By: Molly Congdon
This past May, Erin Miller graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in Advertising for Emerging Businesses.
“I chose advertising because it was a combination of art, business, and psychology,” Miller says. “I also think that advertising has shaped culture in a lot of good and bad ways, so I wanted to learn how people respond to media when people are trying to communicate a message to a large group of people. I wanted to learn the skills that Newhouse students get to prepare themselves to enter into an advertising agency and apply those skills to my own venture to help small businesses and startups communicate their story and get it out there.”
After obtaining her diploma, she embarked on an entrepreneurial journey running a “nomadic media accelerator,” Out There Productions.
“Out There Productions is a one-stop shop to get awesome ideas out there,” Miller says. “It was co-founded by me, Johnny Rosa, and Losa Amara Meru: two excellent people I met during my time at Syracuse University. Johnny majored in Magazine Journalism, and Losa majored in Television, Radio, and Film. It seemed only necessary that we combine our powers to travel around the country to discover business communities in out of the way cities and help them tell their stories using the power of storytelling.”
The initial sparks for the business began while she was still in school; Miller made short explainer videos for student businesses around campus. Then she recruited her team. “We did a lot of portfolio-building while we were in college,” Miller says. “We charged extremely low prices, so we could create a reel of projects that we were proud of, and that we could show future clients.”
The big question for them, when looking at their business model, was: How could they continue to keep our prices low and our quality high?
The end of their undergraduate years was looming in the not so distant future. The real world awaited.
“One fateful afternoon, we were sitting in Newhouse eating Chinese takeout, and we looked at each other and asked, ‘What is it that we LOVE to do?’ Miller says. “I answered, ‘I love to build communities.’ Losa said, ‘I love to tell stories.’ Johnny answered, ‘I love to go on adventures.’ We looked at each other, and we realized we were doing exactly that with Out There Productions.”
So it began.
“We started an Indiegogo campaign to raise over $9,500 to build our business,” Miller says. “And with this money, we bought a school bus. We came up with this concept called ‘van-trepreneurship,’ which is operating a business out of a van, trailer, or bus. This way, we’d be able to operate on low costs and provide our services at a low price all over the country.”
Miller feels the start-ups, and small businesses are full of challenges and excitement; they are trailblazers. “I feel like entrepreneurs are the world’s hustlers and pioneers,” she says. “They’re the folks who have awesome ideas that tell stories about themselves and their strengths, and they want to share it with their community, whether it is a new type of coffee, or a technology app that can change the way we live our day to day lives. Startups and small businesses are the source of innovation and change. I think that it’s important to challenge ourselves and what we can do, and I think starting something new and running with a great idea is the biggest challenge out there.”
Her greatest inspiration is one of her closest relatives. “I have a lot of people that push me forward and really encourage me to keep learning and keep building,” Miller says. “My biggest influence is my older brother, who is a writer, a rapper, and a bookseller at Powell’s in Portland. He and I are of similar lankiness and posture, but he is an unstoppable creative force that inspires me to continue to build for people like him: people that are tornados of ideas and potential who are looking for something to contribute their energy to something constructive and positive for the greater good within a community of people.”
Her long-term goal is to “connect creative thinkers worldwide.” Of course, Miller also would love to “take over Ellen Degeneres’ job when she retires and have a talk show called ‘Erin the Generous.”