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Capitalist Sage: Laron Walker Scaling IoT Technology from Education to Commercial

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Today’s kids are learning advanced technology thanks to Mantis EDU and our special guest, Laron Walker. Join Karl Barham and Rico Figliolini as we learn how our children will fill the tech jobs of the future. Laron talks about the real-life implications of learning tech-skills young and how hands-on learning is the way to a brighter future.

Resources:
Mantis EDU
Website: www.MantisEDU.co
Twitter / Linkedin: LaronAWalker

Sciberus
Website: www.sciberus.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Sciberus/
Phone: +1-404-478-2050

Podcast Transcript:

Karl [1:11]: Welcome to the Capitalist Sage Podcast. We’re here to bring you advice and tips
from seasoned pros and experts to help you improve your business. I’m Karl Barham with Trans
World Business Advisors and my co-host is Rico Figliolini with Mighty Rockets Digital Marketing
and the Publisher of Peachtree Corners Magazine which is due out soon. Hey Rico, how are
you doing?

Rico [1:29]: Hey Karl. Really well, thanks.

Karl [1:32]: Fabulous. Well let’s start off by introducing some of our sponsors for today’s show.

Rico [1:37]: Well, we gotta say thank you to Atlanta Tech Park for letting us use their great
podcast space. They’re located here in Peachtree Corners. They’re a tech accelerator here in
Peachtree Corners. A tech hub offering work space, event space. In fact, yesterday and the last
two days they had Thin-Tech here. Really big financial, technology, that had former KGB Agents
here talking in one of the panels. Quite a few things going on here, it’s an excellent place where
a small companies can grow. We love being here. Our other primary, if you will, sponsor is GMC
Primary Care and Specialty Center. They just opened here in Peachtree Corners. And they’re
originally part of the Gwinnett Medical Center that’s been bought out by Northside Hospital now.
They’re part of the greater Northside Hospital set-up, so we wanted to welcome them. They’re
primary care and they have specialty centers right in the mix. They have their own X-Rays and
Mammography and other technology that they can refer within the center.

Karl [2:40]: Oh, fabulous, fabulous. So as the community continues to grow, we’ve got a town
center, we’ve got medical, we’ve got Atlanta Tech Park. Incubators as the town keeps it up. But
following along with the theme of how Peachtree Corners is growing and technology in general,
today’s guest is Laron Walker. He is the CEO of Mantis EDU. Here to talk about taking IOT, the
Internet of Things, and related technology and applying it from the space of education all the
way through commercial applications. How are you doing today Laron?

Laron [3:15]: Doing well. Thanks for having me.

Karl [3:17]: Fabulous. Well why don’t you start off by telling a little bit about yourself and your
background and what led you to play in this field.

Laron [3:24]: So I’m a native Atlantan. I grew up in South-west Atlanta within a ten mile radius of
the downtown area. As a kid I was always kind of the tinkerer. You know, I had businesses
where I was cutting grass and working with things. I remember a story once where I had an old
Cable-box. This was before we had smart-homes, but I had a remote control, and the family had
no cable. So what I did was I found a bunch of lamps, I found an old fan, and I plugged it into
the back of the cable box because I knew that when you turned it on the power came on. And
thinking back around that I had one of the first smart homes. Like out of my bed, I pressed a
button and my lights came on and in the morning I turned it off. So I was always tinkering and
doing things. I attended a lot of public schools. One of the earliest memories I have around
engineering was that when you were in Middle School on the way to high schools, magnet
schools, you had to choose a career path. And so my brother attended Frederick Douglas High
School, which happened to be an engineering magnet school. Really good school. Back then,
the choice was, ‘Do you want to choose electrical or mechanical?’ And I chose electrical
because I knew how to play with wires. Had no clue that electrical engineering was a totally
different source. I got there, engineering magnet school, then one day somebody came by and
said “If you have a thousand on the SAT and a 3.0 we’ll give you a scholarship.” And that’s how
I ended up at Tennessee State. So it was all those kind of happenstance-type scenarios moving
down this path. But in doing so I got exposed to a lot of interesting people. So bringing it home,
Tennessee State in a very entrepreneurial date, this is the late-nineties, our department got a
grant. The idea was that they had to teach students how to build HTML. So I literally got paid to
learn HTML and out of that project, we built the first website for the Electrical Engineering
Department in our school.

Karl: [5:12]: Wow.

Laron: [5:14]: And the rest is history. I learned about code. I realized that building and having
tech skills was a way forward, and since that time I’ve been really focused on; how do I take
technology and tools to build businesses around that, that enable others to have a very similar
pathway.

Karl: [5:28]: You know, back in that time in the nineties, the Cold War ended and people started
shifting out of Aerospace and mechanical engineering. The internet wasn’t really a big thing
there but people were going to electrical engineering and it was more traditional. But quickly, all
of the sudden; the internet, electrical engineering, sensors. These technologies started
exploding. So if you were in that industry at the right time you were at the beginning of it when
they were just coming out with the first website like; Netscape, Mosaic, was back in eighty-nine,
those browsers. And look where it’s come to.

Laron: [6:08]: It’s funny man, like, I went to a summer pre-college program. This is ninety-six.
We went in, the physics teacher was a pretty forward thinking guy. And the assignment that we
had was to go to the internet and print out the five-day forecast for our city. Just to force us to go
and think about the internet and how it can be used and what you can do with that. So just
thinking about, even in the late nineties, some people had not been exposed to those
technologies.
Rico: [6:34]: You couldn’t just google it either.

Laron: [6:37]: You couldn’t google it. But the ironic part is this though and that brings us to
today’s conversation: Those divides are growing like crazy today. And this tech is not being
exposed to our kids. They’re in school learning things that are not applicable to today’s jobs.
People don’t understand that’s the case and I think that’s a really big issue.

Karl: [6:55]: Give me an example of some of the technologies that you’re seeing now that you
would say young people should really get comfortable with mastering early on.

Laron: [7:04]: Yeah, so right now we all know there’s huge talk about autonomous vehicles,
machine learning AI. And those sound like really interesting buzz words that are very
complicated. Truth be told, even in industry now, most of that technology is being outsourced to
providers like Microsoft, Google, etc. They’re ending within web services right? So not many
companies have a true cognitive ability within that. But knowing that the trend is to outsource
those functions you have to understand how to ingest and use that. There’s no reason why a kid
in elementary, middle, or high school now can’t learn how to ingest or call a web service to get
data. Because if you have that simple construct you’re now able to work with these people that
you can outsource data to. The point of black-boxes existing, I have an input, there’s an output.
Data goes from here to there, that’s a very generic concept that can be easily digested. And
then once you understand that as you go from elementary to middle to high school, over time
you may develop your own algorithm. Those are the type of things that are happening now. We
aren’t telling people like, “This is what the cloud really is. That’s how that works.” So kids now
when they’re aspiring to start their business or to build a product, they’re out trying to build
things that in real life that I would just go pay one cent for. But nobody’s ever shown them
practical ways to do those things so they can start solving these issues.

Karl: [8:18]: Got it. When you think about kids in school now, how can they learn and start to
grapple with some of this. What have you found that pieces it together?

Laron: [8:29]: That’s what we’re doing here. So the cool thing about it is that on our side, our
focus is this: There are two issues. Most of the companies that are building tools and tech and
hardware and things like that, they’re primarily focused on consumer-type markets. So recently
for instance, Sphero is a real interesting company. Robot that everybody got exposed to made a
lot of money selling Star Wars-themed robots. You know when a movie dies down the buzz dies
down, you can’t really sell those products and then they’re pivoting the education. But there’s a
different thing when you’re selling to schools. Teachers want to know about curriculum
standards and have professional development and standards alignment. The people who make
devices aren’t coming from that vantage point. So on our side, what you do is that, we say well
great. First of all, the purpose of these tools that we’re describing is to teach math and science
and physics. So then how do you take those scenarios and route real-world examples around it.
So as an example, we did a couple of camps this summer over at Clark Atlanta here in Metro
Atlanta area where the kids are learning about intro to coding, computing precibles, sensors,
and then the use-case combinated with an aquaponics system.

Rico: [9:34]: What’s this for?

