Written by Jeffrey Nytch,
Director of The Entrepreneurship Center for Music, Univ of CO- Boulder
Last Thursday at the CU New Venture Challenge Finals I was asked to speak briefly about the ECM before awarding the prize for the best plan in Music. I started by mentioning that I love being involved with the NVC because it gives me the opportunity to work with some terrific folks from across campus, as well as spread the word that, “Musicians are Entrepreneurs, too!” I love Finals Day in particular, though, because I get to see all these great teams from every imaginable discipline come together to pitch their ideas.
And man, there are some amazing ideas!
There were the guys who are going to return to their native South America and market kettle-cooked potato chips to a wide-open market that is craving quality snacks. There was the team with a passion for helping orphanages in Rwanda, and so were going to help them sell dried fruit they grow at the orphanage to markets in Europe (no child labor involved, they were quick to assure us!). There was the guy who had a passion for Green building and affordable housing – and figured out an ingenious way to serve both those passions and make a handsome profit in the bargain. And then there was the winning team, who hope to be first and only sellers of locally-made organic soil specially formulated for gardening in Colorado’s notoriously terrible soil.
Who knew there was a winning entry in dirt??
What was the common denominator in all these ventures? Passion. In each case, the budding entrepreneurs’ desire to serve their passion was paramount. Sure, they had to design a sustainable business, and in the case of the for-profit ventures many of them had high hopes for considerable wealth down the road. But in none of the cases was money a primary motivator: accomplishing something they believed in was the main thing.
This is something worth remembering as artists. As I’ve written and spoken about many times before, there’s often this misconception that pursuing an entrepreneurial idea with your art is somehow corrupting of the thing we hold most dear. But it isn’t – as long as you keep the thing you’re passionate about at the center of your venture. It’s your most valuable asset, because no venture is going to succeed without the passionate belief of the entrepreneur to sustain it and inspire others to buy into it. So if you’re not sure what you might do with your art once you’re out of school, if starting an entrepreneurial venture feels foreign and intimidating, then start by asking yourself: what am I most passionate about? Now: spend some time mulling that over in your mind – you might be surprised at what you come up with!
About Jeffrey Nytch
Jeffrey Nytch comes to the Entrepreneurship Center for Music having built a diverse career as a composer, teacher, performer, and arts administrator. For 15 years he has continually created fresh ways to support and nurture that career, whether it be through developing commissioning opportunities, establishing residencies with community organizations, or building relationships with patrons. He has also run a small business, helped found a non-profit service organization in Houston, performed a wide range of repertoire as a vocalist, and served five years as Managing Director of The Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble (“PNME”), one of the nation’s premiere new music ensembles.