Unknown Origins

Adam Farish on Entrepreneurship

October 08, 2020 Unknown Origins Season 1 Episode 8
Unknown Origins
Adam Farish on Entrepreneurship
Chapters
1:37
What inspired and attracted you to be an Entrepreneur?
4:01
What does being an Entrepreneur mean to you?
10:30
What is your Creative Process?
14:10
What are the skills needed to be an Entrepreneur?
20:07
What are your Lessons Learned: Pitfalls to avoid & keys to success?
22:25
What is your vision for the future of Entrepreneurship?
Unknown Origins
Adam Farish on Entrepreneurship
Oct 08, 2020 Season 1 Episode 8
Unknown Origins

Entrepreneur and CEO of record label 8Stem Adam Farish feels that creativity is about having the ability to pivot and adjust thinking to fit the reality of what people actually want. He says, “figuring out what to do next when you're forging into new territory and blazing new trails is crucial. Many times you just don't know where to go because there are unlimited forks in the road and some can be fruitful, while others can lead to your death.” 

From musician, producer, sound engineer, and tech entrepreneur, to a nationally touring EDM DJ with two albums, multiple EPs and several 12” singles to his credit. Adam is Co-founder of SmartAmerica Home Automation, and Co-Founder and CEO of 8Stem - a new audio format and platform that allows any listener to remix music on their phone. ​



Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Entrepreneur and CEO of record label 8Stem Adam Farish feels that creativity is about having the ability to pivot and adjust thinking to fit the reality of what people actually want. He says, “figuring out what to do next when you're forging into new territory and blazing new trails is crucial. Many times you just don't know where to go because there are unlimited forks in the road and some can be fruitful, while others can lead to your death.” 

From musician, producer, sound engineer, and tech entrepreneur, to a nationally touring EDM DJ with two albums, multiple EPs and several 12” singles to his credit. Adam is Co-founder of SmartAmerica Home Automation, and Co-Founder and CEO of 8Stem - a new audio format and platform that allows any listener to remix music on their phone. ​



Roy Sharples:

Hello, I'm Roy Sharples, and welcome to the unknown origins podcast series, the purpose of which is to deliver inspirational conversations with creative industry experts on entrepreneurship, pop culture, art, music, film and fashion. Today's focus is entrepreneurship, which I have the distinct pleasure of chatting with Adam Farish, who is an entrepreneur and CEO of add stem item as a musician, producer, sound engineer and technology entrepreneur, before designing the eight stem format and platform, which is a new audio format and platform that allows any listener to remix music on their phone. Prior to this item was the co founder of smart America home automation. He was also a nationally touring EDM DJ, with two albums, multiple APS and several 12 in singles to his credit, and he's also the corner of the outlook in on Orcas Island. Hello, and welcome, Adam.

Adam Farish:

Hi, Roy, thanks so much for having me. It's a pleasure to be here. What a fascinating background you have, I've been very fortunate to have a lot of my passions nurtured and turned into career paths. So I feel very lucky, I've been able to do that.

Roy Sharples:

Well, it sounds like a lot in support of that sounds like you've made some great decisions along the way and written really followed. And we've conjured up and followed your dreams and made them hopping. So kudos to you. Thank you. Thank you very much. So getting back to the crux of all what, what inspired and attracted you to being an entrepreneur in the first place?

Adam Farish:

Well, it's kind of, you know, I think that I was actually just born that way. I don't know that I was ever any other way. When I read through your questions, and the topics of conversation today, I looked back at that, and I tried to think of a time when I was not doing something entrepreneurial. And I remember adults, when I was you know, a little kid would use that word before it was before it was a buzzword, you know, when I was like seven or eight years old. And I was thinking back to you know, even just just earlier today, I was thinking back to a time when I was maybe six or seven years old, and my my parents had a restaurant where people were, you know, making deliveries and they would park at the service entrance to the restaurant and then haul their goods inside to drop them off and sell them and while they were doing that I would grab a hose and a windshield washer like the gas station style and I would wash down their vehicles outside and then expect payment you know, without payment when the time it was probably not a job very well done. But they you know, they usually paid up because they were so charmed this, you know, street hustler kid was shaking them down for a couple of bucks outside while they were just making their food deliveries. Yeah, I'm sure that they found it amusing enough to at least kick me a few dollars every once in a while. That's excellent. So

Roy Sharples:

it really become pretty much at birth that really, yeah.

