Two entrepreneurs who strive to empower artists visited The Garage Thursday to speak about their “ARTrepreneurialism” experiences. A small but enthusiastic crowd of Northwestern students and non-Northwestern guests gathered to hear from the founder of Abstract Management, a new business and artist management firm, and the founder of Bondfire, an app that partners with venues to hold intimate on-demand meetings between artists and fans.
“When you’re on a tour as an artist the last thing you want to worry about is whether your rent’s paid,” Abstract Management founder Eddie Sikazwe said. “We’re able to basically handle an artist’s whole financial structure,” he explained. He said the company does work ranging from tax returns and staff payrolls to helping artists build network.
Sikazwe also described how he stumbled upon his startup journey. Earlier this year, he was working at KPMG, one of the big four accounting firms.
“Best decision ever made,” Sikazwe said, regarding his decision to start Abstract Management. “I always dreamed of doing this but I never thought I’d actually do it."
“Every up-and-coming artist is just looking ‘how can I make a full time salary while doing what I love?’” Asim Zaidi, a student at University of Illinois at Chicago and the founder of Bondfire, said. “We’re empowering artists in creating shared experiences."
Despite his student status, Zaidi has already managed two startups and explored connections with startup accelerators, such as Future Founders, since high school.
“I’ve always found joy in having an idea and creating something,” he said. “I’m always doing side projects and hackathons. My laptop has thirty different hackathon stickers on it."
Sikazwe and Zaidi spoke about the lessons they have learned along their “ARTrepreneurial” path as well.
“When I was a kid in high school, junior high, I always thought musicians were like, special breeds of humans,” Sikazwe said. “But I realized– it sounds silly, but they’re just people too."
A few of the artists who work with the two entrepreneurs were present at the event.
“Eddie’s been helping me understand the business side,” DJ King Marie said. “I’ve also realized that as an artist you need a team to succeed, so it’s been beneficial for him to step in and help me with the things he’s good at,” she said.
She also expressed her passion for music: “I love it. I wouldn’t trade my life for the world,” she said.