After 20 Years of Working on Broadway, This Husband-Wife Team Launched Their Own Production Company and Beamed-Up Their Dream Show: A Musical Parody of 'Star Trek.' Jim and Vic Cairl discuss launching their company Peekskill Productions and its first show 'Khan!!! The Musical.'
In this ongoing series, we are sharing advice, tips and insights from real entrepreneurs who are out there doing business battle on a daily basis. (Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Who are you and what's your business?
Vic Cairl: I'm Vic, my husband Jim and I are the founders of Peekskill Productions where we produce shows based on properties people are passionate about. Our current show is Khan!!! The Musical- A Parody Trektacular.
What inspired you to create your business?
Jim Cairl: We've worked in theater for over 20 years and had begun making small investments in shows and were considering getting into producing, and then Khan!!! kind of fell into our lap. It checked off a lot of boxes for us. It allows us to learn without a lot of risk, it's got a good hook, and, most important, it's a great show.
VC: We knew it was the perfect combination of something fun and nerdy but with great marketability.
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What has been your biggest challenge and how did you pivot to overcome it?
VC: We've had so many and are learning as we go. We've had to make props, run the concession stand — we are constantly problem-solving. When our original set designer quit we had to simplify our vision to make it work. And the scaled-back vision worked better than we ever imagined.
JC: We've made unforced errors, so knowing not to make those same mistakes in the future will save us so much wasted time, energy, and money.
What advice would you give entrepreneurs
JC: Anyone could be a potential investor, but be realistic. Don't just open your Facebook friends page and start messaging people. Contact the people who will believe in the product and can afford the risk first.
VC: Research the person you're asking to invest. Understand why they would be the perfect match for your company, and how this will fuel their own dreams and passions.
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What does the word "entrepreneur" mean to you?
VC: For me, being an entrepreneur means finding profit in something you're passionate about.
JC: Total control. You are going to hire people that have expertise in areas that you don't. When those people tell you you need something, listen to them.
VC: Worry less about your logo and more about the mission statement. You need to know why you are doing what you're doing to focus your vision.
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Is there a particular quote or saying that you use as personal motivation?
JC: I have a theater degree. I had a wonderful teacher, Rawleigh Moreland, who would tell us, "You're an actor, what do you know?" He meant that you don't get to judge your performance. You get up, put everything you have on the line, and the audience gets to tell you how you did. Your real job is to make sure you come prepared and do the work. You can't guarantee a positive outcome, but you can do your best to minimize a negative one.
VC: "When you're going through hell, keep going." When things get hard, that's where the magic really begins.