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ethosDNA CEO Iddris Sandu shares his winning formula to creative success

As technology and the digital grows in our world, especially during this time, young digital architect genius Iddris Sandu gives us some guiding principles.

Iddris talked to me about his 2020 projects, the inception of his relationship with Nip and his advice to young creatives and entrepreneurs.


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The Nipsey Link Up

Many learned about Iddris Sandu’s story because of Nipsey Hussle. His work with the late icon has been highlighted again and again via interviews and community activist centered media.

But I wanted to know what it was like at the very beginning.

We’ve heard the story of Iddris and Nip having a chance encounter at a Starbucks in L.A., where Sandu was deep into programming music software. That’s when Nip took an interest in him, so I asked Iddris what he felt about the meeting and what he expected would become of it.

“I think for anyone who knows Nipsey, they know how important he is for LA culture.”


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Iddris continued,

“So, I felt surprised that he hit me up. Usually in LA culture, too, link-ups don’t often happen. I did feel a sense of alignment. It felt aligned, it felt organic, and it felt like we were going to do a lot together.”

What they did together would change the way L.A. communities and young kids of color would interact with technology and the digital realm. The two are large proponents of owning your own designs, innovations, inventions and overall work.


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words of logic would only dilute my message so I’ll let my soul speak. . I’m humilified to have had a personal relationship with the most authentic, bold, and prolific soul i’ve ever met in my life(all of them) . You see nipsey was a revolutionary for this generation, but he believed that I was one for the next generation. . He realized and elevated me into that mould from day one ; whereas others wouldn’t. . He protected me like a big brother, traveled with me like an explorer, pushed me to always walk in my power like an activist , and urged me to never forget the responsibility of truth to the duality to both my cultures being ghanaian -american.🇬🇭 . Nipsey gave layouts but for those who he knew closely and believed in , he gave and trusted us with the blueprints. . The blueprints are a form of batons to carry on the (relay race) . I Architected with him in ways i’ve never with any other indigo soul. . Nipsey and I both loved reading , so it was natural that we would bond over books ; exposing each other to what was hidden in plain sight. . We both had different parts of the key needed to unlock a door of knowledge . Once we did, we both fully innerstood the power of unconventional collaboration; the power in the minority to affect and influence the majority. . Nipsey and I would study the Kardeshav scale ; A scale that measures a people’s level of technological advancement based on the amount of energy a people are able to use ; then we would brainstorm how to apply that to African / Black culture because we believed that both those cultures were so evolved that they weren’t even a type 1 energy force yet. . We involved hip hop in our design / strategic thinking process. That’s how evolved our dialogue’s were every single time . I believe I can “end” it here knowing that legends never die. . They never pass away, fade, or wither. . The beauty of Nipsey was that due to his prolific form he left us all with a unique positive lesson and mission. . Whatever unique positive mission you feel that he left you with, trust in your inner guidance system and execute it til it’s completion . To Our Family, You Already Know What It Is. . The Marathon Continues 🏁

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Sandu emphasized during our talk the importance of being a producer and not just a consumer as well as owning what you produce.

“Own your Shit! Like, own your ideas, vertically integrate your ideas. There has never been a time in modern history, in history, period. When you can protect your ideas as much as you can now.”

Iddris himself owns several projects. We focused on two companies Sandu created: EthosDNA and SpatiaLABS. Information about the companies is not readily available at first internet search. So as a journalist, there was little to dig up about the two. So I asked Iddris why that was.

“These two companies that I formed, we kind of kept them vague. We believe in the oven formula versus the microwave formula. Like you could put food in the microwave and it will heat quicker, but it won’t taste as good because you strip the nutrients out of it. But if you put it into the oven, it takes longer but you are preserving the nutrients.”

Iddris views his companies from a philosophical point of view from which innovation and positive projects can grow. At the core of the companies is that same vision of solving large worldly problems, as well as industry problems with technology and access knowledge.


As the more mysterious of the two, I couldn’t not ask Sandu more about EthosDNA. The company seemed like a top-secret project, with higher learning and tech serving as an endorser.

Iddris’ answers clarified some of my questions, leaving me anxious to learn more about projects in the works but knowing it would come to light in due time. Just like a well-cooked oven meal.

“Ethos DNA is a for-purpose company that’s built around connecting the world through the message of technology and more importantly creating necessity-based products. Ethos is about changing the world that needs to be changed, and changing the world because it needs to be changed and not necessarily because we want it to change.”

Iddris continued:

“DNA stands for design, nature, and access because we are creating the world through the message of design, how it makes us feel; nature, how we study nature to our technology; and then access, which is about making the technologies that we create accessible to as many people as possible.”


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Iddris emphasized biomimicry as a core idea within EthosDNA’s philosophy. According to the Oxford dictionary, biomimicry is the design and production of materials, structures, and systems that are modeled on biological entities and processes.

