Aaron Benay and his brother Matthew have sold screenplays to Miramax, Warner Brothers, Universal Studios, Sony, and Fox. And what do they have to show for it? Credits and some cash, but no lasting assets. “As a screenwriter, you sell your ideas and give up ownership in those projects. We wanted to create a way that we could retain ownership and creative control in those products, and not just write the scripts and move on.” The Benays' latest brainchild: Sovereign Studios. Usually, film studios own the rights to screenwriters' creative concepts. They may license the ideas to companies that create related merchandise – or they may sit on them. “Our company,” Aaron explains, “will develop intellectual property from the concepts that we've been selling and allow us to put it into some sort of tangible form that we can leverage across multiple content platforms — film, television, video games, comic books, graphic novels, licensing, and merchandise.” Most people have ideas in the course of their lives that they never act on because they don't know how to. “To some degree that applied to us,” Aaron admits, but Wicked Start “has definitely helped us realize our idea as an actual, viable business. A lot of people in my situation know their business really well but don't necessarily know how to start a company or make financial projections or even write a business plan.... Wicked Start’s Road Map really pushed us to think about our business and look at ways that we can expand and grow the idea, such as thinking in terms of adding more "verticals" – how to add publishing, children's television shows, or making small films ourselves.”
The Wicked Start Road Map really pushed us to look at ways we can expand and grow the idea. The language of investors is a different language than I speak in my industry.
The Benays are writing their business plan, with the goal of taking it to investors. “The language that investors speak,” Aaron says, “is a different language than I speak in my industry: angel investors or venture-capital firms.... Wicked Start helped us think about financial projections or return on investment, and even something as simple as how to structure the investment. Without Wicked Start, I wouldn't know where to begin.” It's easy to make mistakes early on, Aaron warns, and Wicked Start has prevented him and his brother from making those mistakes by presenting them with more information. “For example, since I'm a novice in this area, I may think I don't want to take out a loan, I don't want a debt – but that may not the best option. After going through Launch Pad’s action items, I read about the potential benefits of convertible debt.” Wicked Start helped the Benays rethink their dreams in the context of creating a business. “What's impressive to me about Bryan [Janeczko, founder of Wicked Start] is that it his advice is based on his experience. He's not someone who teaches without real-world experience, like some motivators. His success as an entrepreneur differentiates him – along with his infectious enthusiasm for entrepreneurship.” Aaron is looking forward to being the owner not only of his own business, but of his own ideas. “What's interesting is that it's nothing that we haven't done before, but we're going to be doing it for ourselves.”