In this episode…
Join David Hernandez, host of There’s Always a Lyric, in an insightful conversation with Ralph Quintero, a Founder, Advisor, Investor, Strategist, and passionate Storyteller. Ralph shares his journey as a Miami DJ turned entrepreneur in the Web3 and NFT space, with the support of his family, friends, and mentors.
David Hernandez (0:18)
Welcome! This is There’s Always a Lyric, sponsored by lotus823. And if you don’t know about lotus823, lotus helps consumer tech, home, and lifestyle brands gain visibility, drive relevant traffic, and increase sales through our PR and marketing efforts. At lotus823, your goals are our goals, and in full transparency, I’m a managing partner at lotus823.
Today, we welcome Ralph Quintero. Ralph is a founder. He’s an advisor. He’s an investor. He’s a strategist. He’s a passionate storyteller, and most of all, he’s a person who loves people. Ralph is the founder and editor-in-chief of the Daily Ralpha, a Web3 market pulse newsletter that is read by 1000s of people daily. He’s also CGMO, which you’ll need to explain to everyone in a few minutes, Chief GM officer at JPEG Morgan, co-founder of Foam Ventures, and strategist, Head of Community at CryptoLeague. Welcome Ralph Quintero.
Ralph Quintero (1:11)
Thank you so much, David. It is a pleasure to be here.
David Hernandez (1:14)
First of all, before we even really get into it. Can you talk a little bit about what the GM officer is all about?
Ralph Quintero (1:20)
GM is this phenomenon in the Web3 space where everybody greets everybody on Twitter mostly in the mornings by saying “GM”. And it’s become kind of the universal morning greeting of the Web3 space. So, in this group that I’m a part of, JPEG Morgan, I’ve been named the de facto chief GM officer because I kick off the conversation in that group every day, usually with a GM gang. And you know, the Daily Ralpha, essentially what we’re looking at, that’s happening for the day and what we should be paying attention to. So, it’s a lot of meme-ish fun.
David Hernandez (1:57)
So, is it short for good morning? Because that’s what it sounds like.
Ralph Quintero (2:00)
It is. It is definitely short for good morning.
David Hernandez (2:03)
The first question is always about the present and where you are right now, this part of the question is going to have a B part, which is where you came from. Because it’s such a radical shift that happened in the span of what seemed like less than a year. You basically reengineered yourself, reimagined yourself, and created a completely new career path. Before we get to the past, let’s start with the present, and all those wonderful things that you’re doing, from CryptoLeague, JPEG Morgan, tell us what you’re doing. Tell us how you got into crypto, into the NFT space, into basically the ecosystem that is pointing us leading us all to Web3, and basically the future of what we currently call the internet.
Ralph Quintero (2:49)
I always have been very passionate about emerging tech, and that passion always revolved around the music industry pin my prior life. Still very, very much, so passionate about music, particularly about music and Web3. And we can talk about that a little bit. But my shift into this space full-time was interesting because I bought my first crypto at the end of 2018, not because I was interested in the tech, only because I had a lot of friends in the financial sector that were talking about the importance of having crypto diversity in your portfolio. So, I bought a little bit of crypto, didn’t think much of it, and didn’t even really dig into the underlying tech. Then on the Fourth of July 2021, a buddy of mine, whom I’ve done some business with in the past tweeted, “Hey, everybody needs to go out and buy this Cool Cat NFT,” and I DM’ed him and I was like, “Shane, what is that?” He’s like, “Just shut up and buy it. You’ve got a wallet; you’ve got some crypto, just do it.” And I don’t know what came over me, but I was like, I trust Shane. I’m just going to do it and I bought my first NFT it was a Cool Cat, which I paid $212 for. My entire family made fun of me that day. How much did you pay for that? I’m like, “212 bucks” and they all were like, “You got ripped off!”
Ralph Quintero (3:58)
September 26, just a few months later, we sold that Cool Cat for just under 30,000. By then we had bought, you know, dozens and dozens more NFTs. The magic for me happened the second that I got that NFT in my hands. It was the first time that I really saw the power of blockchain and how blockchain can transform industries. And I dove headfirst into it. And I started learning everything I possibly could about it. I started writing about it. I started talking to people, interviewing people. And that’s essentially what opened the door for me to come into this space full time and I’ve been in Web3 advisory and strategy, since January of last year.
