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Kanye West: The VC Boy Wonder

Could Kanye West hold the key to start-up success? At least one company thinks so. The rapper is apparently a special advisor – and inspiration – to the e-commerce start-up The Fancy.

Kanye West recently visited the New York City offices of shopping referral site The Fancy to give his advice on the future of e-commerce industry. The first thought that comes to mind is “Why Kanye?” For one, he has set a trend amongst many celebs – from Justin Timberlake and Ashton Kutcher to Justin Bieber – who have entered the high-stakes game of Venture Capital.

And why not, right? After all, Venture Capital is composed of entrepreneurial experience, boat loads of cash, plus connections and influence. While it is obvious Kanye has the latter of these necessities, many people are unaware of his entrepreneurial endeavors.

Besides a small army of Fatburger restaurants and two shoe lines with Nike and Louis Vuitton, Kanye – along with Lady Gaga – backed turntable.fm, a social media music sharing startup that has grown rapidly. The Fancy CEO Joseph Einhorn recently spoke on Kanye's role within The Fancy:

He is the one who inspires everything we do.”

The company—which brands itself as “part store, blog, magazine and wishlist”—counts several celebrities among its 1 million members, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and rapper Nas. It also has raised about $18 million in total funding, and has Jack Dorsey and Chris Hughes as board members.

But of all the company's high-profile fans, West seems to be The Fancy's ultimate man crush.  CEO Einhorn added:

We get information from Kanye and try to work it into our process, and then hopefully the consumers enjoy what we are doing,”

So will the company bring West on in an official capacity? Einhorn said, simply, that the pop star can do “whatever he wants to do.”  West even tweeted a photo during the meeting, with the comment:

“Working on the future with Joseph Einhorn.”

In addition to getting attention for its celebrity ties, the company has begun experimenting with new ways to generate revenue through referrals… which is probably where West will have an active role.

The way Elite sees it, not only will Kanye West prove himself as an effective VC with more startup investments to come, but so will other rappers and artists looking to compete and conquer a new (and rewarding) industry.

Elite. 

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Ryan Babikian

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