Laron: [9:35]: Aquaponics is using water and contained environments to grow plants and
vegetables. So that’s a real world issue, food doesn’t exist. So I can teach you about a climate
sensor that can measure environmentals. I can teach you about a plant sensor that can
measure plant health. I can teach you about how to measure pH and things along those lines,
so you have these core concepts. While you’re learning how to use those sensors I can teach
you about things like plots and graphs and cloud, which has those standards. But to get you
excited about it, I’m not gonna leave it there. Let’s go and put some goldfish in a bin that are
peeing, making ammonia. Then ammonia creates a nitrate, nitrates create nitrites, the nitrites
are being taken in by the plants and the plants are now going to produce a vegetable. And this
is happening in real time. This is being done in a way to where a middle school kid can program
a tool called Scratch, which is the prevailing tool in the market, to make that happen.
Rico: [10:24]: You know that’s interesting. We were just listening to something about Google X.
The X Company. How they are experimenting right down to the plant. They’re talking about
farming and almost exactly what you’re talking about. Sensors down to the plant level, not just
the field level. And knowing every single plant, like plant number two-thousand-thirty-eight.

Laron: [10:45]: Listen to what you just said though. Right now there are staffs out there saying
that most of the jobs that will exist in 2030 are going to be from out of today’s pipeline. There
are staffs out talking about how our kids aren’t excited and motivated. The challenge is this:
Most people that we’re describing that actually are building tools and things that are being put
into our schools and programs aren’t aligning to what companies care about. Now imagine
when the person that google leaves, the program manager that you just described. Imagine
what happens when he or she goes to a school district and you say “Hey, this entire school,
these kids know these concepts. Here is a miniature version of what you’re doing in real life.”
You don’t think they would get behind and support that?

Rico: [11:24]: They probably would.

Laron: [11:25]: They would, right? Because for the first time ever you’re not taking a company
and saying ‘Support this program,’ and give them a bumper sticker that says ‘I support kids.’
You’re actually authentically connecting what they’re doing to what’s happening. And that’s the
piece that I think is missing.

Karl: [11:39]: And feeding their pipeline for talent. Because they can’t find enough people that
have the skills to invent the future that they’re imagining.

Laron: [11:51]: That’s it.

Rico: [11:52]: Well and you know, I think that’s why stem schools are popping up everywhere.
Because the idea is now, they’re shifting to the idea that you don’t need a four-year college
degree. You can come out of high school knowing programing, knowing these things, and you
have that skill.

Laron: [12:03]: The disdain of not having a four-year degree is disappearing.

Rico: [12:06]: It’s moving away.

Laron: [12:08]: Right. And even people with four-year degrees. I always joke about it man. So, in
my history I stopped at Tennessee State, but I left Tennessee State and went to Purdue.
Because I was told that, get the highest degree you can get. So back then I went to
USAToday.com and I looked. University of Michigan and Purdue and Georgia Tech were the
top engineering schools. Somebody told me, I could’ve gone to Ann Arbor, I could’ve gone to
West Lafayette. Michigan was past Purdue, so I stopped in Indiana. I joined the direct PhD
program because that was the best degree. I spent five years in a PhD program and I got an
MBA. But at the end of the day when you think back on it, I got a lot of theoretical skills in the
classroom. My lab-work was what got me the hands-on skills. But truth be told, knowing what I
know now, I would’ve been much better suited going to Devry for a couple of years. Just to get
some actual hands-on skills and then supplemented that with some business. Because people
don’t get the hands-on. I keep saying with our kids, if we could expose to them the ‘how,’ that
would help them get intrigued and figure out the ‘why.’ And to me that’s why I focus on things
that are tangible, real-world, to get you excited. Then more importantly we are, unlike some of
the more industrial or commercial companies, we are building programs that can sit within the
construct of a school. Because ultimately this has to be something that can be taught and that
can be expended as a program across the board.

Karl: [13:30]: So tell me a little bit about some of the projects that you’ve developed and kids at
work, how it’s helping them learn skills.

Laron: [13:38]: So a couple of examples. So our spirit of influence today is really focusing on
things that can happen within an after-school program. A stem camp or summer camp type
experience, because I think that’s really interesting. If you look at the space today; anybody with
young kids, elementary, middle school kids, who are doing after-school or summer experiences.
Truthfully most of those programs, even if they are stem based programs, are glorified
babysitting operations. And I think that’s an issue, so we started there. And then we also play
within a space of some corporate partners who are engaging kids. So a good example would
be, Microsoft has their band program, which is like their backs of Microsoft employee research
group. So every year they bring in a bunch of kids from high-schools, expose them to tech. We
have a session with Microsoft and we bring our environmental sensors for this use-case. We
say, “Hey guys, let’s do a use-case around co-chain logistics.” Something shifting through the
supply chain. We gave them an environmental sensor, we gave them a package. And they had
to write some code to be able to determine like, pull off the sensor data things like temperature,
humidity, and pressure. And the idea was that, if there was an outlier. We gave them a hair
dryer or blower to raise the heat, and the thing was like; “Hey, let’s write a program so if this
thing gets this high above a threshold, it has to alert you.” So that we give them a STK that
sends text messages. So every group had to sit back, think about it, write some code,
experiment with that. Before that they got a whole talk around cloud and how it worked. Like
“Hey guys, how do you send SMS’s? Well that’s an STK. That’s a company called Twilio. They
just went public. They make a lot of money just selling cloud services.” At the end of the event
every group comes up, they talk about cloud, how it works, IOT, control systems.

Rico: [15:13]: How old are these kids?

Laron: [15:15]: In this case, these kids were ranged. Like high school and up in that scenario.
But we’ve done the same thing below. Here in Gwinnett, we had a scenario with the elementary
school interestingly enough, there was a teacher at the school that had a kid that went through
the program fifteen years early. He’s a really smart guy. We would come by everyday now,
doing a weekend teacher’s crash course. The school had invested in a Hydroponic /
Aquaponics lab that was fully instrumented with plants growing. And we did a session with the
kids to show them how to use the sensors. So then what happened was, once they understood
how to connect with the sensors in Scratch, the school went and bought an LCD screen, hooked
on a Raspberry Pi, and the kids wrote code on the Pi. Learned how to read data from the
sensors and make a real-time dashboard.

Rico: [16:01]: Nice.

Laron: [16:02]: So now when the superintendent came by or visitors come by, you have
elementary kids talking about how they’re collecting data and how its being leveraged. The point
there is that, I know adults who’ve never seen a real-time dashboard or can explain how data is
ingested on a dashboard. So to me it’s like you take these tools, no matter whether its
elementary school or high school, the kids all use the same sensors and the same ecosystem.
But what you do is you graduate the tool sets over time as they get more exposure to expose
them to different parts of the equation. I think that’s the thing. So me trying to graduate a
progression that goes from upper-elementary to, actually I keep saying high school but it’s really
more K-20. Because to me this ends in the collegiate course or at technical school. You’re
basically saying, “Hey man, when you were at elementary school we didn’t really tell you that
sensors have dirty data you gotta run an average on, we just kind of did it for you.” You get to
high school and it’s like “Hey man, this is dirty, you have to go run an average.”

Rico: [16:57]: You know that’s funny. That’s almost like history. They teach you basic history but
they never teach you about the stuff, the really down and dirty stuff until you get towards high
school and college. You know, just the basic stuff.

Laron: [17:07]: So throwing the real stuff in there. So now when you finally graduate you get a
job at Google or you’re working on this program you’re describing, you’re like; “I’ve been using
this Google Cloud since I was in middle school.” And you already have the main context to dig
deeper. To me, that’s the holy grail that I’m chasing. I think the intersection of education with
industry and the proper community partners. That trilogy is something that I think is exciting that
can be expanded without a lot of strain on either part of the ecosystem.

Karl: [17:33]: So it’s an interesting model that you have. You develop a business, based on
technology, that’s having an impact on the community. So when you chose to go that pathway,
what made you choose that and are there things that you would do differently knowing what you
know now then what you started along this path.

