(Photo by Tony Abraham)
Approximately 90,000 people flocked to Dover for Firefly music festival this past June — 10,000 more than the year before. Though Red Frog Events, the group that manages the festival, has not released the economic impact report for 2015, the festival says it pumped $68 million into the local economy in 2014.
Since its launch in 2012, the festival has become an incredibly important economic asset for the state of Delaware. According to Firefly director Greg Bostrom, none of the crew had any music production experience prior to 2012, and Bostrom himself had recently just been an intern with the company.
Needless to say, producing the festival (which just released its 2016 lineup) has been somewhat of a crash course in entrepreneurship for Bostrom, and he took the stage at The Queen for this year’s iteration of Tech2gether (held during Delaware Innovation Week) to share his lessons learned.
Lesson #1: Start with a vision and passion
Bostrom said the Red Frog team looked at a map of where the country’s major music festivals are happening and found a void in the mid-Atlantic.
“The first thing we said was, ‘We think there’s room for a music festival out there. If not us, then who?'” said Bostrom. “I think with any entrepreneurial field, you have to be the first person to believe and the first person to communicate. You’re going to have to convert hundreds of thousands into believers to get your company off the ground.”
Lesson #2: Delaware is center stage
Transitioning from his first lesson, Bostrom emphasized the importance of location for Firefly.
“We’re in the middle of everything in Delaware,” said Bostrom, and geographically speaking, he’s right. The largest mid-Atlantic metropolises — Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York City and Washington, D.C. — are all within a two-and-a-half-hour drive. In an increasingly digital world, Bostrom said, a tangible experience like a music festival has a high appeal, and even more so if it’s just a short drive away.
Plus, Delaware is notorious for being business-friendly.
“Something we’ve come across launching our business in Delaware is the community is incredibly receptive to new businesses and new job opportunities,” said Bostrom. “Even at the government level, we’ve had so much support.”
Even when the festival has been the source of widespread transportation woes. And when the festival backed highways up this past summer?
“[The state] didn’t say, ‘Go away.’ It was ‘Let’s talk about how we can improve these things,'” said Bostrom.
Lesson #3: Digital Community is Vital
“The digital community is part of our everyday life and it’s a wonderful way the world is getting smaller and smaller for entrepreneurs,” said Bostrom. “Especially with the millennial demographic, it’s an important shift to know.”
Bostrom said the music festival has had remarkable success with social media campaigns and contests, but said he was most fascinated by the way the digital community has perpetuated the Firefly brand.
The Firefly message board, he said, has produced niche meetup groups across the mid-Atlantic. He even mentioned a meetup for Firefly-attending Star Wars fans.-30-
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