This focus on environmentalism falls in line with the idea that tech does not need to work against nature but rather with it, learning from it and improving lives. With that in mind, the company is aptly named ethosDNA.

So I asked Iddris to enlighten us on the mission and message behind the company.

“We don’t exist to give the world an opinion. We exist to give the world facts, or ideas that can propel people. We are not just trying to create a new cup holder. We are thinking about how to make systems that are more dynamic, adaptable, scalable. It’s not to give opinions on things that already exist. It’s really to elevate the betterment of humanity.”



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If you haven’t yet heard of SpatiaLABS, you probably should check them out. Just scrolling through their IG you can get a bit of what they’re all about.

Several posts display their work as an immersive visual studio with futuristic spatial-visual manipulation via hologram. Most of these are entertainment-based, like 3D VR for album covers triggered by your Phone camera.

I got the chance to speak with Iddris just before his company SpatiaLABS dropped a collab with FENTY by Rihanna. SpatiaLABS created Virtual 3D invitations to a virtual event Rihanna hosted for FENTY on IG Live. The IG Live party for the #FENTYsocialclub was in celebration of Rihanna’s latest faux leather capsule.

“Spatial Labs is trying to show the world that you don’t need a flat canvas anymore because the whole world can be your canvas. “

“The Rihanna project will be an example of that. It’s about bridging entertainment, education, and visuals. It’s about how we experience things with our senses but in a fresher, cooler and doper way.”

The event included appearances from Lil Uzi Vert (who follows Rihanna and Rihanna alone on IG) and Octavian, with performances from DJs Kitty Ca$h, Pedro, and Stretch Armstrong.

Facebook’s first partner ever: The Black Mural Project

During our conversation, however, Sandu emphasized the importance of taking these practices and applying them to education.  Iddris called this “edutainment” and referred to the Black Mural Project that he did in collaboration with Facebook.

“SpatiaLABS is really an immersive, visual studio. It spans on education, it is communication, it is entertainment. We just want to give the world a look at where we can go with technology for the next decade.”

The Black Mural project did just that, allowing kids to interact with history via digital technology. Students would physically go up to the installation and use their tablets to hover over them as they would open up more media.

The media included current influencers speaking on the past and future of Black peoples.


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this moment has been years in the making. (Link in bio) . excited to finally announce my partnership with Facebook ; through way of our first project together : The Black Mural Project! . big thank you to @marsaimartin and @shameikmoore for being a part of this important cultural moment. . big thank you to @mayaesperanza as this wouldn’t have been possible without your guidance and brilliance. . thank you @mavcarter and @ipromiseschool for allowing us the space and entrusting us to inspire your youth ; preparing them for the future of technology. . lastly @chasebenjamin, you saw the vision when no one saw it. . excited for everyone to experience the greatness of what we have planned next! . #phase1 #theblackmural . @facebookapp @facebookedu

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The project was important in other ways. It was the first-ever collaboration that Facebook has ever agreed to. Previously, Iddris had consulted for Facebook. But for the Black Mural Project, Sandu told Facebook he would do it as a partner while maintaining full ownership of his work.

“With Facebook, I said, “Hey, no longer are we just doing consultation. My people that I serve (which is the culture that I serve) — the misfits, the unorthodox people, the unconventional thinkers and collaborators. You know, they need to see this to know that it’s possible. And that we changed it, like that.”

And so, Iddris Sandu who consulted for Facebook became Iddris Sandu, creator of EthosDNA partnering with Facebook.

Sandu explained that he didn’t do this just to have his name on his own work. That’s surface-level thinking. Instead, he did it for the next generation of entrepreneurs and creators.

He explained his intentions to me simply, in a way only Sandu can get you to easily engage with any idea.

“I am the only person who has a Facebook partnership. Facebook x EthosDNA. I want a kid who might go into a Facebook building, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, whatever, and who might also be radical, can say: “What?”

I responded, “Hey, I want to do this”

Sandu said, “But you can’t do that.”

And I responded, “But Iddris Sandu did that.”

Iddris’ advice to digital creators and entrepreneurs

And so, his entire drive to create always circles back to energizing the space for more like himself to achieve greatness. His advice to entrepreneurs was pressing and almost felt time-sensitive. The knowledge he was sharing was something he felt was of the utmost importance.



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“The most valuable thing for entrepreneurs to do is to stop holding those ideas inside — put them out there. Execute your ideas, own your intellectual property. Hip equals hop. Hip hop. High intellectual property equals high outputted products. The more intellectual property that you can build, create and own, the more opportunities you can have to create.”

His relentlessness and deep understanding of the spirit of changing things for the better, and for everyone remaining undeniable.

“Own your ideas, own your IP, connect with your users, connect with your people to push and elevate your messaging.”

Iddris Sandu seems to have found the winning formula and absolutely cannot wait to share it with everyone.