David Hernandez (4:38)
The journey really started from your position as a customer, as a fan.
Ralph Quintero (4:44)
100% and an openness to experiment and to have curiosity about what’s going on. And I think that’s what’s really helped me to pivot as quickly and as hard as I did. Because I want to be at the forefront of technology. Now we do have the internet. Now we have the ability to hire programmers halfway around the world. Now we have the ability to communicate via video or audio at the drop of a hat. So, think the adoption curve for this technology is going to be much quicker, and I didn’t want to I didn’t want to miss out on it. And initially, I was like, well, maybe I’ll build something, you know, specifically in the music space. But the opportunity to work with CryptoLeague as a client came up and work on strategy and community with them. And I jumped at it. And I’ve been doing Web3 full-time now for, like I said, a little over a year and a half.
David Hernandez (5:35)
And how does that winding road lead you to the Daily Ralpha?
Ralph Quintero (5:40)
After we bought that first NFT, that Cool Cat, I started jotting down all my notes of everything that was going on. This space is moving at a million miles an hour, and it was the only way that I could keep track of it. So, I started jotting down my notes about what was happening the following day, and what I should be paying attention to. And because my kids and my wife had gotten involved as well, I was sharing it in my family WhatsApp group. To this day, they still get it first every morning. So, the Daily Ralpha hasn’t changed much it wasn’t branded, the Daily Ralpha was just my little update. What happened was that I had been invited to another WhatsApp group with six friends that wanted to learn more about NFTs and one morning somebody said, “Hey, is this project minting today or minting tomorrow?” And I forwarded my little update. And they’re like, “What’s this?” “Oh, it’s something I put together for my family.” Like yeah, no, you need to share that here every day. That group went on to become JPEG Morgan. It went from six members to now it’s 200 just over 250 members strong. And it’s kind of the who’s who of people in the Web3 space. We’ve got people like Steve Aoki, we’ve got people like Ja Rule, Keith Grossman, the former president of Time Magazine, folks from a16z, like all kinds of people from diverse backgrounds, that all have one thing in common, and that is that they want to be at the forefront of making the change in Web3 and making Web3 what we want it to be. And it’s amazing to be part of that. So out of that group, people, you know, one day I said, “Oh, here’s, here’s some alpha,” and alpha and ours in our world is like, Oh, here’s some like insider info…”
David Hernandez (5:57)
Ralph Quintero (6:09)
And they’re like, “Oh, that’s not alpha, that’s Ralpha.” And I mean, you’re a branding guy, and I was like, “Shit, that’s beautiful”, and it’s stuck. And then my little update started getting a life of its own, it started being shared, you know, among other communities that those members were a part of. And this morning, it went out to just over 86,000 people.
David Hernandez (7:31)
That is absolutely mind-blowing.
Ralph Quintero (7:33)
And it’s a testament that anybody who’s consistent and puts out information that’s useful to others can actually make it. There is no real secret sauce other than a lot of consistency,
David Hernandez (7:44)
Ralph Quintero (7:45)
…and just paying attention to the things that I want to learn. And I think if I want to learn, I know somebody else may want to learn it as well.
David Hernandez (7:51)
You use the word consistency, right, and maintaining consistency. And I want to just kind of flip back, pre-2018. And the other Ralph Quintero that came up in the MIPRO Audio, DJ space, both on the sales and marketing sides, both on the US side and internationally. What led you to that? That was the ‘that’ before the ‘this’, right?
Ralph Quintero (8:21)
I think the commonality that I found is that I am a natural-born curator. I am a curator of people, of experiences of music, of data, of information, of news, I’m naturally good at curation. And the way that I started in the audio industry was as a DJ, right? 13 years old, mobile DJ, DJing school parties. And that grew into a legitimate business. And ultimately, that led me to becoming the resident DJ at Amnesia and bringing some of the first foam parties to Miami. And I knew that I wasn’t gonna do that for the rest of my life if I intended to have a family, which I wanted to, and I had met my then soon-to-be wife. And that’s when I went to work for JBL, which was a dream of mine. At the time, the epitome of speakers that you wanted, like the grail was to have a set of JBL speakers. So, for me, that was my entry level into the pro-audio world. I joined them as the Director of Intercontinental Sales. Prior to that, I was just handling Miami. That’s how you and I met.
