Hamptons Tech Week is back at the end of June. It’s one of the must attend events in the tech sector because of the incredible network of people who attend. Steve Sabo is the Co-Founder of the event and he explores what makes the event special. He’s also the Founder of Ethereal, a blockchain and web3 consultancy, a massive golf fan and the CEO of Vin & Fin, the financial services event you never knew you needed.
In this episode we discuss:
- Hamptons Tech Week – what makes it special and what the plans are for the future
- Why small events can keep a spark that the huge events can’t
- The differences between the UK and US in the entrepreneur space
- Is Web3 over hyped?
- Why FOMO makes a terrible business model
- Will the incumbents let Web3 ever reach its potential
- Starbucks being the world leaders in using Web3… and why no one knows about it
- What comes next in the Web3 space – and why it could be great for hipsters!
- What role does government have to play in legislating for new tech
- The intersection of tech and golf
- How golf can change to capture a new audience and stay relevant
- Why Belfast has a big future in the tech space
- Vin & Fin – why pairing financial advice with wine tasting is the future
Early on in his professional career, Steve recognized an opportunity to educate others with a CFO style approach designed to make the complex world of financial planning, taxes, and insurance accessible and simple. With this approach as his foundation, Steve founded Simple Society where he serves as the CEO today. At the core of Simple Society lies a dedication to providing objective, honest, and precise strategies. Through this firm’s dedication to education of clients, Steve created a trademarked course called Vin & Fin, which pairs wine and financial education to make the complex topics in life easier on the palette.
The pandemic hit, making Vin & Fin press pause until events were “back” which allowed Steve to find his other passion in the world of blockchain and web3. He created the consulting company Ethereal to help companies understand and integrate this technology into their businesses. Ethereal also has its own projects which include Hamptons Tech Week and Liquidity CC.
Steve’s passion for connecting with others allows him to act as a partner, often developing mutually beneficial relationships for people in his vast network. In his free time, he enjoys golfing at Beacon Hill Country Club in Atlantic Highlands, NJ where he lives with his wife and two children.
Find Steve on LinkedIn.
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Andi Jarvis, Eximo Marketing.
This transcript has been done automagically using Happy Scribe and hasn’t been checked by a real person, so there may be some hilarious mistakes where the AI can’t work out our accents – I’m sure they’re trained on just the American accent.
[00:00:00.500] – Jarvis
Eyup and welcome to The Strategy Sessions. My name is Andi Jarvis. I am the host of the show and I’d like to thank you for coming along today. My day job is as the Strategy Director at Eximo Marketing. We’re a consultancy based just outside Belfast and in Liverpool, mainly doing DTC consultancy, helping manufacturers move into that space. You don’t need the sales pitch from me. You’re here to listen to my guest, Stephen Sabo. Stephen runs Ethereum, which is a Web 3 consultancy. He’s a big fan of golf and he’s working at the intersection between golf and Web 3, and also big fan of wine. And we talk about a concept of his called Vin & Fin. Vin and Fin even, which I’m really interested in bringing to Ireland. So watch out, that could be coming here soon. Really interesting conversation. And yes, I do ask, is Web 3 dead? Because, well, we’ve all seen the crash of crypto and NFTs and so the whole thing is dead, right? Right? Isn’t it? Listen and you’ll find out that as always, there’s different perspectives on this and different ways of looking at it. And I think when you listen to Stephen, you might come away with a different view of what the Web 3 world has to offer.
[00:01:18.550] – Jarvis
So grab yourself a brew, sit down, go for a walk, do whatever it is you do when you listen to podcasts. I hope you enjoy this and let me know what you think. All my details are in the show notes. Over now to the interview with Stephen. Right then. So my guest today is Stephen Sabo, who is joining us from the United States of America. Stephen is the founder of Ethereum and the co founder of Hampton’s Tech Week. Thanks for coming on the show. How are you doing?
[00:01:44.060] – Sabo
Thanks for having me, Andi. I appreciate being on and doing well.
[00:01:48.680] – Jarvis
No problem. Well, look, we met recently in Belfast, which we’ll talk about in a moment, but I want to start by really diving into Hampton’s Tech Week. It’s one of those things that I think people all over the world have heard of Hampton’s Tech Week, maybe looked and thought, That’s an event I want to go to. You’re a co founder there. How did the idea come together and what’s the event like these days?
[00:02:12.340] – Sabo
Sure. It really came together as us attending other conferences. It came out of, we really wanted more education. It started in the Web 3 and blockchain space. We were going to a lot of conferences around the country, a few in London actually, and most of them turned into very big, thousands of people pitches. A lot of the speakers would go on the stage and talk about their own product or business. A little bit about less about the educational side and then exit stage left, get in the car, go home. And the value that I saw was seeing other people at the conference that I already knew or by chance. And then we usually spend time out east in the summer. I was looking for conferences or ways to meet people out there, and there was nothing available. So we figured, might as well do it ourselves. My other co founder is Christine. She is an owner of James Lane Post, which is a media publication out in the Hamptons. And obviously, my business, the Ethereum, the blockchain and Web 3 Consulting, I had some network in the space. I wanted to put people on stage and really educate the crowd in New York and out east about Web 3 and blockchain.
[00:03:32.130] – Sabo
So that’s how it started. We jumped in and Southampton Art Center was nice enough to host us in the first year. Last year got raving reviews. People really loved the content, but mainly the value we were told was the people, just incredible people that came around and got on stage or attended. And that networking after and the cohesiveness of the group seems to be the biggest value of what we were told so far.