Laron: [17:52]: So going down that path is really because I come from very humble beginnings.
Technology changed my life. Really. Because I was able to get a skill, like at Tennessee State,
where I was learning how to write code. I had a laptop, and because I had a laptop I started
building websites. I was able to monetize that. Without question, that’s the great equalizer. If
you look at the trend now, the wealthiest people in the world, most of those guys made their
money in tech. So tech is a great generator of wealth and legacy on the business side. But to
me, I also realized that the work I do like the non-profit, we support and give out scholarships.
That’s not sustainable, that’s just an outbound process. So my opinion is that, by having these
tech-enabled businesses our motto is this; I survey schools that are using tech as a part of their
process. Most companies that sell tech, particularly hardware, it’s not very profitable. Because
most people don’t make it themselves. So they take something they bought from somebody
else, they market it like crazy, and they sell it at the high end of the market. So what that means
is that the people that really need it don’t get access to it. Our approach here is can we build a
business where we can actually design hardware that’s best in breed, but informed by design.
That way, we can find ways to get it out there at scale. But then by doing that if I can expose
that to these ecosystems of undeserved people, even people who have connectivity to it, I can
influence and get them those skill sets to help them change their lives. Which means that,
they’re gonna pull back and pull people forward. So that’s kind of the theory behind it. The third
piece of that is the thing I would do differently, which I’ve been working on recently is that a lot
of people don’t understand the importance of education technology or the ability to do good and
do well at the same time. So it’s very difficult to raise capital or raise investment. Hardware in
general is an industry people don’t really invest much in, most vc fonts focus on software. And
then you go and have this education and kind of community slant and people think you’re a
nonprofit. So we’ve been trying to form this to show people that, ‘hey man, this is a real
business that we can scale.’ So to that point, the tech we’re using in these classrooms as I
described earlier is real world tech. So we now have started to work on institutional partners
where we can launch consumer products that take that same tech in a different vein to show
people that, not only is it used in schools, but it’s in this big retailer. There are a lot of ways to
make it happen.

Rico: [20:09]: You know the best part is, is that I think because of the way the market here is in
the United States and probably in a portion of the world. What you’re doing is saying, “Don’t just
do this because it’s just for the kids,” you’re saying, “We’re gonna show you commercial
application that can actually make money in the marketplace.” Because if it can’t make money, I
mean in the long run, you lose anyway because it’s just gonna fall by the wayside. No one’s
going to invest in something where it’s just altruistic and stuff. That’s such a short term thing. But
if you can prove to them that there’s money to be made here, this is a commercial application,
then people will definitely get involved in that.

Laron: [20:49]: So definitely before it was more of the mind instead of, we’re doing this work that
has great value, running these programs, and it was really purely about the kids. That’s still the
case to this day. But I have had to change my hat and just make sure that I’m making people
realize that this is a way to try revenue that can scale. This is a growth market not only
domestically but internationally. And the way in which we’re thinking about this is completely
different from everybody else. And if you’re in this space, you know Microsoft, Google, not only
are we supporting and helping you build pipeline. We are building solutions and products that
marry very well with things you sell in the schools. So my solution paired with your Chromebook.
My solution paired with your Surface Tablet. It’s a way to drive consumption, to drive cloud
computing, to get consumers hands in front of your products in a natural way that fits into your
strategic plan. And so that’s the way that we’re framing the conversation.

Karl: [21:43]: So one of the things I noticed is, you know IOT and these technologies can
change with time. I’m gonna ask you to put on your hat and look into the future a little bit, what
are some of the areas where you think the IOT smart technologies can have the most
transformative impact on businesses, specifically, and in communities.

Laron: [22:04]: So in the business side, what’s interesting about it man. People talk about IOT,
the big market in IOT is the IIOT. The Industrial Internet of Things. There are a lot of factories
out there and disparaged systems that have been around for years and they can’t just go out
and buy the new Apple Watch whenever the new version comes out. And that’s the interesting
thing when people are looking at innovation they go and hire kids that just graduated from
school and those kids are trying to make Apple Watches. That’s sexy. And it’s from lack of
understanding, they’ve never worked in these dirty jobs. Think about that show Mick Rowe used
to have, Dirty Jobs. Think about all those dirty places he went into. They need sensors too. And
so those little things that can’t be connected or if you go and connect this thing you can’t go
change out the ERP and it can’t use 5G but it’s still has a signal on it. Those ground filled
applications, that’s an interesting spot. There’s millions and millions of those out there and
nobody’s thinking about it. They’ve still gotta get connected. So things like that are very, very
interesting on the industrial side. On the consumer side, again these titans out there controlling
the ecosystem, so the Apples of the world are very forceful of what you can do. And how you
can do it. So I think as we find ways to get more connectivity as cities are employing WiFi and
things the varied connectivity disappears, you’re gonna see a lot of those applications happen. I
think in the home. Look at what Amazon is doing now. Amazon acquired Ring. Amazon
acquired Ero. That tells you that the home is a place where a lot of stuff is happening, so I think
you’re gonna see a lot more stuff happening within the constructs of a home. I think what’s
gonna happen in the future is that this notion of having to rely on an outside third party to give
you all these things. It’s gonna be just like in the enterprise there was this BYOD type approach.
I think you’re going to start seeing that. I think frameworks are going to start to exist to allow you
to more plug-and-play stuff to create your own experience around it.

Rico: [24:11]: Do you see the, I mean I see it and I’m not sure if maybe I’m wrong. Do you see
the closed environment that they want to create. I mean AWS, the cloud.

Laron: [24:23]: I think it’s a problem though. I’ll give you a good example. Actually the other day.
So, I’m a pretty technical person. I can write software and I have a hardware company. But even
right now, I can’t go home and take one of my systems my company produces and put it on my
network at home without going crazy. All the major players, they have taken a traditional
approach. They’ve invested in some technology that they chose in that technology plan seven,
eight years ago, ten years ago. They’ve already advertised the cost of it and they’re forced
everything they do to go down that path. And they’re keeping people from getting involved with
that. And see what that does? So now you go into the home and there’s already connectivity
there. You have a security company there. You have all these connected people and Amazon
comes with an Alexa and jumps on your hotspot, takes over the whole house. Because the
other pieces were closed in that forward thinking. So you have to open that piece up because
there’s no one-size-fits-all.

Rico: [25:13]: But do you see Amazon wanting to open that piece up?

Laron: [25:16]: I think those guys are opening up connectivity to try and force you towards their
cloud.

Rico: [25:21]: Okay. That’s what I was thinking.

Laron: [25:23]: And so you have to be careful in terms of if that’s part of your business or not.
But the fact that there is an Alexa there that has a bunch of users that I can plug into. That’s an
interesting value proposition. It’s just a matter of what happens with the data that you have to be
careful about.

Rico: [25:34]: Do you think education can work well with it too. I know AWS allowed it because
of their AI. They’re saying that you could use their AI to develop your own.

Laron: [25:44]: But that is the Playdoh, so that is the opportunity. And that was my point earlier.
So now let’s go back to the scenario of now we’re growing food. This food has a myriad of
sensors. So imagine now would I want to go in and deploy this to an impoverished
neighborhood who doesn’t have the skillset. And I can now go and have them collecting data
going back to the cloud. Now, we’re in Georgia so what do we have? We have UGA. They focus
on some ‘Agg’ stuff. There’s probably a PhD there who wants some data. You don’t think we
can build a system using AWS or Azure or where we can feed this person all this data. They
can tune their algorithms they can tweak it, they can test it in these neighborhoods and now
we’re getting yield. It’s those kind of things that I think are going to change the education
concept. The second thing is that, there’s a huge push now toward online and virtual learning.
But it’s still a very traditional construct there. Let’s go take a class where we’re throwing
information at you where you’re watching some videos. In our case what we’re working on is
imagine a day where I could have a remote science class. I’m gonna send you a sensor, you’ve
got to go outside, collect some data. You’re gonna submit something digital with that. We could
have a digital lab experience. We are we not doing that? And so I think that’s to me, as we
identify the right cloud partner and I could take that to scale, now we can export the stuff across
the country. Across the world and have a common experience around it.

Rico: [27:10]: I can see. I mean having Amazon as a partner and being able to do that. Then
deliver this stuff within hours, if not the next day anyway. You’ve got that whole environment.

Laron: [27:21]: That’s it. So what I’m trying to do is show that, we have done an amazing POC
around ways to engage kids within tech that’s aligned to teaching. And now that we’ve had this
five or six year MVP that we’ve been cranking out by ourselves. We’re at a point now that with
the appropriate partner who’s a philanthropic capitalist, we’re going to go and scale across the
globe overnight. Because we’re properly aligned and our synergies are right in line with that.
That’s what I’m chasing.

Karl: [27:58]: Wow. Fascinating. Well I’ll tell you, you know we’ve learned a lot today about how
technology is being brought from schools into commercial apps. And what I like is, one, there’s
folks out there that are listening and this might spark an interest in them to pursue. How can
they get involved. How can they reach out to learn more about what you’re doing. What are
other resources in the community where young people and their parents and also business
owners can start changing their business model to capitalize on some of the stuff that’s out
there.

