SOMEONE INVEST IN ME: A Comedy Club Campaign - My Manifesto
Ok guys, so since I announced my desire to have the internet/comedy community help me start a comedy club I’ve gotten a lot of great responses from people. It’s just more proof to me that my instincts are correct and that a new comedy club would be a great business investment and something that LA needs. It has been a whirlwind of support and information so I want to restate my goals with this project and clarify where I’m starting from, what help I need, and outline a rough timeline for everyone.
The goal of this project is to get the internet to help me start my own comedy club. Specifically, I want to use to internet and the comedy community to help me get in touch with people I can work with and eventually help fund the endeavor. Though I have no formal business experience, I am a producer/booker/promoter who has worked in live comedy and production for the past 3 years here in LA. I’m also a die-hard comedy nerd who goes to as many shows as possible at as many venues as possible. I started producing comedy shows as a way to give back to the comedians I love by giving them a space to perform. I’ve built a great reputation with some of my comedy idols and now I want to move on to paying them to perform.
The best way I can see to do this is to start a comedy club that incorporates the best of all the clubs in LA right now: The taste of Largo, the affordability of UCB, and the business savvy and lasting power of the Improv. So the goal is a new fully operating comedy club/bar/restaurant. My plan is to have a club with a main room for big shows and special events, a small all-ages free room for workout shows and smaller events, and a bar/restaurant for the comedy community to hang out in. I also want to incorporate some kind of internship program so comedy people can get the chance to start their career somewhere cool just like I did. I’m hoping to keep the prices low and put on high quality shows so we make money based on the number of people at the venue. I will need professional help to make this feasible but that’s what I’m striving for.
#2 WHERE I’M STARTING FROM
I have no capital of my own and no formal business training. The comedy shows I produce are all not for profit or cost me money to put on. I’m definitely at the beginning of my career in this business but this is not necessarily a hindrance in me becoming a small business owner. They (they being the business podcasts I’ve been listening to) say that starting a business when you’re young is the way to go, and I know enough people in this business who DO have years of experience to consult with that I know I won’t be starting from nothing. I am also a hard worker: I come from no family of influence or any connections to the entertainment business and 2 years out of college I have already worked at Funny or Die, produced 5 different comedy shows, produced a podcast, run a college radio station and am currently working for WTF with Marc Maron. My goal was to work in comedy and I have been able to achieve that quickly and from nothing, so I hope that proves something.
I started this Comedy Club Campaign 3 days ago and have already started educating myself on small business operation using the government’s SBA website. I have already made plans to attend an orientation meeting at a Women’s Small Business Association in the very near future. The point is, I may not have much experience, but when I set my mind to something I will do whatever it takes to get it done and do it well and I’m confident those who have worked with me will confirm this. So while on paper it might seem crazy for me to try this, I have faith that if I work hard enough to prove to you, the internet, that I’m the one who should create this comedy club, you will not be disappointed.
#3 WHAT HELP I NEED
In order to turn my knowledge and passion into a working business I will need a financial/business adviser. I’m researching how to start a small business and trying to inform myself, but if I want this to be successful, I will need professional help. I have a location in mind but I need a realtor to help me find out the leasing figures on it. I have a basic business plan but I need a financial adviser and an accountant to help me devise a profitable plan. With the support of all of the comedy community including comedians I have faith that we can make this club a reality and that we can find these business people.
I also need investors. From what I gather of small business loans that are remotely feasible I will still need an investor to front at least 50% and I will need to front 10% (DON’T QUOTE ME ON THESE NUMBERS THEY ARE ROUGH ESTIMATES FROM LOANS I THINK I CAN GET BUT I’M NOT SURE OF SO KEEP IN MIND THESE ARE ROUGH ESTIMATES) The 10% is what the eventual IndieGoGo will be set up to fund. Right now I am working to create an video for the IndieGoGo as well as finish up a business plan so I can try to get amazing rewards for those who donate. The goal is to have the comedy community come together to donate and help me get the capital I need so I want to find really great comedy nerd rewards for that IndieGoGo. It will take time so the IndieGoGo may not come for a bit, I want to really solidify my plan before asking you, the internet for your money. So just stay tuned for that, I won’t put it up until I have a solidified and financially sound business plan in play, but once is it up I will make sure you all know.
The 50% investment will need to be a venture capitalist or a comedian (or comedians) who want to invest in this club. Like the Jon Lovitz club at Universal Citywalk this could be a great opportunity for someone. Again, through social media and promotion of this plan I’m hoping to reach that special comedy lover/comedian who will be willing to meet with me and talk serious investment and business plans.
#4 ROUGH TIMELINE
I can’t put an actual time frame together as this all depends on me being connected with the right professional people who can give me a realistic timeline and list of things I need to do. I’m working through social networking i.e. you, the internet, spreading the word and my own personal networking here in LA. to meet those professional people. What I can give you for now is a rough checklist of goals based on how I think it should go:
1. Talk to realtor, find out how much the property I’m interested in will be to lease & operate.
2. Get business adviser & accountant and figure out a viable business plan that will have hard numbers proving the profitability of this venture to have for major investors.
3. Revise checklist based on business adviser & accountant advice.
4. Get swag & video together for IndieGoGo.
5. Start IndieGoGo and promote the hell out of it.
6. Meet major investor to provide the remaining needed capital.
7. Finish IndieGoGo, if successful start getting business loans and making serious moves on starting the business.
8. Get dream location, remodel it, open for business.
So that’s my goal guys, that’s the whole point of the Comedy Club Campaign. If you are a comedian or a comedy fan who wants to see a new venue in LA that isn’t part of a big corporation and is focused on nurturing amazing comedians and paying the ones that are already great, spread the word. Reblog, retweet, email, and just get the word out. You have already connected me with some people who can help, but I still need your help to meet those business minded people. I know somewhere there is a comedy nerd/accountant who will be on twitter and decide to take a leap of faith and work with me when they’re not working at their accounting job to help me figure this stuff out and eventually quit whatever they’re doing so they can work for my club. I know somewhere there is a financial adviser/comedy fan who will be willing to help me and then eventually quit their job to be our club’s permanent finance guy. I know those people are out there and I know if enough of us spread this message it will reach them.
People who think they can help can tweet me, @SamMVarela. I will respond to them all and try to find a place for all of you to help in this endeavor as I really want this to be a club that we as a community build together.
I will keep you guys abreast as I move through the checklist and find ways to reward people for helping the cause, because while I may be the one starting the business, if this plan actually succeeds this will be a Comedy Club built by the comedy community. This will be a destination for those comedy community people on vacation in LA, a place for the local comedy community to put on shows and hang out, and most importantly a place built not by a corporation or by one person but by all of us. I hope you are into this plan, all I can do it work hard and hope.