The first ever UNT music entrepreneurship competition announced this past Thursday the finalists and honorable mentions moving to the final round on Friday and grand finale event Sunday. The audience can vote for favorite competitors, as do the judges, in the final round for prizes totaling over $18,000.
The competition began with workshops in January and submissions of business plans for review in March.
Dr. Fabiana Claure, founding director of the project, said she wanted to create a movement with this project that would spark students to look to seek help, mentorship and have a better understanding of what it is like to create a business plan from start to finish.
Judging the final competition alongside the audience is Stan Levenson, Deborah Brooks and David Cutler, guest artist in residency and author of the Savvy Musician.
There are three finalists in each of the two tracks – graduate and undergraduate – and four honorable mentions.
Thursday’s finalists in the graduate track were Sabrina Bachliter, Kyle McKay and Jesse Myers. Undergraduate finalists include Kurtis Shaffer, Rachel Phillips and a team business plan called Eclective consisting of members Evan Adams, Grant Carrington, Austin Poorbaugh, Austin Simonds and John Snyder.
In the honorable mention for graduates category was Jennifer Guzman and Sean Murphy. Undergraduate category was Andrew Williams and William Root.
“I want this to be a college of music-wide initiative that will involve students and faculty in embracing entrepreneurship as a fundamental skill that musicians need to develop while they are in college,” Claure said.
It’s not about the money
For Claure it isn’t just about the money, though. The experience is just as rewarding. And with the competition only nascent, she said the engagement was “amazing,” having received 17 initial business plan entries for the competition.
“Usually things are hard because we have not done them before,” music education sophomore Alan Olmos said. He added it’s hard to come up with a business plan when students are not often familiar with the work and specifics of writing one, especially those without a business background.
“Being an artist is, like, what can you offer that’s different?” Finance junior Prince Martin said. “I feel like they are being forced to think out of the box on a day-to-day basis. They just have to translate that to the business side of things and just use that to create a business plan.”
Students can often become overwhelmed with their schoolwork, Claure said. But this competition offers for them an opportunity that pushes students to actually go through and put together a business plan, knowing they could potentially get a financial return for their efforts.
Music entrepreneurship background
Claure said she participated in national conferences with her husband William Villaverde while they were both teaching assistants at the University of Miami. They saw some problems at their university with learning gaps and deficiencies of students enrolling to the college of music noticing most of their peers on full scholarships were international.
They realized for American students, there was a gap in music education training before entrance into college. They noticed American students had to take many remedial courses and were less competitive when it came to scholarships. They worked on creating a school, The Superior Academy of Music, that would have a unique curriculum addressing the issue, and wouldn’t only get students to focus on learning an instrument, but also have a well-rounded and comprehensive approach to musical education.
Their goal was to get students to graduate from their school and enter college on university scholarships. With a lot of support, and a business development service called The Launch Pad, they developed a business plan and did what she is doing now. They entered a business plan competition in the school of business at their university, not in the college of music because there wasn’t one.
They swept through the competition and made it to the final round. They got second place, winning almost $10,000. This allowed them to gain exposure with the community and got people invested in their business. A few months after graduating they opened the doors to their academy. It has been six years and it’s been featured twice on PBS national television and has students on some scholarships.
The entrepreneurship competition at UNT, Claure said, is influenced by her past experience in the field. She herself entered a competition, and now finds herself running one similar to the one she participated in. But this one has a purely musical focus.
“It’s about the whole experience of having to create a plan for yourself,” Claure said. “And getting potential supporters and exposure doesn’t hurt.”
Featured Image: Fabiana Claure, director of career development and entrepreneurship in music, sits in front of a piano. Through this competition, Claude wants to create a movement throughout the College of Music allowing students to take charge of their careers. College is the best time to start a business, Claude said. Jennyfer Rodriguez