Average to Savage
Average to Savage

Episode · 1 year ago

Walter Kinzie | Average To Savage EP153


This is the one hundred and fifty-third episode of the Average to Savage podcast featuring entrepreneur Walter Kinzie. Paul Guarino talked with Walter Kinzie discussing how he got into entrepreneurship, creating Encore Live, and what's next for Encore Live.  

Follow Walter Kinzie 

https://www.instagram.com/WalterJKinzie https://www.instagram.com/encoreliveevents/ 

This podcast interview with Walter Kinzie was originally recorded on October 21, 2021

...this is the average to Savage podcast with paul Guerrino, everyone and anyone athletes celebs and much more. What's up everybody. I'm back for another episode of the average savage podcast. Our special guest today is walter kenzie. He's the ceo and founder of Encore Live walter. How's it going? It's great. It's good to be here with you today. Yeah, I appreciate you coming on. Um let's just jump right into it. So how how did you end up starting on core live crazy story. I uh told my dad after going to my first concert when I was seven years old that this is what I was going to do for a living. I wanted to be behind the scenes. I wanted to do something that being bring big crowds together. Uh it was kind of a A sad story at first a friend of mine got really sick when I was 18. I also was sick and in the hospital um and we were both pores can be and but I had insurance, he didn't and so uh and his illness was terminal, so he was way worse off than I was and I wanted to help him out. I want to raise the money, but I also knew I had to let a lot of people know how sick this kid was. Um in order to get that support and I kind of went back to that dream I had since I was seven and uh put a committee together in the community and a bunch of people came together and we threw a concert for him. It confirmed that this is what I want to do for a living. And, and it also, we raised all the money that they needed uh, to help him achieve the things in life that he wanted. So it's a very fulfilling experience. Um, I had to have a kidney transplant and so after that I went and got a real job to help pay the bills and pay off the debt. But I told him in my job interview, I said the day I become debt free, I'm gone and My paycheck December 1, 2010, I paid off my last piece of medical debt associated with the transplant. I had $500 left over to my name and I use that $500 to start encore live. Um, I, the original goal was that I would throw big rock concerts and country music festivals and things like that. But I found this world that I didn't even know existed where the ultra wealthy through these lavish parties and um, and before you know it, I'm, I'm hiring the biggest celebrities in the world to come entertain these little intimate crowds for birthday parties and anniversaries and things like that. Really just built a, built a pretty big business out of kind of being the go to guy for the world's most affluent families. Para level that we um had a convention business. The conferences, trade shows, things like that. We help blue chip companies grow their brand through cultural based events and then the pandemic hit and all of that went away. And so it caused our pandemic pivot, which Today has manifests itself as encore nights. We produce uh massive concerts in one destination and broadcast them out to micro fan bases in smaller venues all over the world. Since the pandemic hit, we've thrown a little over 4500 events In 36 countries and at 1.7 billion people come out to see the biggest stars in the world and not one person got sick uh in the program. And now we're producing more concerts annually than about any other company in the world. Well, I mean all that, the whole story is awesome and amazing. Um so going back to when you were saying you were seven years old, how did you know at seven years old, you wanted to throw concerts and what like what made you want to throw? Like, what was that? Did you go to a concert or something like what, What was that? Great question. So my dad uh was a volunteer for the local county fair and our county fair, Lafayette county Kansas, my dad's a county commissioner there and has been really lived a life of service and he's my hero. I Uh, he's you know, he hasn't made a whole lot of money in his life, but he's been serving his community for...

