At the start of 2002, Chris Lavidas felt a fire light beneath him.
“The fire hit me,” the recent Roosevelt University graduate said.
The “fire” Lavidas, 22, refers to is the entrepreneurial motivation that inspired him as a college sophomore majoring in business. The motivation pushed him to expand his love of drumming into something more profitable and helpful to the surrounding drumming community.
“Drumming was always a huge passion of mine, so I was actively playing a lot the first couple years of college,” Lavidas said. “I thought to myself, ‘I want to do a little bit more than playing drums, I want to turn this into business. I came up with the idea of producing videos that would feature my best playing.”
After initially deciding to show his videos only to friends and family, Lavidas had some help seeing what they could become.
“One of my friends said, ‘Why don’t you find a target market and sell this?’ So that’s where [my business] really began,” Lavidas said.
After starting out with a performance level video for his Breaking Grounds in Drumming business in early 2003, Lavidas wanted to expand its services. He decided to produce beginning, intermediate and advanced level instructional videos.
“These videos reached out to everyone, regardless of their style or how much experience they have,” said Lavidas, who began playing drums when he was 15 years old. Also assisting video sales was the recruitment of drum students.
“I really had to promote and advertise in magazines and put my cards on display in music stores, where I generated a lot of students,” Lavidas said. “The first two months were rough and I was actually calling some people. But I had a group of students who were impressed with me, and it was all word-of-mouth promotion after that.”
Lavidas also realized the importance of relationships when starting the business. “I built a lot of strong relations with people who worked at Guitar Center, which helped because when it came time for a customer looking for drum classes, they would refer me,” he said. “We have a mutual relationship now, because I recommend my students to go there to buy equipment.”
While at Roosevelt, Lavidas brought his love for entrepreneurship to fellow students. In 2004 he founded the student group Breaking Grounds in Business, which he started with the intent to “educate and inform students on entrepreneurial aspects, to take dreams and form them into reality.”
Lavidas’ company was just starting to really take off at this time, and he wanted to share ideas with fellow students. Now a group that boasts over 50 students, Lavidas will be continuing with it next year as the alumni advisor. He hopes to see Breaking Grounds in Business expand from Roosevelt to neighboring Chicago universities Loyola and DePaul at some point in the future. Lavidas also co-founded another student entrepreneurship group called Live, Lead and Thrive.
“[The group] kind of branched off into leadership [training] and we get motivated students together and feed off each other,” he said. “Most of the business knowledge I’ve gotten is through involvement.”
Lavidas will soon be recruiting some of his students to assist in teaching.
“At some point, I look to leverage [the business] by hiring some of my motivated and focused students to help teach,” he said. “My primary passion is drums, and I do want to take this to the next level. Eventually, I want to produce more products, and open up my own drumming schools, and possibly even broaden that with music schools. I would like to even have a store within the school with my own products and making this as big as possible.”
In addition to pursuing his drumming business passion, Lavidas is a certified insurance salesman, and he has further plans to obtain a brokerage securities license. His biggest concern right now is trying to balance time for both of those careers.
“I really want to work hard at both industries during the early stages to help establish myself at a young age,” said Lavidas. “Five years from now, I see myself having my own [financial services] practice, as well as devising a plan to build drumming schools around the community.”
For more information, visit Breaking Grounds in Drumming.
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