Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I think this is the most important. Sometimes people are afraid to ask for fear of judgement or coming across unintelligent. I know I’m a pretty smart guy and if you’re explaining something to me and I don’t get it, I don’t think that’s my fault. But if I don’t ask questions to try and understand it better, then that is my fault.
As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewingGagan Grewal.
Gagan Grewal, CEO of Mogul Productions, leads the financial vision for the platform, including development of the Mogul Film Fund infrastructure and Smart Wallet. Prior to joining Mogul, Gagan was the managing partner of a private equity firm, led the private banking team for Scotia Wealth Management, and founded his own recruiting firm with a successful exit. Gagan brings his expertise in partner-client relations, capital management, and operations to Mogul Productions.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve always loved technology; I’ve always loved film, and I’ve always loved losing myself in a movie. Growing up I found it easier to relate to characters on screen and in books than I did in real life so it has always been a passion of mine to be involved in entertainment. I especially enjoy independent content that breaks with the expected formula. That, and I tried my hand at acting and didn’t have the face or skill set for it lol.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I was in Milan on my way to a dinner and somehow got lost on my way there; the restaurant was kind of in a park and I thought I could cut through but it turns out I entered this park right before it closed and got locked in. I wandered around for a little bit until I saw this opening through a fence. I peeled back this weird mesh thing and reached through…it turned out to be a door. I opened the door and all of a sudden I was in a kitchen and all these people were looking at me. I was in a suit so it was kind of confusing for them…well, I walked through like I was supposed to be there hoping I could still make it to my dinner in time and as I got through the kitchen doors it turns out I was in the restaurant and my table saw me coming from the back. It made me look a lot cooler than I was and yes, the dinner was a success.
Can you tell us about the Cutting edge technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?
As the CEO of Mogul Productions, I’ve been working with our team to create a decentralized film financing platform that gives everyone a voice in the filmmaking process. The entertainment ecosystem is fragmented and hasn’t worked as well as it could for creators, fans, and investors. It’s very difficult for creators to receive the financing they need to get their ideas off the ground. In spite of their pivotal role in fostering the growth of the entertainment industry, regular people have no say in the types of films that get made. Meanwhile, film financiers have little to no transparency into how their funds are being used and the process of distributing profits after a film’s release is almost entirely opaque. We realized that by leveraging blockchain technology, we could address all of these issues and help ensure more great films get produced.
How do you think this might change the world?
We depend on great entertainment more than we are willing to admit as a society. The most impactful films and TV shows bring people of different backgrounds together and help us all feel more connected. Entertainment can also be a much-needed escape from the hardships of daily life, something that’s been especially important during the coronavirus pandemic. What we aim to do with Mogul Productions is get more great films financed and produced by harnessing the wisdom of the crowd. When we give regular people the power to decide which films get financed, more creators have the chance to get their ideas made into films, and fans get to see films that they actually want to watch. This is a good system for film financiers as well since there is a built-in audience ready to watch and support each film that is released.
Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?
There are a lot of platforms that claim to harness the wisdom of the crowd but that do not take care to ensure the voting and governance systems are fair. Mogul leverages a quadratic voting system to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard in the voting process, regardless of the number of STARS tokens held (STARS are required to cast a vote). The quadratic voting formula makes each vote cast by the same user exponentially more expensive so that everyone’s first vote counts the most. This system guards against any single STARS-rich user having undue influence over the voting process.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?
A few friends and I were together one night and one of the guys with us was working on the film Deadpool. We started to chat about how long that movie sat in development and how the studios didn’t want to go through with the project the way it was presented. Somehow, the proof of concept trailer was released and people got really excited. It was amazing to watch the momentum build, and I loved how the fans got behind it and “encouraged” the studio into making it. I think that was the breakthrough — we don’t want to be told what’s best for us. We know what we want to watch and our opinion should count for something.
What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?
To see mass adoption of any novel platform, ease-of-use is essential. At Mogul, we have prioritized making our platform easy to use regardless of technical knowledge. For example, Mogul’s Smart Wallet holds a user’s STARS, the in-app cryptocurrency needed to vote on which films should gain financing and that can be redeemed for one-of-a-kind rewards like set memorabilia, red carpet tickets, invitations to exclusive events, and mentorship. The Smart Wallet is non-custodial, which means the Mogul Platform does not hold the private keys that grant users complete control and ownership over the value held in STARS. Most non-custodial wallets in the cryptocurrency space are intimidating for anyone not familiar with the space. Mogul’s Smart Wallet addresses this issue with an automated password reset flow that lets users reset their password in a way that’s familiar without ever giving Mogul access to their private keys.
What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?
In addition to working with our communications partner Melrose PR, we have an experienced team of producers and other veterans from the filmmaking industry who are helping to spread the word and attract new users. James Pratt, an award-winning actor, director, and celebrity favorite within luxury auctioneering internationally, hosts Mogul Live on Instagram where he interviews directors, actors, writers and other entertainment professionals about their experiences.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Honestly there are so many people that it’s really hard to pick one. I had a few teachers in highschool who really taught me some valuable lessons and I have a really good group of friends and family who keep me in check. I think the theme is good people who I trust, who support me, and who I can go to for advice.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
This is a tough one; I don’t think my success has specifically led me to bring goodness into the world — I think you either want to be someone who contributes or doesn’t. I was raised to give back and have been volunteering since I was a kid; I think that’s something that has stuck with me and I try to be involved in the communities I’m passionate about. As a teenager, I spent a lot of time volunteering in hospitals and in the community and now I sit on a couple of not-for-profit boards and a charity called Kids Up Front, which helps children attend events and experiences through donated tickets.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
Unfortunately, even if someone had told me the following things, I probably wouldn’t have internalized them at the time. Experience is the teacher and sometimes that’s the problem. But these are 5 things that I think everyone should be comfortable with:
- Failure helps you grow. There’s nothing wrong with it, but you will be judged.
- You can’t get better without practice.
- Don’t brag. Lots of people better than you have achieved much more.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I think this is the most important. Sometimes people are afraid to ask for fear of judgement or coming across unintelligent. I know I’m a pretty smart guy and if you’re explaining something to me and I don’t get it, I don’t think that’s my fault. But if I don’t ask questions to try and understand it better, then that is my fault.
- You don’t have to answer every question.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I believe in the power of storytelling to bring people together and even change the world. I’d like to see a movement where more untold stories are brought to life, providing all of us with more perspective, humanity, and connection. I aim to do our part with Mogul to make this cultural transformation a reality.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Twenty years from now you’ll be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” — Mark Twain
Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Mogul Productions is a decentralized film financing (DeFiFi) platform that connects creators, movie fans, film financiers and other contributors in one space to ensure the best films get made by giving everyone a voice. By leveraging blockchain technology and a tokenized model, Mogul incentivizes participation and engagement. Using the Mogul in-app payment and utility token (STARS), users can vote for their favorite films to be greenlit and participate in key decision-making aspects of production. STARS holders are key governing bodies of the Mogul platform. Mogul’s production team and advisors are award-winning Hollywood veterans who have written, directed, acted in, and produced diverse slates of films and TV shows.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.