[00:04:02.490] – Jarvis
I think there’s some of the conferences I go to, and I do go to a lot, the ones that can wrap around that social element, that chance to meet people, just have a spark with them. Not book a meeting, that’s important, but just meet people in the bar afterwards or going for a walk. There’s a conference I’ve just come back from in Brighton, which is 45 minutes to an hour down the Coast from London. And it has that same thing. Everyone just spills out of the conference venue afterwards and you meet people in bars and restaurants afterwards. What happens there is equally as important as what happens in the conference. You’ve hit the golden formula by the sounds of it.
[00:04:42.350] – Sabo
Yeah, we’re hoping so. This year is going to be incredible. It’ll be at the end of June. We always joke last year is on the other side of July fourth, but at the very worst, even if the conference is horrible, you’re still in the Hamptons for July fourth. So there’s a great group. This year, the talent is even… People were referring other talent in, which this has become its own method to putting people on stage and really getting that talent to stay at the level that we want and increasing it. It’s really the group that we have this year has expanded. Leaders in the industry was always our focus. We want to hear where the industry is going, where technology is being used from the top innovators and people in the C suite, the companies you would recognize. That has stayed true to this year. And we’ve also added a ton of founders who are at the cutting edge in companies but using new technologies. Ai is going to be a big part of the conversation this year. Web 3 and blockchain is still in the forefront. But anything else that people are using these days that’s fairly new for the market is interesting for us to hear about and learn about.
[00:05:55.070] – Sabo
So there’s naturally going to be a lot of VC and family office hedge fund people out there either looking to educate themselves on new businesses or also invest in companies that are on stage or are attending. So yeah, it’s going to be a good time this year. Like I said, it’s June 27th through the 29th.
[00:06:17.720] – Jarvis
And I think the thing you mentioned about keeping it slightly smaller in scale compared to some of the major conferences. I know having… And this isn’t a criticism necessarily. I’ve been to the Web Summit, which is the major European tech conference. It grew in Dublin from small to huge and then went to Lisbon, where it’s even bigger now. It felt a little bit like being at a cattle ranch was my experience of being there. There was just so many people and so many things and so many stages. You couldn’t go and just get lost almost. So I think I prefer those more personal, slightly smaller scale events.
[00:06:55.980] – Sabo
Yeah, 100 %. The boutique feel, like I said, seems to be the most important. It feels like when you’re in the Hamptons, everybody that you’re rubbing shoulders with is a leader of industry. And you want to feel like that crowd networking when it’s a 1,000 plus person event, you don’t feel like it’s curated to the level of every person you’re going to run into is a great person to speak to. It might not be great for your business or you don’t know what their motivations are of being there. In a small boutique event, there’s a lot more checks and balances that go into it that make it such a successful curated experience that we really find people want to attend every year. And we plan to expand outside of Hampton’s, too, in a very thoughtful way and still a small way, maybe attached to other events that are going on. But yeah, that’s always going to be an effective way to do things if you’re not trying to waste time and really do volume plays by meeting people and giving out cards if people still even do that. But yeah, it’s definitely a fun way to do it. At least that’s what I think.
[00:08:02.850] – Jarvis
You think, you’ve touched on something that’s really close to my heart. I still have business cards and I still give them out. One of the reasons I do it is because nobody else does anymore. It’s like, Oh, just connect on LinkedIn and do this.
[00:08:15.610] – Sabo
It’s your marketing guy.
[00:08:17.260] – Jarvis
Yeah, that’s it, right? When everyone zigs, zag. So I ended up handing out business cards so that someone’s got something physical because then hopefully at least that sticks in their mind a little bit. I’m a big fan of business cards and some of the old school ways.
[00:08:32.100] – Sabo
Yeah, it’s funny. It’s made its way back if you use it in the right way. If you’re still doing the old paper cards and that’s your only method of contact, obviously it’s a different approach. But it is funny, the way to stand out is always going to change. It’s funny. I had a discussion about this a few days ago. Physical mail has even come back in the sense of, if you have something addressed with your name on it, when’s the last time you decide to build your house that you’ve had a piece of physical mail delivered? Even in your office, even in your office? Even though if it goes to your office, you may never get it because you never get into the office or like once a week. But especially your home, I mean, I’m opening everything up that’s delivered personally to me because I’m curious about it. E males are, God, I can’t even get through my email in a day, regardless of how important it is, let alone marketing. So yeah, it’s a nice. You’ve got the marketing brain for sure.
[00:09:32.230] – Jarvis
Well, I cut my teeth 20 some years ago as doing direct mail. That’s how I started in marketing was doing direct mail. And the skills you learn with that, people say, oh, how do you do email marketing? And they’re like, well, much like we used to do direct mail. And how do you craft a message like you used to do in direct mail? And yeah, there’s a lot of lessons I learn from that, which I still use every single day, even though we really do mail now, but it’s still a great thing.
[00:10:00.920] – Sabo
Yeah, for sure.
[00:10:02.020] – Jarvis
So jumping forward from direct mail, which is a very old tool to your other job, your full time job in terms of your consultancy and Web 3, blockchain. So tell us a little bit about the consultancy, first of all, and then I’ll throw in the contrary questions about is there a future for all of this thing?
