What do you call an entrepreneur who notices a lacking job market, and in response, builds a haven for creativity? A bestower of opportunity. Chris Carusos made it possible for Georgia locals educated in art and music to pursue their passions, without needing to relocate, when he founded Dizzy Production Studios. From beginning in a home office and consisting of just two employees, to developing into a full service recording studio, Dizzy Production Studios is the metaphorical poster child for turning ideas into reality. However, the path wasn’t always so clear. In this edition of StartupStories, Chris explains how his company got off the ground, and offers advice to hopeful entrepreneurs.
Why were you inspired to start Dizzy Production Studios?
I wanted to create a profitable artist’s haven right here in Savannah, Georgia. There are many artists in Savannah that have incredible talent, but few places to work in our city. It’s very sad that many artists that graduate The Savannah College of Art and Design (one of the top US universities for aspiring professional artists) needed to leave for NYC, Seattle, and California to find work. DPS offers an alternative.
How did your business get started? From the good, bad and ugly, what was your startup process like?
We started out of my home to keep expenses down. As soon as we were able to contract work, we moved into a commercial space. The process is very difficult because you can’t borrow money until you’re successful, and you can’t be successful until you have startup capital. That’s a catch 22 every entrepreneur faces. You just have to negotiate tough deals and go through the growing pains. It’s always difficult to juggle demands and priorities until you get some firm footing. If it were easy, everybody would do it. I was lucky that I hired great people from the start. If I didn’t, we would have absolutely been unable to pay our bills and failed soon after.
What niche or hole in the market are you filling with Dizzy Production Studios?
Quality kid’s music and animation.
How much has your business changed from day one until now?
Completely changed from a small two-person shop with one DAW music recording program and one Wacom Cintiq workstation, to a full-service, mid-sized, state-of-the-art recording studio, multiple Centiq workstations and contracted artists that work on multi-faceted creative projects.
What are your biggest challenges in marketing Dizzy Production Studios?
Getting through to decision makers without spending a lot of money or proportioning a limited amount of finite resources in that direction. Our biggest challenge is always keeping the focus on creating the highest quality work in our market. It’s an ongoing challenge to keep routine business distractions from interfering with our workflow and growth cycles to keep the company in the black and improve profitability.
What types of marketing are most effective for your business?
Client references and word-of-mouth is number one by far. Number two would be calling on companies in our market segment that we are certain can use our services and benefit from partnering with DPS. Lastly, limited online marketing with Google Adwords targeted toward related partner websites.
What is the #1 lesson you learned since starting Dizzy Production Studios?
Having a rich parent would have made it so much easier! All kidding aside, in most cases, today’s business landscape is far too complex for an entrepreneur to be successful on their own. You need to surround yourself with talented people who are passionate about your vision and are willing to work hard and persevere along with you to make it happen. In our case, it goes without say that setting up the company with profit sharing is critical.
Today’s business landscape is far too complex for an entrepreneur to be successful on their own.Click to tweet
If you won $50,000, how would you invest it in your business?
That’s easy. Invest it all in talented associates.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business?
Get professional advice first. Go meet with an SBA or SCORE executive to help you construct a solid business plan. Make sure you know the risks going in and that you’re able to stay afloat while you’re building your company. The main reason most new businesses fail is usually the result of running out of startup capital. You should be prepared for the worst possible scenario. As long as you can cover your expenses knowing there might be very little income for the first year or two, you’re probably well prepared to get over the first hurdle as you work toward profitability.
What can we expect from Dizzy Production Studios in the next year?
Besides our contracted industry and commercial work providing music production, sound FX and sound design, we’ll be launching the second Pikklesticks album scheduled for release in June 2017. We’ll also be partnering with The March of Dimes. They will expose our kid’s brand to over 1.5 million families and in return receive a portion of the income generated by our brand. We’ll also be releasing the first full length Pikklesticks music video and the first Pikklesticks kid’s cookbook. We’re very excited about 2017, and the continuous building of our brand.
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