David Hernandez (9:22)
Right, that’s right
Ralph Quintero (9:23)
Between Miami and the Caribbean. And that eventually led me to move to California, to LA, and I took on the role of Director of Intercontinental Sales, worked my way up, and eventually became Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Marketing there. It was so amazing, because I learned so much, not only about continuing to learn about the music industry, but about manufacturing, about distribution, about production, about relationships, international relationships, and I owe a lot of who I am today, even in this space, to the lessons that I learned working at JBL for so many years.
David Hernandez (9:57)
You sort of move from that into the corporate world. Into a completely different set of dynamics. In that process, were there key people, when you look back that, or even think about now that were mentors or, or that were teachers in some way?
Ralph Quintero (10:14)
The first person right out of the gate would be Larry Meyer, who is the gentleman who gave me my first opportunity. Larry opened the door for me and believed in me, as you know, not too many people believe in DJs, right? To come work for them. It’s like, “are these guys gonna be reliable? Are they gonna show up?”
David Hernandez (10:32)
Ralph Quintero (10:33)
But Larry did, Larry believed in me and gave me my first opportunity, working as the rep down here in Miami, and in the Caribbean. And that led me to meeting a lot of amazing people. Like Michael McDonald, who’s an incredible mentor of mine and continues to be an amazing friend. Michael believed in me. He brought me on board to JBL directly and gave me my role as a director and, at the time, I believe I was the youngest director at a Fortune 500 company. So Larry Meyer, Michael McDonald, Mark Terry, John Carpanini. And, you know, ultimately, they’ve all had their place throughout my career. And I always end up going back to them. And most recently, I would say, would be Mark Ureda, who was the president at JBL, when I left. Mark and I continue to be great friends, post-me leaving JBL, I went to do a lot of work in private equity, with Transom Capital and Mark is an adviser to them. And he brought me on to some projects as well. But I learned a lot from Mark.
David Hernandez (11:36)
You entered the world of private equity and working with Transom specifically. How did that come about? What drew you to that? Why did you go, “Yeah, this is a good idea.”
Ralph Quintero (11:47)
So, I had run into Mark at NAMM. And he said, “Hey, I’m working on this super cool project. I’m working with Transom Capital, and we’re about to buy this awesome company that I think you may or may not know,” he mentioned that it was LOUD Audio, and at the time, they own Mackie, EAW, Martin Audio, a couple of other brands. And he laid out the roadmap for what they were thinking of doing with all the brands, and he asked if I was interested in coming on board, you know, as an operating partner with them and taking over sales and marketing at Mackie and you know, flew out to Seattle, met with Alex Nelson, I, you know, jumped feet first into to help with that transition. And it was phenomenal.
David Hernandez (12:35)
You really were along with the other folks at Mackie, bringing Mackie into new spaces as well.
Ralph Quintero (12:42)
Absolutely. And quite the challenge, right? Because we lived through COVID, which required a massive pivot. Right? So, from a business perspective, it required every single bit of business creativity that I could potentially muster along with the rest of the team, to not only keep it really relevant but keep us alive, right? So, we went from, you know, this, this healthy pro audio company that was staging a comeback, to all of a sudden, the world being on lockdown, nobody goes into churches, clubs, no parties,
David Hernandez (13:17)
All the places Mackie lives and breathes. Right.
Ralph Quintero (13:19)
Exactly. So, we had to pivot very quickly into the work-from-home space, the creator space. And, you know, I’m proud to say that I was part of a team that was able to successfully do that.
David Hernandez (13:31)
Most people in the industry know, that do hardware, there were other challenges revolving around supply chain, the logistics of being able to move product from point A to point B.
Ralph Quintero (13:41)
It was all of those things, and they were layering on top of each other. And we had no idea how long it was going to last or what it meant. None of us did. So, it was like kind of learning and adjusting on the fly and navigating it. It was definitely a challenge.
David Hernandez (13:56)
But I’m sure it gave you a lot of learnings in a very short period of time.