Laron: [28:30]: Well I’m pretty easy to find. So on social LaronAWalker is where you’ll find me.
I’m more of a Twitter and Linkedin type of guy. So you’ll find me there. As relation to the
business, the website is Mantis, like the spider, EDU, as in education, .co (MantisEDU.co) is our
website so go there. We’re launching a new website very soon. A lot of interactive blog content
there. For the different people you mentioned there the different constituents types we have a
lot of forums there to be involved with. So if you wanted to be a part of one of our stem camps
or summer camps, let us know. If you’re a company who wants to not only engage with kids but
you’re interested, say “Hey, can you help me pull together some content around this domain
that lines what I’m doing so I can present around things that I care about.” We’re making it
happen so find us online, connect with us, we’d love to partner.

Karl: [29:21]: Oh fabulous. Well, I’ll tell you. I love when we get to talk to a different kind of
business. Most people wouldn’t realize that you can take a technology business and have an
impact on people in the community with a vision towards the future that’s feeding the pipeline of
industry. The folks that are out there doing what you’re doing I think are setting the groundwork
for different generations. So when you hear Silicon Valley say they can’t find people to fill all
these tech jobs, I think that help is on the way. I’m glad that people like you help in leading that.

Laron: [30:00]: Thanks for helping me share the story.

Karl: [30:01]: My pleasure. I’d like to thank Atlanta Tech Park for hosting the Capitalist Sage
Podcast and thank Laron for your time today sharing some of the stuff you’ve done. That’s just
the tip of the iceberg of some of the things you’ve done and you’re working on to help in the
community and help transform the way people look at business. Atlanta Tech Park is a great
place to kind of help nurture that further. Find other like-minded individuals, take hardware and
software and apply some business sense to it, find good applications and ways to do that. It’s
really important. I’m Karl Barham with Trans World Business Advisors I get the pleasure of
working and meeting with great entrepreneurs and business owners out there. Helping them
figure out their strategy to grow and when they’re ready, how to exit their business. So you can
reach me at KBarham.TWorld.com or visit www.TWorld.com/AtlantaPeachtree . Reach out. And
Rico, why don’t you tell me a little bit about what we’ve got going on. I feel like there’s
something coming in the near future for us to go take a look at.

Rico: [31:07]: There’s so much out there. You can find me, Rico Figliolini, on LinkedIn or
MightyRockets.com. I do social media marketing, content marketing, and video. Especially if you
need products explained in video I do that. I’m also a publisher, as I mentioned before, of
Peachtree Corners Magazine here in the city of Peachtree Corners. I am also the host of
several podcasts, a family of podcasts, including this with Karl who does the heavy lifting on this
show. So he’s done a great job here. I also do Prime Lunchtime with the City Manager and
Peachtree Corners Life. So we’ve done quite a few things coming up and the magazine will be
coming out. I think it’s hitting the mail, the post office next Friday. We are doing technology in
schools so we’ve covered several of the schools in Peachtree Corners let’s call it, like Paul
Duke Stem High School, Wesleyan Cornerstone Christian, Picnicville Middle. So there’s a few
schools that are being covered and what they’re doing in technology and how that helps them in
their education process. So that’s one of the stories, of course we’re doing Pets and their
People. And we’re doing a few other things including the Voices of Football, covering a few of
the announcers from Norcross and Wesleyan so that’s kind of cool. So just a lot of stuff out
there and we just went through that grand opening with the…

Karl: [32:26]: Lot of fun. Got to ride in a car without a driver and lived to tell about it. And so it’s a
lot of good things going on in the community. We really encourage people to get involved and
go out and see what’s happening in the community all around and participate. Be an active
participant. See what differences you can make. Well thank you everybody. Stay tuned for our
next episode of the Capitalist Sage Podcast. Thank you everyone. Have a nice day.

Rico: [32:58]: Thank you guys.

Laron: [32:59]: Thank you.

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Business

Capitalist Sage: Beth B. Moore, Bridging the Artist and Business [Podcast]

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Beth B. Moore

When it comes to the entertainment industry, there’s still a lot of trade secrets. Beth B. Moore is here to explain some of the trickiest and most useful laws within the entertainment industry. In this episode of the Capitalist Sage, we join Rico, Karl, and Beth as they discuss entertainment law, emerging trends, the film and music industry, Georgia legislation and more.

Resources:
https://www.vividip.com Facebook: Beth B. Moore, Entertainment Lawyer

Social Media: @bethbmoore
https://www.instagram.com/bethbmoore/
https://twitter.com/bethbmoore/

“I really find interesting the intersection of business, art, and law. And so where I am in my career allows me to explore that unique intersection. You know at some point in my adult life trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I realized that you know aside from friends and family some of the most important things to me in my life was music and art.”

Beth b. moore

Podcast Transcript

Karl: [00:00:00] Welcome to the Capitalist Sage podcast. We’re here to bring you advice and tips from seasoned pros and experts to help you improve your business. I’m Karl Barham with TransWorld Business Advisors. And my co-host is Rico Figliolini with Mighty Rockets Digital Marketing and the publisher of the Peachtree Corners Magazine Hey, Rico, how are you doing today?

Rico: [00:00:54] Hey Karl, I’m good, thanks.

Karl: [00:00:56] Ah today is Halloween. So we have a lot of trick-or-treaters going out tonight. Hopefully if the rain cooperates, why don’t we introduce some of our sponsors today?

Rico: [00:01:07] Sure, a scary Halloween day we’re going to be, there’s actually. The scary thing going on for some startups because they’re going to have an opportunity to do a three-minute pitch. Five startups on November 14th its going to be part of the North Atlanta Tech showcase.

Karl: [00:01:23] That’s right.

Rico: [00:01:24] And that’s here at Atlanta Tech Park. That’s sponsoring us. This is the podcast room from that location. A partnership Gwinnett is putting this on and there’s going to be five, actually, nine startups doing a three-minute pitch to others, to investors and other people within the industry. And that’s going to be scary for them because they got three minutes. It’s worse than the Shark Tank at least, at least in Shark Tank you had like, I don’t know 15-20 minutes. Here it’s only three minutes to make that pitch. So, but Atlanta Tech Park is the place they’re doing it. This is a phenomenal here in Peachtree  Corners. It’s a great place along the track of the autonomous vehicle.

Karl: [00:02:01] Right here in curiosity lab right here in Peachtree Corners Atlanta tech park being a home for entrepreneurs. Tech, tech startup companies so it’ll be great to see those come in. And if you’re interested check out the website you could, you could register come visit that day and see some of the future entrepreneurs of right here in Gwinnett County. At the Showcase.

Rico: [00:02:24] PartnershipGwinnett.com or AtlantaTechPark.com will take you there. 

Karl: [00:02:28] So we’re glad to have Atlanta Tech Park as our home for for the podcast and we’re especially glad today to have a fabulous guest. Bethany Moore. She’s in a an attorney that specializes in entertainment law and intellectual properties. And today we wanted to talk to those folks out there that have lots of creative talents and their endeavors takes them into both entertainment and artistry and look at the business side of those types of careers and businesses. I know we speak a lot about the the talent that people have. But they may not realize that they are also a business and we figured, let’s chat about that some and Beth was more than gracious to come and spend some time and talk to us about that. Hi Beth how’re you doing today? 

Beth: [00:03:15] Hi. I’m doing great. Thank you for having me out on this fun and festive Halloween Day. 

Karl: [00:03:20] Absolutely fabulous that. To get to explore a, you know on Halloween. There’s a lot of artistry that goes around this holiday season typically, but I’d like to start off by, you know, I’m curious how you got into this particular area and field of law when you got started.

Beth: [00:03:40] Sure. Well, you know, I consider myself an entertainment attorney and that does include, you know clients who work in the music industry, film, television, book publishing, theater. Really anything and everything involving the creative arts. I like to tell people I get to have the most fun a lawyer is allowed to have. You know, and it is a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of work and there are serious legal considerations when it comes to working in the entertainment industry. I really find interesting the intersection of business, art, and law. And so where I, where I am in my career allows me to explore that unique intersection. You know at some point in my adult life trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I realized that you know aside from friends and family some of the most important things to me in my life was music and art. You know, there’s, there’s really a historical reason for the significance of music and art if you look back on the development of humankind, you know these things, you know, we developed along with music and art. You take a trip to Europe. What do you do? You go to the art museums you take in the local culture, the music, the architecture. So, you know, this has been a common thread throughout the entire life cycle of humankind and it’s something that I take very seriously and it just means a whole lot to me as a person.

