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2008. The year of the great recession that left Americans reeling. It’s also the year that Robin Lyon left the nation’s political capital for sunny Miami. She had a grand total of $300 to her name, so she turned her attention to parties—not as an attendee but with the goal of becoming the go-to source for information for the best events in the second biggest party city in the US. She surpassed her goal, growing that early iteration of her business into Baller Alert, an entertainment and culture platform that covers everything from music to politics and spans across multiple channels including social media, web, television, and a mobile app.
Baller Alert generates an impressive 250 million impressions every week. How does Lyon maintain such sky high engagement? “Our subscribers want to be on the cutting edge of trends in news , fashion, technology, and the arts, so we give them a sense of themselves as cultural ambassadors who are in the know at every minute.”
Lyon has certainly mastered the art of holding people’s attention and telling the stories her audience cares about. The market-savvy entrepreneur made sure to create a presence on every platform and catered the content to that audience, while maintaining the hook that caught their interest on the original blog. The result has been exponential growth.
Lyon notes that getting the right people in her corner was essential to staying ahead of the curve as her business evolved. She developed strategic relationships with people in the entertainment industry who she was able to partner or barter with to gain in-kind donations, funding, or other favours for events she hosted. She also surrounded herself with a good team who understood her goals and mission and were able to carry them out effectively as she worked on the big picture of her vision. And to make sure that she was prepared for all the new challenges she might encounter as Baller Alert grew, she sought out a mentor in award-winning film producer and entertainment executive, Lisa Cortes.
“While I was leading, I was also learning at the same time. I was moving into an area that was uncharted territory for me. I had to surround myself with experts, so I hired the people I could help execute my vision.”
As Lyon’s vision for Baller Alert came to life, she chose to give back to the city that birthed her dreams—Miami. She founded the Baller Alert Foundation (BAF), a non-profit dedicated to promoting the power of arts and culture to build communities in underserved areas and engage youth who might otherwise be unable to experience the arts or develop their artistic abilities.
“I’m finding our youth are not getting exposed to creative arts through programs in school, and they need encouragement and mentorship to pursue a range of entertainment careers,” Lyons explained. “There are many options to work within the creative arts besides performing or producing that kids may not know about, and our foundation will help expose them to a host of careers.”
With board members bringing expertise and connections from a broad range of industries including entertainment, music, film, education, law, finance, and more, BAF exposes Miami’s youth to creative professions and careers and provides curated educational programming in the music industry. Lyon and her team are had at work to raising awareness of BAF and garnering more support for their causes. Thus far, they have partnered with Miami-based non-profit Overtown Youth Centre, an organization Lyon worked with and contributed to before she started her own foundation. They also hosted their first gala event, “A Night With the Ballers”, last November, partnered with Michelle Obama’s #WhenWeAllVote campaign, and participated in the 2017 Give Miami Day, during which they raised over $20,000 for the foundation.
Lyons suggests that all businesses should consider giving back to the communities they serve, whether it’s by partnering with an existing organization that aligns with their company culture or by starting a non-profit of their own. For those who choose the latter, she offers this advice she learned building BAF: “Creating a charity is a major project, so people should know that good things take time. It takes time to decipher your mission and find other non-profits that are aligned with your goals to work with them.” But if BAF’s growing impact and Lyon’s excitement are an indication, the challenge is well worth it.
March 4, 2019 at 10:39AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs