Wefunder and support us for as little as $100.
Demeris Morse: (17:07)
That’s super exciting. And I am one of those people who was just like, I would love to go see this concert live, but at the same time don’t want to deal with the logistics of traveling downtown, paying for… The other night I had to pay for $120 Uber from a 20 minute drive because it was at prime time in the middle of the night. I was like, no one wants to pay for all those expensive costs to go with it versus, if your technology is able to basically ticket me using, I think, your different proprietary technology, AI, machine learning, et cetera, et cetera. You’re able to just ticket me in my room and I have that concert experience at home, it could be so much more seamless.
Cihan Fuat Atkin: (17:48)
Demeris Morse: (17:48)
Like you said, not every concert is… My home is not going to replicate the concert environment. However, I don’t always want the concert environment. I would like a more seamless balance or at least the opportunity to be like, I can still catch this at home, right?
Cihan Fuat Atkin: (18:02)
No. Exactly. And that’s exactly what we’re offering is that option, right? It’s not a monthly subscription so you’re not paying for something that you’re like, if I don’t use it, I’m paying for nothing, right? This is like pay for play. So there are going to be concerts that you definitely want to go to in-person, right? Or events or comedy spreads, whatever the case may be. You’re going to be like, “I’ve got the availability, I’ve got my logistics down. I’m going to go to this.” But there are so many of those events and what people do is they pick and choose because they don’t have the luxury to just be able to attend all of them.
Cihan Fuat Atkin: (18:34)
But if it’s in the comfort of your home and it’s priced at a point where it’s affordable, right? You’re not paying $300 per ticket at home, right? What it’s going to do is it creates the ability for people to attend more events. So your frequency of watching concerts or movies or events, it’s just going to go up. Yes. You’re going to go to one or two concerts live in a year, but then the other six you’ll watch on Venue, right? And what that does is it increases your entertainment options. And for the artists, it gets them more audience. More people can now tune into their brand new show, right? I think it’s pretty cool.
Demeris Morse: (19:09)
It’s a win-win scenario. And I think that’s… The other really exciting option is as consumers, now we have more options to watch our favorite events. And then the artists on their side have the option to expand their audience and create more revenue from showcasing their talent. So I really think XCINEX is one of the next big things, Venue, one of the next big things. And as with your campaign on Wefunder, people should get involved now. Now’s the time. With investing, time is your best friend. So the earlier you get in the better. So I’m really excited, Cihan. Any final words or call to actions for the audience? Let’s get them hyped.
Cihan Fuat Atkin: (19:51)
Yeah, absolutely. So as you guys know, we’re hard at work, getting everything put together for an anticipated Q4 launch at the end of this year. We’re very excited. We have a lot of awesome things happening that we can’t even talk about. But if you like this idea and we have a stellar team, check out the team bio’s and check out the team. We have a stellar team to execute this. We have an awesome technology. It’s patented in multiple countries around the world. And what we want to do is bring entertainment right to your couch and give you the opportunity to be a part of the brand new entertainment coming out around the world from the comfort and luxury of your couch should you want to. And support us, come on out. Wefunder.com/venuebyXCINEX, X-C-I-N-E-X. Be a part of this. You can go to our website, X-C-I-N-E-X.com. You can get all the information and it’ll direct you to Wefunder from there as well. Be a part of the journey, be a part of our awesome team and family. Be an investor, come on out, support us and let’s revolutionize the entertainment industry together.
Demeris Morse: (20:55)
Sounds good. Thank you so much, Cihan, for your time today. I really look forward to seeing the success of your Wefunder campaign and XCINEX and Venue as a whole. And I look forward to hearing further updates from you and your team. Thank you.
Cihan Fuat Atkin: (21:10)
Thank you, Demeris. Have a good one. Take care.
Demeris Morse: (21:10)
You too. Bye.
Cihan Fuat Atkin: (21:12)