Our own entrepreneurial spirit has taken us from our Main Street Music store and MainStreetMusic.com, to Arcada Records and Alkai Diggins, to Ovaleye Web Solutions and Ovaleye TV, and beyond. Now we are putting all that experience into our new pursuit as a real estate broker team. For Kathy and I the pursuit of our own business is a big part of our American Dream. It is the feeling of independence and self-sufficiency. It is the challenge. And hopefully it is the fun.
We began our entrepreneurial journey in 1998. At least 1998 was when we took action. The desire to own a business was probably in our DNA. It is interesting, and wonderful, that there is really no gatekeeper from whom you need to ask for permission in order to go into business. The desire and the courage to take action is all you need to get started. In our case courage really means “blind courage”. As with that exotic far eastern dish that the waiter delivered to your table the other night, it is often best not to know what you’re biting into. Taking that first bite into being an entrepreneur may not ever happen if you knew all the ingredients needed to create the entire dish. But it didn’t take too long for that blind courage we started with to come into complete focus.
Passion conquers all though, and being truly passionate for your product or service does fuel the entrepreneurial spirit. For Kathy and I the passion was about creating an environment similar to what we grew up in. A music store where everyone would feel welcome. Where it was fun to spend time. Where the young people in the community felt a connection. A store they would remember for years to come. Main Street Music was our passion and it was a blast… while it lasted. It wasn’t so much that our blind courage prevented us from foreseeing the eventual digital music revolution, it was actually a part of our business plan, but we certainly didn’t see the speed at which digital downloads would completely take over. We anticipated five to eight years, but it turned out to be not much more than one year, thanks to Napster.
As I said though, digital downloads were a part of our business plan, legal digital downloads though. Through a company called Liquid Audio we were able to start selling music downloads before our physical store had to close. As you can imagine, selling legal music downloads was not a booming business as long as Napster was there. Over time though more people saw the benefits of taking the legal route and business began to improve. When Apple got into the business with iTunes then the flood gates really opened. Our business started growing exponentially, but of course that sort of growth attracts attention. In this case it was Walmart’s attention, and they wanted to own a piece of the market. They did this by buying our downloads provider, Liquid Audio. With no other provider available we were abruptly put out of business.
Well okay then, let’s get on the other side. The music production side that is. With Arcada Records we hoped to produce music. Kathy was already managing a rock band with a rapidly growing fan base, so this didn’t seem too far fetched. Alkai Diggins was made up of five talented young men from our community. We met them in our store when they were just getting started, and we kept track of their progress over time. When it looked like they needed management to get to the next level Kathy was available to help. This was some of the most fun we ever had in business, and we are thankful that these guys allowed us to be a part of their journey. But when they started getting married and having families that entrepreneurial pursuit was over.
What did I say about blind courage? Maybe the appropriate saying at this point is the one we all know about hind sight.
Now again without a business our DNA kicked us in the butt for a (what is it now…) fifth time. This time we took all that we had learned from the previous pursuits – business skills, people skills, sales skills, technical skills, and another dose of courage – and we started Ovaleye Web Solutions. Selling domain names, building websites, and hosting websites, Ovaleye was a one-stop-shop for your online needs. This grew to Ovaleye Cloud Services in which we offered enterprise email and VoIP telephone service. And that spawned Ovaleye TV in which we started marketing our own services through live online video webcasts, but then expanded to offer those services to others as well. Ovaleye became an all consuming business, that is it consumed all of our time and resources. This is actually the one time we voluntarily exited a business. Kathy and I decided that the business was unsustainable without considerably more resources than we could provide, so we sold the website and hosting portion of the business. What a relief.
So from Internet real estate (domain names and websites) we decided to go to real real estate (homes and land). We are now a husband and wife real estate broker team with John L. Scott Real Estate. We are still independent business owners, but there is an organization that we can rely on and learn from. We plan to apply all our business skills and technical skills to this new entrepreneurial pursuit, have fun, and go forward with all the courage our DNA can muster.
Wish us luck!