Business, Central New York, Consumer, Education, Feature, Technology

Syracuse Entrepreneurs Gear Up for Cross-Country Endeavor

By Matt Kaufax SYRACUSE (NCC News) – At last week’s Blackstone Launchpad initiative at Bird Library in Syracuse, Erin Miller, Syracuse University senior and entrepreneur, spoke to an eager panel of students, professors, and business people about her very own startup, Out There Productions.  Needless to say, the summary she gave of the group’s accomplishments was more than impressive.

Out There Productions, co-founded by Miller and two other graduating seniors, creates explainer videos for startup pitches, application videos for competitions, and promotional videos to increase firms’ popularity.  The aim of the group is to promote their own videos by helping up-and-coming entrepreneurs realize and pursue their passions.

In addition to being recognized by Blackstone and SU as one of leading student startups with a vast amount of potential, the three students raised an impressive $9,500 on Indiegogo a couple months ago. But they didn’t stop there.

Recently, the group flat out won in the Products and Services category of Compete CNY, the local round of NYEPC–the New York State business competition, and brought home another $6,500 for their company.  They are poised to continue advancing, and to win other local competitions as well.

What makes Out There Productions so special though?  We’ve already seen success on the corporate level, with companies like Khan Academy that have massive outreach and have mastered the explainer video.  Why should three 22-year-olds with some bright ideas and young careers be taken just as seriously?

Perhaps another co-founder, Johnny Rosa, has the answer.

“We come in and we connect with people,” says Rosa, emphasizing that it’s just more to him than creating a good explainer video for a particular product.  “We’re trying to make advertising human again.  It’s not me wanting to create an explainer video.  It’s the medium through which I wanna do it and the way I’ll be doing it.  By interacting with people and helping them live their passion.”

Rosa says that Out There’s more personalized touch is what distinguishes them above all else.

“We like to say that our advantage is that we literally come down and work next door to the people who we’re working with,” he explains.  But what exactly does that mean?

Here’s where it gets interesting.

Of the $9,500 raised by the initial Indiegogo campaign, about $6,000 of that money, according to Rosa, was spent on acquiring a new headquarters for the team to operate out of: a customized yellow school bus.

A school bus to renovate for living purposes—otherwise known as a skoolie.  The Out There team plans to travel across the country in their skoolie, all the while promoting their explainers and helping entrepreneurs make their dreams a reality.

The money left over from the Indiegogo, combined with the money the group has accrued from winning other business competitions, will be used to refurbish the inside of the bus.

The group had the company they bought the bus from take out all the seats.  They now have five Syracuse architecture students, along with a couple professional mechanics, helping them design the perfect interior for their makeshift RV paradise.

“We’re gonna fix up the bus over the next three weeks and then we’re going to take it across the country to Los Angeles, where we’re going to start on the road” says Rosa.  “We’re going to start in LA and then go counter-clockwise across the country, hitting cities like Houston, New Orleans, and Syracuse of course.  Then we’ll circle back around west and head up to places like Portland and Seattle.”

“Syracuse has been good to us,” Rosa reflects.  In regard to the Out There crew’s success, Rosa is modest and extremely grateful.  “It’s still pretty surreal,” he marvels.  “There’s so much opportunity to learn how to and then to achieve all these things that we’ve been doing.  We’re not the first ones, and we certainly won’t be the last.”