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‘Entre-Performers’: Entrepreneurs in Entertainment

Name of your company?

Holdon Log, The Standard in Performer Organizational Tools

Date started?

What started as a Christmas gift in 2000, began our company’s launch in the Spring of 2001.

What is your product or service?

We provide business tools in logbook (http://www.HoldonLog.com) and online software formats (http://www.PerformerTrack.com) for the Entertainment Industry. We also offer exclusive live and on-demand webinars and have launched the ‘Groupon-like website’ for Entertainment Industry Professionals called “Industry Deal” (http://www.IndustryDeal.com) in the fall of 2010.

Why did you start your company?

It was 1999, Brian Vermeire(http://www.BrianVermeire.com) and Kristina Hughes (http://www.KristinaHughes.com) (the CEO and the President, respectively, of our parent company – Holdon Log, LLC), both actors, were consumed and overburdened with the daily minutia of a performer’s life – (Auditions, Callbacks, Bookings, Income, Expenses, etc.).

Brian, was the “typical” performer at that time ~ getting called for Auditions by his Agents and Managers and then jotting the details (Project Title, Character Description, Date & Time, Audition Location, etc.) on anything he could find… scrap paper, sticky notes, the back of his hand… inevitably, he would find himself scrambling trying to find these “audition notes” that apparently were misplaced with other scraps of paper. Embarrassed, Brian would have to go back and contact the Agent or Manager and ask for the Audition information again. Of course, this scenario never did sit well with his representation.

Kristina, on the other hand, was a very business-like and professional Actor. Brian noticed that every time she was called in for an Audition she would pull out a spiral bound college-ruled notebook and ask her Agent or Manager a series of questions in a very methodical way, always asking the same questions in a sequential manner (Project Title, Audition Date & Time, Audition Location, etc.). She would then write this information down and always knew where it was…in that spiral bound college-ruled notebook!

It was Christmastime and Brian tried hard to figure out what to give Kristina. Clothes? Jewelry? A day at the spa? Hmmm… what would really stick out as a cool, unique gift? The more he thought about it the harder it seemed to come up with an idea for that “perfect” present… yup, he was destined to go to the mall and do the usual gift hunting…or, was he?

Just as he picked up his car keys to go out and do his Christmas shopping…Kristina got called in for an audition… again, Brian observed Kristina’s rhythmic Q&A session with her agent – same questions – different answers – all being written down in that spiral bound college-ruled notebook!

AN IDEA IS BORN!

In the dark of night, behind closed doors, Brian drafted up on his computer an Audition Form Sheet.

After days of tweaking the layout (complete with the now famous “Booked Project Star”), Brian had 200 Audition Form Sheets printed and coil bound at the local Kinko’s. He then individually numbered each page by hand! It was definitely a unique gift … however, the vinyl navy blue cover looked rather dull.

To remedy this, Brian dug up some card stock, gold string and Crazy Glue. He then proceeded to give the “Official Audition Log” a facelift. Let’s just say his artwork needed a little… eh, hem… work.

Well, so the story goes, Christmas rolled around and needless to say it was a hit, Kristina LOVED her unique gift!

A week after New Year’s Day Brian observed Kristina actively using her “Official Audition Log” – uh, oh…it worked so good for her that he realized that he need one for himself! Some would say that his next move was a tad tacky ~ he, in essence, cheapened her “unique” gift by creating his own. Not to fear, Kristina was okay with this – in fact, she encouraged it!

After a couple weeks of Brian & Kristina heavily using their “Official Audition Logs” – something interesting started happening … their acting friends were asking how they could get an “Official Audition Log”! Without hesitation, Brian & Kristina printed and bound a dozen Logs and gave them to their friends as gifts.

Four weeks later even more friends were asking for Brian & Kristina’s homemade Logs – it was at this time they realized that they had “something special” that was needed by ALL actors – an organizational tool!

Brian & Kristina did research and found that there was nothing quite like their “Official Audition Log” on the market … this is when Brian & Kristina went into high-gear – to form a company and produce larger quantities of their “Official Audition Log”. However, before they could do that they had to come up with a name!

“Audition Journal” – no…

“Acting Log” – no…

“The Acting Diary” – no…

“The Mono-Log” – (achooo) no way…

“Holdon Log” – YES!

This is a question posed to all of us who work for Holdon Log all the time. Most people think that “Holdon” must be the last name of one of the owner’s of the company… but, that isn’t the case… Really, the name came from what the Actor says to their Agent, Manager, or a Casting Director when they get called in for an audition… “Holdon on, let me grab my log…”

From there we approached our first bookstore which happened to be the largest in Entertainment. They placed an order for 20 logbooks and the rest is a successful history!

