The Startup Experience, Ready for Its Close Up
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Taking that step to starting your own business is daunting, even for the most seasoned business person or executive. The reasons for making the commitment to entrepreneurship are many. We think of an amazing idea that we know will solve a current problem and will do anything it takes to make it happen. We are dying to get off the corporate merry-go-round. Or we just plain have had a lifelong ambition to change the world no matter what. People say we’re crazy. And we probably are. But if we don’t give it a chance, we will never let ourselves down.
I took the leap in 2009 when I moved to New York City from Australia to marry my now wife Stephanie after serendipitously meeting her at a wedding in Mexico. In Australia, I had a successful sales and marketing career and was a valuer and auctioneer that called more than 8,000 auctions in Europe, Asia and across Oz. When I arrived in New York, Stephanie and I talked about what life would be like for me, business-wise in the U.S., and we both agreed that this was a great opportunity for me to start fresh. I didn’t want to move right into the kind of 9-5 (or 9-9) jobs that I had in the past where I was required to clock in and out and at times felt chained to my desk. If America was the “Land of Opportunity,” I wanted test the waters.
During my first year in the U.S., I met as many people as possible and tapped in to all of my passions to help my rediscover what I really wanted to contribute to the world. On a whim, I attended a meeting with a production company that was casting a national TV show on the Style Network called Clean House: New York. The aim of the show was to bring in experts to transform some of NYC’s messiest apartments into livable, lovable spaces, and sell off their extra contents using the proceeds to do so.
Initially, they were looking for someone to join the team to help them, off-camera, put a price tag on some of the salvageable goods that were going to be for sale from each property. But as we were discussing the process and they learned that I was an auctioneer, they asked me to take them through a mock auction. Right there on the spot, they changed their format and asked if I’d be interested in being the show’s on-air consultant and auctioneer.
Reluctantly, I accepted and my totally unforeseen TV career began.
But a funny thing happened along the way. While I enjoyed being on camera, and was actually really comfortable, I had the best time hanging out with the producers, shooters, gaffers – the people that made it all happen. Being behind the camera, calling the shots, was exhilarating. I loved the process and was surprised by how much blood, sweat and tears went in to making the finished product. I was hooked, and set my sights on starting my own production company.
I phoned my friend Brett Clements, founder of PlatinumHD.tv, who lived on the Gold Coast of Australia. I shared with Brett that even though I did not have any/much shooting or editing experience, I wanted to get into the business, no matter what.
Brett’s company, PlatinumHD.tv, is the leading production company that services Australia’s enormous real estate industry by producing high-quality, HD, fully-narrated, and oftentimes scripted and casted marketing videos to help agents and agencies sell properties. The marriage of my years of experience in business development, sales and marketing, coupled with the opportunity to produce, and to be mentored by a successful entrepreneur like Brett, was a no-brainer.
So, after hours and hours of Skype calls, and research, and flying to Oz for months of intensive training, Brett agreed to give me the rights to the PlatinumHD.tv name in the US and the opportunity to build out my own production stateside.
Getting the business off the ground was not easy. Not in the slightest.
One of my biggest, and most frustrating issues was obtaining credit. I had spent my working life in Australia and Asia building up an excellent credit portfolio, and upon arriving in the U.S., it felt like I had to start over from scratch financially. It was really frustrating.
Nobody would give me anything substantive, so I had to pony up cash up front, which was very difficult, especially since the cost of entry into the production business is not cheap, thanks to the expensive equipment, lenses, computers and software and transportation needed to even press go.
But I pressed on and over the last three years, we have built PlatinumHD.tv US into a successful business with outposts in New York, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, Orange County, California, and Washington, D.C. While the business’ bread-and-butter is luxury real estate and luxury brand work, we recently branched out and started a sister company, Subliminal Productions, that now produces content for businesses of all kinds.
In New York, we work out of the popular shared workspace company WeWork, specifically the Wall Street outpost. WeWork is buzzing with startup companies from many different sectors and our production company has benefited from the networking opportunities WeWork naturally provides.
As we spent more and more time in the WeWork space, meeting and chatting with other entrepreneurs, we were relieved to find that many people were in the same boat. It was exhilarating to share some war stories and provide guidance to some of the younger businesses growing around me and to learn from everyone around me.
It was during one of these conversations over coffee with some of my PlatinumHD teammates, including Nic Laning and others in the shared kitchen, that we came up with an idea. We engaged the services of Simon J. Heath, an executive producer with a great wealth of production experience and away we went.
We realized that there was a wealth of content around us that entrepreneurs, like us, could tap in to and see first hand the successes, problems and failures that people have in getting a business off the ground.
So while still working day-to-day on building out our business, went spent many nights talking through and refining a concept that we thought would truly benefit new business owners around the globe.
And Wall Street Start-Ups was born.
Knowing of this talent all around us, we sent out a casting notice across our WeWork space and were thrilled with the response. After weeks of vetting through applications, we landed on three businesses, all with very different models and unique challenges, that we knew would hook a wide audience.
And now, we are thrilled to share the pilot of Wall Street Start-Ups with you here. Our original web series follows three startups and their journeys. They are not your traditional startups, and they are not technology start-ups. They are in interior design, event management and finance and each are risking everything for there shot at the title.