...45 years as the town judge or a police officer, whatever, he's had a bunch of different jobs. So volunteer fireman, but he uh, he volunteered at our county fair to put on a concert and He didn't have a very big, but my town only had at the time like 130 or 140 people total that lived in the town And he threw this concert and like three or 400 people showed up. I've never seen that many people in one place before, you know, and you look, you know, today, you know, we entertain hundreds of thousands of people and some of the shows we produce. But at the time I've never seen anything like it before and it was just so cool to see something my dad did as just a, as something to serve his community. And all these people came out to see it and it was amazing to me and and I loved everything about it and it was crazy. I remember the very specific moment that the band walked up and started speaking into the microphone and the crowd went nuts. And now 30 some years later it's the very same thing that I'll work for months or longer on a show. But it's that moment when the stadium is full and the stage is set and that artist walks out and stepped up to the microphone and you can bust into a song or says hello, everybody and everything. The crowd goes nuts. That is the adrenaline rush that I live for. That is the moment that I live for this, that everybody has come together for this one moment. All because I've been spending my time organizing and putting together and they all decided that's where they want to be that time. So it's, uh, I love it. That's what gets me going. Yeah, it's awesome. And I was doing some research on you and I went on your linkedin page and like under your education, um, You proudly said, you finished 155 out of 160 in your high school class. And then, um, and you're, and you said, you dropped out of Kansas state and you said there's always a good stories behind a dropout. So, so let's hear it. So that, that's just it. I, I was number 1 55 out of 1 60. I, how did you, how did you get into Kansas state if you were one for the, so, uh, so first of all, for eighth grade, I had to beg my parents and beg my teacher to just let me graduate. And literally, the excuse I made in the eighth grade was the same excuse I made four years later with my high school principal. I'm gonna be fine. Like I'm gonna be fine. Like you don't have, I don't need this, I don't need this piece of paper to say I completed this. So just let me graduate. You don't need to hold me back one more year, literally, I had the same excuse whenever I was in the eighth grade as as I did in high school and it was um, you know, but it was, I was so low in my class in high school because I was so active, I was student body president, I was president of all these different clubs, president, all these different organizations. I missed 95 days of my senior year of high school because I was out on activities, I skipped school, one time total, I got busted, got my ass beat and I'll never, I never did it again. Um so I was gone so much because I was busy with other school stuff and I just didn't care as much about the classroom and uh I probably should have cared more and they probably the only guy in Lafayette County high school history to Take Algebra 1, 4 years in a row and still never pass. Um and then in case state was the same thing, I got out there, I literally convinced the admissions office, I'm like, look at everything else I'm doing, like, I am a good kid, I just don't make good grade. Um and I got up there and I um uh but ultimately that's when I got sick and I, I had to go into the hospital and like two weeks in two K state, I was in this fraternity, but there was a hospital right across street from the fraternity and I literally like two weeks into school, I checked into that hospital...

...and that began a three year journey where I was just constantly in the hospital and uh um but it uh so you know, I was in a college town, I just wasn't going out with my buddies or anything like that, so Had my kidney transplant, had like $1 million dollars in dead or something crazy like that, I don't think it was that much but it was a lot. And um and I just I had a decision to make it 20 years old, I filed bankruptcy and finish school or do I roll up my sleeves and go to work and I made the decision that I didn't want to bankruptcy on my record at 20 that that college just wasn't gonna be for me. Uh And I was gonna go to work, My cousin drove a BMW, I called him and I'm like you sell drugs or what do you do? Like how can you afford a BMW, no one in Edna Kansas drives a BMW. And he was like, I sell mattresses for a company called mattress firm, I'm like I want to sell mattresses. Um Lo and behold that's where I went to work. So as Ronnie. Um Yeah and then like, was there something that you, it seems like you kinda always knew you were going to be an entrepreneur, like, like what was that like just starting your first business and then like what have you learned like since then I'm gonna tell you something that's absolutely insane. Um I got my first business loan when I was seven years old and seven was like a big, what is? I went to my first concert, I don't know what I feel bad about my seven year old life now, like I was like I don't even remember it, I decided what I was going to do for a living and I got my first mrs Sloan. So my the story there is uh they wouldn't even let that happen these days. But the story there is uh my dad co signed for me and I took out a loan to buy a pig um and that's going to raise the pig And uh and then I'd sell it and hopefully for a profit and that's what I did and then I used the profits to reinvest in my next businessman. So I took out a business one every year from seven until 18 and I always had to sit down with my banker and go through my checkbook which you know was the P. And L. Statement and do a business review and it was the greatest experience of my life and it actually breaks my heart that it would never be allowed to happen today but literally I sat down quarterly with my dad and my banker and I went over, this is how much I spent in fat bills and this is how much I spent at the feed store feeding my animal and raising it by the time I was a senior in high school I had a cattle ranch and like I had a full blown operation and uh and thank goodness we did because selling that operation is what helped fund a lot of my medical stuff, but uh but it was nuts and you know, but from seven years old on, I've had a business since I was seven and uh in one way shape or another and it has just been, it's been what it is and you look at it today, I've got four different companies and I've got two different business plans drawn up on my next to um endeavors one day soon. So right now everything I'm doing um is an entertainment, but in the near future all of my businesses will be somewhat hospitality and entertainment focused and so my wife and I are going to open up a fast food restaurant, a new hopefully chain that takes off that we're pretty excited about and then we also have an Airbnb business so well, that's doing really well. So, so anyway, that's uh you know, so just, I've always had that my dad was uh I'm sure his dad was an entre my, I'm named after my great grandfather who literally when the ambulance came to pick him up to take him to the hospital, he knew it was the end of his road and instead of just going directly to the hospital, he paid the ambulance driver to drive him through his business. And so he could see it one last time before he went to the hospital. And uh you know it's just it's uh it's a part of my family, it's part of our D. N. A. And that's who we are. That's that's once again that's crazy and awesome story. Um And that's crazy because I interview like a lot of athletes and...