How was it financed?

We started the company with our own cash investment that came from a small nest egg that we had tucked away from prior acting jobs, later we tapped into some larger investments including credit card lines of credit and money received due to a close family members’ passing. He would have supported an investment in a product that gives back to those who need a business outlook to move their careers forward rather than waiting for fame or getting scammed. He also would have been happy that this was an investment that would spawn additional income versus investing in a lower budget film that might not have earned its money back.

Interestingly enough we incorporated a “Performer Trust Account” feature in our online application PerformerTrack to encourage other performers to set money aside from each job, no matter how big or small the check to use towards reinvesting in their career and also help them build their own nest egg.

Date officially launched?

First sale in person Spring 2001, First book store order April 2001, First online sale September 11, 2001!

What free online or offline tools do you use?

We offer free downloadable forms to help build our email list. These also help us communicate with our current users and with those that maybe on the fence with committing to really having a lasting career as a performer.

These tools are:

PerformerWebinars.com (http://www.PerformerWebinars.com)

Copy, Credit Provided Form (http://www.CopyProvided.com)

ShowBiz Cards (http://www.ShowBizCards.com)

PerformerNation Newsletter (http://www.PerformerNation.com)

3 Things for Performers Bi-Weekly Report (http://tinyurl.com/3j2rynn)

We also host free to the Entertainment Professional free seminars (http://www.PerformerSeminars.com) and networking events (http://www.meetup.com/filmind-13/)

As far as what we use in our office, there are some free online social networks and online tools that we have profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Social Ompah, etc. but we do incur an expense for the time managing them.

How many people are currently working, including employees (freelancers or independent contractors for specific projects)?

Though we don’t publish actual numbers, we have our core staff, paid interns, our lead, junior programmers and some wonderful mentors. We have over 100 Affiliates (commission and non-commission earning) who are performers, Entertainment Industry Professionals and folks who just love how we help performers “fish”. Further details are here: http://performertrack.com/stw-affliate.html

What is the best advice you never got?

Unfortunately there will be a lot of performers who will not take to your message that they must run their careers as a business. Just like producers, studios, networks, agents and managers run their businesses as businesses. Performers have been told to just “feel” good about their talents and that everything will fall into place. They will come to you sad, frustrated and bitter after they have spent their money and then some on hocus-pocus thinking, classes, workshops and training. This, though sometimes true might have caused us to rethink the very foundation of our company. Though through our own career successes and through seeing the successes of our users, thankfully this “advice” never came our way.

What is the one thing that you did right?

Brian and I have a unique partnership that not only do we agree to continue to reinvest in the company, grow the company and maintain our personal commitment to each other, but we continue to support each other through the long hours, challenges, financial commitments, etc. We persistently encourage each other to get out there, act, perform, create, produce and write so that we can keep up with what is really happening out there with our community. This enables us to successfully create, update, change and grow our products and product lines so that our members, users and folks who just recognize our product names and logos know that our product support is outstanding and our commitment to them is paramount.

What was the biggest transition you had to make (i.e. new skill set, habits, abilities, focus)?

Absolutely it’s been in learning new products that support our marketing efforts. Creating dynamic promo videos through Animoto, learning how to maintain our websites, making it easy for people to work with us on seminar collaborations, refining our RSVP system, getting quality advertisers to our email list, growing and updating our email list, creating visually appealing products, email campaigns through Photoshop, Mad Mimi, realizing the importance of face-to-face meetings, networking events and developing compelling content in our newsletters. Also, giving back to charities we’ve met along the way is important for us. Finally, always realizing there are many sacrifices… working nights and weekends… but making sure that we reward ourselves along the way.

What would make your business more “Successful”?

With the growth of more members of PerformerTrack, we are able to add more bells and whistles to the product through reinvesting, so word of mouth is 10 times more valuable than paid advertising. A Tweet, a blog posting, someone letting others know about their successes with PerformerTrack, even that they are thrilled that they’ve seen their business in a different light and are making strides on their own rather that doing what everyone else is doing, following the pack. That’s just amazing for our business.

Would you want to be acquired by a bigger company, run it yourself or sell in a couple of years?

We continue to be approached by companies and do our best to keep an open mind flushing out what the scenarios of partnership/acquisition would be like, how they would benefit us, our users, them, etc. We know that our products are unique, innovative and that our support is unparalleled. If and when we do find ourselves partnering with another company, making sure that we maintain the high-quality of our products, services and support is a requirement before moving forward with such a proposition.

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One Response to “‘Entre-Performers’: Entrepreneurs in Entertainment”

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