Melissa Priller and 3 Creative Entrepreneurs

Trey Bowles: TreyBowles

This interview pertains to Trey Bowles’ leadership position in the music file sharing company, Morpheus.

Me: Did you have a business plan when you started your business Morpheus?

Trey: I did not have a business plan.

Me: Did you just jump in?

Trey: I joined the company right after it started and ended up taking it over and running it. So, I didn’t have a plan. I had an advertising plan for a revenue model. I wrote that plan before I started.

Me: Did you have to amend it once you took over?

Trey: Yes, many times.

Me: Did the plan need to be changed more often than not?

Trey: It had to be adjusted more often than not because we grew so fast. We had about 110 million customers in the first 12 months. Every month we had to change it because we were growing much faster than we had expected.

Me: So your projection numbers were low?

Trey: They were low.

Me: Do you think business plans are necessary for entrepreneurship?

Trey: I believe that executive summaries are important…. I think a 50 page business plan is not something you should have. But I believe that there is no way you can write a good 5 to 8 page executive summary unless you have 50 pages of research data and support…. I mean these days I just put it all into a 12-slide pitch deck. If you don’t do your research and have 50 pages of data and somebody asks you a question from your 5-8 page summary, then you won’t know how to answer it. If you say I’m going to spend $50,000 on marketing and I’m going to get 10,000 customers and you put that in your executive summary, somebody will say, “well how are you going to do that?” That’s what you need the other 50 pages for.

Me: What three pieces of advice can you offer developing arts entrepreneurs?

Trey: View whatever your craft or passion is as a business so you can figure out how to make money doing it. I think too, make sure you surround yourself with people: mentors, advisors, and experts who have succeeded at what you’re trying to do. And the 3rd piece of advice is: be persistent, don’t give up.

Mugu Radu: Philadelphia String Quartet

Mugu Radu created the Philadelphia String Quartet

Me: When you started your business did you have a business plan?

Mugu: No. The plan was to do anything I could to get out of the boring orchestra world.

Me: If you wanted to get out of a standard orchestra you had to do something different I take it?

Mugu: Well, I’ve been playing in orchestras for 20 years. I got sick of hearing Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, and all of those. I felt like a key on a piano that the conductor just pressed for sound. I was tired of that. So I said, “You know what? I will do it my way.” I said, “Here, let me show you how to do weddings. Let me show you how to do an event because nobody can play violin well here.” So no business plan. I just started with anger, and somehow God gave me some blessings and people started calling.

Me: So you think you just got lucky?

Mugu: I think my quartet [the Philadelphia String Quartet] was a little different. I also didn’t speak English well. Whenever I talked to clients about the music program for their event they thought I knew what I was talking about because I was foreign. I would talk about transitioning from Canon into Vivaldi into Bruno Mars and they would find it appealing.

Me: Did you initially have the plan to start a quartet or was that just a consequence?

Mugu: I got the idea from Ion to start a quartet. That [the Dallas String Quartet] was my model at first.

Me: Do you think business plans are necessary for entrepreneurship?

Mugu: I think business plans are a very smart thing to create, but make sure you don’t kill your energy and enthusiasm of serving people with them. At the end of the day that’s what business is: serving people… Money flows to me naturally because people will pay me for this beautiful thing I enjoy doing. So, I think a business plan is a smart thing but if you follow it too strictly you’re going to kill your appetite.

Me: What three pieces of advice can you offer developing arts entrepreneurs?

Mugu: Work 25 hours a day. Be better than the competition. Look at what they are doing and offer something else. If everybody is fishing in the same lake, think to yourself, “I’m going to develop my own lake and grow my own fishery,” and just give customers an honest service.

Ion Zanca: Ion Zanca

Ion Zanca created the Dallas String Quartet.

Me: Did you have a business plan when you started your business?

Ion: No.

Me: What was your plan?

Ion: My plan was to play 2 or 3 weddings a week and to play in the Symphony so I could support my soon-to-be wife and my family.

Me: Did you have a plan to find musicians?

Ion: The musicians were the easy part because I was in school and everybody I knew wanted to play gigs. It was finding the clients that was the hard part.

Me: How did you find clients?

Ion: I made folders with samples of music and promo materials and then I went to churches and venues and tried to give them away. I went to the music directors and told them about the quartet.

Me: Do you think business plans are necessary for entrepreneurship?

Ion: Yes and no. Sometimes trying to find and create the best business plan can hinder you because then you will never start the business, but I think it is good to have a plan.

Me: Do you think it would have helped you to have some things planned out?

Ion: Thats a good question. I’m not sure.

Me: If there was one thing you wish you had planned ahead for, what would it have been?

Ion: I didn’t see the growth possibility of the group outside of Dallas. So with the name “Dallas String Quartet” you become localized to Dallas. Then again I don’t know if I would have done something different because that name helped me a lot to start the business. But now it doesn’t help me as much because I want to take the group national.

Me: What are three pieces of advice you can give developing arts entrepreneurs?

Ion: For you? Be flexible and learn different styles so you can play with anybody.

Me: What about for everyone else?

Ion: Flexibility in general. Always be willing to learn and change because that will open possibilities for you. Be willing to adapt to the market and don’t be too proud to consider other ways of working. And finally, work really hard.

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