The Future Is Now: Stevie Hopkins Of Dropolis On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up E-Commerce

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Starting several businesses at a very young age, I wish I would have been more open minded in teaming up with strategic partners/potential investors. I feel this insight and higher knowledge would’ve taken these ideas to the next level.

As a part of our series about cutting-edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Stevie Hopkins: CEO of Dropolis and SCP.

Evangelist of all things culture, creativity, music and more, Stevie parlayed his experience developing a disability advocacy brand into SCP Merchandising, the largest independent merchandising company in the entertainment industry.

He has helped build the merch brands of some of the biggest names including Billie Eilish, Unus Annus, Mitski, Carly Rae Jepson, Louis the Child, Freddie Gibbs, and more.

Now, he’s bringing both his unbridled enthusiasm for what’s next and the best of his expertise as a recognized master of merch to the web3 realm. Dropolis is-quite literally-the city of Stevie’s dreams.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I own a DIY disability awareness lifestyle brand that I inherited from my sister, who passed away in 2009. That led me down the path of printing and shipping t-shirts and other merchandise and in 2013 a local band needed some t-shirts printed. I’ve always been one to say yes to almost any opportunity. That band ended up growing rapidly over the next year and became a significant part of my life. That led to introductions to many managers in the music industry and before long I was managing merchandise for the likes of Billie Eilish and now I have one of the largest merchandising companies in the entertainment industry with clients from music, YouTube, Twitch, TikTok, podcasts, etc.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

In 2020, I helped build the merch brand for a one-year YouTube project called Unus Annus. On the very last day of their one-year video series, they invited their friends that helped them along the way to participate in a live stream to say goodbye to the channel. They called me onto their stream around midnight and there was a live viewing audience of over one million people. The success of that live stream and the effect on merch sales required me to rent an entire separate building just for their project and we had to hire almost 50 full time employees. If it wasn’t for that YouTube project and success of that live stream, I’m not sure my business would have survived Covid given our historical dependence on concerts and live events.

Can you tell us about the cutting-edge technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

We are building the first frictionless marketplace for NFTs that are specifically linked to limited edition collectibles and merchandise. Dropolis will add a new layer of opportunity for creators and collectors, both from a revenue and engagement standpoint for creators, but also a new simpler yet amplified way for fans to collect.

How do you think this might change the world?

The advent of Blockchain and digital assets and its use case for physical collectibles and engaging with fans is going to provide a more efficient economic model around the secondary market for concert tickets, merchandise, experiences and other limited edition collectibles such as sports memorabilia, toys, etc. Collections will be “tracked” on the Blockchain and it will end up creating new ways for people to connect with one another through Blockchain-backed social media, etc. I feel that Dropolis will help expedite the adoption of web3 and Blockchain to the masses because it moves an everyday transaction to the chain and incentivizes people to collect and trade digital assets.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks of this technology that people should think more deeply about?

I talk about the “black mirror” vision of our future through the lens of Blockchain on a regular basis. Now that we all have phones and other cloud-based technology on our bodies at all times, we have an easy digital wallet for Blockchain collectibles in our possession via our phone, Apple Watch, etc. It’s only a matter of time before every public place is tapping into our digital wallets to serve us customized experiences and communications but also to use our wallets to commemorate what we do. Similar to a sci-fi film; as you walk down a futuristic street passing billboard advertisements and signage that morph to only directly target you. In another example, imagine getting your haircut and the barber/stylist dropping a token into your wallet and then going to a restaurant after your haircut for a date and receiving another token at checkout. Our entire life of experiences could potentially be tokenized on the chain as a chronological time capsule. That could very quickly be used for many things, by the government or companies. Blockchain and tokenization is the next iteration of digitizing our entire being.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

My merchandising company sells millions of merch items every year and after I discovered NFTs in February of 2021, I quickly envisioned a world where all of the items leaving our warehouse are tokenized. I’ve been building ever since.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

Blockchain and NFTs currently have somewhat of a marketing problem. There are many misconceptions and a lack of understanding of what the technology is and how it can be used. I believe widespread adoption for platforms such as mine is very achievable with time and a collaborative effort to educate people how to collect digital assets and to do so safely.