Ralph Quintero (13:59)
100%, that also gave me kind of this yearning for more transparency and kind of bridges where I am with crypto right now and blockchain. Right? That’s one of the things that I love about this space, is that it brings a lot of decentralization and transparency to the space and one of my frustrations, and you brought up supply chain issues is that there’s like no transparency in what’s going on with supply chain. It almost feels like everything is happening behind closed doors or behind a veil. And I think that the world would run so much smoother if we had decentralization which is one of the reasons why I’m such a huge advocate for what’s going on in the Web3 space.
David Hernandez (14:47)
When we talk about what’s going on in your space now specifically with Web3, crypto, NFTs, and the underlying piece which is blockchain right? How do you see that, or at least one possible scenario, that you see this impacting the music space in the next two years, three years, or five years?
Ralph Quintero (15:10)
We’re already seeing some advances right now; I don’t even think we need to go five years out. Steve Aoki is actually one of the most active people in the music space on blockchain and Web3. He’s got his own Metaverse called the A0K1VERSE. He was one of the first artists to perform in the Metaverse, and now he’s on tour, he’s on his most recent tour, they opened up the ticket sales to anybody who was holding any of the Aoki NFTs beforehand. So, there was no fighting for tickets, there was no standing in line. And I got to control my resale market, right? So, like I was able to go out and buy tickets for, or, actually, I was able to claim some tickets for free and buy some other ones. And then I decide how much I want to sell them for. Or if I want to hold them as collectibles, whatever it is so, so many different opportunities.
David Hernandez (15:59)
So, it also creates a level of interaction the way you described it between artists, and their communities, and their fans, that is much more direct.
Ralph Quintero (16:10)
100%. I’ll give you another example. There’s a gentleman, his name is David Hume. And he runs the Hume Collective, and it’s essentially a record label. But it’s a Web3 first record label. And their first artist is an artist called Angel Baby, which is this bunny, it’s a digital bunny, called a fluff, and Angel Baby’s first track was voted on by, it’s called The Other Side, great track, and they just finished voting for what the second track for Angel Baby is going to be. And the level of involvement, and interaction, and engagement that I have directly with the artists is phenomenal. And I think those are things that can only really happen in this Web3 space. And those are the kinds of things that make me super excited.
David Hernandez (16:54)
You said it really creates a completely different set of opportunities because the entire platform is completely different than anything that we’ve ever had.
Ralph Quintero (17:04)
Exactly. And it’s right for innovation, right? Like, even Spotify, right? Like if you look at Spotify now token gating certain playlists and certain experiences, right? So now if you’re an NFT holder for one of these musicians, you may be the first to access the track, you may access the track, like, you know, the music industry has always dropped tracks on Tuesdays. But what if, as an NFT holder, you got access to that track on a Sunday night? To me, that takes me right back to my DJ days when I was DJing and I was part of a record pool. I would show up to the record pool, and they would give me the records that weren’t even playing on the radio yet and I was the tastemaker, right? I was the one playing them at the clubs. And people were like, “How’d you get that?” This is no different. But now we’re bringing consumers into it, which is phenomenal.
David Hernandez (17:51)
Can you share with everyone an experience that you had where you basically felt like you fell short? Or it was a failure? And what you got out of it? Basically, the takeaway for you.
Ralph Quintero (18:07)
As an entrepreneur, I have failed endless amounts of times compared to how many times I’ve succeeded. It’s probably a 20-to-one ratio. Right? I’ve had websites fail, I’ve had ideas fail, I’ve had all kinds of things. And I’m not gonna lie, those are dark moments. I went from living in a 10,000-square-foot house to living with my in-laws, you know, in one of my in-laws’ bedrooms with my wife and to my kids in a bunk bed, right?
David Hernandez (18:35)
Ralph Quintero (18:36)
Because sometimes you put it all on the line and it works. And sometimes it doesn’t. But what that teaches you is that resilience, right? Like, it’s taught me not to take anything personally, right? Like, just because you fail at one thing doesn’t mean that you’re a failure.
