Lo-Key Entertainment offers a variety of premium entertainment services including DJing, uplighting, photo booths and promotional printing. DJ’s from Lo-Key have performed all over the country alongside famous entertainers such as Will.I.Am, Kevin Hart, Rickey Smiley, Russell Simmons, Deray Davis, D.L. Hughley and Outkast.
What inspired you to create your business?
I played the piano my entire life and I played in the marching band. One of my best friends was also a bandmate and around my sophomore year of high school there was a dance coming up. I owned a pair of speakers and he owned a set of turntables. We decided to give it a shot to see if we could pull off this small junior high dance.
And from there, opportunities were rolling in. Someone gave us an offer for $20, then someone offered us $40 and by the end of the year we worked our way up to $75 a gig and we realized we had a full-fledged business.
How did you first learn about JumpStart and the Core City: Cleveland Impact Program?
I was supporting another graduate of the Impact Program at JumpStart’s annual Startup Scaleup event. I had no idea what I was going to walk into, but I saw thousands of people and I just observed the impact JumpStart was making in Cleveland with the local establishments in the area. I saw how they were showcasing individuals and previous graduates of the program, as well. I decided it was something I wanted to be a part of.
What has been your biggest takeaway from the Core City: Cleveland Impact Program?
My peers as well as myself, we all know our businesses very well. But the thing that keeps us from getting to the next level is truly understanding the financial aspects. Talent-wise I know how to break things down and set things up and train individuals. I can do that with my eyes closed, but to really understand how banks need to communicate with me—to position myself to make sure I’m aligned for the future or positioning myself to possibly sell my business when I’ve exhausted myself within the business. I think that’s a beautiful thing.
What is the most important thing the program offers to entrepreneurs?
The mentorship. Being here and being exposed to a different peer and mentor network—people who have different backgrounds, experiences and relationships and are members of different boards within the city. It gives a more rounded experience, which helps position me to take things to the next level.
What are your future plans for your business?
As of now, we are a multi-operator entertainment company. We have 10 different entertainers on our staff, but now we’ve drawn up a strategic plan to grow that list to 15 entertainers next year. I have a 10-year forecast, where we’re going to double or quadruple in size. And then eventually we’re going to drop our exit plan.
Learn more about Lo-Key Entertainment at lokeyent.com. Then, come watch Daron pitch his business live on December 4 for a chance to win up to $10,000 at the Core City: Cleveland Entrepreneur Showcase.