Family Business Pivots from Live Rock Music to Streamed Church Services

Family Business. Cadence Studios

Cadence Studios

Industry Entertainment
Location Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
Customer since 2020
Employees 1-10
Zenefits solutions
Payroll, Core HR

“I love the Super Bowl,” says serial entrepreneur Kate Winsor, who has built her career specializing in experiences: from digital experience on a website to the front row experience at a rock concert. “Because I know the cluster behind the scenes that produces the polished end result.”

Kate knows a lot about managing through chaos—or “cluster”–behind the scenes. She and her brother, David, just pivoted their thriving live music event production business from near death to growth… in the sanctuary of local churches and courtrooms.

In 2019, the pair made considerable capital investments in equipment like speakers  and subwoofers to produce a better bottom line for Cadence Studios, their live events business. The idea was to rent out more of their own equipment for each of the 100+ local events they managed each year versus having to rent from other sound reinforcement companies to meet the technical requirements for an event. Months later, when the pandemic essentially shuttered that business, they recognized an opportunity to keep the lights (and subwoofers) on, by helping other organizations switch gears too. They put their equipment to work to help power live-streamed remote church services, concerts, meetings and classes, and virtual graduations across their local community. Anywhere that people usually gathered, but now couldn’t, Cadence Studios brought to local living rooms instead.

As a full-time team of two, they installed, replaced, and updated AV equipment for their new customers, and a few existing ones too. They also trained their customers to run the equipment themselves. They taught ministers and teachers alike how to fish.

This is not Kate’s first business pivot. By a long shot. She was part of a marketing agency during the 2008 recession, and helped grow the  digital marketing department and keep the agency in the black.  She lost an agency role during her maternity leave in 2013, and ended up launching her own consultancy, quickly building a 6-figure business. When her brother evolved his business from retail music equipment to events in 2017, she stepped in to take on operations and marketing for what is now Cadence Studios.

Her secret? A voracious appetite for learning.  “I knew how to run a project, but not a business,” says Kate of her early years. She studied everything she could get her hands — and ears — on. She signed up for Goldman Sachs’ entrepreneurial program, 10,000 Small Businesses, for training, a network and advising. She pored over internet content and binged on Guy Raz’ NPR Podcast: How I Built This.


Challenge

Kate’s learned from experience and training to always be looking at what’s possible and what’s next. And while the pandemic sidelined the live events business for a while, it did not extinguish the family passion for all things music.  So, in order to better juggle the breadth of business they now have, and meet the ever-changing needs and opportunities of their North Texas market, they are preparing to hire their first full time “friends” in 2022.

Also, since the company is set up for tax purposes as an S Corp, that comes with some regulations in terms of workers and workplace.

“I knew I didn’t want to be writing paychecks, managing taxes, sending OSHA posters to put on walls, or anything like that manually,” says Kate.  “I wanted technology to manage that for me.”

Family Business Cadence Studios

I want solutions before there is a problem. Zenefits product, training and community works for me.

Kate Winsor
President
Cadence Studios

Solution

Kate chose Zenefits to cover HR and Payroll. Down the road, she likes the idea that she can grow into the platform when she considers benefits and more for their growing team.

“Zenefits was a solution to a problem we were facing: we needed a payroll provider. When we do provide benefits and incentives that matter, I know I don’t have to find a new solution. Beyond the product, when I have questions I like reading and learning on key topics and I can do that in Zenefits’ community, ClubZen.  I want solutions before there is a problem.”

 

Live Stage to Livingroom

“We lost $100,000 worth of booked music events business overnight at the start of the pandemic,” said Kate. “So we leaned —heavily— into AV integration: installing, replacing and updating video, PA, and communications systems at churches, government buildings,  libraries, and schools. And we are still doing that.

“In fact, the business did so well that forgiveness for our second PPP loan has been denied because our cost of goods sold skyrocketed due to our pivot. 2020 was our best year yet…until 2021.

“Now we are adding: lighting, behind-the-scenes switchers, multiple cameras to help our customers’ online programming evolve from looking like one guy with an iPhone, to a more professional production. As a side gig, for a decade, David was the behind the scenes guy at a megachurch running their production. Now we’ve trained customers to do this themselves and my brother spent Christmas Eve with his family for the first time.

Prepping for People

“Hiring is very scary. We know independent contractors inside and out, and that is easy. But hiring is hard. The payroll and paperwork and handbook and labor posters up on a wall. But our business is thriving —we don’t sit down from May through October. We want to do more growing and running versus doing. So we need full time help.

“Luckily, I learned a lot from the Goldman 10K program about hiring, and now I have Zenefits.

“We knew we needed better business operations software. We had piece-mealed Quickbooks, and Freshbooks.  So, Zenefits worked for us: push the buttons and we’re done. It is awesome.”

Kate, the ever-curious lifelong learner, has also tapped into other professional development opportunities with Zenefits.  She’s added the Zenefits People Operations book to her business reading list, and jumped into the Zenefits online customer community, ClubZen.

“I’m a sponge. I am reading, and listening to podcasts and absorbing everything I can so that when I hire our first, and second, and subsequent ‘new friends,’ I will be ready. And our business will be covered.”