[00:10:21.570] – Sabo
Yeah, of course. Ethereum really started from the standpoint of people needed advice in the space, but also needed the education on the front end because a lot of people didn’t even know what Web 3 was. And it started there as what the tools even are in this space of using blockchain and using Web 3 for your business in terms of marketing or direct to customer or royalties in the future for an artist. There’s all these features that you can push and pull, but it became a buzzword very quick. So it polarized the marketplace. And people jump past the functionality. So actually for a second, I’ll just take a minute to educate on the Web 3 side for anybody who doesn’t recognize it. It really started as just iterations of the Internet. It was read only as Web 1, Read and write as Web 2.0. Then Web 3.0 became Read, Write, and E xecute, which essentially just means you can effectively have digital ownership of a physical or digital asset. That became very important because it’s a confirmed contract. A smart contract goes on the blockchain and it’s immutable. You can’t forge that, fake that. It’s a contract and a transaction that goes directly on the ledger that’s confirmed.
[00:11:45.540] – Sabo
So it makes security much easier. But it also makes proving things that you own and personalization of your interaction with the business much more direct. So just that in mind in digital ownership is like, All right, well, whatever my business is, how can I use these features? And that’s where I stepped in as a theorial. It’s like, All right, I see paths for your business. This isn’t even important. You don’t need to make this blockchain. This is a feature that you might be able to want to use. This is reason X, Y, and Z. So we got into a bunch of different projects. My passion is sports entertainment. We’ve gotten into a few. I’ve talked to you offline about this, but golf has become I mean, it’s always a passion of mine now, and now it’s become a business passion as well. We can get into that a little bit later. But that was a pure functionality of bringing blockchain and Web 3 into the golf space just under a membership model. Nothing else. Just using contracts at a country club or any membership club as a smart contract, and that gave you so many other options after. I’ll get into that a little bit more later, but that’s a quick background on Ethereum.
[00:13:01.010] – Jarvis
I think you were right in terms of going on the consultancy angle. Maybe it’s interesting why you went down the consultancy and not product building angle. But whenever any new technology explodes onto the market, there is a hype cycle comes with it. A lot of people jump into it. That usually causes a boom and bust cycle at some point and some people get burned. And then there’s a whole bunch of people declared the death of whatever the technology is. And then we repeat again and again and again. Now, we are probably in the space where people are declaring the death of Web 3, crypto, blockchain, etc. But you’re seeing a very different angle to that. There are endless use cases for Web 3 technologies. But there is also probably a boom and bust cycle, which is probably best to bust, do you think?
[00:13:52.220] – Sabo
Yeah. So you’ve hit on a great point, and it’s something that I’ve been trying to… I don’t even really say the word NFT anymore. There’s no reason to put yourself into this polarized market where people have a very strong opinion on it. It’s like having a strong opinion on contracts. You can make a contract into anything. Why would you have such a strong opinion on it if you don’t understand it? The business model for a lot of these projects in the past were based on FOMO. And the whole business model was like, All right, I don’t want to miss out on it. I’m going to buy it in now. I don’t really understand it fully, but it’s going up. To base your business model on that drove me insane. My background was finance and I’m going to touch on investment bank now. And again, we could talk about that later. But I knew the fundamentals of a lot of these businesses were not there and it was based on FOMO. So that’s the bad branding and the side of Web 3 and NFTs that it started as hype and it’s dying down quickly. And I’m so happy it’s dying down on that side because now we can get back to building and using the functionality of the tools that don’t need to be talked about.
[00:15:04.930] – Sabo
I use my iPhone, you use whatever phone you use. It’s going to be an iOS system. That’s not why I bought it. Apple didn’t tell me all the great features of an iOS operating system. I bought it because I can use it. I can call people, text people, go on the internet, whatever it is. I don’t need to know the background of it. So I just need to know why it’s better or why the functionality will help me in business or in life and make things easier. So that’s where we are today. I’m very happy the test of Web 3.0. Thank God because it’s finally over from the hype cycle and we can get back to building.
[00:15:43.400] – Jarvis
I think we’ve had Kelly Cambray on talking before about Web 3 and the futures and things like that. I think my big question about where Web 3 technology may be going is that, and I can’t tell you how much I hate the word disruption, but I’m going to have to use it here, is that it has the potential to disrupt the way that major businesses operate, things like banks, things like anywhere where contracts exist, whether that’s real estate or whatever. The history of those businesses suggests that they don’t like and they don’t let new incumbents come in and disrupt their business model. They’ve got skin in the game so much. Are they the ones driving the change or do you think they’re going to be the ones resisting the change and trying to keep the seas back?
[00:16:32.220] – Sabo
It’s a tough question. I’ve worked in one of the most antiquated systems through the insurance industry. It is in the healthcare industry in the States. It’s so antiquated and it’s very frustrating. But I know it takes a very long time to move that giant of whatever the insurance company is in the industry into new technology. So I understand why they take so long because it costs a lot of money and you got to be really sure that it works. And it basically has to be a no brainer by the time they actually move. A great example is the insurance industry right now. Healthcare, the HIPAA system in the States, I don’t know your health care system, but our system is we’re individuals that go to doctors and there’s HIPAA rules with the doctors. They hold your records. But if I’m trying to get life insurance for you, I have to go to those doctors to get your medical records. They take, it could be anywhere from 4 to 10 weeks to send the records and you have to mail it in. They fax it to you. I don’t even know what fax is. You got to wait for fax from this doctor.
