Vancouver based International Arts Management Corporation (IAM Corp) has been up and running successfully since 2005. CEO Peter Karroll talks to us today on how he got going with his business. Thanks, Peter.
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Tell me about your business, what do you do exactly?
IAM Corp is the world's leading independent Marketing and Management firm specializing in Online Casino, Poker, and Sportsbetting and the convergence of Landbased Casinos with Online Gaming properties.
When did you start the business?
We started online marketing prior to 2000 in the Entertainment and Television Industry. We entered the online Gaming world in 2005 since that time we have generated over 1 billion in revenues as a result of our concepts and strategies.
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
I worked with music labels, artist management, and touring.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
You need to associate yourself with expertise in several areas. Finance, Accounting, IT, Social Media, Social Marketing, Online Gambling Strategies, Entertainment Marketing Strategies, Database management, a small team of 5 or 6 with a collection of these talents backed by solid financing.
How did you come up with your business idea?
I was having a glass of wine with an online gaming entrepreneur and we discussed the possible outcome if we combined Music properties, television production and online gambling. We entered into a business relationship to provide a new branding model combined with broad online and offline promotional properties in the pure mainstream entertainment space. This included all social media, live events, broadband tv, contesting, branding, television productions.
Did you write a business plan? Was it an effective tool for you?
I wrote a basic business plan that was helpful to both parties to get the relationship started but it was 3 pages and changed monthly as the potential grew into reality quickly.
Who did you hire to help you? Bookkeeper, Accountants, Lawyers …? Would you suggest others do the same?
Currently with the IAM Corp we utilize Chartered Accountants, bookkeepers, and Lawyers who are able to understand and work in International tax laws, and software agreements.
Did you operate your business from your home? What were the challenges and benefits to this strategy?
We operated the business in a private residence converted to an office space so that we could group everyone together who had an interest. We do not meet with the general public and have the ability to work wherever we are at any given time via, blackberry, I-phone, laptops etc.
Did you have a partner when you started your business? How did you select a partner?
Yes originally in the music business we partnered up with our recording artists and this ensured loyalty to the company. When we entered the online gaming marketing space we brought those Artists with us into the deal and partnered up entertainment properties with the gaming brands.
Have you hired additional staff? What is your greatest human resources challenge?
Finding Fast, efficient, and cost effective IT such as programmers and developers who can think outside the box and who can find solutions to unique problems.
Do you own a business with family members? What do you think are the benefits and challenges to running a family owned business?
Yes this business is with family members and close family friends. There is no downside to having a family business, we all are capable of driving equally as hard and know that our whole focus is singular for the good of the organization and that success will wash across us all.
For women entrepreneurs, what specific advice would you have for young women who would like to become an entrepreneur?
Yes my eldest daughter is the president of the organization. I tell her to be twice as good as men, be unemotional and keep your sense of humor.
Are there specific advantages, disadvantages to being a women business owner?
I hate to generalize but in my experience women seem a bit tougher in business and will fight a harder to keep the pennies in a deal.
Green business is all the rage right now. Has it really been practical for you as an entrepreneur to incorporate green business practices?
As Canadians we come by Green fairly naturally. Our organization has spearheaded support both on the ground and financially for Human Rights including saving children on death row in Iran, Animal rights by financing WSPA with a campaign to stop Bear Bile Farming in China, and working with numerous charities from Breast Cancer, Aids, Women's Shelters, Eating Disorders, etc. Many of these initiatives may not be green by definition but our social conscience is front and center.
With the current economy in a slump, what cost saving tips would you have for a new entrepreneur?
Do all the business you can online before you spend one dime offline.
Have you outsourced any portion of your business? Has that worked for your business?
Yes we take that old Chinese curse very seriously "May you employ over 100 people". We have a small group of high performing executives who all have incentive and emotion in to the business. We sub contract 80% of the work to people who are similar in mentality and drive but are in a supportive aspect of our business.
Finding employees to work in a new and growing business can be a challenge. How did you find your employees?
Craigslist & referrals and people who sourced us offering value in cost effective services to our business model.
Social marketing is consistently being written about in the small business space. Has it worked generating business for you?
We were the first people to bring social networking into the online Casino business. We have been entrenched in Social marketing since the beginning of myspace. We have developed a Social Networking site for niche markets so that a small organization can control the data that they generate and build a community that contributes to the welfare and development of the cause through communication.
Temporary labor can be a great asset to an entrepreneur. Have you ever hired temps or contractors? Would you suggest this as a strategy for new business owners?
90% of our Organization are contractors, we want their business to thrive along with our business and the ability for them to grow independently is very important to the quality of service they provide to us. Additionally we can scale up or down very quickly without carrying burdensome overhead, increases profitability and allows us to drive business with competitive contractors.
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
Taking an organic approach of doing everything we can online before we go offline in a significant way. Even though we have significant success utilizing offline marketing strategies we do not employ them without doing everything possible online first. As well we have done strong analysis on our business model and projected the growth or earnings each month for the next 3 years. We work towards a single number as the collective goal to attain each month. When we plug the final number in it tells us where we should be next month, and every month after for 3 years to attain our 3 year goal.
How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?
The world has changed drastically in 24 months, we adapt consistently and understand new services we can provide, how to deliver them cost effectively and provide a top customer experience. The changing landscape of how landbased businesses are moving into online storefronts and figuring out how to be effective in this world is ever changing and growing.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
No!! We look at every challenge as a lesson in business and life. Hopefully we continue to learn inexpensive lessons rather than expensive ones.
Glad your idea worked out Peter, thank you for your time. We wish you the best of luck!