Thursday, September 25, 2008

Entrepreneurship =Hip..yeah baby

What do The Flaming Lips, the Roots, martinis, Des Moines, IA , and entrepreneurship have in common? The quietly cool Amedeo Rossi. Amedeo owns and operates The Lift, a cool martini bar, and The Vaudeville Mews, a happening live music space, both in Des Moines; yeah, that's right Des Moines, IOWA. AND, together with the Des Moines Music Coalition, he successfully organized and promoted this past summer's terrific 80/35 Music Festival (I-80 and I-35 intersect at Des Moines, where we elect presidents).

Amedeo visited my Entrepreneurial Leadership class at Drake University Tuesday and shared his experiences and advice. He worked for 12 years in HR for several large corporations and developed an understanding for basic management and accounting, so that when approached by a friend about opening a new bar/meeting place in Des Moines, he was ready. Like many entrepreneurs, he kept his day job while starting up The Lift, a smooth no-smoking, no TV hang- out near Court Avenue in Des Moines. They opened The Lift in the spring of 2001 and just barely hung on through the quiet aftermath of 9/11 where people didn't go out much. The Lift was no-smoking before it was the law because Amedeo believed it was simply wrong to subject his employees to the hazards of second hand smoke.

Recognizing that there were virtually no venues for local music acts to perform, he and his partner opened The Vaudeville Mews a few doors down from The Lift. VM offers an awesome selection of local and visiting talent in an inviting and accessible space.

Along his small business way Amedeo also hooked-up with the Greater Des Moines Music Coalition and the vision-thing started happening. He and his colleagues starting dreaming and visualizing and jonesing about making Des Moines a center for progressive music--not just in Iowa but for the whole damn country. And they are doing it. The first 80/35 Festival was a solid hit: great space, great bands, great crowds, even with some hard rock competition down the road a bit.

I could go on; I love this guy and what he is trying to do and doing. But duty calls. Here are some tidbits for entrepreneurs from his presentation:
+Get some experience. His 12 years a job...have come in handy, and his day job enabled him to pursue a new dream.

+Your dream will cost more and take longer to achieve than you expect (they all do).
+Cash is king; you gotta pay your bills, so you have to sell something and get paid.
+Adapt. Stuff happens; times and tastes change, so you must also.
+Successfully managing his new ventures has been like piloting a battleship. That is, when he recognized change was on the way or was unavoidable he reacted carefully and smoothly. He was committed to a course, but altered his path when necessary and did so deliberately.

That last one is unique so far among our guest entrepreneurs,a t least in so far as Amedeo specifically articulated his deliberate approach to adaptability. As we have discussed in class, entrepreneurs take calculated risk; they are NOT big risk takers; in fact, they are often risk avers.

Amedeo is doing great things. Many thanks and best wishes for continued success to him.

1 comment:

Adam Steen said...

That is great advice. Flat out great advice.

Keep up the good work of putting reality into the classroom, Tom.