It seems to be a common misconception that business is dreary, monotonous, and boring. All the men dress the same, and there is no creative outlet for anyone outside of spreadsheets and casual Fridays. In Denver, small business is not just about the everyday and the expected. Denver has an incredibly cultural variety of artists, performers, and yes, even businesses! So, as I continue my profiles of small businesses in Denver, I thought I would go straight to the source.
I recently spoke with the owner of the Bovine Metropolis Theater here in Denver (1527 Champa Street, Denver, CO) because I have laughed myself to tears there on many occasions, and I have also taken some classes there to get a little of the "improv spice." I set this profile up in much the same way as the first one, so shall we move on?
Business Name: Bovine Metropolis Theater
Owner(s): Eric Farone, Denise Maes
Year Business Started:1997
# of Employees: 3 Full Time / 4 Part Time
More Information Phone: 303-758-4722
More Information E-Mail: info@BovineMetropolis.com
What type of Industry were you in before opening the Bovine Metropolis Theater? Denise and I were both corporate trainers. I was at USWest and she was at Merrill Lynch.
What made you choose this Industry? Simply stated, It was a choice of passions. Improvisational theater is my passion and Denise has always wanted to run her own business so this was a perfect fit for both of us.
What does your business offer the public? We offer improv and sketch comedy shows 5-6 nights a week. We are the largest teacher of improv classes in the region, and we also have training workshops for corporate clients. The workshops include classes, corporate training and entertainment.
How, if at all, has the "downturn" affected your business? Actually, we have seen an increase across all three of our main profit centers. A big part of that could be because our ticket prices are ridiculously cheap. We offer live comedy for anywhere between $7 and $16 depending on the show. Our classes are perfect for people who are looking to stretch themselves and improve themselves. They teach people how to connect and how to move into the unknown gracefully, and with this economy that is a skill that we all should possess. As to be expected, our corporate training has seen the smallest amount of growth. Many companies have cut out things like soft skills development and entertainment. Just because they cut down on it doesn't mean it has gone away, though. Where we have an advantage is that for comedy we are always entertaining and always professional at a very competitive rate.
Have you had to put anything into place to keep your doors open during this time? Or, in essence, how are you getting through? The way we are getting through this downturn is being aggressive on the social media front. We have used Groupon and Living Social to get deals out to potential new customers. We find that the tech savvy early adapter is a part of our target demographic and therefore these social media offerings are hitting a market that we are trying to reach.
What separates your business from other Denver businesses in the same or similar Industry? The main thing I would say separates us is our community. We are about training, developing, performing and getting people passionate about this art form. There are other theaters that offer improv, and there are other places that teach improv, but we have it all under one roof. Because of this, people tend to stay around and feel a connection with the place.
What would you say is the best part about being a small business owner? We can turn on a dime. If we have an idea it can become a reality in just a matter of weeks. We can do what we think is best for the business and do it quickly. If something is not working we can end it quickly too. Being the owners, it allows us to make those quick decisions that are necessary without having to go through all of the tie-ups that come with normal, larger businesses.
And the worst? There is a false sense of security that comes with a regular paycheck that I miss.
Do you have any big plans for the Bovine coming in 2010? Yes! We are celebrating 10 years at our current space. We are going to have impromptu parties and celebrations all year. We will tweet special offers and just have a blast. If you want to find us on Twitter, it's really easy: twitter.com/BovineMetro
Lastly, what advice would you give to an aspiring small business owner? Take small steps and make small mistakes at the beginning. If something catches fire that was originally a small part of your business plan, forget the plan and fan the fire.
The Bovine Metropolis Theater is a theater located in Downtown Denver (1527 Champa Street) and it provides a wide variety of improvisational theater shows from local shows to national traveling performers. For those of you not familiar with just what improvisational theater is, the easiest reference would be Saturday Night Live. In this case, it truly is live, just a few feet in front of you, and nobody knows what will happen from moment to moment.
It's not only important that small business owners support each other, but on top of that, it is even more important for people to support the arts, and this is a business that offers both. It is a Denver small business and it is definitely an art.