Today we’d like to introduce you to Laurie Kantor Finn.
Laurie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started my career in the entertainment industry as a segment producer for Entertainment Tonight, followed by creating and producing another daily entertainment news show, Access Hollywood…where I had the pleasure of creating content with the likes of Ellen Degeneres, Jerry Seinfeld, George Clooney, and Oprah Winfrey! I continued to work with celebrity talent, producing photo shoots and interviews, as West Coast Editor at Stuff Magazine.
Most recently, I headed up the talent and casting department at the NBCUniversal cable network, G4TV, which featured a lot of tech and gaming content. When my network was canceled, I looked for the next opportunity and decided to pivot to become an entrepreneur.
My husband, Seth, and I launched Digital Dragon 5 years ago after realizing there were no after school programs for kids who whose passions lie in learning and creating technology.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The biggest and one of the most rewarding challenges in my career has been the journey of starting a new business from scratch. I was fortunate to have a career where I worked for successful companies, in which a whole staff of people were in charge of making the machine run smoothly (most of the time).
When you start your own business, you have to do it all–everything from putting up the money to taking out the trash! After five years, we have grown in many ways, including balancing the wearing of many hats, learning new tricks, adapting quickly to changes, and by assigning someone else to take out the trash!
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Digital Dragon – what should we know?
Digital Dragon is an amazing experience for tech-minded kids aged 5-18. Kids will learn a new language, become makers, and have fun at the same time. Digital Dragon offers an alternative destination for after-school and weekend classes, spring, summer, and holiday camps, events, and parties.
We are most proud of how many students we can teach on a daily basis, and expose them to many new skill sets in the tech landscape that weren’t available just five years ago. What sets us apart is that we also partner with many public and independent schools in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Culver City, and beyond that are interested in teaching technology as a standalone class or integrating tech education into the rest of their curriculum.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Since my partner and I launched this venture together, we created an expanded partnership beyond our home life, which many of our friends warned us might not be a great idea to mix business and marriage! We appreciated the honesty, but moved forward regardless. When you start a business, people like to give you advice even when you don’t ask…which is both great and sometimes even humorous.
My best mentors and cheerleaders are former colleagues and amazing friends who know me really well in both my work mode and personal life, and make themselves available to talk through issues or ideas. Some of my husband’s closest friends from childhood and other supporters are successful in a variety of industries. We are so fortunate that they provide us with great feedback and insight into running a business.
Lastly, we built Digital Dragon in the neighborhood where our son goes to school, so we have had great support from teachers, parents, and the local Santa Monica community.