Cameron Ungar is the President of Stylehawk Event Services, a Southern California-based company specializing in event and venue management. Businessing Magazine sat down with Cameron to find out more about the event services industry and the niche that his company fills. We also wanted to know more about his particular approach to business and entrepreneurship and how he has made Stylehawk a successful endeavor.
You worked in event operations for many years before opening Stylehawk. What made you want to make the leap into business ownership?
I think I have always had an entrepreneurial motor. Prior to finding myself in event and venue management, I worked as a mortgage professional. As an independent contractor, I learned how to build a service-based business and I really came to appreciate the direct connection between hard work and success. I carried this background with me to Long Beach State where I filled both an operational and revenue-producing role. The revenue production side of what I did at Long Beach State was something I thought I could help replicate at other venues—especially those without the infrastructure and staff to support revenue-generating opportunities.
In working with hundreds of events over the years, I noticed that many talented event producers sometimes failed to realize true event success because their time and energies were focused on event operations and logistics, rather than the revenue-producing activities that would help them achieve their goals. Because of my unique skill set and expertise, I really believed that there was an opportunity for me to help event producers focus on the components of their event that define success. I also saw a need for a company that could assist great event facilities in filling “dark days” with events.
How is event management different from event planning?
I define event management as the coordination and oversight of foundational-level services that ensure a safe and efficient event environment. It includes tasks like venue sourcing, space planning, event timeline development, safety and security planning, and event permitting and insurance support. When event management is done properly, it is essentially invisible. Neither event management or event planning exist in a vacuum. There is overlap, but event planning has a sharper focus on event content. The event manager sets the stage for the event planner.
How is Stylehawk filling a void in the marketplace?
Small to mid-sized event venues are in great demand, as most events do not require mega-venues. With that, small venues often do not have the staff to convert the incoming event inquiries into actual events. Similarly, many of the event producers working in the smaller buildings do not have the resources to split their attention between operations and planning needs.
In the venue management world, the calendar is a perishable resource. Every “dark night” is a lost revenue opportunity. By joining the Stylehawk venue network, facilities are able to pursue these opportunities without cost. Stylehawk affords venues the opportunity to employ venue professionals who understand the venue and operational side of event production. Similarly, event producers are able to outsource the non-revenue producing responsibilities to experienced professionals. Because Stylehawk has developed relationships with venues and service providers, event producers typically experience net cost savings.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about opening a business of their own, either in event services, or just in general?
I spent many years thinking about what made me successful as an event professional. I came to the realization that I have a particular skill set and knowledge base. My recommendation for anyone looking to start their own business is to go through a similar process of introspection. What particular skill do you have, and what is its value to prospective clients? Be honest in that self-evaluation, and then don’t rest on it—seek opportunities to further develop your skills.
On your website, you list Stylehawk’s core values as “Honesty, Integrity, Knowledge, Organization, and Community.” How do those things shape how you run your business?
As a service-based business, I see my staff and myself as the product we are ultimately selling. The development of the core values is really a way to keep focused on the things that make us, us. I believe that if we do right by people, the business will take care of itself. I also believe that we have a responsibility to support our community and to seek daily learning opportunities. Ultimately, I want my kids to be proud of me as a man, and I want to leave a business legacy they can be proud of.
To find out more about Stylehawk Event Services, visit their website at http://www.stylehawkevents.com/.