When Monica Kinsey, UTC alumna, opened Track 29 with her husband Adam and other business partners, people still continued to ask her a pesky question that haunts many newlyweds. When were she and her husband going to have a baby? Luckily for Kinsey, she had a smart retort.
“I tell people Track 29 is my baby. My baby is a 22,000 square feet venue. Right now, my children are the 1,800 people who come to a sold-out show,” Kinsey said.
Since opening in fall 2011, Kinsey’s “baby” has grown into one of the premier music venues in Chattanooga. She was invited to campus to share her lessons in entrepreneurship as part of the Clarence E. Harris Entrepreneurial Forum.
The forum is conducted every year by the Harris Chair to promote dialogue and interaction between students, faculty and entrepreneurs. Each year since 1996, a group of 9-12 entrepreneurs is invited to campus for a half-day program. Participants interact informally with students and faculty and conduct a panel discussion.
Kinsey was joined by several other new entrepreneurs for the panel, “Lessons from the Early Stages of a Start-Up.” This panel, moderated by Dr. Randy Evans, UTC Assistant Professor of Management, provided attendees with advice on how to survive the first few years of entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship had been a rewarding, but tough road for Kinsey, who majored in marketing as a UTC student.
“Following your dream isn’t easy. You have to have passion for what you do because it becomes your life,” she said.
Kinsey, who worked in event management, customer relations, and restaurant operations before opening Track 29, found her varied background helpful when starting up a business.
“You are the human resources department, the payroll department. You are everything. You can’t rely on someone else to write the business processes. You have to write them yourself,” she said.
According to Kinsey, managing a thriving music venue is always full of surprises, especially when dealing with demands from artists. For example, Jack White’s appearance last March set off a search for 200 black towels and a batch of freshly baked homemade cookies.
“You would be surprised how hard it is to find black towels in Chattanooga. We raced around to several different Wal-marts and Bed, Bath, and Beyonds. And we were lucky that one of the girls who works in hospitality is also a baker,” she said.
The show, the first stop in Jack White’s tour to promote his solo album, “Blunderbuss,” proved to be successful for Track 29, which sold out in mere seconds and received national coverage in Rolling Stone.
Through all the craziness of managing Track 29, Kinsey remains good-natured.
“We should have started a book on the random requests we get from artists,” she joked.