...it's crazy that you say like seven because usually like Around like I'd say like 7 to don't know maybe like 13. They usually figure out that they're really good at that sport that they're like that's so that's like a that's like a crazy thing to me just that you're saying. So like it all adds up like I feel like, well even even as a my daughter is a seven year old and I firmly believe she needs to be a kid. Like my oldest daughter, I've had two year old and a seven year old. My oldest daughter, she needs to be a kid and we we worked really hard to keep her kind of anchored as a kid but she sees what I do, she sees the things I'm doing and she can't help but talk about what she wants to be when she grows up and I love I love that spirit that a child has in that and so we spent a lot of time talking about being a leader, you know, uh girls you see all those memes of different things about let girls bossy or that girls, you know whatever. I always try to translate it for my daughters that no, you're just being a leader. And and so and it's funny because she wins all these crazy awards at school and her academics are fine because she's got a smart mom. But um but a lot of what she a lot of the reason why she wins these things, because they always specifically call out that she's the leader of the class and and I just love that. And so I just, you know, I don't want it to happen too quick, I want her, I want both of my girls to be kids and enjoy life, but it's so crazy because I've been telling this story about my seven year old life for a decade now and now I have a seven year old and it's like holy crap, like now I'm watching it happen to her and um so I'm trying to slow it down as much as I can, but I'm convinced both of my girls will be entrepreneurs as well. Yeah, for sure. Um now going back to Encore Live, how do you like how do you how do these concerts get set up? Like what's the process? Yeah, so uh so on core live, the best way to describe that company is that is that company is a B two B company, people companies hire us to come in and put on events on their behalf on core nights is our B two C company. That's the one where I'm going out and negotiating with the artists and then we have a distribution pipeline of over 2000 venues around the world. And so we're working with the biggest entertainers in the world right now. We're working on our 2022 line up. Um, can't give any spoiler alerts, but it's going to be a massive year. Uh, we're coming out of the gate really strong and early May with our first show and it's going to be big time. So we are, uh, so we're anxious about that, but we will, so we're brokering deals with artists now. The artists are going to get to film these shows wherever they want in the world And then we partnered with some other companies on some technology and the artist will be somewhere and then we will broadcast that show live globally. We, we literally operating 24 time zones. And so, um, uh, we'll broadcast that show globally and they'll have fans from all over the world and you think about it. These artists, they do global tours, the new world tours, international tours, but nobody goes to 40 countries, Nobody is, nobody's, you know, I was talking to Jon bon Jovi about a couple months ago whenever he was part of our, Our lineup in 21. And, and I'm like, man, if you tour for the next two decades, you're not gonna make it to 30 of the countries that we just put you in front of these fans. And so it's good for the artists. They get to monetize a group of fans that that never get to pay a concert ticket to go. And it's good for and the fans because they're getting in a concert experience to go see a show live that no one else has ever seen before and being played specifically for them. And so um the language barriers can be tough sometimes, but they love the music and so it works out music, music is a universal language. Um What about like, what, what was like the first concert that you put on? Awesome? I love the question. So um the, so the first one, um it's crazy, Crazy.

