By: Christos Makridis
Entrepreneur and social media icon Gary Vaynerchuk is redefining the rules of the game bringing culture, innovation, and business together. Building on a huge success from last year’s VeeCon 2022 held in Minneapolis, Vaynerchuk is going at it again, this time in Indianapolis between May 18-20 with a new lineup of speakers and talks.
Access to VeeCon, however, is tokengated for the VeeFriends community, the holders of his NFT collection consisting of 10,255 tokens. “Eventually, we will all interact with NFTs because they will be our airline tickets, membership cards, and more,” Vaynerchuk said.
Vaynerchuk’s interest in digital assets has gone beyond mere fascination, seeing them as a pivotal mechanism for societal interaction and a transformative tool for brand-consumer relationships. These digital assets, unique by design and stored on the blockchain, offer a new way for businesses to engage their consumers, especially those deeply ingrained in the digital landscape. Vayner3 has been working with many brands to integrate Web3 strategies into their business model in a way that drives business efficiency and customer engagement.
A good example of their web3 strategy work is their collaboration with Crown Royal, advising and helping with the execution of their digital collectibles launch in November 2022. In particular, their “Chain of Gratitude” initiative aimed to spread generosity following Super Bowl Sunday, so they launched digital collectibles through a game where Crown Royal provided prizes that were awarded based on the sharing of gratitude from one person to another. “Our mission is to empower brands with cutting-edge strategies to navigate the next era of the internet, keeping them at the forefront of digital innovation and consumer attention,” said Avery Akkineni, president of Vayner3.
Vaynerchuk leverages the power of popular culture by bringing people together who normally would not interact with one another, but when they do have the potential to build lasting and impactful relationships. He understands that consumer behavior is a reflection of cultural trends, and by tuning into these trends, brands can effectively resonate with and serve their audience.
The roster in VeeCon is incredibly diverse, ranging from Tim Tebow to Arianna Huffington to Busta Rhymes. Vaynerchuk’s goal is not to attract a group of people who all think the same, but rather to expose people to different ideas and have serious conversations with people they may not normally meet. “Do you know how happy I am that people try things that they haven’t tried before this conference? It was the same thing in the wine business: people find a wine they like and they keep on drinking it. I want people to think about different stuff. I have only innovated by looking at random things from a different perspective and those were the breadcrumbs for innovation,” Vaynerchuk continued.
Last year, VeeCon 2022 brought together all genres of people, ranging from pure Gary fans who bought into NFTs to marketing executives at enterprises and foundations. “As someone who oversees internal comms for a community of orgs – over 1000 employees in all – I’m curious about ways to deploy NFTs as tools within an organization to foster culture, connection, and motivation… There’s an enormous opportunity to experiment in this space – it’s pretty wide open right now, and I want to be a trailblazer. My employer both sees the opportunity and encourages me to explore it, which is why I’m here. For folks like me who are interested in comms, marketing, innovation, and the consumer blockchain, VeeCon is basically the center of the universe,” said Rob Raffety, director of internal communications at Stand Together.
The textbook approach in business often gives lip service to understanding the consumer and competitive differentiation, but the implementation of the textbook approach breaks down in practice. “I hated school because it did not allow for serendipity and let people think. It was based on memorization,” said Vaynerchuk. Instead, VeeCon 2023, and Vaynerchuk’s media enterprises more broadly, encourage mixing, matching, and engagement with pop culture even when there is not an explicit destination in mind.
Love it or hate it, consider the rise of TikTok and the subsequent explosion of short-form video content across platforms. Vaynerchuk, an early adopter, leveraged this trend in his own media company by building out short-form content, advising businesses to do the same and harness the power of evolving consumer behavior for brand success.
Innovation has been a constant theme in Vaynerchuk’s career. He understands that innovation isn’t just about improving products or services—it’s about shaping culture and identity—and it’s evident in the way technology and business are increasingly intertwined. Vaynerchuk contends that the evolving relationship between the two is not merely transactional. Instead, it’s a symbiotic relationship where advancements in technology drive business innovation, and conversely, the demands of business push technology to new frontiers.
Vaynerchuk’s unique perspective on web3, pop culture, cross-industry collaboration, and innovation positions him at the forefront of a new business era. His insights, coupled with his relentless drive, pave the way for new avenues of consumer engagement and business growth. In a world where technology and culture are in constant flux, his approach and implementation of VeeCon serves as a novel NFT use-case that business can learn from to thrive.
Gary Vaynerchuk’s vision is not just about predicting the future—it’s about creating it. As he navigates the new business landscape with a keen eye on consumer trends and technological advancements, Vaynerchuk exemplifies the power of embracing change, fostering innovation, and leveraging the convergence of disciplines. His journey serves as a testament to the transformative potential of a truly innovative mindset in the world of business.