3 Expert Creative Entrepreneurs and the Advice they Offer

The following interviews, conducted by Hanna Mandery, seek to understand:

  • If creative entrepreneurs typically seek capital in starting their organizations
    • OR if leaders of nonprofit leaders, how they raise funds
  • What ways they may have done so, if applicable
  • What advice they have for aspiring creative entrepreneurs. 

This interview process is part of SMU Meadows’ class Creative Entrepreneurship and Attracting Capital.

Ryan Reed: Visual Voice Media Ryan Reed

H: What is your name and your organization’s name? What does your organization do?

R: Our organization is called Visual Voice Media. We are a full service media company, and we produce corporate and commercial videos.

H: Have you sought funding for your organization?

R: Yes, I have sought funding for the organization.

H: In what ways have you sought funding for your organization? If not, how were you able to grow without outside capital?

R: We sought funding to startup our organization. Three years ago Jorge Baldor, an SMU alumni who graduated in 1993, also a leader for the Latino center for leadership development, invested $20,000 to start the organization. With that investment, we were able to startup Visual Voice Media. Besides that, we haven’t sought for more funding but we have been using their own earnings as more investments towards our organization.

H: What funding pursuits OR self-generated efforts have proved most effective and why?

R: For our organization, it usually depends on size of the project that we are doing because that will effect how much we get paid and then how much we put back into Visual Voice Media. But at a minimum, we put 10% back into the company for each project. Again, for each job the percentage changes but having a percentage to put back into the company for each job is usually how self-generate for our organization.

H: What three pieces of advice do you have for aspiring arts and creative entrepreneurs, regarding raising funds?

R:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for money.
  • The more people you know, the better. It’s all about connections and your network.
  • I think it’s important to not only market your company, but also to market yourself. This way you can build long-lasting relationships with your clients so that they will want to come back.

Katelyn Fletcher: KlearCut Media Katelyn Fletcher

H: What is your name and your organization’s name? What does your organization do?

K: My name is Katelyn Fletcher and my business is called Klearcut Media. We are growing to be a full-service digital agency, helping both small and big businesses reach their full potential, digitally. I started my business while in school at SMU, and was able to make it my full time job following graduation.

H: Have you sought funding for your organization?

K: I am about to! So far, we have built everything from what we have made. However, we are about to start needing to hire more people full time, and in order to do so we need to get some funding to help launch us into that next chapter.

H: In what ways have you sought funding for your organization? If not, how were you able to grow without outside capital?

K: Our business is lucky because we don’t have any major costs. The only thing we really pay for is our office space each month. Other than that, we don’t spend too much, so most of what we make we keep. Because of that, we haven’t needed funding for any reason. We also tried to save as much as we possibly could when KlearCut started expanding while we were still in school at SMU. We were careful with what we made, and we kept as much as possible in the company.

H: What funding pursuits OR self-generated efforts have proved most effective and why?

K: Monthly retainers have served us the best and are for sure the most effective. It’s amazing when we are able to have such a wonderful relationship with our client and actually become friends with them! Then, they are trusting us to further build their brand online and it’s also helpful on our end because we know exactly how much will be coming in each month, and where we can improve/grow etc financially.

H: What three pieces of advice do you have for aspiring arts and creative entrepreneurs, regarding raising funds?

K:

  • Use your network. I didn’t really realize how many people I had connections to until being an entrepreneur and needing help in a lot of different areas. Meet as many new people as possible, befriend as many people as possible. People want to help you!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I promise people want to help you succeed and grow more so than you may think. Whenever we have asked for help financially in the past someone has blessed us and stepped up wanting to help.
  • If you need to get a loan or raise funds, make sure you know how much you need, and why. Don’t put in a ton of effort to raise money solely because you know your company needs more funds. Make sure you do a breakdown on exactly what you need and why and know the reasons inside and out. Also, make sure you are able to clearly explain and present this to an investor or anyone who will maybe be helping you.

Gene Roncka: Gene Roncka Willow Point Gallery/Museum Gene Roncka

H: What is your name and your organization’s name? What does your organization do?

G: My name is Gene Roncka and I’m an oil-paint artist as well as the owner of Gene Roncka Willow Point Gallery/Museum. I sell fine art originals as well as prints, giclees, and frames for all of my art.

H: Have you sought funding for your organization?

G: No, we have never sought funding for our gallery.

H: In what ways have you sought funding for your organization? If not, how were you able to grow without outside capital?

G: We manage funding for the gallery by selling art and framing and using a percentage of that money for our gallery.

H: What funding pursuits OR self-generated efforts have proved most effective and why?

G: We have found that art shows and having sales have been most effective. We have Art Shows and some sales on framing.  Also if a person spends a certain amount of money, they receive a free print which brings in money on framing as well.

H: What three pieces of advice do you have for aspiring arts and creative entrepreneurs, regarding raising funds?

G:

  • Tag on to someone who is raising money for a company & have it set up to receive a portion of the funds.
  • Choose a piece of fine art and sell raffle tickets for a good cause and give them a portion of the funds.
  • You could have a reception for a celebrity with music and appetizers and charge a fee.
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