Written by Alejandro Freixes, special to Xbiz.com | 2/26/2018
WantEmpire is unfurling royal banners across each and every digital realm, building a great castle upon its iWantClips.com foundation with spiraling towers that span from iWantPhone.com to iWantFanClub.com.
And at the heart of this cyberspace collective is president Jay Phillips, who co-founded the company with his wife Bratty Nikki in 2014.
“iWantEmpire is what happens when artists take control of their futures. It’s their empire, it’s their future, it’s all theirs for the taking!” – Jay Phillips
Since then, from a modest team of four, they have grown to a 25-strong core of devoted employees, attracting likeminded individuals with competitive salaries and generous benefits. In fact, their office culture channels the entrepreneurial spirit of Silicon Valley innovators, inspiring creativity and experimentation through teamwork and merit-based advancement.
Then, there are the clips creators themselves, who fuel the kingdom with their artistry. More and more online performers are turning to the iWantEmpire banners, for a share in the spoils of conquest. After all, Phillips wants them to feel like emperors and empresses themselves, adorned in riches reaped from hard work and high-tech backing.
To paint a portrait of the iWantEmpire visionary, with brushstrokes as colorful as they are clear, XBIZ sought out the president himself for this exclusive interview!
XBIZ: After co-founding iWantClips.com with your wife Bratty Nikki in 2014, what technological innovations did you first implement to stand out from the pack?
Phillips: When we first launched iWantClips, we knew we were going to have to improve the user experience, making it faster and more convenient. We immediately introduced a streaming option for customers. Previously, in the clips industry, customers were forced to wait until their content downloaded before they could enjoy it. We also introduced faster download connections and provided our customers with free cloud storage, so they didn’t have to worry about downloading or storing content on their personal computers.
XBIZ: How did you attract performers and fans to the iWantClips platform in its earliest days?
Phillips: I have always believed that a quality product attracts a quality user and I think that is largely what you see happening with our platforms. We did a lot of direct recruiting and provided product knowledge to artists, educating them about the platform and its benefits.
XBIZ: As you gained momentum, you rolled out iWantCustomClips.com in 2015, followed by iWantPhone.com in 2016. How did you balance marketing and fine-tuning these new endeavors?
Phillips: We seem to have a pretty good track record of releasing one major new platform each year, with iWantFanClub.com debuting at the end of 2017. With each major site release, we appoint a team member to be in charge of that division of the company. From this point forward, the team leaders for each site act as if that site is the only site we have and its success is paramount. We’ve grown the team quite a bit from those first days in 2014 when it was just four core employees. We are now a 25-strong core of employees and just over 50, when you factor in consultants and third party teammates.
XBIZ: Tell us about the “iWantEmpire” initiative. How has branding your multifaceted offerings under one umbrella better streamlined your products overall?
Phillips: The concept to bring everything under one banner, “iWantEmpire,” was originally conceived after we launched our third website iWantPhone.com. With iWantFanClub.com on the way, we knew we needed a master brand to connect everything. iWant seemed a little incomplete, and didn’t identify what our artists wanted. So, we really gave it some thought. What does the artist want? What are they trying to achieve by working with a brand like ours? An empire … that is what they are building, so we went with iWantEmpire. iWantEmpire is the embodiment of our unified success! iWantEmpire is what happens when artists take control of their futures. It’s their empire, it’s their future, it’s all theirs for the taking!
XBIZ: You’ve signed noteworthy talent to produce clips exclusively for your site, such as Jenna Sativa, Tasha Reign and Riley Reyes. Based on the results you’ve witnessed thus far, will you continue adding stars to your roster of exclusive content creators? What traits do you prize in a potential iWantEmpire contract star?
Phillips: We’ve also had the pleasure of signing Wesley Woods, Diego Sans, Ash Hollywood and now independent sensation Goddess Jessica as our lead brand ambassador! I don’t foresee us stopping the expansion of exclusive artists to our sites. The opportunity is just too good all around; fans get great content, artists make great money and the opportunity just keeps getting bigger for everyone involved. It’s a winning recipe if you ask me. As far as what traits we look for in potential contract stars … we are looking for artists who recognize the potential of their own brand and want to take it to the next level.
XBIZ: Just recently, you launched iWantFanClub.com. What inspired you to pursue this latest expansion, and what’s the response been like so far?
Phillips: iWantFanClub.com has been a passion project for some time now. It has pivoted a few times and looks vastly different than what was first conceived, but the overall purpose remains the same. To provide artists with a simple to use platform that enables them to capitalize on their passions — anywhere, anytime. As for the response, on both the artist and fan side — it’s been far beyond our wildest expectations! I can see us hiring a lot more team members to ensure we keep up with the demand!
XBIZ: Talk about the iWantEmpire team. How do you recruit and develop top employees to push the brand forward with such an ambitious pace? What’s the company culture like?
Phillips: The Empire team … they are my family, I love them! I feel truly privileged to work alongside such talented, gifted, exceptional human beings — they really are the finest example of a multifaceted team I have ever had the opportunity to witness. We recruit our teammates just like we recruit our artists and fans — by presenting them with the absolute best offer in the market.
In the case of our teammates, that’s a salary typically 10 to 20 percent more than anyone one else is offering for similar skillsets, a great benefits package with Blue Cross Blue Shield Platinum healthcare, vision and dental, 401K with 5 percent company match, unlimited paid time off, along with top of the line equipment and office space.
The company culture is fierce, we are a startup and require a dedicated teammate. We don’t try to pull a recruit in, in fact, we often try and scare them off. We want the best of the best, the elites. During crunch time, it isn’t unusual for teammates to be putting in 60 to 90-hour weeks — we are a dedicated team! I say it’s a fierce company culture because we compare ourselves to a lion’s pride, we must all add value to the pride if we all desire to feast from the hunt. If a member no longer adds value, they get left behind.
Working for our corporate team isn’t the place to come and put your feet up and think retirement. Our mission is far too great for that sort of complacency. People come to prove they are the best of the best, to make a lot of money and most importantly, to make a big difference for more artists, to amplify the opportunity of independence for them!
XBIZ: Offer us a glimpse of what’s on the horizon for iWantEmpire, in 2018 and beyond.
Phillips: 2018 is going to be a really exciting year for the iWantEmpire and everyone involved. Bigger, better, bolder, beautification is on the agenda for the iWant brand. By the time this goes to print we will have unveiled our first billboard ad for iWantFanClub.com featuring the beautiful Tasha Reign, located along the iconic Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles! Our marketing campaigns are all about breaking the norm and stereotypes of what a brand is in this space and what it can be.
We represent a change from oppression and so does our marketing. Billboards, radio, television, viral social media, peer-to-peer marketing, sponsorships, online marketing, print publications, publicity, product placement campaigns, music videos and fashion shows — you name it, we’re doing it! Overall I project that 2018 is going to be the start of some very big years for the iWantEmpire, its artists and its fans! I think a lot of people want to see how far we can take this. As far as I can see, I would say you can sum up the limitations of this business model in two words — no limit!