A University of Dayton graduate’s recent startup event entertainment company has found success in the Miami Valley region.
Focusing on special events like weddings, formals and corporate and holiday parties, Jay Nigro continues to apply his UD experiences directly to his business, Liftoff Entertainment. The company provides a photo booth and a disc jockey for events.
After receiving his undergraduate degree in 2006, Nigro traveled with a marketing company for three years. On the road 210 days out of the year in some cases, he said he felt the need to try something new.
“That got a little old and I was looking for a change of pace,” he said.
After enrolling in UD’s MBA program, Nigro created Liftoff Entertainment while taking classes part-time in 2010.
Nigro found he could directly apply the content in his MBA classes to the direction of his budding entertainment business.
“I was basically able to use Dayton’s MBA program and put bits and pieces of it into my business as I was building it,” he said.
In the program, he was required to create a mock business plan, which he used as a legitimate document for Liftoff Entertainment.
“I literally did my business plan for the class on my business while it was in the very early stages,” he said.
In the end, Nigro used his experience with the MBA program to test his business model.
“The opportunity allowed me to get my feet wet,” Nigro said. “I’m sure that doesn’t happen a whole lot.”
After receiving his master’s degree in May 2012, early success with his company convinced Nigro to dedicate his full attention to Liftoff Entertainment.
While he has a few part-time employees working the photo booths, Nigro is the primary DJ for his company.
Nigro advised up-and-coming UD entrepreneurs to “roll with the punches” when starting a new business and stressed the necessity of knowing the intended client.
“The most important thing is to know what your product is and who your customer is,” he said. “My main targets are events. I am not a club DJ and I know that … you won’t find Liftoff Entertainment in a bar.”
Reese Eckenrode, a freshman operations management major who hopes to become involved in the entrepreneurship program, saw Nigro’s business model as impressive in the tough economy new startups face.
Eckenrode said he was pleased to see a UD graduate “putting two and two together” by applying his studies at UD to the real world of business.
“Entrepreneurs don’t work in the technical side of innovation,” Eckenrode said. “They take a couple of ideas that are already out there and mold them together into a competitive product.”
Liftoff Entertainment will be providing the photo booth service for the upcoming Christmas on Campus at UD on Friday, Dec. 7.
Liftoff Entertainment also DJs from 9 p.m. to midnight Wednesdays at Poelking Lanes, located on Wilmington Pike, for College Night.