Adam Farish:

Yeah, and and I came from, from parents who were both entrepreneurial. Also, my my father was in was in real estate. But he graduated with a Master's of economics. And he couldn't figure out what to do. So he opened a miniature golf course, in a strategic location where he knew that the state was going to eventually build a highway through it. He built a crazy miniature golf course, and sat in a hammock for a couple of years waiting for the student to come in and make him an attractive offer for the property. And then he realized, hey, this real estate thing isn't so bad. And then he got into real estate and you know, did that off and on for the rest of his, for the rest of his life. So I sort of had a nurturing entrepreneurial foundation for my for my parents.

Roy Sharples:

That's excellent. So what does being an entrepreneur mean to you?

Adam Farish:

To me, it's really a willingness to do anything that feeds you in whatever way that you need. For me, it always revolves around some kind of passion, and that actually comes first. That's what gets me out of bed. Yes, is the passion and it doesn't always wind up actually being financially rewarding. Sometimes those passion projects are financially destructive. Yeah, I try and have a couple here and they're financially rewarding. So that you know, don't wind up impoverished or eating ramen forever. But I'm basically willing to do anything that feeds that passion and also, there's a certain sense or tendency to avoid those things that don't feel those passions and, and actually serve to to distract from. I've done a little bit of that. Also, where, you know, it's taken me away. For my passions and distracted into other endeavors, and that's okay too, but I don't necessarily consider that to be entrepreneurial for myself, because it was always, you know, doing something for somebody else or doing something because I needed a paycheck or, or, you know,

Roy Sharples:

quote unquote, job, what you've done each stem is just a real revolutionary concept. What can lead to that venture?

Adam Farish:

Well, when I was looking at actually before, that was the impetus to actually do it. And before that, I was speaking with a good friend of mine who is also in music, but he's also a very successful hardware, electronics, engineer, design, circuit boards and all kinds of components for high end audio gear. And about two years before I decided to start at them, I was talking with him about a gadget that was going to solve a problem for me. And that was I really wanted a wireless Bluetooth video camera. At that time, there was no such thing. And I talked to him about it, and we kind of went down the road chasing this, and at that time, was might have been 2010, or even before that, there was no access within the iOS operating system to to be able to access Bluetooth video. And we just we hit a wall there. And there was really no way to do it. It was walled off within the iOS operating systems. Yeah, okay, well, we can't do it. And we just, you know, abandon ship. And a year later, I think it was on the cover of Popular Mechanics are one of those, and it was the most amazing thing to come out of whatever year that was, and eventually, Apple had opened it up in the operating system, and a product emerged. And that kind of showed me you know, just because you can't do it right now doesn't mean that you won't be able to do it in the very near future. And so when it came back around to, to music, I was touring at the time with, with a band. And we were making very downtempo and chill music out of ancient spiritual hymns in humans from around the world. And so we were singing a five part harmony in eight different languages. And we were doing music, mostly, for our biggest market at the time was yoga teachers, alright, you know, yoga teachers wanted to have music in their classes. And they were We were constantly getting requests to do these custom mixes for the specific style that the yoga teacher was in presenting in the class. And it wasn't a one size fits all. And so I started talking with the same electronics engineer was also in the band with me. And I sound like why can't we just make it so that they can just do this themselves? You know, we can't, we can't make 100 different mixes of each song and then try and get that out to the audience. But why don't we just allow them to personalize it themselves? And so we were actually we were out on the road going to a gig somewhere. And we started talking about this. And he started digging through, you know, the iOS SDK, looking at what was available. He said, actually, you know, we can pretty much we actually can do this now. And multi channel audio. So that was where I was where I got the the impetus. Well, yeah, we had a customer base, who was asking us to do this for them. And we thought, Well, what if we just build a tool, so that they can do it for themselves? And that wasn't the ultimate destiny of that particular product? But that was the that was the seed for it. Yeah. And then we my partner, Bruce, habit, music industry legend in the picture, and he said, you know, yoga teachers, why not just make it so that everybody can do it? Like, yeah, he's, he's kind of a big picture. Big Picture guy. And I really focused on you know, if we do this for yoga teachers, Oh, my gosh, there's 100,000 yoga teachers in the world. And that'll work and Bruce was going, you know, there's actually 3 billion people listen to music, so better market and so we so we started to craft it for a larger market, but it stem is, if you take one step back from the music that you listen to on Spotify, the music that you listen to on Spotify is just a stereo file. So there's a left side and a right side, yeah, here and we'll go to your right here. If you take you know, one step back from that before it gets to that format, all of the pieces of music are individual files. So in a studio file, you might have 50 different 50 different audio files, so a bass drum and a snare drum and a bass guitar and a lead guitar and vocals, etc. And so that's, that's a multi channel audio file. So what we do is provide an intermediary step between the professional audio file with 50 tracks and the Spotify audio file with just you know, a stereo file and we have groupings of audio that exists in what are called stem files. So we present music, just like you would listen to on Spotify, but that you can actually be Dive into and swap out the drums. So if you're listening to a Beastie Boys song, for instance, you could change the drums out for David Bowie, you know, David Bowie beats or, you know, change the vocals out for something by 10,000 maniacs. And all those things are, are predetermine. That's amazing. What? What goes together so you can really remix things and create it and make it to taste on the fly. And then you can share that with others.

