Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Lights. Camera. Action.

Entrepreneurs like to go it alone. Such is the Herculean, conquer all worlds, independent mindset of people who create. As we’ve explored, good entrepreneurs are generalists: They are very good at, and knowledgeable of, doing many things. Great entrepreneurs, though, embrace and employ the value of building a team – employees, advisors, investors, industry experts, contractors, suppliers, distributors, et al – in their quest to create a great company. Think of running a marathon versus a 5K.

Building a company is theatrically, artistically, collaboratively and tactically similar to making a movie. I was reminded of this over sushi yesterday with my friend Scott. One of his clients, Folsom-based Redwood Palms Pictures, employs a unique approach to cost-effectively and collaboratively finance, produce, market and distribute independent films. Redwood Palms leverages a crowd-funding model to raise funds, through Regulation D securities offerings, for its film slates. It’s a hybrid of the “experience investing” approach we championed at Crescendo: Marry an affinity (a desire to be involved in the production of a movie) with a sound financial investment to raise capital and engage investors. Very cool model.

So, you wanna be in pictures? Think of the myriad moving parts and participants: Actors, producers, directors, screen writers, investors, cameramen, location coordinators, stuntmen, set designers, costume makers, casting directors, make-up artists, soundmen … it’s a daunting list. And, the aforementioned players are married to simply (complexly?) create the product; getting it out there (monetizing the art through distribution, DVD sales, merchandising and the like) is the make-or-break imperative. And (II), if you’re like Redwood Palms, you fine-tune and replicate your model.

IBID for starting a company; consider the disparate and necessary elements required to develop a product. Once the sausage making (internal product development) is complete, selling and distributing and serving and enriching and complementing the sausage (product) is paramount; the rest is a necessary – an ante to being a company – navel-gazing exercise. It takes a kick-ass crew of internal and external cast members to make it happen. As CEO (or Producer), your job is to choreograph and optimize the actions.

A final thought: Great entrepreneurs seek to build great companies, or platforms, upon which they can create and deploy multiple products or services; it’s near impossible to run a marathon if you’re a one-product pony. Movie producers like Redwood Palms are analogous: It’s not enough to build a foundation and assemble a cast of characters to create one film. The true value – and returns – come from doing it again and again, better and better, leveraging and monetizing a production platform.

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