Karl: [00:05:05] I always wonder when we think about that some people may not realize. That they’re in this creative art. I mean, I think it’s obvious musicians and it’s obvious maybe people that are in theater or actors and so on. When you talk to clients and folks that are in it, what are some of the other fields that people may not realize falls into these creative arts that where the electrical property and so on becomes really important?

Beth: [00:05:34] The beautiful thing is that art is everywhere. It’s everywhere. You can take any business that may be operating, you know with a logo and a trademark, you know, that’s you know, a common thread among all businesses regardless of what type of Industry you’re in starts with the copyright involved in the you know, any kind of unique image being used as a logo. And then there’s always you know the application to obtain a federally recognized trademark. That’s also part of what I do. And I can really do that for any business. But I specifically focus on those services for clients in the entertainment industry. You know art is you know is a consideration in an industry as large as advertising. You know, I’ve had to work with a lot of advertising companies to make sure that the artwork they want to use or the music that they may, you know that they may use in their television commercials that all of those are cleared and legally cleared to use. So considerations of intellectual property are everywhere and it’s certainly especially in the entertainment industry. 

Karl: [00:06:40] If you think of it from the side of the artist that’s producing that. What are things where you’ve seen people they may call you after the fact where they make mistakes or things they didn’t know as they’re producing and creating art and starting to share? What are some of the things that you the mistakes people make along the way?

Beth: [00:06:57] How much time you got? So, you know the music industry it, which is really my true specialty even within the umbrella of the entertainment industry. You know music is one of those things where it’s it feels good, you know, I mean, it’s a creative outlet for a lot of people. You know, they may not be thinking about making a career out of it. You know, everybody has to start somewhere and usually means starting out. As a hobby. You know, you pick up a guitar or you find a keyboard at the Goodwill and you know, you start making music that’s a beautiful thing. You know, I hope that all children and even adults get a chance to explore, you know, their inner musician. I think what naturally happens is for a certain group of people that that hobby progresses into a profession. They’re like hey, I’m actually pretty good at this and people like what I’m making, you know, maybe I can spend all of my waking hours making music and you know earn some money from it and make a living doing it. So I find that that transition can be really challenging for a lot of Music Makers. You know, primarily because if you’re, if all you’re doing is making music then chances are you may not have a big enough budget to hire an attorney, but by entering into this space without proper understanding of legal underpinnings of it and without having a legal advocates tell you what your rights are people end up, you know giving away their music for free. You know in a way that does not advance their career. They end up getting taken advantage of you know, by people who know just enough to be dangerous and to cut you out of the equation. 

Rico: [00:08:35] Let me ask you, what are two or three things that the musician should know right off the bat that they should do to help protect themselves? If they wrote a piece and they’re playing it but they’re not disseminating a jet. Short of YouTube Instagram putting out the music, what two or three things should they be doing to make sure it’s protected and someone else can’t use it?

Beth: [00:09:00] So there’s a couple of things that come to mind, you know first is having a firm understanding of the legal term copyright, you know, this is a term that a lot of people throw around thinking they know what it means and most people don’t. You know, one of the most important things to understand about copyright is that you know, if you are creating an original work of art and it’s tangible, in other words it exists in some way shape or form on this Earth other than just in your human mind, then you own a copyright to that work the moment it’s created. You do not have to file a federal copyright, certainly a good idea to, but you have rights in and to your work the moment you birth it into the world.

Rico: [00:09:40] So if I wrote a song and I put it out there on Instagram or Facebook, that’s tangible, right?

Beth: [00:09:46] Yeah. 

Rico: [00:09:46] I mean, that’s a recording. That’s right out there. 

Beth: [00:09:48] That digital file on your computer or more perhaps on your phone is a tangible embodiment of your work, right? And you have rights to that just as you know, everybody else has rights to their work. So be careful whose work you try to pass off as your own because those whoever created that work has rights to it. So that’s maybe the second mistake that people make is they see rampant copyright infringement happening out there in the world which gives a lot of people the false impression that it’s okay when it is not. You can get yourself into a lot of hot water, you know, if you try to sample somebody else’s work and if you misappropriate somebody’s work, you know, if you think I’ll just slide in this sample real quick and nobody will notice because it’s under five seconds. That’s not how the law works. 

Rico: [00:10:34] Because cover bands work. Those cover bands are out there playing other people’s music, I mean.

Beth: [00:10:40] There is a precise answer to that which is that the people who wrote the songs that the cover band, you know is covering have granted a license to what are called The Performing rights organizations, which then turn around and Grant a license to the restaurants and venues. Of course, the restaurants and venues have to pay for that license but once they have it they’re allowed to play any song that they want. 

Karl: [00:11:03] Let me if I can just understand and clear, a business owner and they are playing music in the background of whatever that store is. Do they have to either they have to pay for the right to play the song in their place of Commerce no matter what type? If it’s a doctor’s office playing the elevator music is that all covered? 

Beth: [00:11:27] Yes, absolutely. Now, I have counseled business owners including restaurant owners about this where you know, they just want to play the radio in the background or they’ve you know, they have a Spotify account and they wonder why can’t I just play this? Well, it’s because the people who wrote those songs own the copyright of those songs and what those business owners are effectively doing is using somebody elses copyright to sell coffee or to sell golf club, right? And if you’re going to do that, you should you know, you should have to pay the person that’s helping you create this commercial atmosphere that draws in customers and they do. 

Rico: [00:12:01] That’s funny because I’m, as she’s saying that I’m thinking starbucks and I’m thinking of those little  music cards they used to have at one point with musicians on there of that they would be playing. And I think they, that was sort of a give and take a little bit on their part to be able to play music in the background of some of the bands that they were promoting and Starbucks music in house. Then I thought about the Jukebox. Real time, you know, slide the quarter in this. After that went away, I think that’s when royalty would really like going.

Karl: [00:12:29] So in Rico’s initial example, he creates a piece of music and he puts it on YouTube and if I were to find it in a business and start playing the music on YouTube is the, should he do something to make sure that his rights are protected. 1 and 2, he may be able to be compensated. What should he do? 

Beth: [00:12:53] Yes. So as a songwriter Rico, what I would advise you to do is to join one of the

Performing rights organizations and in the United States, we have three. ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. When you do that as a songwriter, you know in some ways, you know that helps to, you know, memorialize or put the public on notice that you are the author of that song. You are the creator, the owner. You know and so you can look up right now anybody out there listening can go to one of those three websites and look up their favorite song and find out who the actual writers are. You might be surprised, right? Because the person that you think wrote the song might not be the person who actually did.  And so, that’s what you would do as a songwriter you would affiliate with one of those three organizations and in turn those organizations will represent you. When a restaurant owner comes to them wanting to play music. So the organization let’s say you joined ASCAP. ASCAP will issue a license, right? A license is just a fancy word for granting someone permission. ASCAP will license the right to the restaurant owner to be able to play any song in the ASCAP catalog that they want and your song will be listed in the ASCAP catalog.

Rico: [00:14:10] So you’d just pay one royalty or monthly fee or whatever it is. You can play any song within that set up. 

Beth: [00:14:16] Exactly. Yes. It’s usually an annual fee. Yes, and the restaurant owner would do well to seek out licenses from all three organizations because chances are any song you want to play is going to be represented by one of those three. 

Rico: [00:14:28] I guess muzak came out at some point to avoid all that right? Because it’s regular, it’s like a synthesized music has nothing to do with any copyright at all. 

Beth: [00:14:40] It actually ties in perfectly with what I’m talking about because what Muzak did if I understand correctly is they had their licensing fees built in with the PRO fees right, so it was kind of a digital service that delivered the recordings but also included the permissions for the underlying compositions. 

Rico: [00:15:01] Okay, so it’s all in one place and that’s why you could use Muzak anywhere. 

Beth: [00:15:05] Yeah, and you know, it’s Spotify and Pandora,I believe, have commercial subscriptions now for places of business. So you can get licenses for everything all in one place.

Rico: [00:15:16] So when you play Apple music, you pay an apple fee every month for my Apple music. I can play any song, download any song within the Apple Library. That’s, which seems to be almost every song in the world. But so I’m not paying anything more than that monthly fee, right? 

Beth: [00:15:33] Well you’re talking about personal consumption.

Rico: [00:15:35] Yes. 

Beth: [00:15:36] So that’s different. Very, very different from commercial consumption. 

Karl: [00:15:40] So if you’re a business owner, you may have a personal Spotify, Apple music, Amazon account that allows you to play all the music. But when you bring that into your business, and you’re using it within your business, you’d have to get this additional license to do that. 

