Archive for October, 2011

A Wedding Video You’ll Want To Watch

Meet Andy Owen, owner of Owen Video.  Owen Video specializes in creating unique and beautiful wedding videos for its clients.

Andy is married to his wife, Chandra, and is a stay-at-home father to their two children.

From 2005 to 2008, Andy was the multimedia support technician for a Michigan school district.  He maintained the district’s interactive video equipment and supervised the district’s video studio.  He also taught teachers how to use the equipment.

“I loved it,” Andy admits.  But “in 2007 the writing was on the wall in the State of Michigan that education financing was going down the tubes.”  Although administrators in Andy’s district tried to preserve his job, the district ultimately laid Andy off in June of 2008.

Because Andy had prior warning of his impending job loss, he was able to get a head start on the job search process.  In fact, he had twelve job interviews in the spring and summer of 2008.  In three of those twelve interviews, Andy returned for both a second and third round.  He remembers that one of the jobs was a part-time position paying “a whopping” ten dollars an hour.  None of these opportunities resulted in employment in the form that Andy was seeking.  Instead, these job interviews prompted him to strike out on his own.

Andy admits he is a reluctant entrepreneur.  “I was dragged kicking and screaming into being my own boss.  I was quite happy working for someone else.”  In fact, the first videos created by Owen Video were corporate videos, not wedding videos.

His first client was a local construction company – one of the twelve companies that interviewed him in 2008.  “They loved me but I wasn’t ready for the job.  They asked if I was doing freelance video because they had a budget for that . . . .  I offered them a bid for this project and they thought it was a steal considering other bids.  They started using me a lot because I was underbidding the competition.  I had zero business experience – I never knew what to charge.”  Andy worked on corporate videos for the balance of 2008.

In 2009, Andy was persuaded to pursue wedding videography.  This was not Andy’s first foray into wedding videos, but prior to 2009, he admits, “I hated it.”  But, in 2009, Andy received inspiration and encouragement from a Nashville wedding videographer.  Eugene, the Nashville videographer, infused interesting and beautiful cinematic effects into his videos and this inspired Andy.

Andy explains, “I realized there was untapped potential for weddings to be creative.”  This was his turning point.

Advertising through craigslist, he booked seven weddings in 2009.  In 2010, Andy was fully booked for the year by April.  Owen Video now has its own website and facebook page featuring some of Andy’s work.  However, Andy finds that most business comes from referrals by other wedding vendors.

Andy praises his wife, Chandra, for allowing him the freedom to become an entrepreneur and stay-at-home dad.  Chandra is a financial aid counselor at Michigan State University and the family has health insurance benefits through her employer.  “My wife is supporting me and I could never have done this without her.  Her supporting the fact that I wanted to do this was great.”

For Andy, the best advantage to his wedding videography business is his ability to be a stay-at-home father.  “I have always wanted to be a dad.  I wanted to have kids, boy or girl, to play catch with.  My passion is the fact that I get to be a stay at home dad and spend time with my kids.”

The occasional assistance from friends and family has helped Andy achieve his current level of success.  Andy’s mother-in-law watches their three year old daughter and five month old son on Tuesdays so Andy can squeeze in some weekday business.  When Andy first started shooting videos, his equipment was loaned from a former colleague.  Andy improved his videography skills with the constructive criticism of friends like Eugene and a Lansing photographer named Jason Aten.  Although Andy is the primary employee and videographer for Owen Video, he also has assistance from time to time from family and friends who he introduces on his website.

Some final thoughts from Andy – “I am passionate about what I do.  It is just one of those things that I fell into and fell in love with doing.  I don’t know that I will be doing this for the rest of my life, but for now, I am definitely in love with doing it and I will do it as long as I enjoy it.”

If you are, or someone you know is, pursuing a passion despite this tough economy, please contact me here.

© sourtosweet

Out with Edison, In with Nimble Jack

Meet Jack D’Alelio, owner of Nimble Jack Enterprises.  Founded in 2009, Nimble Jack Enterprises is devoted to “finding innovative solutions to everyday problems.”  Translation – Nimble Jack invents those consumer products that make you wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Jack’s career began in 1979.  He worked as a chemist for over 10 years in the biotech industry.  Through the course of his career he migrated out of the laboratory and into the office where he played a regulatory role.  His last job, as a Senior Quality Engineer, started in October 2007 and ended in July 2008.  The company experienced difficulties and Jack was laid off in the first of five waves of layoffs.

“My job was to make sure we put out a good quality product.  I really loved that job and getting laid off was a bit of a shock even though we knew there were rumors – but still it came as a surprise, sort of unexpected.”

After being laid off, Jack decided that he had the knowledge and experience to be his own boss.  He wanted to invent a product, develop it, and successfully license it to a company interested in manufacturing and mass marketing it.

Nimble Jack Enterprises was born.  As owner and sole employee of Nimble Jack Enterprises, Jack invented, developed and is in the process of patenting the company’s first product, the Magic Toob Lampshade Leveler.

Jack envisioned and developed the Magic Toob to meet a specific need he discovered during the course of his everyday life.  As a result of federal law passed in 2007, Americans are expected to replace their energy-wasting, incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient spiral fluorescent light bulbs.  The differing shape of the incandescent and fluorescent bulbs creates an unanticipated dilemma.   Individuals with clip-on lampshades manufactured for incandescent light bulbs experience tremendous difficulty fitting such shades over the fluorescent light bulbs.

“I knew these were bulbs coming and knew that it was going to pose a problem,” Jack explains, “I had a few lamps that use clip ons and they don’t fit the new bulbs at all.”

Enthusiastic about his invention, Jack describes, “The product is incredibly simple – high temperature silicone tubing that I am able to wrap around a bulb clip.  It becomes part of a bulb clip.”  With the silicone tubing in place, the lampshade fits securely and levelly around the spiral fluorescent light bulb.

Customers have found alternate uses for the Magic Toob as well.  “A lot of people like the product for keeping their mini-shades straight on chandeliers.”

The Magic Toob first entered the market in 2009 and over 250 have sold.  “Ninety-five percent of people find my product by looking for a way to keep a clip-on lampshade to fit one of those bulbs, they do a google search and find the product on my website.”

Jack also sought to advertise his product by applying for a spot on the ABC show, Shark Tank.  He hoped that the national exposure Shark Tank would provide would attract the attention of someone interested in licensing and manufacturing the Magic Toob.

So far, Jack has succeeded in two of his three goals but he is still seeking the opportunity to license the Magic Toob to a company interested in taking the product to the marketplace.

“I developed this product from an idea to a fully developed, shelf ready product in nine months.  What I would like to do is license the product or sell the rights completely and move on to the next thing.”  Jack’s joy is in the inventing stage of the process, not in manufacturing, advertising or retail.  “I call myself an inventor/entrepreneur – I’m a reluctant entrepreneur.  I would rather just invent.”

Jack is married and he and his wife have a daughter who just began her freshman year in high school.  He credits his ability to operate Nimble Jack to his wife.  She is a teacher and provides the family with a steady income and health benefits while Jack pursues his passion.

“I can honestly say it is the best job that I have ever had.  There have been days when I am working 16 hours a day but it doesn’t feel like work.  When you’re doing something you want to do, something you believe in.”

If you have, or someone you know, is pursuing their passion despite this tough economy, please contact me here.

© sourtosweet