Sam KrallApril 17, 2010
Eastman Senior Sam Krall, a dual performance major in Voice and Classical Guitar and an Arts Leadership Program participant, won the Kauffman Foundation’s New Venture Challenge as a freshman with a savvy business plan to provide discounted concert attire to incoming conservatory students. In the interview that follows, Sam discusses the evolution of the business through his four years at Eastman, and the importance of entrepreneurship as he sets off to create a career in the contemporary music world. To learn more about Sam’s concert attire business, please visit http://concertformalwear.com/eastman.html.
Sam, you won the Kauffman Foundation’s New Venture Challenge as a freshman in 2006 – congratulations! Could you please describe what your new venture idea was at the time?
I vividly remember wishing that Eastman had an offer for purchasing our required performance wear. Learning of the New Venture Challenge inspired me to create an offer myself. I reasoned that I could purchase a bulk of tuxedos at a discounted rate and sell them directly to students (at a lower price than most competitors). I spent time surveying students to gather a rough estimate of how many would take my offer. From there, I contacted several wholesalers to negotiate the best price on a bulk purchase that would yield the most profit for me.
By the time the idea was presented in the finals, I had selected a wholesaler and established a system for sending order forms and offer notifications through the admissions office and student life office to incoming students prior to the start of the school year. After receiving student orders, I planned to place a bulk order to the wholesaler and receive it at my home address where I would organize all the orders and do a bulk shipment to the Eastman School where the tuxedos would be distributed during orientation week.
Since then, how has your venture evolved?
I work with a new wholesaler who has created an entire website based off of my venture. The site, , allows for a variety of purchasing options for students, as well as great ease of use. The most recent development has been designing specific links within the Concert Formal Wear website for specific schools. Now, Eastman students can go to to look at options tailored specifically for the Eastman performance wear requirements. This model can be adapted to any organization, and currently services the University of Southern California and the Cleveland Institute of Music. In addition to expanding to other schools, we hope to venture into women’s performance wear.
This evolution has also made my role substantially easier. I coordinate with schools and help with ideas to improve the website, but all the technical changes and handling of sales is done by the wholesaler. I simply receive a commission for everything sold.
What have you learned through extending and promoting your business model?
Having an idea that can evolve with the needs of the persons it aims to serve is key. Also, personally, one has to be able to adapt. I have frequently found myself assuming situations will go one way, but then the needs of the customers prove to be different. My adaptability is why the venture has become what it is today. Adaptability has not only allowed for better servicing for Eastman students, but for expansion to other schools and organizations.
What do you believe to be the importance of entrepreneurial thinking in the contemporary music world?
Entrepreneurial thinking benefits every aspect of the contemporary music world. The entrepreneurial state of being opportunity-obsessed should fill every musician in their search for a career. Entrepreneurship will stand as the backbone of audience expansion. Finding new audiences means finding new methods, being innovative, and not conforming to what already exists. The entrepreneurs who will expand future audiences will in turn create more career opportunities in the music world. Entrepreneurship is a way of thinking that embodies a drive for success. In the sometimes overwhelming task of making a profession out of music, entrepreneurial thinking will play a key role.
How do you feel your involvement in the Arts Leadership Program and the Institute for Music Leadership has influenced you and helped prepare you for a career in music?
My eyes have been opened to the variety of career possibilities in the classical music world. My eyes have also been opened to the varieties of issues that the classical music world faces, and my passion to address those issues has been fueled. Not only has innovation been spurred by my involvement in the program, but I have also built a foundation on how to practically apply that innovation.
What do you envision yourself doing after graduating from Eastman this spring?
I have very large goals that I know can’t be attained right out of my undergraduate. So, right now I’m applying to several different jobs and programs and plan on making an educated decision on what is the best next to step to reach my larger goals. I am primarily looking into positions that will build universal skill sets that I can transfer to any career path.
Sam Krall – Biography
Sam Krall will complete his undergraduate studies at the Eastman School of Music in May of 2010 with dual performance degrees in Voice and Classical Guitar as well as the Arts Leadership Certificate. Early in his freshman year, Sam recognized a need for the large number of incoming students to procure performance wear easily and inexpensively. That same year he created a business model to offer discounted performance wear for new Eastman students. The idea has evolved into a fully functional venture that not only offers excellent price in performance wear but is serviced through a website designed specifically for ease of use by Eastman students. Sam has begun promoting this venture to other schools and currently uses the same model to benefit the University of Southern California and the Cleveland Institute of Music.
As a singer, Sam has performed roles in the Eastman Opera Productions of Les Mamelles de Tiresias, Cabaret and The Secret Garden. He is the current bass soloist at Asbury First United Methodist Church. As a guitarist, Sam has performed classical recitals and played a variety of engagements including classical, jazz, bluegrass and rock in the Rochester, Central Pennsylvania and Philadelphia areas. He has been an intern with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra Development Department since the summer of 2009 and currently is involved in launching an organization of young professionals, not limited to musicians, who are interested in bolstering the arts in the community.
A 2006 winner of the Kauffman Foundation’s New Venture Challenge, Sam hopes, ultimately, to help broaden the classical music audience and create more career opportunities for classical musicians. At Eastman, he has participated in consultations and focus groups with Eastman staff and students, administrators of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra as well as visitors from the Kauffman Foundation and the New England Conservatory focusing on the needs of today’s music majors. Sam plans to be involved in helping other institutions follow the example of Eastman’s groundbreaking Institute for Music Leadership in more effectively addressing the needs of the next generation of classical musicians.