Want to Surf? How to Swim

In creating a business two things are needed – a new idea and funding to make it a reality. Coming up with great dreams, and living them seems like the a far cry from the mundane reality of paper work and responsibility. Being told that your dreams, (which were randomly doodled script in your first year tutorial textbook ) can potentially make it in the real world, might have a deeper meaning than Mom’s word of encouragement.

It is often said that if you come up with a business idea, someone else has already ran that exact same idea. Therefore, most entrepreneurs take what has already been done and modify it. It is always impressive and awe-inspiring when meeting entrepreneurs who are also students. They take their normal school load of class and extra curricular activities and apply their education to their businesses. This article is a collaboration of two students who have taken this knowledge and applied them at a very young age.

The first successful entrepreneur that was interviewed is Byron Pascoe of “Let it Out Entertainment.” It was started in 1997 when Byron was a comedy agent for Paul Telner, a film student at Carleton University. Their agent-comedian relationship birthed “MakemeLaugh” entertainment, now known as “Let it Out” entertainment. The company is competing for contracts in the film production industry. They are currently focused on a web site dedicated to the slapstick comedy of campus mayhem (www.hihost.com/letitout).

“We are currently angling ourselves to produce documentaries, corporate and promotional videos for external clients, a television show, short films and publishing a novel”. Byron said.

In conjunction with explaining a free ad previously aired on Rogers TV Community Events, Byron stresses, “when you don’t have the experience or funds to position yourself to certain market segments that you want to target, free mass marketing is the way to go!” Byron has issued several press releases for “Let it Out” that he often forgets where the press releases have been sent.

Five years ago, another team of individuals were also starting up a business of their own. Black Legends Productions consists partly of three aspiring producers with an idea and an unique sound. Teaming up with business partner, Kaizer (he does not wish his real name to be divulged) they became Black Legend Productions. “We offer Hip-Hop, R&B, and Reggae artists innovative and creative musical production that is high in quality and flexible towards their customer needs.” Kaizer said. The transition from record label to production company was primarily motivated through the lack of funding. Through their web site blacklegendsproductions.com, there are facts and sound bites about current artists and “Igloo.”

The Igloo is a recording studio and video production house that was primarily funded by a private investor (meaning a lot of money). With this recording studio and video production house they are able to work with a larger variety of artists in the urban music scene. In the future, Kaizer hopes his company will be seen as an innovator in the urban music scene and hopes to start up an affiliated clothing company and a magazine. Although he refused to divulge the details, he promises it will continue to be innovative and reflect the same ambitions Black Legend Productions currently has.

In searching for funds to start or grow a business, there are two main avenues to travel. One is through personal connections (i.e. friends, family, business contacts) to corporation, institutions or governments. The second, which Black Legend Productions was primarily fed from, is through family and friends. They were quite fortunate in this regard compared to Byron and Let it Out entertainment. Kaizer said, “family and friends tend to be more lenient and patient. You can collect small portions from each friend or family member, instead of trying to receive one lump sum from a bank or other financial institution”. Through such methods, “Black Legend Production” can continue their growth patterns. On the other hand, not all entrepreneurs are not as fortunate to come from backgrounds with supportive family and friends.

“Let it Out Entertainment” takes a very different angle to gain financial growth. Recently, they participated in the Nescafe Big Break Contest, where entrepreneurs must present how they can best utilize $20,000. Let it Out made it through the thousands of applicants. Byron and his team have spent countless hours working on their 20-minute final presentation. If they won, this would have added $20,000 of much needed funds for Let it Out. Unfortunately for Byron and Paul, they were the runner up for this contest.
Aside from corporations, families and friends, the government also provides a very lucrative way to receive funding for your business. Every year the federal and provincial governments put millions of dollars into entrepreneurial ventures, the only problem is finding enough firms to distribute these funds to. “Let it Out” will be taking advantage of some of this funding through applying with the Canada Arts Council. The government of Ontario is a helpful website in seeking different funding agencies. The Ministry of Business Relations has a CD-ROM that provides access to thousands of funding agencies throughout the province. In addition to this, they also provide a diskette outlining the process to creating the most essential aspect to any business – the business plan along with the financial plan.

Another important venue the government provides is support for entrepreneurs starting their own summer businesses with the “Summer Company Program”. To be eligible for this award you must be between the ages of 15-29 and have a good idea with a solid business plan backing you up. The program offers many awards of $3,000 each to young entrepreneurs, which is broken down with the first half being given at the beginning of the summer for all start-up costs and the second half is given at the end. Twelve hours of business training is provided for local entrepreneurs with significant experience.

Another factor is motivation. What motivates individuals to run a business, a full-time commitment and also attend school full-time? “At the end of the day your goal should be that you learned something new that will prepare you for the next day,” says Byron. With this ambitious goal he constantly pushes himself and his company to new heights. Kaizer draws his motivation from the benefits of having his own business. He says that “being your own boss, setting your own hours, sense of security, and a greater satisfaction for accomplishment and the rewards that come with your own business is just the tip of the iceberg.”