Set-up: 2009 | Y1 Turnover: £280k | 2016 Turnover: £4.1m
What does your company do, and what’s your USP?
Incognito Artists is an innovative entertainment company that offers ‘surprise? and highly creative performances by West End, Broadway and Opera superstars at parties and events around the world. We were the first company of our kind in London and we and our clients think we?re the best!
We also created Amici Forever, the world’s first opera band doing pop and classical music melded together, and we sold over 3.5 million albums around the world. I think all this experience gives us gravitas and a real knowledge and love of how live music can touch, move and inspire people. That’s our reason for being.
My eldest sister Julie died when I was 21 living in London and I realised life is too short. She inspired me to follow my dreams. I quit banking, moved to the US and enrolled in the prestigious Boston Conservatory to become a professional singer. After I finished in Boston, I moved to London to work in the West End to be with my girlfriend (now wife) Simone and pursue my career.
I grew tired of treading the boards and waiting for my big break and realised ?if it is to be, it’s up to me?. I created my own entertainment company employing awesome people that I want to work with and using my financial training as a Chartered Accountant to make serious money.
No one was doing our kind of entertainment in the UK and most definitely no one was performing ?incognito? in various guises bespoke for each event. We spotted a gap in the market 12 years ago and it’s been a ton of fun ever since.
How was your first year of trading?
Forging a path as a West End performer gave me plenty of life lessons in perseverance and honing my intuition. I was also fortunate that my training as a Chartered Accountant meant that I had a good understanding of the ?business of business? as well as the creative ideas for Incognito Artists ? it is the combination of the two that stood us in good stead in the early days ensuring that we could manage the growth of the company without compromising on the quality of our proposition.
In our first year we sang at Elton John’s White Tie and Tiara Ball and that was a real eye opener. The glitz, the glamour, the fun behind the scenes… I?ll never forget it. I feel very blessed.
How did you build up company after year one?
I?d love to say each stage has been planned to perfection but so much of running a small business is organic and I go with my gut instincts. I set up the business with my wife Simone, we have a Board and we set the agenda for where we want to go and how we?re going to get there every year.
We’ve introduced new Acts, new concepts and innovations over the past ten years as it’s important to constantly develop and grow – if you?re not growing, you?re dead.
We are fortunate that the nature of what we do enables us to embrace the full gamut of entertainment and there are plenty of plans afoot to further diversify our offering and to embrace new styles of performance, from magic to Cirque de Soleil-style acrobatics ? the sky’s the limit!
What lessons would you pass onto other entrepreneurs just starting out?
The number one lesson is that most important quality is persistence, persistence, and persistence.
Secondly, have 15 reasons why you want to do it, not just ?I want to be my own boss?, because when things get tough and they will, you want to be able to revisit your reasons for doing it and why.
Also, make sure you have a real passion for what you choose to do. If you don’t love it, forget it.
Finally, cash flow is king!
I respect people who make their dreams a reality and make a positive difference to others along the way. Talent and creativity inspires me but mixing talent with a real head for business and translating that into meeting a global need motivates and excites me.