Julia Batlle Interviews 3 Creative Innovators

Julia Batlle is an Arts Entrepreneurship student at SMU, Meadows School of the Arts. For the class Developing an Arts Venture Plan, Ms. Batlle attempts to identify whether business plans are really necessary for the process of entrepreneurship and whether the creatives she interviewed had them when they began. 

Francois Reihani

Co-Founder of Pōk and Founder of Bar Stellar

Did you have a business plan when you started Pōk and Bar Stellar? 

Yes, I had a business plan for both.

Do you think business plans are necessary for entrepreneurship?

Business plans are 100% necessary for entrepreneurship. Before you get running, you have to sit down and really work out all the kinks. It is essential to think through and map out exactly what your plan is, how your financials are going to work, who your target market is, and what your marketing plan is. These aren’t things you want to just put together as you go; you need to be as prepared as possible. A business plan is your road map; without it, things would get messy.

How did your experience with your past restaurant endeavors help when taking on your new project?

Experience made everything a lot easier. During your first project, you go through all the aches and pains of being new. Every single day you learn hundreds of new things. Once the next project comes along, you already know what to do and not to do. Opening Bar Stellar in 6 weeks would have been impossible if it was my first project. I went into it with a detailed plan and executed properly from past knowledge. Not only did it make me much faster in my new project, but it made me much smarter in figuring out customer needs, and how to fulfill them.

What is the biggest thing you learned and how will you use that moving forward?

Having a supportive team makes all the difference, especially when you’re new. You are motivating and pushing each other every day to block out all of the negativity, and striving to be successful. One person cannot do it all on their own. Being able to designate duties, and divide and conquer is so important.

What three pieces of advice could you give developing entrepreneurs?

Don’t be patient. Patience is NOT a virtue in the entrepreneurship world. You need to move as quickly and efficiently as possible. Most people come up with great ideas all the time, then end up pushing it back until tomorrow, or next month, or next year, until they see their idea come to life by someone else. When you know what you want to do, start working and do not stop. Another piece of advice is the power of positivity. Don’t doubt yourself. Once you go through a feasibility analysis and know that you do have a good idea, run with it. It is very easy to keep on doubting ourselves or listening to other peoples’ negativity. Always know and tell yourself that it will happen, and it will be a success, and with hard work, you will get there. Finally, find the right team.

Who you work with will make a huge impact on whether you are successful or not. Find people who are on the same page, and also bring different values to the table.

Gabriel Leyva Merino

Co-Founder of Moon Nightlife.

Did you have a business plan when you started your company, Moon Nightlife?

I did not have a business plan when I started Moon.

Do you think business plans are necessary for entrepreneurship?

I personally think business plans are not entirely necessary at the beginning, especially from the books that I have read on entrepreneurship and the advice that I have been given. A business plan is used mostly to formalize an idea to present to potential investors but that is not the most important part of starting an idea. I think the product and the vision someone has is way more important than to have a formal document about something you want to do. We made a lot of mistakes in the sense of creating a business but most of our focus was on creating and building it, rather than focusing on the business side.

What is the biggest thing you learned and how will you use that moving forward?

The biggest problem we faced is that it didn’t really grow organically. We needed to do more market research and interview a larger group of people, not just friends and acquaintances. We skipped the software development process, which requires that we do interviews and user stories so you build the product based on what people would want and the features that they would like. We kind of skipped that because we thought the people would like what we thought was cool, which is a big mistake. Learning from that, our next move would be to go back to the drawing board and focus more on what people would want.

What three pieces of advice could you give developing entrepreneurs?

I guess a big piece of advice would be to not be selfish and try to do it on your own. When you start a company, you should start it with people who share the same vision with different skills. It was hard to do the business and legal stuff as engineering majors. It would be best to start with a team of diverse skills. The second piece of advice is persistence. You have to do the job yourself in order to make your startup work. Entrepreneurship is hard. It is hard because if you truly don’t believe in the idea or the big picture, having the motivation to work for free is very difficult. The biggest incentive you have is to make your influence in the company worth more. If you have a bad week, at the end of the day at a startup, you go home and there’s no paycheck so it can be demoralizing. You should also educate yourself on whatever area of business you’re getting into. If you don’t know the industry you’re working in then you won’t know how much things should cost and you could be taken advantage of.

Mauricio Canavati Santos

Co-Founder of Mavens Cove

Did you have a business plan when you started your company, Mavens Cove?

Yes, we had a business plan. It was important for us because I founded the company with my two brothers who currently live in Mexico. It was important for us to have the business plan so that we had our idea set in stone and we knew how we were going to operate.

Do you think business plans are necessary for entrepreneurship?

Starting a business without a plan is like cooking without a recipe. There’s no way to reach your goal of success without knowing what you need to get there and how you are going to do it. Most of our production is done in Mexico, so I assist on the work that can be done virtually while my brothers handle the operations. Without a business plan, we would have had nowhere to start. Now we can go back to our plan and see how we can improve, which is something that we have started to do after our first year in the online retail business comes to a close.

What is the biggest thing you learned and how will you use that moving forward?

Market research is crucial. You need to know your target audience before you can start. Our design is classic, and something that men of all ages can wear. We knew that, but it was important that we do the research to confirm our judgment. We will continue to do heavy market research before any new project.

What three pieces of advice could you give developing entrepreneurs?

Stay true to your vision. Our family has owned a clothing company, Grupo Manchester, for over 70 years. We wanted to maintain the integrity of our family’s company while also branching out and doing something a little bit different. Moving forward, we know that it is going to be challenging to compare ourselves with the more established companies but we trust in our vision and know that our company is going to bring us great success.  My second piece of advice is to take advantage of your resources and connections. Fortunately, we had a lot of those in the fashion world because of my family’s company, so people were willing to do business with us because they trusted in our vision and knew we have experience. Lastly, you need to be passionate. I grew up appreciating the world of fashion because of my family’s involvement, and it became something I too wanted to be involved in. This company is much more than a business for my brothers and me. This is our opportunity to leave our mark on the family’s legacy.

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