Everything I do is crazy. Everything every, everything I do is crazy. So the, so the first one was from my friend Corey and that got the word out, that was a lot of fun, but maybe the way I'll answer is the first one is on four live. Uh Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, so I um I was uh, when I was trying to get the business going, I was just, I was working every gig I possibly could as a, my full time job selling mattresses, but I was literally, I would just for free, I would go and work at concerts, just trying to learn and meet people and network and do everything I could and um it was in March of 20 a 2000 and 4, 2000 and five, I was working a show in Dallas and I was backstage and I wasn't the bouncer, I was pushing cases, I was helping out wherever I could, but there was this guy back there that was belligerent and drunk and whatnot, and one of the band members came over and got me for the band that's playing and I was like, hey can you get this guy out of here? And so I went, I'm like man, we gotta go, I wasn't the bouncer but I'm a big guy, so it made sense and so I'm walking this guy out, he was like man, I'm not trying to cause problems, I just want this band to play in my backyard Here I am. A guy's making like 30 grand a year, they can, there's nobody on the planet that can afford to have this band play in their backyard, that's not something that happens, This band just made hundreds of thousands of dollars tonight. And and so anyway, but he gives me his card and I promised him I'm going to call him and but I never really took it serious and like three weeks later uh we finally connect and the guy's like, man, are we gonna do this or what? And he's sober And I'm like, you really can afford to pay to have a major rock band come and play in your backyard and to call his bluff. I was like, I'm gonna need the money up front, I'm gonna need it in cash thinking you know when the time comes, there's just no way he's going to deliver and you're like, well you want to come over tonight? And I'm like, yeah. And he was like, okay, I'll have the money for you. And I get there. And he tosses me a manila envelope with a couple $100,000 in it. And I'm like, what am I gonna do? And uh, I left that night, I drove to walmart, Mind you, I'm in a car that I have to crawl in and out of the back window to be able to get in the doors, don't even open. Like I am so broke and I've got this manila envelope with a couple $100,000 in it. I go to walmart and buy the biggest safe I can physically carry out of there. Not because I was worried about carrying out there, but I lived on a three story apartment. I was going to carry this thing up three flights of stairs And I carry it upstairs, throw every article of clothing on it. I put the money in the safe and I literally, the bank didn't open until 7:30 AM on Monday. I never left my apartment, I just stayed there and watched the money and uh, but ultimately we through a private party on the lake out in west Texas. We had six or seven uh, kind of country and rock bands out there. Uh some of them are still going today, headliner was cross, Canadian ragweed and we had randy Rogers, Jason, boland, stoney Larue, weight bow and we had a bunch of big kind of texas acts. There was someone at that party that then called me and said, uh hey, I want you to help me have George strait in my backyard and I was like, oh my and it just kind of started and then from there, like I just started doing kind of big entertainer after big interference every time I do one of these shows there was someone in the crowd that then was like, hey, I want to do this for my friends and before long, you know, that's just who these people hung out with and before long I just kind of become the go to guy that you wanted a really crazy party and with big entertainment you called me and I, you know, I also, because I...

...didn't grow up in that last time I view it as an advantage because I didn't have any preconceived notion about how these parties would go and, and so what ended up happening was traditionally these things are pretty stuffy and people were black tie and it was, you know, it was very formal and I was like screw that, we're going to have a party like this, you will remember you were here for the rest of your life and I found myself having to talk my clients into not having black tie events, let's go do something different where people don't have to get dressed up that can just come and be themselves and have the time of their lives. And uh and we've kind of tried to harness that spirit all along the way and it's really worked out great for us and and we took that same kind of philosophy as we started doing brand activation events for major companies and, and corporate conferences and corporate events and just like if you're gonna hire us, your company better be better off because we were here um and we better tell a story that's so outstanding that that the whole world wants to pay attention and we launched, you know, the Pokemon go app for Pokemon go, and it was, you know, we all remember how insanely successful that launch was to date, it's still the most successful app launch in the history of the app store and I'm proud of that um and we've worked with a bunch of big brands, you know, facebook dr pepper and what not and we just help them do kind of impossible things that um, that that really helped advance their initiatives. So it's been a lot of fun. Speaking of that, you also worked with UFC in the rematch of dust and korean economy area. So how did that come about? Uh, we always knew that when we got into this B two C business that we weren't just going to have to be, we weren't just gonna be a music that sports were going to be an important part of that. And so, um, there was a, there was a Mayweather fight that was coming together hadn't been announced yet. Um, it ultimately manifested itself as jake paul and, and Floyd Mayweather um last summer. Um, but in the process of trying to pull that together, we got introduced to the folks at UFC and um, Connor was going to be fighting out of Dubai in january. Um they've already signed deals with amazon and ESPN plus our platform is different. Yeah. You know, we don't broadcast to the home, you can't get our content on your device or anything. You've got to go, it's very important to us that our stuff happened in social settings that people can be together, come together to enjoy the spirit of the moment. And so, um, we pushed ourselves that way. They loved it. We broadcast the show across the United States had incredible attendance. It also gave us a chance to try out our new technology and so we were one of three to broadcast live from Dubai and um we kind of, we woke up on monday morning after the fight with a couple of piste off major brands because our fans found out four minutes and 33 seconds quicker because we didn't have any glitches with our technology. And until a lot of, uh, the other two companies, fans were finding out from ours on twitter who won the fight. Um, and you know, we'll fight didn't last very long. So that's uh, that's the way it all kind of worked out, but it was, it was a great experience. Um, the technology was flawless. Uh, we had from Nova Scotia to Anchorage, Alaska and all throughout the United States, we had tons of fans coming out and it was really fun. I went and watched the show at a venue in texas And you know, it's a cold kind of January night. There's everybody that got the grills out there tailgating and, and really, they had never been able to experience the UFC fight like that before. And so the reviews were insane. And, and so we're looking for additional ways as we go into 22 to partner with groups, um, like UFC, you know, Mayweather, somebody like that, We're gonna throw down a great big fight next summer. We want to snatch that up. We're also really inspired by, you know what, like Michael and paul rabble are doing with lacrosse, we think, you know, that that's such a rabid fan base and we have a lot of distribution in New...

