Brian Volk-Weiss began his career as an entrepreneur by producing and selling stand-up comedy specials in 2008. An avid comedy fan, he was simply looking for a way to create the stand-up specials that he most wanted to see, he said. But in 2014, he realized his love for comedy had created a great business opportunity; many of the rights of the stand-up specials he had sold were expiring, allowing Volk-Weiss to establish a platform of his own to host his growing library of stand-up. Thus, Comedy Dynamics was born.
Volk-Weiss went behind the business plan with Business News Daily to discuss his work with Comedy Dynamics, and how his passion ended up leading him to his career as an entrepreneur.
Business News Daily: In a nutshell, what service does your business provide?
Brian Volk-Weiss: We provide a one-stop shop where comedy lovers can find dozens of the best comedy specials ever made in one easy-to-use platform, and it's a place that they've already been to before, like Hulu, Apple TV or Roku.
BND: How long have you been in business?
Volk-Weiss: Comedy Dynamics, which started life as New Wave Dynamics, was launched in 2008. Our own service under the Comedy Dynamics brand launched in July of 2014.
BND: Did you start with a formal business plan? If not, how did you lay the groundwork for your business?
Volk-Weiss: Anyone who's ever worked with me would laugh very hard if they heard me say that I started with a business plan. I sort of did the opposite. I started out as a lover of comedy, and in particular a huge fan of comedy specials. Due to my connections with comedians, and also our production background, it just became an obvious thing for us to start making the specials I wanted to see myself, and then sell them to companies that had a need for stand-up specials. We did this pretty hardcore starting in 2008 and, by 2014, not only had we made a LOT of specials, the rights to those specials had started to expire at the companies I had sold them to. So, we began to have a really nice library that was big enough to get started with, and then we just kept making more and also buying libraries from great artists who had not been seen by the modern public in a long time – people like Richard Jenni and Sam Kinison.
BND: How did you finance your endeavors, both initially and as your business grew?
Volk-Weiss: We self-funded everything. Basically, my "original" career was as a manager of comedians, and eventually I hired other managers. Once this was up and running, we started selling and producing TV shows. The income from these two businesses is what allowed us to get our feet off the ground in terms of making the specials in the first place, and soon after that, the sale of the specials for more than what we spent to make then allowed us to keep reinvesting in growing the library.
BND: How much did you invest personally?
Volk-Weiss: Pretty much everything I had.
BND: Is your business today what you originally envisioned at the outset or has it changed significantly over time?
Volk-Weiss: I always knew what we are doing now would come, I just didn’t think it would happen so quickly. Our own service was operational in July of 2014, but if you had asked me in 2013 when I thought we would be up and running I would have said "sometime around 2017 or 2018."
BND: What are some lessons you’ve learned? Is there anything you would’ve done differently?
Volk-Weiss: I've learned a lot because I have made every mistake in the book. And it's really an interesting thing, looking at mistakes in retrospect, because many times what was a mistake at the time, and even can still be viewed as a mistake when looking back, is usually something that allowed us to be where we are today. Had we not made that "mistake" we would either not have a library, for example, or we would not have our own service up or running so quickly. The main thing I knew before we started down this road, and I still believe in firmly today above all else, is that "talent rules." It's all about the artists, and it's not about us. Our brand is made by the artists that we're in business with, and having them trust us is the first and last rule of what we do.
BND: What were the most important factors that contributed to your success?
Volk-Weiss: The one thing I was blessed to be born with, for better or worse, is pretty much no fear of failure. When I get excited about something, even if 99 percent of the data should encourage me to NOT take a certain course of action, I still seem to have the courage or stupidity to go forward with it. I can take a beating and keep on ticking, to quote an extremely old ad.
BND: What are the next steps you want to take as a business owner? How do you see yourself achieving those goals?
Volk-Weiss: The next step that we are very focused on is making sure that we can keep staying ahead of all the new platforms that are popping up and people are watching content on while simultaneously making sure that we stay in business with the best of the best artists out there.
BND: What is your best advice to someone with a great business idea who is ready to give it a shot?
Volk-Weiss: Stick with it at all costs, never quit, but be prepared to amend your original ideas as you gain experience from the road to implementation.