Beth: [00:15:59] Correct. It’s called a public performance license not to be confused with live performance. It has nothing to do with live performance. Public performance means that somebody’s music, specifically somebody’s composition, is being performed in a public space. A place of public accommodation. Which commercial places are, right? You know Starbucks is open to the public. Target is open to the public. Airports are open to the public. All of those places that want to play music in a public space, has to obtain a public performance license. 

Rico: [00:16:32] Content sent to the plant.

Karl: [00:16:34] So with all that would Rico get paid then, from that the group that he’s a member of, that he’s paying some fees to.

Rico: [00:16:42] The bottom line.

Karl: [00:16:43] The bottom, he would then get paid for some percentage. How’s that done? 

Beth: [00:16:49] Yes. So there’s two royalties, you know, depending on the situation. One royalty may be available for the recording artist. So that might be the person, you know, whose voice you actually hear, you know whose guitar riffs you were actually hearing. But there’s a

separate designation for who the songwriter is, right? So in this case Rico being the songwriter, yes, he would be in a position to earn royalties. From you know for every time you know Starbucks or Target or the airport you know played his  music. The algorithm by which an organization like ASCAP uses to determine how much you get paid is a trade secret. We don’t actually know but we can surmise that it at least has something to do with how much of the real estate of the airwaves, you know, you occupy. The more your song gets played the more royalties you’ll receive. 

Karl: [00:17:43] That’s very very interesting. Does it expand out beyond music? So if let’s take writings, and now we get digital media. People are putting out cat stuff on YouTube and creating funny videos, cartoon videos, explainer videos. Are all of those…

Rico: [00:18:01] Or even doing a public service where the news media recording a crime just happening and then they sell it to CNN. I mean, do they have copy right on those things?

Beth: [00:18:11] Yes, yes. And if any kind of original creative content you that you birth into the world belongs to you. And that would include, you know, silly cat videos. You know, it may just be something that you created at home. You probably have hours and hours worth of cat videos, but you have that one little clip where they did something funny. That piece of video, that audio-visual work contains a copyright. And the owner of that copyright is the person who created it.

Karl: [00:18:37] And there’s, there isn’t a similar organization for video, for writers, for all these different creative types of art. There’s a similar organization that manages that for them as well?

Beth: [00:18:52] No, but that would, that sounds like a wonderful idea. Right now, it’s really, you know, if I have a silly cat video and you want to use it, you know, for the Peachtree Corners podcast, then we would do an arm’s length transaction. You know, for what that licensing deal would be. Whether you pay me or I simply agree to grant you, you know royalty free license. Right now that’s something where you would have to approach the copyright holder directly to get that, get that permission. 

Rico: [00:19:19] There are protections in place. And although there was, I was involved in a website that was done once and we used stock photo as position only. Because eventually we’re going to remove the stock photo, put real photos on there. Two years later a lawyer reaches out and said that there’s a stock photo on that site you never purchased. How did they know it was never purchased, I don’t know. But they wanted their fee and they wanted it removed. But they wanted their fee at least to be paid. So there are protections, at least the free market allows protection in place for some things, right? 

Beth: [00:19:53] Well, you just perfectly identified one of the issues that modern-day content creators are facing. Is that, and it kind of goes back to the question you asked earlier, what’s one of the mistakes that people make in this industry? And its really disseminating, you know, their content without thought as to how to control it. You know, it’s like once something is out there it’s darn near impossible to retract it, right? So we have had to as an industry get really creative in how we monitor, you know, the use of our content. You know, make sure that anybody who is the recipient of a license that they stay within the confines of that license, right? So there are guard rails you can do this, but it doesn’t mean you can do that. And so there are little bots that you can put out into the internet to find out, you know, where did this Photograph go, right? And there are, certainly there are ways to get around that you know, but there are really sophisticated ways in which attorneys, you know and firms that represent content creators can track the usage of that content around the internet. I’d really like to see a more uniformed system to make that happen. I think that maybe blockchain might reveal some of the ways in which we can do that, but that’s maybe a future development. 

Karl: [00:21:11] I mean you’re trying to tap into something that it seems an interesting area of policy, government policy. So you’re also part of the Georgia sledded legislature representing, the district is 1995 here. Are there legislations that’s happening locally or federally to help corral what’s happening in this area. Especially with the internet because I see so much content being generated and I haven’t, I can’t imagine how someone could begin to manage and regulate all of that. 

Beth: [00:21:56] I think when it comes to managing your content and policing it, you know, I think one of the most important things anybody can do is just first to understand what your rights are. Hopefully they’re listening to your podcast today and they’re starting to pick up on the importance of this. As far as legislation goes, you know, we’re very fortunate in Georgia that about 10-12 years ago. We passed the, what is shorthand called the Georgia film tax credit, you know, which has been a great development for our state to attract the film business here. You know that is an engine of content creation, which has really been great. And so, you know down at the Capitol we’re certainly always, you know, in defense mode of that tax credit. You know, I think that it has so many benefits that we can’t even really measure. That really, that played a

very important role in my decision to get involved in public policy and to run for office. You know, I did not get into politics through politics. I got into it through the Arts and entertainment industry because I see firsthand  how smart state policy can really shape an entire industry and change lives. You know, bringing thousands of new job opportunities to Georgians and helping to develop a generation that has grown up with film and creativity and appreciation for the Arts right here in our own backyard. Georgia has a good history of you know of legendary music and I’m glad to see that happening now in the film industry. I bring up the film tax credit because there is a bill that has been proposed to create, well I should say a couple of years ago, they did pass what is shorthand known as the music tax credit. To essentially grant the music industry some of the same benefits that we granted to the film industry and to try to make sure we have more film business here. We certainly have a lot of talent in Atlanta, but anybody who’s been around the music industry in Atlanta will tell you that we lack some of the upper echelons of the business here. Which you know that like a lot of the record labels that used to be here have left or folded or just gone under. And so, you know, there’s lots that can be done to incentivize, you know music touring. That touring should originate in Georgia because that generates lots and lots of jobs. So they did pass a version of that bill before I arrived in the legislature. There are some issues with that bill. For example, it does provide some tax credits just like the film tax credit. The difference is in under that music legislation, those tax credits are not transferable. The transferability of those tax credits is key. 

Rico: [00:24:47] Transferable between businesses if they were purchased? 

Beth: [00:24:49] Correct. Because the concept of a tax credit is that it gets applied to your next project, right? So, you know, so some film companies may come here, make a film, they get the tax credit. Well, that has value. They can actually sell those tax credits to another company so that they can actually receive text benefit if that Film Production Company doesn’t otherwise have another project going on, right? And so the same could be true of the music tax credit. We created this incentive for production companies and for touring companies to bring their business to Georgia, but we did not make them transferable. And that makes… 

Rico: [00:25:29] Why did they? I mean, is there an another rationale that if it’s transferable maybe that business doesn’t come to Georgia? I mean is there a reason why? 

Beth: [00:25:38] You’ll have to ask the legislators who were there before me. But my understanding is that there was some hesitation about the bill to begin with so they thought well, let’s just get something on the books and we’ll fix it later. But we’re now in the Fix-It phase. But we have encountered some pushback there even though I do think that these are, these are common-sense changes that have bipartisan support. And I really want to encourage the the Arts entertainment working group who currently is vetting that bill to favorably pass it out of their committee. So it can go to ways and means. 

Rico: [00:26:14] Can I ask you about the trends as far as the movie industry goes? Because there’s always that talk that those credits will go away.  And people are fearful of that because then if that goes away, where’s all the production go? You know, that’s what happened to I think it was South Carolina?

Beth: [00:26:28] North Carolina.

Rico: [00:26:30] Where they nixed it. And then a lot of their industry just went away. 

Karl: [00:26:33] They came to Georgia.

Rico: [00:26:35] Yeah, which was good for us now. But there’s still talk, I  think when Kim came in there was some talk at some point. About his campaign about him wanting to do that, about removing that text printed. Do you see any trends there heading that way?

