Tyler McPhillips & Three Creatives

Ryan Cordill, 24-year-old developer of PartnerUp App. Ryan Cordill

Ryan is the founder of a new app that supports promotion and an easy way to find creative partners or building teams for projects. Ryan has been working on the PartnerUp App for over a year now and is finally to the point of releasing his app to the market.

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

Ryan: Yes, it was a very rough draft of what a proper business plan would look like at first, but it provided us a blueprint to refer back to any time we had questions about the next steps to take. We could maintain our sense of direction and overall goals for the project.

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

Ryan: Absolutely. If we had not had the business plan we had to start off with, even though it was raw, I think PartnerUP App probably never would have made it through to development. If you don’t have thoughts and a vision for your company and or product formally organized before you set out to “startup”, you’re shredding your chances of success; there have been a few rare exceptions in the start up world, but overall I would say you are crazy to try and start a formal business without a formal plan for how you are going to grow and operate it! It may require tweaks or an overhaul along the way, but at the very least you’ve set out a solid outline for the steps that need to be taken to launch your vision.

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

Ryan: Trust yourself(or selves), but avoid becoming stubborn against the advice, feedback, and suggestions you receive from those around you. They are your link to the pulse of the greater consumer population, and at the end of the day, a business will not succeed if it doesn’t have consumers willing to engage with them. Think about it; you trust them enough to share your vision with them, so why disregard their feedback. You may not always agree with it, but don’t dismiss a suggestion from someone outright. Especially with a business like PartnerUP App, the advice and suggestions we received along the way always at least had an indirect effect on how the app evolved throughout the development stage. This is because each time we received some sort of feedback or suggestion about the app, it always factored into the lens through which our team viewed the platform each time we were discussing changes to the app, and by meshing that feedback with our own steadfast vision for what the app should be.

Olivia Burton, Marketing and promotion manager at Fast Forward Live. oliviaburton

            Olivia is a 21-year-old promotional manager for Fast Forward Live, a company designed to put on live performances all over downtown Dallas. The company is about 2 years old and has been growing with success even though there was a time there was a struggle to gain traction in the industry. From what I can tell though they are on the way up with no slowing down.

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

Olivia: Yes John and I had a business plan when creating Fast Forward. We knew we wanted to create a production company revolving around electronic music and that it would be a tough industry to get into. I don’t think we had an official business plan when we first started, however as we grew and planned more events, the information we were putting together resembled a lot of what a business plan contains ours was just formatted differently. We also have plans to launch another branch that mainly works with alternative music and for that one we will have had practice creating a business plan and now also understand the importance of it.

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

Olivia: A business plan is completely necessary because without one you have nothing planned in case something falls through or changes. You cannot invest the vast amounts of money it takes to create a startup without having everything thoroughly planned out; otherwise, it typically leads to failure.

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

Olivia: Best advice is to find someone successful in the industry you’re interested in and shadow them. There is so much that goes on behind closed doors that makes a business successful that you would never realize. Also, learn to be flexible. The vast majority of ideas you might have might not be feasible and you get told no a lot before you get a yes.

Austin Guerra is a 22-year-old music producer and DJ working in Los Austin GuerraAngeles as an artist.

Austin moved out when he was 19 when everybody went to college because he had started DJing and mixing at the age of 15. Because of this he was able to take what he knew and move out to Hollywood to train as a musician. Now after three years he is finally starting to break into the industry and gave excellent feedback about his experience.

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

Austin: No, and I’ve always regretted it. I started off so young in the industry I thought that I would be able to move out to LA, go to production school, and then be the next Martin Garux. This was not the case and looking back had I made a business plan I would have saved myself thousands of dollars and months of time. To me being an artist or a performer wasn’t a profession that needed business plans or one that would even be helped very much by them, so I never really thought about making one before moving out here, but I have one now and have learned that if you have any desire to become successful in the industry you need a business plan regardless to how talented you might be.

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

Austin: Yes one hundred percent yes! I would go as far as to say you are foolish and an idiot if you think you don’t need a business plan. I still cannot believe that I never had a business plan when I started. Without a plan or a sense of direction, you can become very overwhelmed and frustrated, which is what happened to me. After moving out to LA I got stuck in a rut and actually became depressed for a little because I felt so lost and stupid for thinking I could make this happen, but then I started to make a business plan and everything has been falling into place since. Having a plan with achievable goals does wonders for your development and motivation to push the project to the end.

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

Austin: My advice to you is that you need to understand that you are going to be required to work hard and understand that success does not come easy. After accepting that make sure you clear out all the negative influences in your life and surround yourself by positive and ambitious creatives. This will go so for developing what you want to do and who you are. These next ones are going to sound stereotypical or like a joke but they couldn’t be more true: believe in yourself, don’t talk about other people poorly it will come back to you, and absorb all the knowledge you can but remember to stay true to being yourself at the end of the day.

Me: As an aspiring producer I have spent tons of time thinking about the best way to enter the industry, what would be your advice?

Austin: Make sure you honestly have dedicated enough time to songs or projects you are working on, rushed material can destroy you. Make sure you have a quality group of songs and then start promoting them and your name as many places as possible and hope that one or some of them gain traction.

Me: Austin thank you very much for your time and the information you have shared with me is priceless.


Analysis by SMU student Tyler McPhillips:

Overall the interview project was much more helpful and more interesting than I had initially expected. The people I was given the opportunity to interview were more than helpful and gave me insight into what it actually takes to start a business. The underlying themes that they all touched on several times throughout the interviews were that a business plan is absolutely necessary, grind work hard and push through failure, and learn from your mistakes as well as the mistakes of others.

The main thing being stressed over and over again though was how crucial a business plan is and how they all regretted not having either a more thorough or sound plan, or not having a plan at all. Either way, they all stressed a business plan’s importance as if they couldn’t say it enough. Having interview multiple people from different industries yet receiving similar feedback on building a startup was very compelling. The things that made up the core of their businesses, they discussed with passion and all seemed to fit a similar mold. To me, this stood out and I think that focusing on the similarities of the different business and the common problems they all had will be extraordinarily helpful when creating my start up. I know now to make sure I pay close attention to these hardships.

All three creative entrepreneurs I interviewed have given me several tools that I know will come in handy in the future for any start up I am working on. Not only were they kind enough to share this information with me but they also told me to keep in touch for the future to see how I am doing on my projects. They also have an innate desire to help out others if they can. I noticed that the respectful and caring style of these creatives went a long way with me, and also seemed to be embedded within their persona as a leader of their company. I really enjoyed this assignment and can see it helping me in the future countless times. I think that it is a good practice to interview many people regardless if it is for a class project or not before setting out to build a startup. The knowledge and connections gained can be priceless and it never hurts to ask.

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