[00:17:45.680] – Sabo
They put it into your system. The whole process takes a very long time. There’s no reason that it shouldn’t just be somebody’s account that I give access to. It could be on the blockchain and it could be instantaneous. But this system is now a three month process to get life insurance at least, especially if you’re over the underwriting limits, right? If you’re going for higher end insurance. And we just know it could be fixed so much easier by using the blockchain and stuff like that. So that’s an instant functionality that will be there eventually. We just saw California go into the driverless license system is now through the blockchain. It’s just much more direct, quick and easy. But it’s going to take a lot of time for industries and states and legislation to catch up with that.
[00:18:37.680] – Jarvis
I think you’ve hit on a point there. We talked when we met about the differences between the UK and the US or Europe and the US. I think one of the big differences between the states and Europe is the view of governments. Most people, I say most, I’m generalising hugely, but in the US government has quite a… There’s a dim view generally of the government trying to get involved in things. Over in Europe, you can see things like GDPR legislation. When you’re talking about doctors faxing medical records, people, I’ve got a GDPR headache going on.
[00:19:10.530] – Jarvis
Do you get away with that? Most of the wrong fax machine, wrong person, all that stuff. But Europe is using legislation to drive certain things forward. Now, whether the legislation is right or wrong, that’s not the point. But if you look at the banking system over here or the insurance system and things like that, it feels like we’re light years ahead of the US. I had a payment coming from a US client not long ago. It took about seven days and I was chasing and chasing. I was told, there’s actually a manual process the bank has to go through to send it from the US.
[00:19:40.170] – Sabo
Crazy. Manual cheque. What is this?!
[00:19:43.440] – Jarvis
It was just a dollars. and a big amount of money. But I think that’s been the joint of the legislation forcing innovation. Is that drive going to happen, do you think, in the US?
[00:19:57.700] – Sabo
Yes and no. I think it really starts. I guess legislation can be a part of it, but in the US, I think the companies really drive it. The more, the great example is going to be Starbucks. There’s always a leader in that industry that will take the first step. They were the first ones to take the step for WiFi. Everybody thought they were crazy to put free WiFi into a local Starbucks. People are never going to leave. There’s all these reasons that they shouldn’t do it, and they became geniuses for it, and now everybody does it. It’s one of those things that they’re now taking a step into the Web 3 space through Odyssey. And it’s a great case study. It’s one of my favourites. But nobody even knows it’s really a blockchain Web 3 project for the most part. It’s just a loyalty program that they’re using that’s much more effective. And you can really have a much better customer journey in relationship with your company when you do it this way. So it takes steps like that for people once understand it, to recognize that Starbucks is now the leader in the space and how they can do it.
[00:21:03.500] – Sabo
And then hopefully my answer is that you engage a consultant, but either the options are to have somebody in house who understands this, which the talent pool is fairly small for right now, or you hire in a consultant that can understand your business but then also understand the side that you’re trying to get into. So if it’s blockchain Web 3, you got to have an expert there. But they also have to understand whatever your business is, too. And that’s going to take… New technology is about every seven years. It’ll take about full seven years to get there. And I would guess we’re about three into it. So I still see a very long road to getting this stuff integrated into a regular business. But it’s getting there. People are building in this space quietly now. They’re not doing it on billboards anymore like it was about a year and a half, two years ago. But they’re there. And trust me, I’ve been talking to them. People are building really cool things.
[00:22:00.470] – Jarvis
It sounds like I have a keynote that I do for corporate clients called Everybody’s in Marketing. So trying to get everyone in the team to think that way. The way I talk about marketing is the way you mentioned it there with Starbucks and this new thing they’re doing with Odyssey. Didn’t know about it. But for me, it’s about not the technology, it’s about what benefit does it have for the customer. Once you put the customer at the heart of it… To me, marketing, the clues is in the name, market. My discipline is about the market. People forget that because they come obsessed with technology or tools or meta products or whatever. But as long as you put the customer at the heart of what you’re doing, it reduces the chances that anything’s going to go wrong. So I love the fact that that’s now that’s what you’re seeing in the sector.
[00:22:45.330] – Sabo
Yeah. You’ve actually touched on a really great part. Why would the customer do this? And what happened in the Web 3 world that’s going to benefit the customer with digital ownership? Now there’s a new monetization tool and a direct ownership that benefits the customer. So back in Web2, you had a thing which was called participatory second parties, which you would have a login. So it would be anybody you had social media on that would direct you with marketing to a company. So that was the way of centralizing things because now I would find a lot of businesses that I engage with through Facebook, and they kept your data and they monetized the hell out of your data. As you can see, as big as Meta is now. They did it really well. But now what happens, if you have that digital ownership, you can now monetize your own data and you can own your own journey. So that becomes a very powerful tool because now instead of Starbucks paying Meta to find me as a customer and then I have a journey, now they can offer me more in terms of loyalty and rewards because they found me directly and they’ve kept me as a customer this whole way.
[00:24:00.140] – Sabo
And also through KYC and everything that you’re going to be able to verify your customer. Now it’s not like I have four emails on the Starbucks app. It’s all over the place and I don’t even remember which one I used. Now it’s one customer through one account or wallet, if you want to call it that, a custodial Wallet would be the way that they’re actually using that customer journey through.
[00:24:24.700] – Jarvis
The opportunities are, when you talk about it in those terms, almost endless for consumer businesses, but also in the B2B space as well. Anywhere where you have relationships with people, there’s opportunity.
