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Steven Gallanis knew from the outset that he did not spend to satisfy someone else’s point of view. Known as the “mayor” since kindergarten, Gallanis has always had the ability to bring people together – something that will be the core of both his first entrepreneurial venture, Spartan Entertainment, and his second, Cameo.
Before the cameo, the entertainment industry gave fans access, forcing them to stand in line behind the stage for an autograph, to meet and greet, or to be in the right place at the right time. With Cameo, Galanis and his team have created more than four million magical moments in human life by combining talent with their biggest fans in a frictionless, digital experience.
Celebrating the company’s five-year anniversary, Galanis shares his entrepreneurial journey, the magic of connectivity and why you should bet on yourself before anyone else does.
The rush of college
Although he has had this entrepreneurial attitude since childhood, the first taste of business ownership in Galenis comes from Duke University. Galanis realized that campus events were exclusive to different clubs and fraternities. This gives rise to an idea for Galanis. With his business partner, Gallanis wanted to create events that would allow anyone to attend, to bring people together and to connect. From this suffix Spartan Entertainment was born.
The pair partnered with local bars to host events for all Duke students. Noticing that there wasn’t a night for athletes to join the party, the pair threw out events on Wednesday so that student athletes could follow the 48-hour restraint protocol before a game. From there, the business turned into T-shirts, DJ equipment rentals and even a hot dog stand. To this day, Wednesday in Durham is the biggest day for teams and their legacy is woven across campus.
Galanis graduated from Duke in 2010, in the midst of a recession, but had a passion for building and owning a business. He was just waiting for the right idea, the right opportunity and the right time. After serving on the Chicago Board of Trade, Galanis quickly learned that he did not want his success to be tied to someone else’s decision. He wanted to be called shot.
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The “magic” of connection
Galanis realized the importance of making connections at an early age. An athlete and sports lover, Galanis’s family always displayed souvenirs at their home. A certain picture remains the most valuable.
Galanis was 8 months old when the Lakers won the 1988 championship. While on vacation with his family in Hawaii, his grandparents saw Magic Johnson and insisted on taking a picture with basketball legend baby Galanis. Her grandmother put her on Johnson’s lap and took pictures. After the photo develops quickly and returns, Johnson will not sign it. At the end of it all he was on vacation.
A few years later in Chicago, Magic organized an autograph signing event and invited some friends to attend. He pulled the magic aside and showed pictures decades ago. While Johnson was just remembering the moment, this time, he signed the picture.
Related: 5 keys to making a real connection
Bet on yourself
After his grandmother’s funeral, Gallanis was driving with his friend and future co-founder Martin Blanco. At the time, an NFL agent, Blanco, showed Galanis a video of his client, Seattle Seahawks linebacker Cassius Marsh, congratulating a friend on the birth of his son. Galanis thought of his experience with magic, and watched this video, and the pair began to think: Selfie is the new autograph.
With the arrival of former Vine star Devon Townsend as the third co-founder, the team has further developed the concept with the aim of creating connections between the world’s biggest celebrities and their fans. After starting the company as an NFL agent, Blencowe, a senior account executive at Galanis, Linkedin, and Townsend started working as an engineer, they had to take a chance on themselves and quit their jobs.
Cameo was officially launched in March 2017 and it can’t go wrong with a website that doesn’t work and has no site traffic. This is their first purchase: a father requesting a video for his daughter. She sent back a response video of her daughter crying tears of joy and in the previous look, this moment changed everything.
Fast forward to 2022, the Camero platform has $ 1 billion in valuations and over 50,000 talents. Gallanis plans to diversify Cameo’s business into more experiences – merchandise, cameo call, cameo care, cameo pass and cameo for business – all in the service of promoting the most authentic connections in the world. And, Magic Johnson is now sitting on their board.
Related: Why you have to bet on yourself