What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?

We have not yet gone fully to market as we are lining up our initial content partners and working out tech developments further.

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?

It may sound like a cliché answer but I wouldn’t be here without the love and support of my mom. I grew up with a very severe disability and still live daily overcoming the challenges of needing 24/7 personal care assistance. My Mom not only took care of me when I was young but every time I’ve started a new business she was willing to help me with the physical tasks necessary that I could not do on my own. When my sister passed away, she was the first person to jump in and help me take over the t-shirt brand and she has been handling customer service, online shipping, and hundreds of other tasks ever since!

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Whether it’s my own t-shirt brand for the disability community (3E Love), any of the thousands of clients in the entertainment industry that I have served, or the future customers of my web3 platform (Dropolis), I believe that I am helping to create unique items and experiences that bring people joy and create conversations. The conversations that our merchandise creates bring people together every day throughout the world.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

  1. “Bootstrapping is not the only option”

Story: Starting several businesses at a very young age, I wish I would have been more open minded in teaming up with strategic partners/potential investors. I feel this insight and higher knowledge would’ve taken these ideas to the next level.

2. “Hire fast, fire faster, promote fastest”

Story: From my experience as a solo entrepreneur and comparing this to working alongside a brilliant team I’m grateful to call my colleagues, I’d always choose the latter. At the end of the day, you can’t do everything alone. If you’re in a situation where you have positive cash flow, it’s always a smart business decision to build-up in terms of staff. More creative minds, more jobs to fill, and more work being done. Creating a steady system of employee standards will allow the business to keep staff that meet company requirements.

3. “There is no playbook to building a business in web3”

Story: While building Dropolis, I felt the pressure to create something “perfect”. I quickly realized the web3 landscape is a constantly changing marketplace. There is no “perfect” model. From there on out, I trusted my vision to create something thoughtful that consumers would genuinely enjoy, utilizing this technology.

4. “Always reflect on your purpose”

Example: Ask yourself “why” and make sure you are serving that. Always come back to the core reason of why you do what you do. Without it, you can easily lose sight of larger business goals.

5. “Try to remain open to all opportunities that come your way; trust the process”

Story: I’ve had the privilege to manage Billie Eilish’s merch brand for over two years. It all started when I agreed to fulfill a twenty five piece t-shirt order for a show in California for her. Long story short: this relationship led to a multi-million dollar merch brand. While all this was a risk at the time, I knew I could get the job done and that opened so many doors for my career. I trusted the process and the universe rewarded me.

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. 🙂

By meeting new people of different backgrounds, experiences, and ethnicities it’s allowed me to learn so much about myself that has helped shape who I am as a business operator. One thing that really excites me is to become that bridge for others. So many of us have brilliant ideas that never see the light of day. I’d love to be a motivation for people to get out of their comfort zone and flex their worth! Continue to put yourselves out there, I challenge you to have mandatory monthly trips or attend networking events that force you to meet new people!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I don’t count dollars, I count relationships — It’s my personal motto and something I remind myself of day in and day out. With that being said, I understand the importance of revenue in business — but building relationships was my key to longevity. The idea of sustaining these strong relationships have helped me maintain great employees during tough market conditions, opened the door to new business opportunities via referrals, and have truly saved the day when I needed external favors from vendors.

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 🙂

Dropolis is the first marketplace where creators and fans can buy and sell NFTs directly linked to collectable merchandise, bridging the gap between the blockchain and the way fans interact with their favorite creators. Behind the platform, there is a fully integrated team of web3 strategists, merchandisers, marketers and developers who are creating a marketplace (Dropolis) that will onboard creators and fans on to web3 to provide an exceptional user experience and lasting benefits.

We aim to leverage the infrastructure we have built with SCP, the largest vertically integrated merchandising company in the country, and pair it with Dropolis, a creator and fan focused blockchain marketplace designed by web3 strategists and fan engagement experts to meaningfully extend the creator economy into web3.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

The Future Is Now: Stevie Hopkins Of Dropolis On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Recommended Posts