England and throughout the east coast. And so I think there's gonna be some opportunities to just, you know, work with these kind of specialty groups that are doing really fascinating stuff and, and uh, and really bring, bring a new way to view sports. You know, you're not in a bar, you're not at home, you're tailgating. And um, it's no different than going to the football stadium on sunday tailgating, but then you don't have to leave the tailgate to watch the sport and that's, that's what's beautiful about our model and, and fans are just eating it up. Yeah. Like I'm already, like, when you said there was four months head, I was like, yeah, I need to watch that stream, I need to be at that. That's funny. Crystal clear is beautiful. I was proud of the team. They did a really good job broadcasting it. Yeah, for sure. I'm gonna have to check it out next. I mean, I don't know if you have any events in Connecticut. Oh yeah, the only state in America that I don't have a venue, it's Delaware for whatever reason, joe needs to give me something in Willington or something. But I, yeah, I don't have anything in Delaware other than that we're the other for the United States were all throughout Canada Ireland. Um, most of the european Union and then Australia and new Zealand also throughout Asia. And then now Germany and South America's opening back up. And so, uh, we're expanding rapidly throughout south America and central America. Um, and so far 22 season will be picking up a lot of venues in, in that part of the world as well. So nice. All right. You ready for some fun questions? Let's go. All right. What's your favorite genre music? Ooh, classic rock. All right. What's your, what's your favorite song right now? Uh, Field? I don't, I shouldn't say I feel dumb singing, but that dang song by the kid Lori? It's just like, I can't get it out of my yeah, for, for what? I saw him at the I Heart Music Festival a couple weeks ago and I'm just like, I cannot get the dang song out of my head and every time I get on Tiktok seems like everyday Tiktok has set to that music right now. So that's funny. Who's uh, who's like a artist that you haven't done a concert for that? You want to do one for Elton, john. All right. That would be doing. Uh, what about like, what's uh, what was like the, what was like the biggest one you put on? I did the first private party ever for garth brooks and as part of the deal, I made him bring his tour rig and it's what's fascinating is that actually struck up this crazy friendship between the two of us and um, he's one of the most, he's a very important part of my life now. And uh, but um, so we're in a field in the middle of nowhere and I've got this massive stadium rig And nobody knows who's playing that as a secret. And then all of a sudden my customer announces ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Garth Brooks and he shoots up out of the state just like, he's in the middle of a stadium and there's like 400 people in the crowd. It was the most incredible moment in my life. That's crazy. Yeah. You have some crazy story. That's all I'm like, I feel like I need to like, be a fly on your shoulder and just like, see what's going on. Come on buddy, you'll have some stories to tell. I promise you that. I also, I also put together, I'll tell you this. Maybe the craziest thing I've ever done is I've made a band one time and I put everybody in the band was in the rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And so I put Mick Fleetwood on drums, Christine McVie from Fleetwood Mac was on keys, had steve Miller from the steve Miller band, on lead vocals, and Billy Gibbons from Zz top on lead guitar And they played 24 # one hits from all the bands and crushed it. Everybody was very confused when they came out there. Like, they recognize billy Gibbons because who doesn't recognize the beer? But then they see Mick Fleetwood back there and he's just a behemoth of a man. And most people just looked right past steve miller on lead vocals, but then they realized holy steve miller and dude, it was crazy. It was absolutely insane. You...

...put together a fantasy team. That's right, that's right. Well I appreciate you coming on. And uh, could you let the listeners know where they could follow you and your company on social media? Yeah. Uh, my stuff is really easy, just walter Kinzie, twitter facebook and instagram and then on core nights on core driving nights on for all the socials for my, um, for my fan based stuff. And then Encore live for on all social media handles for, for all of our private stuff.

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