Roy Sharples:

What How would you typically characterize your creative process more at a general level? In terms of where ideas come from? And how do you then develop those ideas into concepts and then bring those concepts to life?

Adam Farish:

I'm actually in the process of refining that just as we speak, I'm involved in a new venture where I was approached by a good friend of mine, who I consider to be very successful, and also very disciplined in his approach. And I'm actually learning I'm refining my approach by by working with him currently, my previous approach has been a little less disciplined and a little more ad hoc. Yes. Well, this next thing is very early stage. It's idea and refinement of idea stage now, so I can speak to where I'm at currently, because I do think it's an evolution and potentially valuable the the current approach, and actually historical the the ideas come from a problem that I'm having myself, and then need to find a solution for so that's the first step is I'm having this problem, I can't seem to find a solution for it. So maybe there are other people who are having to, sometimes I'm unique, and I'm the only person who has this problem where the only person who cares. And then other times I find out Well, there's actually a whole bunch of people who have this who have this problem, and it doesn't seem to be a solution or the solution is unrefined or too expensive or inaccessible, or you know, different. Yeah. Yeah, for some reason. And so it's really exciting. The current one, I feel very fortunate to be working with them working with my friend, Jacob on this currently, his approach is very, very refined, he actually he works for a very large incubator. And this past week, he was he was faced with a problem. He's also a musician. So it's in the musical space. Yeah. And he was faced with this problem, how do I get my new album in front of listeners who really care. And he found that it was actually to do promotional campaigns? In this day and age? It's actually very expensive. And, and also very opaque and non transparent. So you don't actually know are you contacting humans? Are you contacting bots? Yeah, exactly. Yeah, huge problem. So we started looking around at this and found Wow, there is no, there is no actually accessible solution. If a campaign cost 20 $500, most of the people around the world outside of the United States will never be able to afford that. And almost 100% of the people who pay for that will not recoup with streaming revenue. So we started looking at that and saying, okay, here's this problem, let's, let's see if we can, you know, figure out some sort of crude, early stage MVP, minimum viable product solution, and then start interviewing people, as you know, doing user experience interviews, I've been doing that actually, you know, every day this week, I have been interviewing people through my network, who I think would be potential clients to figure out what they would actually want and how much they would be willing to pay for this. So that's, that's my current approach is kind of like idea, get a philosophical prototype, at least that you can talk about. Yeah. And then go immediately to potential potential customers and see if it's something that they would be willing to pay for.

Roy Sharples:

That's, that's great. And also, that sounds like a very interesting venture, you're on there and you like, like, you see, it does solve a massive, gaping void in the market.

