Brent Smelter, Co-Founder of Inner Greek (Social Media Service)
Brent Smelter a current SMU senior founded Inner Greek with some of his network in his hometown of San Diego California. Inner Greek is a social network Medium that is made to connect all members of fraternity and sorority life throughout the nation. His idea got a large amount of publicity that led Brent and his team to be part of some high-level start-up programs in Boston. Currently Inner Greek is going through some changes in management and possible buy out negotiations.
1) What role, if any, does a business plan play in building and launching an arts company (as a business pursuit)?
My business plan played an important role for my partners and I to acquire our first round of capital. Having to go through the business plan, step by step, allowed us to solidify our concept and exposed many potential hurdles. Although we have loosely followed our initial business plan, it played an important role in getting us from the idea stage to the business development stage. Personally, I think that creating a business plan is necessity before building and launching an arts company.
2) What three pieces of advice would you give aspiring artist entrepreneurs about planning?
– Be Smart When You Are Being Stupid. Owning a company brings on a lot of added responsibility. This requires maturity that some entrepreneurs fail to account for when they jump into their venture. This does not mean that you have to stop having fun, but you must remember that your actions not only reflect yourself but can also affect your company. When planning your company, ask yourself if you are ready to take on the responsibility of owning a company.
–Dream Big. My co-founders and I found this out the hard way during a VC round we made in Boston. We sold our company valuation short because we were not sure if we could acquire certain revenue streams. When you are trying raising capital and building your business, picture the ideal trajectory for your company, even if you think it is far fetched. Until you push your product to the market you do not know what you have. Let the people decide.
–Be Organized- My partners and I use drop box so that we are always on the same page. It’s extremely hard to plan if you are a different page as everyone else.
3) What do you believe are necessary qualities, if there are any, for artist entrepreneurs to possess or develop? An example might include a person speaking about focus, discipline, quality pitching skills, etc.
You must have confidence in yourself and your product. I often times get hard on myself when pushing a new product or feature to the market, but you have to trust yourself and go for it. Selling yourself short will never get you anywhere. Another quality that I believe all aspiring artist entrepreneurs must have is strong personal skills. Being able to speak in front of people in a composed manor is extremely important. You know your product better than anyone else, so you have to make sure not to go over board when pitching your business plan to others.
Interview by Nicholas Pappas