Beth: [00:26:48] You know every public statement that I’ve heard Kim say suggest that he is in support of continuing that tax credit. You know, some of his administration’s actions this year would suggest that maybe they don’t covet the film industry as much as I wish he did. You know because everything kind of works in an ecosystem, you change one thing about Georgia law that has an impact on other areas. And I have serious concerns about things like HP 481, the anti-abortion bill, you know. Which you know, a lot of people don’t want that here in Georgia. They think it is anti-business. And the film industry for the most part agrees with that but I don’t want to make a blanket statement about the film industry there’s certainly, you know, a multitude of political beliefs and affiliation within the film industry itself.  You know, so one of the challenges that we have with the film tax credit, the reason we always have to play defense on it, is because if you look at pure numbers, you see how much the tax credit quote-unquote costs in terms of lost revenue and you might see well that certainly is a lot of revenue that we’re losing. You know, you might question are we even breaking even on that? Is there a return on that investment? And I think it’s really hard to measure that because if you do away with the film tax credit all of that production business goes away, right? There’s, I mean and to me that would be a much larger hit to our state’s economy than if you just looked at how much the tax credit costs in terms of real dollars.

Karl: [00:28:15] I could echo that and I see it. All of the film business that moved into, Georgia generates additional dollars in support. If you look at from a real estate standpoint, AirBnB, since the film industry come and has taken off people that are investors in that part of the economy. All these folks need to be fed. So restaurants catering food, they need signage, they need support. But what I think is really, really understated is the longer the film industry exists here in Georgia. We’re building another generation of folks that are supportive of the Arts, skilled in the arts, able to create films which are jobs. Businesses tied around this other industry. If you look at what it did for California, how many people that live in California are artists are coming in there because the option is there. In New York City to film all where theater is really big and film, there’s a lot of artists that live and support and businesses that go there. It could be short-sighted to look at that how it impacts the other parts of the economy when you look at that. But I see small business owners that generate a lot of business from supporting the film studios here in Gwinnett County. There’s at least three of them that I know of that are driving economic activity. But I see young people choosing career paths that weren’t available 25 years ago before that was here. 

Rico: [00:29:49] That’s right.

Beth: [00:29:50] Yeah, I think you nailed it. You know, I’ll add a couple of more long-term views to this. You know, one of the things I love about the film industry is that it has relatively low environmental impact, right? You know people come in, they make a production, they don’t leave a permanent footprint with one exception. That you know, it can sometimes create a lasting legacy for some of these locations. For example, Rabun County, you know 30-40 years later is still known as the birthplace of Deliverance. And it’s kind of a local draw, right? Yeah and Senoia Georgia, home of the Walking Dead. I mean, you know, this generates you know additional ongoing opportunities in terms of film tourism. You know, I can draw some of those hardcore fans to locations like that. So I think there’s all kinds of benefits, you know. And another one is a lot of people don’t realize that Atlanta is a hotbed of advertising as well. The advertising community in Georgia is incredibly robust. Well, if you think about you know, the life cycle of a film or television show it’s short-term. You have people with these amazing talents in terms of on-screen Talent or behind the screen. You know in front of the camera, you know Gaffers, lighting, sound, all of that. Well when they’re not working on a film and television production a lot of those guys work in advertising, right? So, you know to have those two industries able to kind of coexist side-by-side strengthens both of them. 

Karl: [00:31:25] Have a friend that’s a camera, Steadicam operator and he does films and so on. But in between jobs, he does a lot for commercials, advertising. But that would be harder to find folks like him if the industry didn’t start generating the skill set in this capability within the market here.

Rico: [00:31:46] It took it took a decade, right?

Karl: [00:31:47] Yeah.

Rico: [00:31:48] I mean there was hardly any, just creating props for film sites, or electricians, or woodworkers, or HV AC, or you know, I mean those. As much as we have that industry room to build that infrastructure for the film industry is taking a decade to get there.

Karl: [00:32:06] So I’m curious. I know these arts start when you’re young. Entertainment, whether it can be Sports, it could be music and art. And there’s parents out there that have no real knowledge of how to guide and advise there. What would be some places where parents and people starting out in the business can start to educate themselves? One, about the rights that you mentioned about that they have but really, you know, understanding what are some of the things they need to start putting in place as they’re starting to develop these talents and start putting it out there. Where can they learn more about that? 

Beth: [00:32:40] Well, they can certainly come see me. It actually is quite common that when I am representing somebody who’s maybe a legal minor or you know is still very young, you know, the 18 to 21 range. That their parents will take, you know, almost an ownership stake in their career. It’s kind of, entertainment is kind of unique in that way. You know, if you go off and become a scientist or a lawyer your parents don’t usually get involved. But when it comes to entertainment, it’s arguably a good idea. Because so many people do get taken advantage of and if you know if your child is getting involved in film and television or music, you know, they really need somebody that they can trust to look out for their best interests until the day when they can fully you know, understand and appreciate the legal complexities of what they’re doing. You know, certainly a minor child cannot enter into a contract without their parents consent. There are all kinds of labor laws, you know for minor children on film sets. So I think there’s a lot that parents can do to. First encourage their children to explore the Arts. You know, it’s okay to you know, just you know to make mistakes. It’s okay to just experiment, you know, whether it’s with some kind of visual media or with film and television. I remember my parents have always had a video camera around and so, you know, that’s where I kind of got started in high school was we’d have a class project and I would make it a film. I still have those, by the way. And you know, it’s little things like that that just kind of build up over time and it ultimately impacts the career decisions that your child makes. So, you know I’ll throw out a pitch for myself if you want legal advise parents, you are welcome to come in to be an advocate for your child. You know, you can always in place of your minor child join some of the professional organizations that exist in Atlanta and around the country for various professions. So for example, the music industry,

we have the recording Academy, otherwise known as the Grammys, right? That’s a great networking opportunity, great networking organization. But they also do a lot of educational panels. There are equivalents in the the film industry. Its Georgia Production Partners is one that comes to mind. The Atlanta Film Society puts on the Atlanta film festival and they do a lot of Education Workshops. Yeah, you know if your child is into gaming there’s a Georgia game developers Association there. There’s a lot of parent can do you know to encourage their child and to protect them. And even one of the best things that a parent can do is just to you know, while their child is having fun creating, you know art. You know, if it seems like they’re moving in a direction of that becoming their profession, you know, it’s never too early to start talking with your child about what it means to have a business. You know, what it means to turn their art, you know into money. What it means to make a living in the entertainment industry because there’s not a lot of people that are in a position to have that conversation with artists and I really wish artists had the opportunity to have that conversation more often.

Karl: [00:35:59] I’m curious. Did you play many instruments or do music or what was your art of passion growing up? 

Beth: [00:36:06] I played clarinet in sixth grade band. And I play just enough piano to get by but I actually don’t have very, you know, a whole lot of musical talent myself. Which is partly why I do what I do because I very much wanted to be involved in the Arts and entertainment industry but I had basically no artistic talent myself. So I thought well, what’s the next hardest thing I can do. And I thought well, I’ve always you know, I’ve always been good at school. I will go to law school and become an advocate for people in the Arts and entertainment industry. 

Karl: [00:36:42] Oh, that’s fabulous. I know I was talking to someone a couple weeks ago and they create music on their laptops like so many people do. He does it for fun. And he spends hours and I could think of how many kids do that today.

Rico: [00:37:00] The software on there you can do your own beats, doing all sorts of stuff.

Karl: [00:37:04] They’re doing their own videos and so on but that conversation are early on, you know with their parents on starting to think about the business side of what they’re producing is an opportunity that could guide them. Because when they’re making choices under it’s fun and it’s a game for them when you’re younger, but some of them have some talent and starting to think about putting those things in whether it’s joining the organization, you mentioned. Having a conversation with an attorney that specializes in this so they can make the right choices early on. I always feel once their talent explodes all of a sudden everyone’s grabbing for pieces of it and they’re not prepared in those first few deals or the first few meetings they have. They’re not equipped to understand their rights and how to do that, so.

Rico: [00:37:55] You know, it’s funny because it’s some Industries like acting right to you do have an agent. You have to have an agent to be able to close a deal on an acting gig with the company, right? So some Industries you have some protection you still need a lawyer though everything right?  

Karl: [00:38:09] Absolutely. Well, I really want to thank you. You’ve given us a lot to share with folks that are starting to look at these creative arts and understand the business side. But just curious, you know, do you have anything coming up or things that are coming up as we’re getting late into the running out the final part of the year. Anything that you’ve got going on? 

