Turning a Social Movement into a Business

To celebrate entrepreneurs and all the hard work they do, we’ll be featuring a Kauffman FastTrac graduate every month. Meet the people who once were in your shoes and learn how FastTrac can help a variety of people looking to start their own business.

Innovation can come from anywhere and anything. Imagine the creative freedom of being a performer, but struggling to put on a show without a record deal or the money to power an entire concert. AY Young’s path to entrepreneurship began here: no platform for his music, and no electricity to give off the full effect of a live music performance.

“I want it to be like when you walk into the Riot Room,” AY said. “I want it to feel like a concert.”

But with no money, no fans, and no backing, AY had to get creative. After discovering the sustainable use of car batteries, AY took to the streets of Kansas City, most notably the Crossroads and the Country Club Plaza, and put on his live performance, eventually earning the name The Battery Tour. He said he wanted to go where the people were at, so he could build a business through entertainment that would connect and get the world plugged in.

The Battery Tour consists of AY’s original songs, as well as popular covers. And since it’s an all ages show, kids dance to the Cha Cha slide and do the macarena, while other audience members try their hand at singing. It’s an interactive dance party, with the atmosphere of a live concert.

AY has traveled America, inviting thousands more across the nation to become Outlets (how he refers to the fans). While out on the road, AY said people would tell him that what he was doing was sustainable, environmentally friendly, and provided a platform for people to express themselves. The positive reaction got AY thinking: what happens to it when he’s gone?

AY enrolled in FastTrac when he got back to Kansas City.

“My whole life changed because of FastTrac,” AY said. “I think the most useful part of FastTrac for me, just personally, is just learning the appropriate way to build a business, learning how to scale one, learning what is highly scaleable, what may not be, the difference between a lifestyle business, just the differences and how to construct something, right? Construct a company and maybe even things like recognizing who to work with and who to partner with, what to look for in a partner, what to look for in a co-founder, what a founder is, like having those definitions that I never understood but I was doing business is really great. You have your measuring stick and now you won’t make some of those problems, and you won’t have some of those falls. Hopefully you can … You can still fail fast. One thing that I learned in FastTrack is to fail fast. That is okay. To fail fast, because you learn, you can apply, and adjust.”

The philosophy of the Battery Tour is all inclusive: for, by, and with the people. That’s why AY calls his fans “outlets”: “I’m like, ‘I’m AY and this is the Battery Tour,’ because there’s batteries. It just came out like, at a show, right? People would donate and donate and donate and things like that, and then some guy was just like, ‘Man, we’re your outlets. We’re powering the Battery Tour.’”

Community is what the Battery Tour is all about. And just like with AY’s Outlets, the entrepreneurial community can also help you succeed in your business. For AY, that just means you give back. Talking about his experience at a 1 Million Cups meeting, AY said it’s important to connect to other entrepreneurs, but while your connecting, you should support them as well. AY shared an experience he had at one particular meeting during which he saw a presenter talking about her yoga studio. Afterwards, he bought a yoga membership from her.

“Pay your dues, I guess, right?” he said. “Go pay that thirty dollar yoga membership thing and create a relationship with this entrepreneur or that business or that T-shirt company or whatever. I strive to do that in both, whether it’s music, or being an entrepreneur.”

As AY creates his social music movement, as he calls it, the business side of things allows him to cultivate a sustainable culture that supports artists and musicians and anyone wanting to join the scene, whether its through dance or song and simply being there.

It all started with a simple question: how to create a live outdoor concert experience without the money to do so? FastTrac can help you take an idea and turn into something potentially profitable, and possibly, something beyond that.

“It’s just kind of more than just the social music part and the live performance,” AY said. “It’s almost just like a family, right, of outlets that power each other. It’s really beautiful.”