Last Updated on September 3, 2020
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- 1 Tell us about yourself and your background!
- 2 Tell us about your company! How did you start it? Why did you start it?
- 3 How did you get your first several customers or users? How many users or customers do you have now?
- 4 How does your company grow and acquire new customers?
- 5 What actionable tips and tricks do you have for new founders who are looking to get their first thousand users or dollars?
- 6 What is something you’ve learned that would not be obvious to somebody who hasn’t worked in your space before?
- 7 What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you (good or bad) on your founder journey?
- 8 What are your favorite books?
- 9 Anything you’d like to plug?
Tell us about yourself and your background!
Chris Reed is a first generation Croatian living in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a self-made man who cannot attribute his success by a college education, as that was not his path. His, was one paved through trial and error, tragedy, success and failure.
Reed found his passion for project-based-work in the Performing-Arts-Sector and is a member of the esteemed Recording Academy. As a child, he endured tragedy, and accomplishments and was one of the youngest Olympic Torchbearers for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. Chris enjoyed playing saxophone, writing songs, plays and even directed and toured the West Coast with his own original musicals when he was 13 years old. Naturally, as he grew, he eventually returned to his first loves. Musicals, Plays, Bands, Classroom Music and instrumental instruction, where Chris discovered a career he could feel good about. He has been a community organizer curating events and festivals for his community, while helping to bridge that gap between artistic talent and the community.
Chris Reed is the CEO and Director of Programming and Education for the Educational Services Company, Modern Minded (www.ModernMinded.org). He is also a professional musician under his own name and Sunny State.
Between European and South American tours, Reed has been passionately starting sustainable band, theatre and performing arts programs since 2006. In that time, his programs have taught more than 50,000 students across California how to proudly nurture their artistic talents. Over the years, his programs and events have touched the lives of almost 150,000 members of the Silicon Valley community.
Chris is a father of two daughters, a husband and an activist that’s been recognized by international radio stations and networks like MTV and has used his music to fight for positive change.
Motivated by a desire to be present for his growing children, Chris is constantly adapting to successfully balance his family and career.
Tell us about your company! How did you start it? Why did you start it?
I was teaching a band program at a school with an ever changing budget, that, after a year of working there, had completely disappeared. I found that job because someone I know had it before me and had cut their pay, so, while it wasn’t sustainable for them, it was just doable for me so I took over. After losing that first Band director position, I went to another district and worked for an outside company providing bands. But the situation was the same. They had cut their budget so the director left and I came in at a lower rate. After two years there, it wasn’t sustainable and I was offered a position at another school and took it. This entire time i was driving around after school giving 3-4 lessons an evening.
At this new position, I teamed up with another band director and they acted as the assistant.
We started at 50 students and each year the program grew. As this was happening, I was offered another position and another and another at various schools across my area. I could take them all so I hired a friend of mine, who was in my band with me and was in school for music at the time.
As I got more schools, I started another company, meeting various needs that I saw were necessary and desired across the various schools and districts. These businesses felt great because I knew and know that I am providing a services to students, parents and my community and also teaching other creatives, like myself, with a way to make a living through their art.
Modern Minded was founded with the idea to fill the growing gap sometimes found in schools and companies, where academics are king and the arts and mindful practice lay forgotten by the wayside.
At Modern Minded, we work hard to develop well-rounded options for you to offer your students and employees in the bustling Silicon Valley. With over a decade of experience and success in creating and sustaining rich programs in the community, Modern Minded is dedicated to bringing you exactly what you want and need. We specialize in getting to know you and develop each program to fit your specific needs—whether you know what they are or not.
Due to the current health crisis, we have adapted our programs from in person to online.
How did you get your first several customers or users? How many users or customers do you have now?
For the first 7 years, all the business came from referrals and word of mouth. We started with just one account and now are working with 25 different schools in California.
How does your company grow and acquire new customers?
We spread the word through various sales techniques, emails, phone calls, etc. The most effective way to gain new clients is by a personal recommendation—Nothing beats the personal touch.
What actionable tips and tricks do you have for new founders who are looking to get their first thousand users or dollars?
Work hard to establish all the makings of what “looks” like an already successful business. Take the financial risk on yourself. You need to bet on yourself before others bet on you. That means; a professional looking website ( WIX is great, though I also use budget friendly FATCOW), have all your social networking profiles set up, twitter, instagram, facebook, even consider a Tik Tok. Business cards, a Logo and professional pictures of yourself as the founder. Worst case, on the pictures, you can find stock photos out there for FREE.
Once you have all that, you can feel confident to go out and solicit your services to your target audience. Take the time to do your research on each sales call. Find out if they have had a service or product like yours before, etc. It is good, not required, but good to know so you can explain how you are an enhancement from their previous attempts to do something similar.
I have personally taken on quite a few clients where I was stepping in to a skeptic room of people who have seen programs like mine fail in the past. But knowing this, made me work harder and stay focused on always adapting to the unknowns that I knew would be coming that previous companies failed to overcome.
What is something you’ve learned that would not be obvious to somebody who hasn’t worked in your space before?
I have learned to do my own accounting, build websites, start a business, draw up legal binding contracts, deal with insurance companies, do all the tasks required of an HR department, fill our permits, act as hiring manager, deal with extensive scheduling across 25 programs and 12 workers in the space of 25,000 schedules in the community.I have had to train new workers from admins to teachers, be knowledgable in tax law and the ever-changing rules of business tax and entities. I might be an expert in my field of Educational Services, but the overall business management skills I have learned apply across most industries.
What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you (good or bad) on your founder journey?
I have had people that worked for me try to steal clients from me on multiple accounts. I have also had disgruntle workers, who felt they were worth more than I was able to offer them, go directly to a client behind my back to gripe. Naturally, the client saw that as over stepping and could not take the individual seriously. As the founder of a business, no matter how big or small, there will always be people who do not know the ins and outs of your business. Those people will always think they can do it better than you.
My advice is; let them try. Obviously protect yourself with contracts so that it would be a breach of their contract, but aside from that. Let them.
Do they have your resilience? Do they have your wisdom through the experience you have gained? Answer is, probably not. And, in all honesty, there quite possibly may be someone out there who can do it as well, will it be better than you? maybe, it will certainly be different. And that is ok. There are many companies in my industry and I try to avoid competing against them when I can. if someone is to compare us, that is totally fine. They will see the differences and get the chance to make their own choice. That is not something I choose to lose sleep over.
What are your favorite books?
The Old Man and The Sea by Hemingway always stands out as that book that fortified my resilience when I was 12 years old.
Anything you’d like to plug?
In light of our current health crisis, my company is offering Premium Online Music Lessons and an Instrumental Band Program on the Flute, Clarinet, Saxophone, Trumpet or Percussion. If you have ever wanted to learn an instrument, join us! No experience needed and it will fit in to your schedule because we provide weekly videos to learn and practice with.
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