Beth: [00:38:34] So a couple of things. You know between now and the end of the year and before the next legislative session starts is I’ve been doing a lot of outreach with some of the larger film studios in town. We just toured Eagle Rock studios in Norcross the other week. I actually have a friend who works there and he was excited about me running for office and he knew what I did for a living and said hey why don’t you come down to the studio. So we finally made that happen. It’s an amazing operation that they have going on and you wouldn’t even know it. It just sits in the, in a quiet industrial park in Norcross. So we’re, going to be touring Black Hole in a couple of weeks. We’re waiting to hear back from a couple of Studios. I mostly want some of these studios around town to know that they have an advocate at the state house, right? You know, I am the only legislator in Georgia, the only elected official who actually works in the entertainment industry. It’s a topic that a lot of people down at the Capitol like to talk about but I actually bring that professional experience to the table. Beyond that we have the Esports Summit coming up, you know, this is kind of a new tangential area of the entertainment industry that has really excited me and fascinated me and I’m looking to get more involved in the game industry here. So I will be at the Esports Summit. It’s kind of adjacent to Dreamhack which is coming up and…

Rico: [00:40:02] It’s running at about the same time. 

Beth: [00:40:04] Yeah, it’s a first it’s the Esports Summit and then kind of leads directly into Dreamhack. So it’s that weekend of November 14th through the 17th.

Rico: [00:40:11] The public’s allowed into dreamhack. So, I mean that’s a great place to go if you’re into gaming I mean it’s phenomenal. Thousands of gamers go in there. 

Beth: [00:40:20] It is. It has become the largest Sports industry, you know, eclipsing all of the others. It’s remarkable and I just, I know there’s a lot of young people there and I want to make sure that when they enter into contracts with some of these teams or they enter into some of these contests that they have protection. So I’ll be at that event and I look forward to hopefully meeting some people there. You know, my office is here at Atlanta Tech Park, so I’m not here every day, but if anybody’s up here at the park, feel free to seek me out. I’d love to chat with you.

Rico: [00:40:53] They can find you on Facebook at Beth Moore Entertainment Lawyer.

Beth: [00:40:57] Beth B. Moore simple. Yeah, I do include my middle name. There is another famous Beth Moore out there. So I have to distinguish myself. But yes, I do have a Facebook page where I post a lot of helpful articles kind of introducing folks to some you know, some basic legal concepts to help them along the way. I have a Instagram account and Twitter account. So you can find me there at BethBMoore. 

Karl: [00:41:23] I’d love to share some of that stuff as we talked to business owners and a lot of folks that are thinking about their kids especially, you mentioned Esports. I could imagine how many, kids are trying to convince their parents that there’s a, my career and future in that. But they’re actually not lying. It is actually true to do that. But I think getting education and knowledge out there for folk, getting them in touch with folks like yourself to begin to protect them early on and even incorporating building a business around what they do is really important for them to think about that from the beginning. But we want to thank our guest Beth Moore attorney specializing in entertainment law and intellectual property and she’s also our local Georgia State Representative. You can reach her on various methods both online and here at Atlanta Tech Park. And really thank you for sharing some of these tips and highlighting an industry that’s so large globally, but when it comes from the business side, no one really is talking, exposing and starting to get educated on this. And this is a great first step. So we’d love having you back in and continue the conversation as time goes on. We also want to thank Atlanta Tech Park for hosting the Capitalist Sage podcast. If you’re starting a business and looking for a great place, environment to work, where you can get to meet people from diverse backgrounds, technology, entertainment, law, government. It’s a great place to build community. And so you can start by attending an event at Atlanta Tech Park and Peachtree Corners. If you like what you see schedule yourself a tour and find yourself a home to build your business. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld business advisors in Atlanta Peachtree. Our business advisors are able to help consult whether it’s you’re starting a business or thinking about starting a business. You’re in business and trying to grow it or you’re trying to exit the business and find a buyer. Our team of consultants help people through each phase of that process and Rico.

Rico: [00:43:28] Yes?

Karl: [00:43:29] What’ve you got going on?

Rico: [00:43:30] I have a lot of things going on with many different hats all just pouring down. I’m a publisher of Peachtree Corners magazine. And if you haven’t seen it already. This is the last latest issue that’s come out.

Karl: [00:43:42] Great episode. Another another great issue.

Rico: [00:43:45] Thank you. Thank you. The next one is 20 under 20. Some of the best kids in Peachtree Corners are going to be highlighted that have either impacted the city or their family. Or have done something great in sports, entertainment, science. So we’re going to be doing that a major a cover story for the next issue that’s coming out. Just the end, just before

Thanksgiving. So we’re going to be doing that. As far as Mighty Rockets what I do, my day job, when I’m not doing the publishing part is that I do all sorts of content Marketing Online for companies. Lately I’ve been doing, done a few stop motion animation videos for product videos that I’ve been involved in and we’ve been doing a bit of personal branding for a couple of clients that just want to build their personal brand online. Because of the services that they sell is consultant and such. So busy, I don’t mind. I don’t have a, I can’t do that nine to five thing that we keep talking about. And I’ve heard that book about working seven hours a week. And the rest of it you don’t have to. Or seven days a week whatever it’s something I can’t do that and think my clock doesn’t stop until midnight.

Karl: [00:44:55] I understand. Where can folks find and follow what we do online?

Rico: [00:45:01] Sure. They can find Capital, well, if you search Google Capitalist Sage podcast, you will find us. We’re on iTunes, Iheart, Spotify, SoundCloud  YouTube. ITunes, obviously, leave a review there if you do listen to it there. You can go to LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com and you’ll see playlists on the homepage of the latest episodes that we’ve done.

Karl: [00:45:23] Absolutely. And also on Facebook, Peachtree Corners Life. You can go follow us on there. Everytime we post a  new episode it will come up in your feed so you can check in there. And you can follow us on any of those others so you’ll be alerted when there’s a new episode and makes it really easy to share with friends and other folks.

Rico: [00:45:43] You can watch the video on Facebook or on YouTube or listen to the podcast. 

Karl: [00:45:48] Absolutely. Well, thank you everybody. Really it’s been a pleasure to continue to share these episodes with folks. So stay tuned for our next episode. Alright, have a great day.

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Hargray Fiber Partners with Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners to Provide Critical Fiber Connectivity and Infrastructure

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Hargray Fiber

Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners announced its strategic partnership with Hargray to provide critical infrastructure for its Lab and the innovators that use it each and every day. Curiosity Lab is a 5G-enabled autonomous vehicle and smart city living laboratory located in Peachtree Corners, Ga., a northern suburb of Atlanta.

Since its inception 70 years ago, Hargray has grown from a local telephone company to an industry telecommunications leader, offering a wide variety of internet, TV and phone services throughout the southeast. Hargray Fiber, based in Savannah, GA, operates more than 2,000 route-mile fiber network in cities throughout the southeastern United States. Recognizing Curiosity Lab’s commitment to the advancement of smart city technology, Hargray partnered with the Lab to supply it with fiber connectivity. Throughout Curiosity Lab, Hargray’s fiber optic cable will serve as the key infrastructure backbone, with all services using or connected to the Lab’s network benefiting from Hargray’s efficient, seamless transfer of data.

Hargray Fiber will continue its expansion in the Peachtree Corners market by bringing its full suite of communication products including enhanced data, voice and video services including Hosted Unified Communications, Metro-Ethernet, multi-gigabit symmetrical circuits and video services all delivered exclusively over Hargray’s 100% fiber-optic network.

“Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners is a one-of-a-kind location for innovative smart city, wireless and autonomous vehicle companies to test and demo their technology,” said Chris McCorkendale, Senior Vice President, for Hargray Fiber. “Our partnership with Curiosity Lab will help these companies advance their technology and bring to market a broader and more robust suite of communication services to market.”

“As Hargray Fiber continues to expand its southeastern presence, we’re excited to offer leading fiber services to Lab users,” said Betsy Plattenburg, executive director of Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners. “With Hargray’s Fiber support, companies moving to Peachtree Corners and operating in the Lab will benefit from quick, easy connectivity.”

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MY SALON Suite Celebrates Official Grand Opening of at Town Center

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My Salon Suite

MY SALON Suite in Peachtree Corners celebrated its grand opening on Oct. 21 at its new location at Town Center. Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason was on hand to perform the ribbon cutting, and residents were invited to tour the salon and enjoy refreshments.

A wide range of beauty and personal care services are available at MY SALON Suite, including hair, make-up, skin care, microblading, eyelash extensions and massage therapy. MY SALON Suite provides expansive private salon suites, luxurious décor, elite furnishings and custom amenities to member professionals, who operate their salon businesses independently.

To learn more, visit mysalonsuite.com/peachtree-corners.

Below are grand opening pictures including individual grand openings within MY SALON Suite.

Photography by Remi DeLong

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