Business: Chitarra Guitar Co.
Graduation Year: 2016
What influenced you to start your own business?
In late 2007, Fender Musical Instruments released a limited run of guitars that were replicas of Van Halen’s famous “Frankenstein” guitar, and just like the Van Halen song, everybody wanted one, including me. The only problem was each guitar retailed for $25,000, a bit out of the price range of an amateur 13-year-old guitarist. I brought in my $200 Fender Stratocaster copy to my middle school woodshop class and asked my teacher if I could try to make a guitar from scratch. After a few moments of silent thought, he simply said, “sure, why not.” A couple long weeks and a box of bandages later, I had made my own (almost) fully functional guitar. That summer, I had saved enough to build a decent quality guitar, which I completed in a week. After months of using it, I grew tired of it and tried selling it. It sold to a man in Florida for a measly profit of $60, but a profit nonetheless. I sold my next creation to a musician in Australia who promptly used it on tour and during the recording of his band’s album. At the time, building guitars was still very much a hobby until a man from Finland saw my work online. He emailed me asking for several different types of guitars, a request I fulfilled two months later. Fast-forward to the present day, where I have sold and exported guitars to seven countries, three continents and over ten states while working for various clients, including CEOs, bankers and full time musicians.
Has Fordham influenced your business at all?
Being a student in the Gabelli School of Business has helped me further understand industry terms and processes; something I have applied to my own business in order to grow and mature.
What is the biggest thing you have learned?
Effective scheduling and communication with clients are the two most essential skills I have learned from operating my business over the last seven years. Your business’ growth is entirely dependent on how efficient the whole process runs and effective planning is the key to efficient work. Through careful planning, one can learn to minimize costs while maximizing profit.
The most rewarding thing in my experience was seeing one of my guitars played on stage in front of 15,000 people at a summer festival in Dallas, Texas. It was also an honor to meet the man who made guitars for Eddie Van Halen in the early 1980s and for him to examine and praise my work first hand.
Is it hard to balance school and your business?
It can be a bit challenging balancing business and school because in order to work, I must be in my workshop located at my house on Long Island. Therefore, I have to travel home on weekends to work while staying at Fordham during the week to attend classes. As I said before, careful scheduling is one of the keys to a successful business.
What are your future business plans?
I hope to retire from the guitar-building field later this year as I transition into the world of finance and banking. When I started this company, I set out to differentiate myself from the rest of the herd in order to secure a better job. Not only did I complete this goal, I learned the essentials of business first hand while creating networks and friends along the way.