I truly believe that every mistake and every decision has led me to where I am today. I have had some bad patches and unfortunate luck, and I have made some stupid decisions. But at the end of the road, I’ve come out better and stronger.
Stephen Vincent (Vinny) Jurado is the Co-Founder/CEO of Five Star Entourage, a premiere event promotion and limo-bus company based out of San Marcos, Texas. Vinny started the company two years ago and is already of high demand in the experiential marketing industry in central Texas, known for achieving considerable attendance and crowd-pleasing affairs. Five Star Entourage, complete with its own bus fleet and promotion team, focuses on providing unique, enjoyable party experiences for a wide array of clientele and providing awareness and access to events all over central Texas.
Where did the idea for Five Star Entourage come from?
I was a sophomore in college, going to the “hottest events” every weekend and enjoying the experience. One night, while standing at the bar and looking out into the flashing lights, I thought to myself, “I could do this!” I was seeing first-hand the immense profit to be made from throwing large, lavish events and involvement in engagement marketing. I started researching the next day and my business partner and I set out to create our own agency using the contacts we had made over the years. A few months later, we had our DBA.
I have now been in the experiential marketing industry for two years. My own experience as a college student has allowed me to specialize in direct and engagement marketing, which really brings in the crowds. I chose to cut out all middlemen; bought my own buses, do my own promotion, manage the business myself, all of which results in minimal salary/commission distribution and maximized profits, as well as allowing us to focus on self-promotion and partner advertisement.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Each day is different because I am involved in so many different aspects of my business, so my schedule truly depends on the current project and business needs. Some days are spent writing estimates for an upcoming event and reaching out to our sponsors/partners for participation. Some days are spent on the lot, managing the bus repairs, maintenance, and upgrades. I can tell you that sleep is not easily come by in this business, and staying up until 4 am working the budget, writing contracts, managing payroll, etc, is guaranteed. All in all, the key to being productive is prioritization, knowing what takes precedence and which tasks require immediate attention.
How do you bring ideas to life?
My best ideas come to me between 10 pm and 3 am, when I’m in front of the computer, focused, and able to sort through the “mind clutter.” All ideas require action, so the first thing I do when the light bulb goes off is write it down, scribble all over the page, and then I make phone calls. My friends and business partners have grown accustomed to my late-night calls and texts, and they’ve come to expect it. I couldn’t accomplish a third of the ideas I come up with if it weren’t for the team I have around me and they are as hungry and relentless as I am. My best partners roll out of bed and get to planning with me, and those are the ones that I’m taking to the top.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I love hearing that experiential marketing and party buses are being recognized as the “it” way to reach consumers and party destinations, or even for a ride around town. Also, social media! It has quickly become the best and easiest way to “touch” large masses and potential clients. The more people post and share on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat, etc., the bigger our name gets. It’s free advertisement. All those ten-second videos on snap chat with our posters and buses in the background do so much. The bigger this trend becomes, the better it is for my business.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Every night, before bed, I create the next day’s game plan. It’s essentially a checklist of all the tasks I need to complete, categorized by priority. I always leave room for the unexpected, which is very common in any business. But I don’t stress about any of it because it’s usually already worked into my week. It’s important to stay positive, never doubt yourself, and always look at the bigger picture.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I worked at a bank for a couple of years. They were pushy and always pressuring for the sale/commission and there was a lot of convincing myself to walk through those doors every morning. I learned that I could not be happy in my career, regardless of how good I was at it unless I was genuinely happy doing it. Call it cheesy, but I truly believe big money is not worth hating your life 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
If I were starting Five Star all over again, I would be more careful about the people I chose to have around me. When starting a business, everyone is rooting for you. When the money comes, everyone is hoping you fail. I had the bittersweet experience of learning who my real friends/supporters were, and, unfortunately, lost a lot of my team because of it. So I would definitely be wiser about who I involved in the business and gave access to important information. Regardless, I’ve learned some valuable lessons and I now have a great group of eager, trustworthy people in my corner.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Like I said earlier, stay positive and keep pushing. It’s all about your attitude. Sometimes it will feel like you take one step forward and ten steps back, but it’s important that all the hiccups and bumps in the road only drive you forward. Don’t allow those moments to spawn self-doubt and insecurity. Shrug it off, find a solution, and keep pushing. I tell myself that every single day.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Not limiting my company to the restrictions or processes the rest of the industry uses. From the get-go, we decided to cut out as many middlemen as possible and, as such, we are unique from other party bus companies in several ways. The most notable difference is that while most party bus companies allow rental for groups for drop off/pick up at events, Five Star Entourage not only designates pick up locations for events, but most of the events are being sponsored/promoted by us as well. I didn’t want to restrict our services to the college crowd; our fleet of buses provides service to a large span of clientele, including college students, fraternities/sororities, private parties, business executives, wedding parts, etc. As such, there are several opportunities for partnership between Five Star Entourage and other companies and organizations. Essentially, we are not only a party bus company, but an entertainment company as well, leading to magnified profit, reduced intermediaries, and our immense success. Always set yourself apart from rest.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I didn’t know how to budget and I spent money without regard. When it came to looking back over the year’s numbers, it was embarrassing trying to explain the expenses to the accountant. Too late to save face, I vowed to do better the following year. I found ways to create income from different additional forms of marketing and advertising. I spent more time reading about other entrepreneurs and I apply their advice to my daily life. Organization, accountability, and smarter spending habits have cleaned up the books and increased profit margins, not to mention my take-home salary as well.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently wrote a check to my church’s charitable organization that helps children who have been left without parents due to tragedy. I lost my own father at a pretty young age and it always hits home with me knowing other kids are suffering the same loss.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
Excel and QuickBooks mostly, because they’re simple and easy to use. I have a web guy who handles our site and its constant updates. We’re still pretty new, but creating a program designed specifically for our company’s use is definitely in our future, especially with our recent expansion into Dallas.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The Secret”- Its about the law of attraction and positive thinking, and how to apply it to all aspects of your life. Envisioning yourself as the person you want to be, and truly believing in that vision forces you to make decisions towards that goal and takes you further than a “wish” ever could.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
I’m not sure what interest they would be to other’s, but I’d have to say, my son, firstly. He sparked the fire inside of me that keeps me going every day. My mom and dad definitely come in behind him, as they were the first, and sometimes the only people in my life being straight-forward and honest, and keeping my head screwed on straight.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.