Crowdfunding / Entrepreneurs / Philadelphia

Why Bens Hilaire turned down an acquisition offer on ‘Planet of the Apps’

The SubwayTalent founder said no to Damon Wayans, Jr. Now he's trying to raise money on Indiegogo.

Bens Hilaire didn’t make it this far not to see his vision through.

Fresh of his appearance (which you can watch here) on Apple’s venture capital show, Planet of the Apps, Brownsville-based Hilaire is taking his funding request for his app SubwayTalent to Indiegogo. SubwayTalent is a platform for matching musical performers and event planners.

On the show, Hilaire talked to Damon Wayans, Jr., who has a similar idea but for musicians, actors and athletes already in the spotlight to help with bookings. Hilaire was offered $100,000 for 95 percent of the company and to be brought on for new customer acquisition. He declined the offer.

“Their main goal was to start at the top by helping celebrities who are already signed to a label and have booking agents, etc. and eventually, later on their app would help struggling artists,” Hilaire explained over direct message. “SubwayTalent mainly focuses on helping the unsigned independent musicians get paid gigs by connecting them to event planners who are searching for talented musicians for their event. I’ll take my chance betting on myself.”

There's nothing inspirational about selling out that quickly and being afraid to bet on yourself.

So Hilaire has a goal of raising $10,000 in crowdfunding for the purpose of hiring someone who can do back-end engineering work to keep the app running as he ramps up users and activity.


The founder has an interesting story, having moved up to Brooklyn from South Florida less than three years ago with little more than his ambition and a camera.

After a friend sent him a link to a startup pitch competition, he put together his best spiel and went to the Brownsville Start Fund competition, created by Waze exec Di-ann Eisnor and rapper Lupe Fiasco. He ended up winning, getting a small cash prize to work on the idea, and gaining an influential mentor in Eisnor. You can read our exclusive account of it here.

“Killing our vision when we’re just getting started would affect a lot of people, not just our present and future users but all the young kids watching the show, whether they’re watching it now or next year,” Hilaire explained. “There’s nothing inspirational about selling out that quickly and being afraid to bet on yourself. Our goal is to teach kids about ownership and to have confident to bet on themselves, even when their back is against the wall and feel like all odds are against them. Especially the kids that’s from where I’m from and look how I look. There’s no one high profile that look and sound like us, so taking that deal would be selfish of me.”

Series: Brooklyn

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