[00:24:38.030] – Sabo
Think about the ways that you can break down and market to customers now. If they have their own custodial Wallet, and we know that customer engage exactly on all these transactions. This was their purchase habit. This was the size of their purchase and the frequency. There was really no way that was super effective to break down your customers and market only to those people. Now I can go, if I’m an artist, I can say, all right, my first hundred tickets or first hundred albums sold in 1998. I can pull back the exact wallets who those were if it was Web 3. An artist came out now, launched something, and then 20 years from now, you can say, Hey, I’m doing a private concert for my first hundred people, and I know exactly who they were. That was very hard to prove from an artist standpoint years ago. There’s no way to really track it and prove it. If I bought the CD and I could just give it to you, and then there’s no proof that I was the first owner of it. I was telling you this. There’s also another factor of this becomes the clout factor of the cool side of this from a social capital standpoint.
[00:25:52.240] – Sabo
Now I can prove all of the nonprofits that I support directly. If it’s on my personal wallet, I can put that in a public wallet and show you how I engage with the brands that I like, the artists that I like. If I was at the first ever Avicii concert in New York, that could be on my social profile if I allowed to be public. And it’s proven. I’m not making it up. So the social capital side of this becomes really interesting. There’s guys, obviously, in the UK, I’m a big soccer fan, and you can prove if you’re a plastic fan or not. There’s a way to say, no, I’ve been following this team since the first day. There’s track records of it. I have this ticket. And it just becomes such a cool way to engage with the brand and really make sure that people want to engage more because it’s going on there and it’s proven. From the golf side of things, I created a model here that if I played a top 100 courses, there’s no way I could say that. But if I had a badge that was proven and it came on by geo fencing, instantly I know that guy, he did play 50 of the top 100 courses. So it just snowballs on this with all the fun ideas.
[00:27:11.210] – Jarvis
So what you’ve done is I started off as very negative on Web 3 because of the hype cycle. You then sold it to me, and now you’ve made it sound like a hipster nightmare. Of course, I could prove I was into their earlier work.
[00:27:26.230] – Jarvis
This is a hipster nightmare. This is.
[00:27:27.500] – Sabo
We live in a hipster nightmare already, don’t we? So what’s the difference?
[00:27:31.180] – Jarvis
I’m done here. I’m done here. But look, let’s keep talking about golf.
[00:27:35.120] – Sabo
It’s good to prove, right? But now take the nonprofit side of it, right? He’s been supporting XYZ nonprofit since the 80s, right? That’s a better way of taking it instead of the hipster thing.
[00:27:46.530] – Sabo
We both know where this is going. This is going to be I had a ticket to the first Adele gig and stuff like that.
[00:27:52.120] – Sabo
But that’s okay. Of course. That’s okay.
[00:27:55.260] – Jarvis
So let’s stick on golf for a minute then, because golf. Is a global game. You’re a huge fan. I couldn’t pick up a golf stick and use it properly if I tried, but maybe I’ll learn as I get older. But golf isn’t necessarily a sport that you would immediately go, Golf, new technology. Now, you’d be wrong. I’m a huge sports fan and I’m a sports tech bore. So I know there’s huge technology in golf clubs, golf balls, course designers.
[00:28:24.890] – Sabo
The actual. But when you look.
[00:28:27.200] – Jarvis
At who plays golf, tends to be you start about 40, the average age in the golf club or the country house is going to be over 70. And it’s not necessarily an industry you go, This place is ripe for new technology. So talk to us about what you’re doing there and the challenges you face.
[00:28:45.080] – Sabo
So you’re 100 % right on the demographics, right? The clubs are a different thing, right? There’s technology and there’s talk about rolling them back, the technology at this point because it got so good. The demographics are getting there slowly, right? So you’re starting to see cool people play golf, right? Athletes, entertainers. It’s now getting to that vibe to where it’s opening the doors, but it’s still a very stringent way that you play golf. It’s very traditional. That hasn’t been updated as much. That’s what I’m working on now. I think a lot of it is based on the technology and the way that we’re using Zoom and people aren’t going into offices as much. I think there’s going to be a whole wave to make golf shorter in terms of time commitment because I don’t have five, six hours to commit to a round of golf, driving there, playing full 18 holes, maybe having a cup of tea after. That’s just such a big chunk of time. If you have a business, a family, the weather is a big part of that. It just doesn’t make it as easy as an open door to come play it.
[00:29:54.430] – Sabo
So one time’s the factor. Two, the accessibility of golf just wasn’t there. There’s a few ways on the U side that I’m working on working with the paint store kids foundation. The way that they’re getting it out to youth is by using bigger clubs, hitting tennis balls into nets instead of a traditional golf ball and golf club, which is I can barely do it at this point. And I’ve been playing for 20 years. So it’s just a hard game to learn. And I want to be able to put my son and daughter into golf the same way I’m able to put them into soccer and teeball. It’s a thing. When they’re three years old, there’s no infrastructure right now to put them in golf. So that’s one side. I think that’s very important. The other side of it is the intimidation factor of golf. It’s very intimidating to go to a first team in a country club or a course and have people watching you there. And if you don’t play golf like that, that is a nightmare. I know that anxiety. And like I said, I’ve been playing for 20 years. I still get that anxiety on the first team because it’s just not a comfortable situation when it’s a 400 yard hole, you have 18 holes in front of you.
[00:31:03.080] – Sabo
So my solution here, one is to shorten the courses. I like part three courses. I like the one to be quick around. I want you to be able to play in an hour and a half. The hole can be 80 to 150 yards. And nobody’s going to sit on that team, be really intimidated. You can go out with more than four people. It doesn’t have to be the traditional model. And just play your round. There’s going to be breaks in between. It’s going to be much more the scoring clubs side of thing. You don’t have to pound a driver to be able to score on a short course. But it makes you very good at the game from the short game. Everybody who has ever heard anything about golf knows that putting is the most important thing. Short game is very important. So if you practice that, that’s going to make you more comfortable to go on the bigger courses and really take up the game more later. So that’s one side, the accessibility from a field standpoint and age standpoint and demographics, too. The cities don’t have that access. So when somebody like the pink sword Foundation can put you in a public park or a gym and you could still be playing golf in the youth academy or whatever it’s going to be, that’s a very different feature.
[00:32:14.820] – Sabo
You’re reaching a whole new demographic. And now the League’s in the country club models was another step that I’ve taken into this that I think the antiquated country club model isn’t the way for a lot of people to join. It’s very stringent in terms of when you join. There’s a big initiation fee typically. It’s a very illiquid asset, and it’s more of a bill than an asset. I don’t care if you’re there or not, you have to pay your bill every month to get privileges to be on that course and to use the facilities. And the membership process, too, is another barrier of entry. Public courses just don’t really have free flowing golf, like the good ones or the ones near major metro are just packed all the time. So again, you’re not having the experience that makes you want to come back because it’s very busy. So again, I created a model for this for the part three courses called Liquidity Country Club. It’s the way that we use the blockchain for membership model. And now your membership token, quote unquote, is going to be fluid. So you buy it just as if you were joining the country club.
[00:33:23.730] – Sabo
But if you want to leave in a year or two, you’re going to be able to transfer or lease your token to somebody else. So you’re giving your membership to somebody else who wants to join. And now that makes it transferable. You can either sell it or lease it. And now I’m like, all right, I actually will join this course because it’s not a sunken fixed cost of the initiation fee and the annual dues. Now I can at least have some lever to pull on that gets me out of that or at least pauses that for a minute. Also, the transferable nature of this makes reciprocity easier. So now I can make a relationship with another course and I can prove that I’m a member right away because now it’s on the blockchain. My contract is there. It makes it much more fluid, transparent and fair, to be honest. There’s entrances into tournaments where it’s like a sneaker drop. I don’t know if you know that culture in the states, but you have to sit there like you’re going off for a sneaker drop, put your name in a hat, click the buttons and put your name and just see where you end up on the list.
[00:34:28.580] – Sabo
If it’s through the blockchain, you could just have a two minute period to where it’s like, all right, submit your entry. It’s a raffle. And then it gets sorted randomly instead of saying, all right, this guy had the fastest WiFi, or this guy got in for a certain other reason and maybe typed as well or made a mistake, that’s a silly reason to not be able to play around in a different course. If there’s only 10 rounds available and you want to go play somewhere else, it’s either decided by favorites or whenever you get there. So there’s just more features that make it fair as you go. That could be put on to a lot of other industries, but we’re talking about golf right now. So that’s the way that I’ve been building out the Codity Punch Club.
[00:35:12.110] – Jarvis
So you also shared a stat, and I think they… Let me start that again. I think there’s a great rationale, like you can see, driving where you’re going with this. You shared a stat the other day of daytime golf, according to some measurements, has gone through the roof in the States of about 83 %, 85 % since COVID. So working from home, we can…
[00:35:32.990] – Sabo
[00:35:34.160] – Sabo
Work day golf. That’s a great point.
[00:35:37.730] – Jarvis
But that shows this demand there. And I think for shorter golf, of being able to play in, say, 90 minutes as opposed to five hours is a huge deal.
[00:35:48.460] – Sabo
Yeah. I think your job would be much more likely to have you go entertain a client or do a networking golf thing if it’s going to be an hour and a half. But it’s not your entire day taken out from work for it. Night golf is another feature that I didn’t talk about with the part three courses. There’s going to be the part three courses, pickle ball, and a social club. We’re going to have places to stay to rent out and eventually buy. But the night golf side of this, putting up lights and being able to play into the night and having a corporate outing that takes an hour and a half or two hours, that you could tee off at seven o’clock under the lights. That’s a much more dynamic, fun way than the traditional six hour golf outing. You go in, you have your plate, you watch an auction. It could just be much more dynamic than what it used to be. Not saying that that needs to change. I’m not trying to change the whole golf world from the old traditional model to this. I’m just saying there’s room for improvement or addition.
[00:36:48.250] – Sabo
So that’s where we’re at with that. We do have a project coming out in New York that I’m working on now that we could be announcing, but it’s really exciting. Within an hour and 20 minutes of the city, it’s going to be a fun one. I will be taking beginners just like you, Andi, to go out, learn the game, have a good experience. But there’s other stuff to do in the area, too. You always want to attach golf with some other fun stuff, too. It doesn’t have to be such a narrow culture.
[00:37:16.300] – Jarvis
Lots of things that you talked about from the golf side of things and before with some of the work like Starbucks, what they’re trying. All of this stuff sounds great and exciting but also relatively expensive. It’s going to need some capital behind it. You mentioned earlier on you attached with an investment bank. What’s the scene like at the minute in terms of opportunities for investment? Because there’s obviously some macroeconomic issues in the global economy at the moment, is that filtering down into investment into Web 3 technologies?
[00:37:52.030] – Sabo
I would say the answer there is just based on the company’s budgets or whatever people want to invest to. The companies or individuals that are investing are making choices based on where the markets guide them. That’s very different from what a company… More of what Ethereum does and consults on is the company side of investment into their themselves. So they’re not investing in Web 3 in my mind. They’re just whatever you’re going to use on a marketing budget or whatever you’re going to do on a new process or change an old process. One, it’s either going to be to save money or to make your marketing efforts more effective. So I don’t see it as a Web 3 budget. I see it as your marketing budget. So that’s where I’m trying to shift the thinking of it just becomes another one of those tools. It doesn’t have to be the whole thing. It doesn’t have to be its own budget. It just becomes a part of the conversation. Got you.
[00:38:46.510] – Jarvis
Makes absolute sense. I think when you go back to what we were saying about putting the customer at the heart of it, then it does become just its everyday spend as opposed to something separate.
[00:38:58.160] – Jarvis
Talk about your finance background as well, though, that you also started and chief executive officer of, possibly my favourite thing I’ve ever seen, Vin & Fin. Let’s talk about that. Vin & Fin.
[00:39:13.220] – Sabo
Love to. Vin & Fin was a trademark course that I came up with. My finance company is Simple Society. Simple Society was based on educating individuals and companies the employees of companies through a new system. And that system I used was an educational structure called Vin & Fin. It was a 90 minute course. I would have four flights of wine. And in between each flight of wine, there would be an educational piece about finance or insurance. But that finance or insurance could be anything. It was just an educational structure. But what I did for Vin & Fin, I would hire a sommelier and I would hire a CFP, a certified financial professional. And we would go around the country, we would teach employees, we would go to the VIP events would be at great restaurants. Or we would go right into the conference room and bring in the glasses and the wine and teach the employees what they need to know. But do you remember… I don’t know if you’ve never been to a financial seminar in the States, but they are brutal. It is not a fun way to learn. Most people are not dynamic communicators on the stuff that’s already boring, finance and insurance.
[00:40:28.230] – Sabo
So this broke it down into more palatable bites. The way that you would teach about a topic would be about 6 to 8 minutes. The one education is 12 to 15 minutes, but 16 minutes on a financial topic. And you can think about it much easier. And when you have those breaks and it’s a little bit more of a fun environment instead of just getting pounded by information and data and advice. It wasn’t personal advice, but we would teach about things at a tech company, we would teach about your stock options or just the basics of retirement plans in the States, what the differences are. And then it made it more free flowing. And to be honest, a lot of the times people are drunk by the end of it and they’re asking really good questions. So it became such a fun event. We did a ton of them back in 2019. And then the world shut down. I opened up Ethereum and really never looked back. I haven’t done a Vin and Fin since then. I feel like you’re missing the trick.
[00:41:25.680] – Jarvis
You should get back to business.
[00:41:26.330] – Sabo
I do. I want to get back to it. But again, I can I didn’t see it being other educational tools. Whatever that finance and insurance could be, teaching other things. It could be Web 3, it could be marketing, it could be whatever we want. But yeah, I agree with you. We should get back. I think, well.
[00:41:42.940] – Jarvis
You heard it here first. Vin and Fin, the marketing option is coming to Ireland very shortly. We’ll get that lined up and open and I’ll talk about it as soon as we get on. I think the best bit of feedback I ever got from a presentation I gave was effective, educational, entertaining. And then there was a little bit of extra that they put on it. Effective, I felt like I could do my job better. Educational, I learned something. Entertaining, I didn’t feel like I was being taught. I think if you can entertain people, the message will stick as opposed to just telling them, like you say, the boring, Hello, my name is Nigel from finance. Nobody cares. They’ve switched off already.
[00:42:25.150] – Sabo
Of course. Yes. They got it. Again.
[00:42:29.180] – Sabo
Now, I would love to bring it to Ireland. That is how we met a bunch of events out in Ireland. The craic, as they call it, is real!
[00:42:40.210] – Jarvis
The craic! We’ve come full circle. We’re back to events. We met at the Digital DNA Awards in Belfast, which is possibly the biggest tech awards in Ireland now, definitely the biggest in Northern Ireland. There was 700, 750 people in a room. It was incredible. Even with 750 people in the room, you had the misfortune of being sat next to me. So tell me why I was the person to sit next to in the whole night. I don’t have enough time.
[00:43:08.250] – Sabo
So first, I just want to thank Simon from Digital DNA. Simon was incredible in my entire trip. I mean, that’s what I based the trip around, coming out to the Digital DNA awards and really paving the relationship between Digital DNA and Northern Ireland and Ireland with Hampton’s Tech Week. I always heard that people wanted to get over to the States. There’s business reasons, there’s personal reasons, but we just thought there was a lot of synergy. So I wanted to see how we ran the awards. And to be honest, there’s no way we can do an awards show that big over the next couple of years. He really put on a show. It was incredible people. But he also went above and beyond. And he set up personal meetings for me when I was there. And I felt like a belt ball. It was every meeting all day. I was having coffee and lunches and drinks. The Guinness is incredible over there. But he really laid out the red carpet. There was a bunch of people. I mean, that’s really what made the event even more incredible. And the experience was everybody I met was on point and really just a great person and willing to get into it on the business side and support.It really felt like a community. And I’m in Simon and Simon is curated that really well. Yeah.