Adam Farish:

While we have so

Roy Sharples:

long, I'm sure. I'm sure knowing knowing you and kind of what you've done and what you're about that there's a high probability of success. So I wish you the best on that. Thank you. What are the key skills and capabilities and from your perspective, that you think are essential to being a successful entrepreneur?

Adam Farish:

Well, I think that, you know, I would answer that question and thinking of the of a lot of places where I have, I've come to recognize my own shortcomings. And then I sort of flip that and go for the go for the opposite of whatever, whatever there are, I think necessary traits that agility, the ability to pivot and to adjust your thinking to fit the reality. Yeah, of what people actually want. That's really the I think the most crucial thing Yeah, is willingness to willingness to pivot and also the wherewithal to form a team That you can have faith on and then rely on others when, when I'm questioning my own reliability in terms of figuring out what to do. Because the figuring out what to do next thing when you're, you're forging new territory, you know, blazing new trails. Yeah, sometimes, I mean, I can't even count the number of times or just said, you know, and that was a question I would just ask people, I, you know, people who I were obviously smarter than I was, I would just ask people through, you know, consultation, and you know, what do you think I should do next? Yeah. Yeah. Because I mean, so many times, you just don't know, there's, there's basically, you know, unlimited forks in the road. Yeah. And anyone could be very fruitful. And anyone could lead you to absolute demise. If you're, if you're not careful. And I have lots of, you know, lots of stories about that just been like, man, if I had just done that different, you know, it's like, it's like drilling for oil or something. Yeah, out in the desert, looking at the data and you thinking making the right decision, and you go, Oh, no, it was just a stream underground or something like that.

Roy Sharples:

The thing was, one of the key things that really resonated that was you mentioned up front was your self awareness and your self could the critique around kind of knowing your own am shortcomings and then knowing how to tap into talents and expertise that can complement that writes, and I guess the importance of being a collaboration and, and being a really good talent spotter, as well, along that kind of journey has been a key to the your success. I think, also as well, if you take the obviously the partnership does know that you're currently in a working on but also the collaboration that you can have done with Bruce. And that's them as well, as is also been a key and to leverage one another's strengths and skills and in the union that kind of comes from that.

Adam Farish:

Right. And I think I've always kind of been, even from a very early age, I was always kind of the, the head of my domain, whatever that domain was, whether it was you know, department head or CEO, or whatever. And I think, now that I'm in my, in my 40s, I realized that the person who heads the organization doesn't always have to be the person where the where the decision of what to do yes, next originates from me, it's actually it's actually it's better if you're not the person where the where the what to do next idea originates from, it's a great, collaborative, collaborative effort. And so I think that that there is an inherent inherent trait of leaders and entrepreneurs, especially if you need to raise if you need to raise money, where you need to be persuasive. Yeah, there's a certain there's a certain personality that, that investors and venture capitalists like, and it's not always the same personality, but you know, people have different preferences. And some people only invest in this type of person or this type of person. Yeah. But overall, you know, venture capitalists are people who get excited, you know, they get a dopamine hit from Yes, from business deals. Yeah, if you can provide them with that dopamine hit, you are more likely to actually be the recipient of their carefully guarded capital. Yep. And so there's this, I was very fortunate to have been trained and groomed by some very successful fundraising people and executive coaches, and groomed me into exhibiting a persona that at least some, you know, venture capitalist Yasser investors, like, I didn't really understand at the time, and until recently, that that was really a that's a presentation. And it is better if that doesn't become part of your default personality, because you wind up also persuading the people on your team. Yes, a little too much. And that takes away their own ability to contribute from you know, because you're giving them dopamine hits. Everybody, you've got to keep everybody excited and trudging forward because they're all getting paid way less than they actually should, you know, the promise the the infinite upside that you're you're selling people and that's, you know, you're a salesperson, yeah, you're doing startups and being an entrepreneur. But there's a time when it's better to not be selling and let people make organic decisions. That's a great point. What is best, and that's something that I'm really thankful to at least have an awareness of. Now. I wish I learned $1 Earlier, but I also think that that's just part of part of maturing in business and entrepreneurship. Indeed.

Roy Sharples:

So you've kind of got the rear view mirror and you're looking back, right, and you're 18. Again, in knowing what you do now, what would you do differently?

