Ever dreamed of your pet going viral, meeting the stars, swimming in piles of virtual likes and shares, re-tweets and smiley faces?
Maybe even making some dough from the love?
I mean who doesn’t want fan mail, right?
Our guest is fortunate enough to have experienced all of that-but here’s the thing, he wasn’t really dreaming of it. In fact, it turns out, most people who go viral don’t make it happen on purpose. Generally, they’re living life like the rest of us, chasing passions, making ends meet…then one day, this one part of their world, blows up.
In the case of Mike Bridavsky, he’s an audio guy. He owns Russian Recording studio, and his favorite thing to do is record bands. He also happens to be the dad of world-famous cat, Lil Bub. Listen as he tells his story, the tale of a lifelong entrepreneur who, quite by accident, wound up with the world’s tiniest, cutest, most magical cat as his business partner.
Here’s an overview:
Early Memories of Entrepreneurship
Mike always attracted to creating businesses. Even as a young kid in his parents’ community of Russian immigrants, he’d sell berries to his neighbors. By the time he was a teenager, he fell in love with recording music and started connecting with bands who needed his help to make their albums.
The Two Sides of Owning a Business
For Mike there are two sides: the thing your business is about, and then the process of running the business. Mike loves both. A business is the ultimate customization project. You get to pick the brand, the marketing, the place, and every bit of minutiae that follows. You get to live out the passion, the obsession, the thing you love so much that you want to do it as much as possible. For a lot of people, hobbies and vocation do not collide. Mike found a way to merge passion and pragmatism, and make a good life doing what he loves.
Why Recording Studios Are The Worst Business Model Ever
The overhead of a recording studio is insane. All of the equipment is super expensive, it takes about three hundred thousand to really pull it together…but the recording industry has completely changed since the 90’s. Rates for a day of recording have dropped from five thousand per day to five hundred. The amount a studio owner can make on their best day is pretty much break-even.
Mike knew he could make it work. In 2007, he decided to go all-in. He signed on for a big loan, quit his day job, and built his dream studio. Mike and I walked through before the interview, it’s even better in person than it looks on his website. He showed me a 1950’s Russian ribbon microphone that could have amplified the voices of Russia’s biggest political leaders. I walked, while singing, from the band room to the dead room, and listened to the change in my own voice. Every detail of the space is beautiful…and expensive. It’s clear that Mike built his dream, and that his passion for the perfect audio space drove everything, maybe even just a little too far…
It All Goes Bad…Then Good
After he built the studio, things started to go a little dark. Bands weren’t showing, rent fell behind, the whole thing was bombing.And just at that moment, Mike’s cat became famous.
Mike wrote a blog about his cat, Lil Bub. It was kind of a fun thing, he and a friend were basically pretending their cats were famous. Then suddenly one of the blog posts went viral and tons of people wanted to buy t-shirts. Mike’s entrepreneurial spirit kicked in and his love for Bub became a vehicle for everyone else to love her too. Lil Bub is in charge, Mike is the facilitator.
The Story of Lil Bub
As the person who’s been there from the beginning, Mike truly believes, and behaves as though, Bub is in charge. Mike’s job is to make sure Bub has a great life, and that everything she does runs smoothly. He employs strict rules about how things work at appearances, events, shows, book creation, and everything Bub experiences. He’s learned that saying no is the best policy if something is off, and only says yes to opportunities that are a perfect fit. Mike just lives life with Bub and shares her with the rest of us, following her lead on the daily.
Lessons Mike has learned:
- Passion and willpower are great, but you’ve got to understand the numbers too
- Diverse sources of income help create freedom and security
- You can’t give all of your money away
- Be authentic!
- Going viral never happens on purpose
Special thanks to Mike Bridavsky for taking the time to share the Russian Recording & Lil Bub story with us.
Mentioned in the episode:
Lil Bub Animal Planet Show
Lil Bub on The View
YouTube Big Live Comedy Show with Jack McBrayer & Workaholics
Sponsored by Shine Insurance – https://www.shineinsurance.com/
Music by Mark Vinten
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