Eric Schulman's Entrepreneurial Report

     Approximately one year ago in May of 2003, Jeremy Blum became a co-founder Illusion Montages, a small montage making business run out of his, and his partner Zach Lynn�s, house. They have a business card, brochure, and website, but beyond that they do no advertising, appearing neither in the Yellow Pages nor in newspapers. Illusion Montages makes montages on DVD, essentially slideshows with an option of adding in actual video, for customers throughout Westchester, and have no formal training. However, this comes as a surprise to no one: they are both around fourteen years old and eighth graders at HCC Middle School in Armonk, New York.
      They first became interested in beginning a montage business after making them for their own Bar Mitzvahs, and receiving a request from family friends to do another. As people began seeing the montages at parties, more requests came in, and business took off. In addition to customers who have seen their work first hand, a woman at a party planning business refers additional potential clients. Now, they do montages for Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and birthday parties, and have recently been contacted about the possibility of an anniversary. Although work usually slows down in the summer due to lack of Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, they now have requests for dates months in advance and have been forced to turn away requests. They have never received a complaint, and in fact often get thank you calls, with one montage being so popular that the DJ was requested to show it again for an encore presentation.
      Currently, Illusion Montages has two employees, though there was originally another, and generally work is done at Zach�s house on the weekends. All montages require at least two months notice, with contact usually initiated by the customer after being referred or seeing the work first hand. The next step is a meeting between Jeremy and Zach, usually at Zach�s house, with the potential client, and a sample montage is shown. At this point the customer will give them the pictures to begin work, and inform them of the montage package they would like (see brochure). Additionally, they will inform Jeremy and Zach of any videotaping they would like to have done to be included in the montage, and they will decide upon a convenient time and place to film. A typical montage can take days to prepare, beginning with all of the pictures being scanned onto their computers (Zach uses a desktop, Jeremy and laptop) and edited, for example the removal of redeye and other imperfections, such as in one case a whole person. This alone can take several hours. Then they do the 3-D introductions to the montages with the theme of the party, whether it be someone as a character in a Game Boy game or LEGOs rearranging to form words. This process, called 3-D rendering, creates the special effects of the montage. At some point, any live film or home movies are taped (if necessary) and inserted. Often as is the case, they will not finish everything, and Jeremy will bring home the work on his laptop to finish editing. Fine-tuning is completed after they watch the montage, which is usually only a few minor details, and the DVD is burned for the customer to receive.
      Currently the largest problem facing Jeremy and Zach is that DJ�s like to make money, and therefore do not appreciate Illusion Montages taking away their business. For this reason, DJ�s do not like to show the DVD�s and charge extra for that small service. Additionally, according to Jeremy, the DJ�s equipment is sometimes faulty, and when DJ�s create montages they have less interest then Illusion Montages in making them look good, and therefore their products have a lower quality. Finally, their age can present a problem, mainly because potential customers might first look to a DJ with more experience then them, regardless of quality of work.
      Being that there are only two of them, Jeremy and Zach split the profits fifty-fifty, and almost all of their revenue becomes profit. They have virtually no overhead, with no need to pay rent and owning most of the necessary equipment before the business even began. They both already owned their computers and the cameras used for filming, and as a result have no outstanding loans nor intend to in the foreseeable future. They use a green bed sheet for their green screen (on which a background of their choice is inserted digitally), and so far have had no problems. In fact, the only costs they have are minimal, and include buying blank CD�s and DVD�s and new memory cards, as well as the necessary computer hardware and editing software to make their work go as smoothly as possible. To obtain these, Jeremy and Zach either order over the internet, or whenever possible travel to CompUSA in order to get the products faster. Like their profits, the two members of Illusion Montages split all costs fifty-fifty and have so far avoided any sort of trouble.
      Of course, with a waiting list as large as the total number of montages they have produced at this time, they can only be expecting more success. The montage industry as a whole is not particularly large, with the bulk of the work done by Illusion Montage�s primary competitors, the DJ�s, themselves fairly small. For this reason, Illusion Montages fits into the overall montage making industry quite well, and although they lack the volume of work and experience of other businesses, offer a nice variety of options and make a decent profit. Other competition comes from professional video makers, but they charge in the thousands and charge far more then Illusion Montages to do video shoots at a variety of locations. For this reason, Jeremy attributes their success to their high production quality and low prices, which undercut competition.
      In the near future, Illusion Montages has possible plans to buy a professional camera to make their montages even better. Other than that, they plan to keep doing what they are doing, as it has proven successful thus far. In the long term, they are considering obtaining equipment to show the montages themselves rather than having to rely on the goodwill of DJ�s and to save their customers money, but this will not occur in the immediate future. Most importantly, they hope to remain in business until at least the end of high school. In four years, Jeremy sees the business thriving, with possibly more employees and of course more projects, and in ten does not know if Illusion Montages will exist. He hopes that even should this happen and the business end, that he will be able to continue montages as a hobby, and this reporter for one wishes him and his business the best of luck.

Blum, Jeremy. Interview. March 28, 2004.
�Collages and Montages.�////www.collagesandmontages.com]. March 30, 2004.
�Marcella�s Classic Montages//p://marcellas-montages.com/scrapbook2/montage1.html 3/2/04]. March 30, 2004.