David Hernandez (18:51)
Ralph Quintero (18:52)
I choose to look at it as okay, what are the lessons that I can take away from this? Not everything failed, some things worked. A lot of things may not have worked. So, what didn’t work? Why didn’t it work? And then I can take those lessons and apply them to the next project, and the next project, and the next project. And that’s kind of a philosophy that I’ve built around my life. It helps me to develop this muscle where, you know, yeah, you may fall down, but every time you fall down less, and less, and less, because you go stacking on these lessons that you go learning, so it does get easier along the way. The only way it wouldn’t get easier is if you quit. If you just give up and you say this isn’t for me. You’ll never know you’ll never know, what else is out there for you. What are the other opportunities, hence why I made a pivot late in life. But this was an opportunity to do something completely different. And had it not been through all those series of failures and lessons. I don’t think I would have I would have done it. And here I am. I mean it’s amazing. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
David Hernandez (20:03)
In those times, you did a lot of learning, as you just described. Do you currently have people that are your guiding voices that are mentors or coaches that you rely on?
Ralph Quintero (20:14)
I have my own personal board of directors. And I recommend, I recommend that everybody has a personal board of directors, right? The biggest companies in the world have boards of directors, why? Because even CEOs need guidance, they need to turn to somebody. So, the people you surround yourself with, super important, right? You always want to surround yourself with people that are going to lift you higher. That’s a common quote, we all hear. But it’s true. Like, if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room, right? You need to always be looking to level up. And I always look to surround myself with people who’ve been there, done that. And for my own personal board, I like people from all different kinds of walks of life, you know, whether it’s from the music industry, fashion industry, finance, because everybody brings a slightly different perspective. All of the folks at JPEG Morgan have been phenomenal, Keith Grossman, former president of Time, is incredible. He deserves all of the credit for the Daily Ralpha being where it is today. Otherwise, it would just still be shared in private little groups and he was the one who really pushed me to make it public. So, I owe him a lot. Plus, all of the other mentors that I mentioned early on, and then consistency, David, right? Like you could get all this advice in the world. But you have to show up every day.
David Hernandez (20:14)
What do you do to make sure that you keep a level of balance in your life?
Ralph Quintero (20:54)
Balance exists in ebbs and flows, right? Sometimes you have to be off balance, because you’re closing out a project, or you’re trying to do something for a client, or you’re getting ready to go on tour, or whatever it is, and all your attention has to be focused on that. Where you can’t get stuck is in that imbalance, right? Knowing, I think setting the expectation for everybody to know, okay, look, for the next three weeks, this is what I need to focus on 80% of my time, but once this is done, then I can go back to spending time doing XYZ. Family first is where I start. I will put my family over anything, any day of the week, right? Just this morning, I canceled some meetings because my son needed to go to the doctor. But my family always like they’ve been an integral part of all of the businesses that I’ve ever been in, right? So, they feel that they’re part of the business, and they all contribute to the business in one way or another. They all helped me with the Daily Ralpha. So, they have a sense of ownership in what I do so it’s not like I’m in some silo and it’s like, I don’t know what dad does, or I don’t know what my husband does, like we’re all in this together. We’re, we call ourselves the core four. And like we’re a team like this is what we do.
David Hernandez (20:57)
Right, right, right.
Ralph Quintero (21:39)
So that helps a little bit with the balance. Sometimes it does get out of whack, right? Last year, I ended up having to have vocal cord surgery from overusing my voice. But I’m a storyteller. Like, I’m not going to stop telling stories. I’m not going to stop talking. Thankfully, everything came out well. And it wasn’t anything serious. But it did put things into perspective for me.
David Hernandez (23:14)
If there’s one song title or lyric, that captures who you are or your life story really well, that you really feel “this is me.” What would it be?
Ralph Quintero (23:23)
I decided to go with a lyric from Lose Yourself by Eminem.
David Hernandez (23:29)
Ralph Quintero (23:30)
And it’s “you better lose yourself in the music, the moment, you own it. You better never let it go. You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime.” So that speaks to like taking those risks, right? You have that one opportunity to make it happen and you may never get it again. So, while it’s in front of you, you may want to consider it and take that chance.
David Hernandez (23:52)
That’s perfect, Ralph. And that does absolutely capture you so perfectly. Thank you so much for making the time for this today.
Ralph Quintero (24:00)
It was a pleasure being on here and I’ll gladly come back and talk to you for hours man. I enjoyed it so much.
Keep in touch with Ralph: