Invisible Cafe Graphics is essentially a small advertising firm start up with ambitions to serve the educational and creative performing arts community in the metro Boston area. At this stage of the business plan, the preliminary idea is to create a basis for the firm through an arts and entertainment program system similar to Playbill in New York.
Because this is a small scale operation that is growing from a one person business to a small creative firm in its first year of existence, the planning and development of the “firm” is largely seen at this point as mythical. Thus the reason for the title Invisible Cafe Graphics. The scale and scope of the future business is difficult to determine at this time.
Currently, the launch of Encore, a playbill program is considered the most likely avenue for the company. While the concept is pretty sharp- create an advertising platform that is similar to the NYC Playbill for the New England region. Though the shifting sands of the mobile media make determining the income possible from such an enterprise difficult, I am in search of the better on the ground marketing metrics available to small businesses in Boston. I chose the project Encore because at least it is a kind of publication I have some knowledge about, and because in the past decade there has been an explosion of new small businesses and restaurants in the city of Boston. There is plenty of room for skepticism.
First. Because there are scores of small design firms in Boston who would love to create something like the Encore Program, one has to wonder why something like this hasn’t been tried already. Well, in actuality, there was a rather impressive attempt at a publication like Encore in New England over a decade ago. It was called Proscenium. As far as I can tell the reason for its failure was that at the time, there weren’t enough businesses or small arts organizations to support its program model, or the Canadian publishing firm that launched the program didn’t feel the market was lucrative enough to make it worth pursuing.
How Big is the New England Market?
The combined pressure of high advertising rates and business expenses in Boston allow me to feel pretty confident a number of creative arts organizations are pretty desperate to get their message out for a lower cost allowing me to establish Encore accounts in the New England area, but I don’t have the faintest about how to quantify the marketing metrics with any accuracy. My intent would be to establish Invisible Cafe Graphics in early 2017, and begin the serious work of creating Encore by 2017.
What kind of an business or non-profit can Invisible Cafe Advertising be? The founder has mixed feelings about this. The original idea would be that the programming service for Encore would be established as a non-profit wing of Invisible Cafe Advertising, to operate in order to provide free graphic design program services to arts groups. One of the main problems that I need to solve is whether the project can sustain itself on such a model, or if Encore will have to be a subscription membership. Since there is not a local group doing the same thing as Encore, I’d have to establish realistic numbers for the advertising revenue, and launch the publication at the same time. There is considerable risk in this venture, but looking at the landscape, their could be rather unexpected rewards in advertising revenue.
What is needed to start Encore?
In the very beginning of the project Invisible Cafe Advertising will by necessity be a business run out of the founder’s residence. The components needed for a full design studio at this time are: 1 i-Mac, 1 PC, Adobe Design Suite software, Intuos Tablet Monitors, and Microsoft Office software, large format printer, high resolution scanner, Nikon camera system with studio lighting. Cintiq 27HD Creative Pen and Touch Displays. Presently I own the software, a PC, Nikon photo system, lighting, large format printer. The opening wish list will be a souped up Mac with Cintiq tablet, a second camera Nikon D750 that records video and imagery.
While all this equipment could fit well into my apartment, there has to at some point and time, the exploration of finding a studio space that could serve a small team of people. I do not envision the “firm” becoming any larger than 6 people in order to stay competitive. The prospect of gaining an office near the theater district in Boston would be the most logical location, but given the astronomical costs of real estate, even a hole in the wall would seem difficult to obtain.
Besides the Studio equipment a major expense will be to develop an online server situation that allows seamless communication with the clients to upload their program materials. Essentially the majority of the program remains the same for all clients except for custom material that relates to their individual productions. There would be a number of standard sections on fashion,dining, and profiles of artists. The critical part of making this work is to make it easy for both businesses and arts groups to participate. The website needs to be database backed and offer industry standard graphics communication.
Main Project Areas:
Logo Identity design for small businesses, Print Programs for Performing Arts, Web streamed video interviews.
Editor in Chief, Accounts Manager, Marketing Assistant, Graphic Designer, Photographer, Web Designer. Operations Manager.
S E R V I C E S:
Event Program Design
Retail Graphics / Menues
Portraits (Artist headshots)
INTERACTIVE: In House Only for our operations.
Social Media Up front on the website is the way to communicate with FB, Twitter, Pinterest, or Email.
Associations and Professional Organizations:
Adobe Design Examples: https://www.behance.net/invisiblecafe
AIGA: Events: http://boston.aiga.org/upcoming-events/