Adam Farish:

Yeah, wow, that's a really good question. There's so much there. It's been such a rich journey. I think, you know, something that, that hopefully is valuable, that took me a really long time to learn, is to acknowledge and tolerate and also maybe even be appreciative of gray areas. Yeah. And I struggled with that for a long, long time, I tend to look at things very analytically. And I was a philosophy major in college. And so I look at things and philosophy and computer science. And so I look at things very, very logically. And from an engineering perspective, the, you know, logic and black and white outcomes really makes a lot of sense. But when you're dealing with people, yeah. Who you rely on a lot more than more than most entrepreneurs or leaders would would admit, or at least young ones would admit, people need to be afforded gray area, because they don't, you know, nobody knows everything. Anything really for sure, for others no 100% certainty, unless you're dealing with with math. And yeah, there's everything else is like there's always some variable that you haven't been able to calculate there is no, there is no possible way to measure a mile down to an absolute, you know, an absolute value, because you can't measure accurately, you can only count. So those things like, you know, measuring outcomes, or measuring performance or measuring intent behind decisions, all of those things carry a lot of a lot of variables where you don't you really don't know for sure what's happening. And yeah, where that's going to go. So I think, appreciating and allowing for gray area. And I mean, maybe people don't have this problem, but I really had that problem is getting really held up on No, this is the way that it is or that's the way that it is. And having there just be a binary decision tree.

Roy Sharples:

What's your vision for the future of entrepreneurship? In terms of what are some of the key forces that's driving change from a technological, political, economic and socio cultural perspective?

Adam Farish:

I there's a great question. And what I'm seeing right now that I really, you know, really excited about is sort of values driven entrepreneurship. Yeah. And there's an emerging community of entrepreneurs who are really working on on social justice issues, ecological issues on global geopolitical political issues, resource management issues, and all kinds of new technologies. And I think that it's really going to be largely driven, there's going to be economics and, and, and huge amounts of money going into solutions that are necessary for the survival of our species. Climate, you know, technology investments into, you know, into technologies that offset climate change, for instance, like climate change is going to affect global economics to degrees that are unfathomable right now from you know, everything from rising water levels in Miami, Florida, to farmland in the Midwest to have recycled goods are turned into turned into consumable fuels. And this is going to be so much that needs to happen there in order to stabilize industries that are going to rise by by things like climate change, that's just one one genre. So I think that there's going to be a lot of development into those, you know, sort of like offsetting the human footprint. And that's really super exciting to me, because it's, we've proven beyond a reasonable doubt that that is not going to be solved by politicians. There's just no way. Yeah, it's going to have to fall on the shoulders of entrepreneurs and the I think that when there's economic incentive in more economic incentive, I mean, it's pouring in right now. But it's just going to eventually as the danger becomes more and more relevant. So that's very, that's very exciting for me. I have a friend in Seattle who started as a human composting. Really, yeah. You know, a lot of people die. So there's, you know, the problem is you put humans in the ground in toxic containers called coffins or caskets. Yeah. The last thing that you your last act on planet Earth is creating toxicity in the ground and we're running funeral space and you know, etc, etc. So she started Katrina spade, shout out, started a company called recompose. And now they are, they're actually now actively decomposing dead human bodies and turning them into fruit trees in, you know, right here in Seattle.

Roy Sharples:

Thank you very much Adam has been a real delight and listening to you some incredible insights there. And you've definitely provoked a lot of new thinking that so thank you.

Adam Farish:

Don't thank you very much. I'm honored to be honored to be considered.

Roy Sharples:

Thank you. And so for more information about Adam and his work, go to his LinkedIn [email protected] Adam flourish, and also his eight stem website, and each stem.com. For more inspirational conversations with creative industry experts on entrepreneurship, pop culture, art, music, film and fashion, please go to the unknown origins website at unknown origins.com

What inspired and attracted you to be an Entrepreneur?
What does being an Entrepreneur mean to you?
What is your Creative Process?
What are the skills needed to be an Entrepreneur?
What are your Lessons Learned: Pitfalls to avoid & keys to success?
What is your vision for the future of Entrepreneurship?