Starting a business takes a lot of hard work, difficult-decision making, confidence, and even a bit of luck. Even with this being said, it is important to have the right people around you when attempting to launch a new venture (or expand upon an existent one) so that your funding and marketing goals can be met. In my experience, angels and sponsors are one of the best tools that an aspiring businessperson can use to take their operation to the next level.
The story of my work with angel investors begins about 18 years ago at Shaker Country Club in Shaker Heights, OH. Around this time I began performing magic at the Visconsi family’s annual Christmas party, which they held at SCC. I was introduced to the family by my Aunt Chris and Uncle Dave, who were friends with Nicole Mauby (Dominic Visconsi’s daughter). After performing for the family once during the party, they decided to hire me to do some close-up/walk around magic at the celebration each year. After about five years of working at the family’s party, Mr. Visconsi began asking me if there was anything he could do to help me with my business. After a couple years of declining this kind offer, I mentioned to him that I could probably use some new illusions and a new website to keep myself on the cutting edge. He told me to meet him at his office.
Mr. Visconsi, a retail developer in the city of Cleveland, had been partners with Dick Jacobs and was a co-owner of Jacob’s Field (the Cleveland Indians’ stadium) in the early 2000’s. Fortunately for me, this gracious and successful businessman believed in me enough to buy in as an angel investor for my business. His assistance allowed me to purchase some new illusions, a new website, advertisements in widely-read magazines, new lighting equipment, etc. Even with all of this generosity, Dominic Visconsi only wished that my ambitions be realized and that I not forget about him if they did. Unsurprisingly considering his selflessness, I have not forgotten.
When I was asked to be a contestant on Shark Tank around five years ago, the show would only provide a ticket and hotel room for me as the contestant but not my crew. Unfortunately, I would need 5 of them to accompany me, which would rack up about $10,000 of costs that I would have to take care of. Because of the risk that I might not make it to the TV screen (even after being chosen for the show), it would be difficult to justify going and paying such a large sum to do so. In an incredible act of kindness, Mr. Visconsi offered to pay for the tickets with no strings attached – so long as my team kept doing what we were doing.
I can never thank Dominic Visconsi enough for the generous gifts that he has provided to my business, but I hope he knows how much I appreciate his believing in me. I hope to one day live by his example and give someone what they truly need to achieve their dreams in life.
Another incredibly giving person with whom I was lucky to cross paths was Allen Haire, the CEO of Enerco. My partnership with Mr. Haire begun around 12 years ago when I met him and his wife Cynthia at a local club, Pickwick and Frolic. It wasn’t long before I became very close friends with Allen, who was actually an amateur magician himself! We would share tricks and perform at dinner parties together, which was a blessing in and of itself.
Al’s position as an angel investor in my business came into being more recently as I founded Magic Gives Back, the branch of my company that performs for school fundraisers. He not only gave us sponsorship money to get this project started, but he also introduced me to another show sponsor, Jim Milano. Jim runs Milano Monuments professionally, but he is also interested in bettering the lives of families – he helped me get Magic Gives Back off of the ground, which allowed us to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for schools.
All three of these people have had an enormous impact on my life and business, and for this I am eternally grateful. If I have learned one thing from working with these generous businessmen, it is that generosity is contagious – being around them and being lucky enough to have their help was, in part, the reason I founded MGB in an effort to improve the lives of others. Dominic, Al, and Jim, thank you so much for all you have done!