[00:44:24.430] – Jarvis
And look, Belfast has come a long way in a very short space of time. And it manages to keep that great combination of friendly, welcoming while focusing on trying to do business. There’s a story that came out. We had President Biden in Ireland recently. Joe Kennedy III is the business end boy now. And he was telling a story from there was a major US insurance company. The CEO flew into Ireland to do basically the deal to open up the very first office. And he arrived in Ireland, his suitcase didn’t. So he had a meeting the next day and he was basically in sports casual. So he went to the nearest suit shop to his hotel in Ireland, tried the suit on. The guy was like, Brilliant. He said, Look, we’ve got the jacket. But the pants didn’t fit. They were way too long and too big in the waist. 515 at night. So the shop was closing and the CEO was like, Listen, I’ve got a meeting tomorrow morning. My bag hasn’t arrived. And the guy who owned the shop was like, There’s nowhere open. I’ll drive it back to my mother’s. She’ll make the changes for you.
[00:45:32.400] – Jarvis
Which hotel are you in? I’ll drop it back. 715 the next morning, knock at this hotel door, handed him the pants that had been altered by his mother so he could wear them and turn up in full suit for a meeting. And the CEO told this to Joe Kennedy the 30th, he was like, You just don’t get that anywhere. And he said, No politician could sell me Island in a way that guy did that morning.
[00:45:53.560] – Jarvis
That’s the story.
[00:45:55.980] – Sabo
Wow! That is quintessential what I felt about it. 100 %. That was the entire feel of the trip the whole time. They were entertaining, they were welcoming, they put germs around you and wanted everybody to succeed. They all felt like they were friends. And it was just such a culture that you get some of that over in the States. But the whole area doesn’t feel like that. It feels more of a group of friends thing or a company or some collection of people for a reason. That’s what it feels like that. Not the whole of Belfast. It was very, very refreshing to see. It was my first time at Belfast, so I’ll definitely be back. There were so many good people that I’ll meet and I’ll also bring over to Hampton’s Tech Week. Excellent.
[00:46:45.820] – Jarvis
No, it’s a real I love the city. I really do. And don’t get me wrong, I love Dublin. I love all of Ireland. I’m not a native, pick up from the accent, but you’re right. There’s a definite energy to the city. And I think it came out of quite a long period of terrible times, obviously. And there’s just a whole energy of the majority of people want to make things better, which is a really great place to start from. When you were over, I have to ask you, did you get any golf in when you were over in Ireland?
[00:47:13.780] – Sabo
I did. That’s funny.
[00:47:16.770] – Jarvis
Hold on. You didn’t tell your wife you were playing golf, did you? This is what’s happened here.
[00:47:21.200] – Sabo
No, she knows I can’t avoid golf. It’s within me. So I literally left my son’s soccer practice five o’clock. The Monday I was flying, I was taking a red eye. Got to the airport, flight was at seven. I landed at seven in Dublin. I teed off a date at Royal Dublin. So that gives you what my level of obsession for golf is. But I did have, it was still a positive experience, but a little bit of a heartbreak at Royal County Down. So on my drive up from Dublin into Belfast, that was like, of course, I’m going here. And the pro was very welcoming. The assistant was there. I was going to be able to play. There was torrential downpours, which is usually you could play right through the Rain in Ireland. Just have your suit on, you could do whatever you want. But they’re redoing about half of their course. So a lot of their fairways, a lot of the tea boxes were dirt or mud at this point. And there was almost mud slides. And they pulled everybody off the course. So I didn’t get to play arguably the best course in the world. They told me, Rain check for whenever you’re back.
[00:48:38.450] – Sabo
And I go, Well, I’m not here too often, but I will make sure that I get back here. But man, even being on the grounds was like a religious experience for me. It was just such an incredible place. I mean, Irish golf feels like that to me in general. It’s just the true way the golf started using the land and very creative. But yeah, I will be back to use that Raincheck for sure at Royal County down someday. Brilliant.
[00:49:06.420] – Jarvis
No, it’s a stunning course. I’ve been around the outsides of it. I’ve never been on the course, but the whole area where it is down in Newcastle is amazing. It’s beautiful. Yeah, it’s so nice.
[00:49:15.920] – Sabo
You’ve got to go down to that part of the country. Yes.
[00:49:19.040] – Jarvis
Well, listen, I know you have a flight to catch this evening. So if anybody needs to contact you or wants to contact you, where’s the best place? Are you LinkedIn or you’re Twitter? What’s the best place for it?
[00:49:29.700] – Sabo
Linkedin is great. I use Instagram a lot. So obviously, my LinkedIn for all the businesses, I post a lot on Ethereum and share a lot of thoughts. My personal, Hampton’s Tech Week, same thing. You’ll get a lot of more information. We’re going to be doing a press release first half of May, releasing tickets and telling you who the speakers are going to be, what the panel conversation is going to be like. Personally, on the golf side, I use my personal Instagram a lot. So that’s a very good way for DM and my email, obviously, through Ethereum, but I appreciate it. Cool.
[00:50:07.350] – Jarvis
I’ll put a link to your LinkedIn in the show notes, which is just tried to put in the platform. You’re looking on there in there. You’ll be able to find Stephen from there. And look, reach out to him if you’ve got something in the space that you’re thinking of and find him on a golf course somewhere near you sometime soon. Stephen, thank you very much for your time. Andi, thank you so.
[00:50:25.200] – Sabo
Much, man. I appreciate this. It’s been so much fun and I enjoy seeing you again soon. I’ll look forward to either having you and Hampton’s Tech Week or running a Vin and Fin with you over in Ireland.
[00:50:36.440] – Jarvis
Let’s get that started!
[00:50:38.180] – Jarvis
Let’s do it. Thank you.
[00:50:40.570] – Sabo
Thanks, bro. Bye.