You just have to start testing and building. If it’s a big idea and you get too bogged down in the detail of planning it will be overwhelming and you will never get it done.
Ashley graduated from the University of Southern California with a bachelors and masters degree in engineering and co-Founded VNTANA in 2013. VNTANA live streams holograms, bringing fans face-to-face with their favorite artists, actors, and athletes. Prior to VNTANA she worked at BP for three years where she devised the production strategy for multiple products at the West Cost refinery. Before that she gained event production experience at MTV Networks in Los Angeles and INCA Productions in London.
Where did the idea for VNTANA come from?
Coachella is on my birthday every year and I would always go with all my friends, but as it got more popular and more expensive everyone stopped being able to go. The year half my friends couldn’t make it they sat and watched the live stream on their laptop all weekend, which I thought sounded miserable. I asked them if I could live stream high quality audio to a warehouse in LA and recreate the same light show would they pay cheaper tickets to go and they unanimously said yes! This is when I started working on live streaming concerts to venues which lead to holograms.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Everyone gets to the office by 8:30am. The beginning of the day is spent answering emails and making a to do list to make sure nothing is forgotten. Then my business partner and I regroup based on our to do lists to make sure we’re on the same page. Then the rest of the day is business development meetings, demos of our technology, checking on suppliers and manufacturers and planning shoots.
How do you bring ideas to life?
You just have to start testing and building. If it’s a big idea and you get too bogged down in the detail of planning it will be overwhelming and you will never get it done. Work on the minimum viable product and go from there.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Experiential events and festivals are a trend I am very excited about. People are no longer satisfied just watching events on their smart phone or laptop, they want to share a great experience with friends which is what VNTANA is about.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I have no patience and like to get things done right away. I don’t wait or procrastinate, I just like to get things done and check off my to do list.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I worked at Blockbuster in high school and soon after saw it close and go bankrupt. I learned that as a company you have to think of what your product is really providing people and continue to innovate based on that value. If Blockbuster thought of themselves as a movie delivery system for individuals, not just a rental house, they might have made the jump to online streaming.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would start raising money earlier. As my first startup this is my first time ever raising and the entire process takes a lot longer than you would think.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Constantly measure what you are doing and the product you are producing against what your customers want.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Never re-invent the wheel, always start by researching what already exists to solve similar problems. This consistently saves lots of time and headaches.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When we first started the plan was just to live stream high quality audio with the same light show as the original concert. A few artists said yes, but didn’t want to do it in the states and mess up their US tour so we suggested Asia and artists jumped at the idea. My business partner and I then visited 104 nightclubs in 42 days between Singapore and Japan. We signed up a bunch of clubs that wanted to buy the content, but when we got back to the states the artists changed their mind and wanted something more authentic than just audio and a light show. This was a huge blow after spending so much time and money signing up customers. Instead of letting this be it, we just started pitching live holograms with the audio and light show. Kia and Nicky Romero said yes so we knew this was something, we then had 1 month to figure it out. Somehow we pulled it off and that was our big pivot that has lead to the company we are today.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I always thought it would be great if I could purchase shampoo, lotion, and other similar products from dispensers and pay by the ounce. This would cut down on wasteful packing and plastic bottles because you could bring your own to the store.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I was a very serious gymnast as a child. I practiced 15-30 hours a week starting in kindergarten with grand Olympic plans until multiple injuries lead me to retire/quite at 16.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
RedPen is an amazing tool that allows a team to easily collaborate on a project online.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Lean In because being a woman entrepreneur, particularly the engineering side of the company you face a lot of challenges that men not only don’t have but are not even aware of. Woman should read the book to be inspired and men should read the book to have a better understanding of the barriers that still exist for women in the work place.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Ashley Crowder on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/ashley-crowder/5/987/55a
Ashley Crowder on Twitter: @acrowder33
VNTANA on Twitter: @VNTANAlive
VNTANA on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VNTANAlive