Rethink, Reinvent, Retrain – CEO Interview – Larry Weintraub, CEO of Fanscape – April 4, 2010 – Segment Three
Interview with Larry Weintraub, CEO of Fanscape
Rethink, Reinvent, Retrain ““ Betsy and Renee speak with Larry about his transition from well-known music industry veteran to starting his own company, Fanscape. In 1998, Larry found himself laid off after the record company he was working for was sold. From there, his main options were to find another job in the music business working for someone else or start his own company. Larry and his business partner decided to focus on a crucial element they felt was missing from the music industry: the connection between the artists themselves and the people who purchased their music. Additionally, Larry reveals, even though he was an economics major in college, he had no real business experience at the time, which was a major challenge in starting the company.
Another obstacle facing Larry in getting Fanscape off the ground was the inability to get money from venture capital firms, who continuously said that he didn’t have a “big enough idea.” As such, they had to figure out a way to make money really quickly, which led to Fanscape charging for its services when similar services at that time were free. While they didn’t make any money for two years, they had at least established a solid revenue model to move the company to the next level. Larry notes that a big reason for his company’s success was concentrating in an area where they found a need. Fanscape was the first company to provide databasing for bands on a large scale, while also allowing people to communicate with those bands. The key for Larry was creating a business that he knew there was a need for, but just as importantly, super-serving clients to the point that they came back for more and told others. Moreover, Larry mentions they were aware from the beginning that if they stuck with musical acts as their only source of revenue, they would be out of business quickly, given the steadily declining state of the music industry. So there were always intentions of expanding to film and television as well as corporate brands.
Based on his experiences, Larry tells people going for MBAs to focus particularly in one area, which in his case would have been managing people. Likewise, if you can’t go back and actually get your MBA, there are other ways to reinvent yourself. You can take classes, seminars, conferences, as well as seek out skills through coaches and counseling. Larry shares that he is always trying to strengthen his employees’ skills. Some of them have taken writing classes, some have enrolled in the Toastmasters program to improve their public speaking abilities, while others have attended classes at UCLA Extension.
2Minutes&More with Betsy Berkhemer and Renee Fraser airs every Sunday at 1pm on KFWB NEWS TALK 980. Tune in for a full hour of tips for business success.