If you’ve ever tried to break into the American market as an entrepreneur from another country, you will understand how daunting, exciting, and challenging it can be. You will get all these emotions at the same time. Yet, a Russian entrepreneur and business owner, Azganush Misakyan, made it look almost easy to break into the American market as an entrepreneur from another country.
When the Museum of Illusions turned to her for help in planning their launch into the U.S market, she did something beyond the ordinary which took her out of her comfort zone and brought great success. Taking on the new challenge, she built a new team specifically for the project, obtained the right permits legally, supervised construction and planned a successful launch within the period of one month!
Before you go on thinking that it is all bells and whistles, let me quickly add that Azganush Misakyan was already an experienced entrepreneur with various projects and ideas in Russia before planning the Museum of Illusions launch which made her very successful. Her Airbrushing School in Moscow which was a great success contributed greatly to building her strengths as a person and a rugged entrepreneur.
Over the years, she has gained experience by specializing in designing, developing, and launching 3D commercial art projects for major museums. Although Azganush Misakyan had plenty to show for her talent in creating profitable launches, she has no prior experience of working with the American market. So, how did she ensure success in an unfamiliar territory outside of her comfort zone? Let’s hear from her.
Before working with the Museum of Illusions, you were already an accomplished entrepreneur with a great track record. What does your work involve?
Every stage of making sure an arts premiere or business launch proves successful brings in revenue and attracts new clients or visitors. My take is somewhat unusual. I tend to focus beyond the launch itself and look at the bigger picture. Rather than attempting to attract huge investments prior to the opening, I plan powerful launches that bring in the money needed to continue expanding the business.
Art related commercial ventures and 3D commercial arts and entertainment launches constitute the majority of my work and I have a track record of success for these clients.
How did you go about making this project a reality?
I started by studying the market – museums, exhibitions, similar business ventures and projects in the U.S. On what principle do they work? How much do tickets cost? What are other potential revenue streams?
My aim for the launch was not to merely break even but to create a profit. I had to aim high. America was unfamiliar territory and it was tough to estimate how successful the venture would be.
But was it successful?
It was. We decided on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles for the location, counting on the huge flow of tourists to give us a boost if needed. Even so, the final count of the ticket sales exceeded expectations. 7,000 tickets were sold on the first day and more than 20,000 altogether, during 15 days of sales, that amounted to over $250,000.
Why tackle the unfamiliar American market?
I had no experience of working with American audiences at this point, but I decided to accept the challenge and make it happen. The life of an entrepreneur is not about reaching a comfort zone and resting on your laurels, but about finding new ways to challenge yourself and succeed.
What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced when organizing the exhibition?
Construction was one of the most difficult stages. In America, a lot of time and effort is required for organizing the necessary permits. You need permission for everything. The locals even have a joke that you need a permit to hammer in a nail! And then the construction work itself has to be carried out by people who have a specialist license, valid in the specific state in which they are going to be working. This is why awareness of local legislation and the help of an experienced lawyer, able to handle things on-site, is so essential.
Based on your personal experience, what advice do you have for entrepreneurs and businesses planning a launch in the American market?
Start by communicating with your potential customers and gathering data. Do a poll, organize focus groups, perform a preliminary market analysis and create a profile of your target audience. This will help to ensure that your venture is relevant and to identify profitable niches.
Hire a good, local lawyer as early on in the venture as possible. Legal advice from someone who is an expert in their field and understands local requirements and mentality will be invaluable at every stage. So, don’t try to cut the costs here.
Speaking of hiring, don’t rush the recruitment stage. Offer your potential employees a trial period before full-time employment to make sure they are a good fit for your business.
And most importantly, be patient and plan ahead. In America, it can take longer to obtain permits and coordinate various aspects of launching a business or event, so take this into account and start early to avoid delays and unnecessary stress.
Are you planning on continuing to work with the American audiences?
As a matter of fact, after the Museum of Illusions launch had proven a success, other high-profile clients, especially in the areas of art-related businesses and 3D commercial Art, began to contact me with requests for help with expanding to the U.S. market. There is definitely potential there for a profitable venture. So I’m currently working towards launching my own business in America, called Launch & Go, which will be intended to help with the opening of U.S. branches for non-U.S. companies.