This is the third part of an interview with Scott Durbin, one member of Imagination Movers, a rock band for kids. Durbin is taking an entrepreneurial leap, leaving behind a safe job to pursue a dream. You may also want to read part one and part two.
How did starting the Imagination Movers affect your personal finances?
For a while, everything we did was out of personal pocket. As the organic nature of our project began to take root and blossom, it was clear that some kind of real investment needed to be made so our Big Ideas could be realized. That investment was a gut check: it meant we needed to use more of our own money. So began the Movers. Honestly, everything we did — from purchasing blue suits to buying equipment (such as a PA and wireless mics) to investing in a home studio — came from the pockets and sacrifices of Rich, Scott, Dave and Smitty. The great part is that we so believed in what we were doing that money, time and energy aligned themselves and we went into overdrive.
Rich and I were the initial big investors. Dave and Smitty pitched in when possible. Rich took the burden of financing a home studio, which led to the biggest collective cost we faced early on: the creation of our first audio release, Good Ideas. Taking into account the manufacturing of the CDs, paying someone to master them, and PR, we were looking at a few thousand dollars head-on. We didn’t have much disposable income, but we found the money. (I think Smitty sold plasma. I sold balloon animals. Dave panhandeled and Rich washed cars.)
All in all, to get the Movers started, we had to get out the shovel and dig into savings so the machine could begin to turn. Our first big hope was that sales from the CD and early shows would allow us to reap what we sowed. Either we’d get back what we paid into the project, or allow the money we made to lead us to other opportunities. The latter became the yellow brick road.
So to answer your question: my personal savings was hit, parts of my home were converted (putting up shelves for inventory, setting up a network system, getting filing cabinets), and little costs (mailers, paper, postage) sometimes cut to the bone. Instead of buying a six pack or going to a movie, my disposable income went to buying CDs and labels to burn early demo copies for people.
How did you and the other guys feel about this? It sounds to me exactly as if you’ve been starting a business. Do you feel this way too?
We had big ambitions from the start. Although it seemed like a great side project, we secretly treated it as an opportunity to become self-employed and as such worked it like it was a small business. I took on the role as visionary, aspiring to some very lofty goals.
When our demos turned into real products, the fire was lit and we added more goals: creating a coloring book based on one of the songs, printing t-shirts, looking to establish distribution for our burgeoning product line. You name it, and we were plotting it. We even financed a trip to Toy Fair in New York in an attempt to introduce the world to the Movers.
I will say we were smart about resisting investment from outside of the group. Some financial advice we received led us to just say no to third party investors. I remember something about us selling securities in the group if we did so; in other words, we’d be opening ourselves up to a very complicated financial and legal world.
We also had some great friends who encouraged us to form a business plan. Sounds incredible impetuous, but we formed an LLC, met with local business leaders (Idea Village, a business incubator in New Orleans), and started working on goals.
Naturally, guys in the group participated in the project as best they could. Some did much more than others, but we were aware of the sweat equity certain people were giving early on. Rich and I were in working situations that allowed us to devote more time to the project than Dave and Smitty. Dave was working hard as an architect and Smitty as a fireman. We were — and still are — doing something that we loved, so turning it into a business simply allowed us to keep everything on the up and up, as well as kept us organized.
Look for further installments in the future. And look for more interviews after this one is finished. I hope to learn some interview skills so that I can actually conduct real in-person interviews to share with you all over the coming months.