One of the most popular features at the OM Expo at LITE in early November was the BMW test drive — a 360-degree virtual reality test drive powered by TANTRUM Lab, one of two businesses under the TANTRUM brand started by Scotland native and Lafayette transplant, Elliot Green. TANTRUM Exp focuses on creating memorable, brand-focused, consumer lifestyle events. TANTRUM Lab is a new venture specifically focused on creating virtual reality systems for technical training, consumer experiences and health care provider applications. I sat down with Green after the OM Expo to get to know him better.
Moving to Lafayette from New York City is quite a change. What has been the best aspect of growing your business in Lafayette?
The best thing I’ve experienced is the people and the business support networks. In New York, I went to a small business bureau for advice and the only help I received was “build a website” — not exactly ground-breaking stuff. In Lafayette, the support available in the community is outstanding. I’ve met local business groups who have helped develop our physical offices and groups that have helped our staff with practical training, local meet-ups and even financial aid specifically for technology-related business. Overall, it’s the people of Louisiana and Acadiana that have made the biggest difference with an open, progressive mindset relating to new business and how to help it grow and succeed.
Tell us about a time when you had to push through a tough moment or decision.
The hardest decisions for me are the ones that require a certain amount of blind faith because the right decision isn’t clear at the time. Starting TANTRUM Lab was a leap of faith for me. I knew there was a market, I knew the product, and I knew Lafayette had the talent. I just needed to resolve my own mind to accept, focus and move forward without hesitation, without looking back.
Tell us about a time you fell short of a major goal and how you use the lessons from it to better your business today.
I used to be an avid snowboarder and was fortunate to teach and compete internationally. The single consistent part to any day on the hill was a requirement to commit 100 percent to that single thing you were doing right then. Big jump — commit. Cliff jump — commit. Teaching a class — commit. Whenever you felt any selfdoubt, any distraction, you would hurt yourself or endanger others. It’s a mind-set. See, imagine and commit. You have to commit 100 percent and go for it. It’s amazing what the lack of a safety net will do for you.
What aspect of business excites you most as an entrepreneur?
Being a business owner is equally exciting as it is terrifying. I find great satisfaction in the creative freedom I’m allowed as an entrepreneur. Some of our ideas for projects aren’t always the safe and easy ones. In this market, especially as it relates to technology, the bigger the risk the greater the reward. We try to push the envelope every day.
What do you see as the future of TANTRUM?
I think going forward our event business will decrease, and we’ll need to think about how we can stay in clients’ minds and still be competitive on cost, while not being physically located in New York City. TANTRUM Lab is going to see massive growth in 2017. With technology, we have the ability to do away with the perceived need for physical proximity to a client and create truly groundbreaking pieces of work for national clients. We’re already working with national brands and global agencies to create exciting work on each coast.
For companies or individuals interested in learning more about you or TANTRUM, what is the best way to connect?
Have a look at our websites (www.tantrumlab.com and www.tantrumexp.com) and if you want to know more, just give me a call. I’m always open to hearing what people think or talk about what we’re doing. The more people who know what TANTRUM is up to the farther we will go.
Zachary Barker is executive director of the Opportunity Machine, a LEDA-backed initiative that focuses on cultivating Lafayette’s entrepreneurial and technology based industries.