Dmitri Vietze looked over the balcony in his reclaimed office space, music playing in the background and natural light flowing over employees in custom cubicles.
“One of our workers is a bass player,” Vietze said, looking at an empty desk. “He’s on tour right now.”
Vietze is the founder and CEO of rock paper scissors inc., a music public relations company based in ?Bloomington.
Rock paper scissors fits the model economic development favored by the city of Bloomington: small, tech-focused start-ups that attract talent to Bloomington and help retain IU students after they graduate.
The story of rock paper scissors and its eventual arrival in Bloomington could be a case study for such an economic base.
The company is a public relations firm for musicians and bands. It focuses mostly on traditional world music and works mainly with out-of-town clients to promote tours and album releases.
Vietze, a public relations professional who founded rock paper scissors out of his home’s nursery in Portland, Ore., in 1999, described his personal and professional journey to Bloomington.
After starting the business in Portland, Vietze moved to Bloomington so his wife, Antonia Curry of Bloomington, could finish her graduate ?degree at IU.
“We came temporarily, renting out our Portland house, but then we realized it was such a great place to be and the business was starting to grow,” Vietze said.
The couple decided to make Bloomington their home and sell their Portland house, and Vietze began to grow his business.
“Now there are seven of us here full-time,” ?Vietze said.
Of the seven employees, six are IU alumni. Vietze is the seventh.
The company’s connection to the University does not end there. Every semester, the company takes on interns from IU who come from diverse academic backgrounds, from the Kelley School of Business to the Department of Communications and Culture.
One of these interns was Samantha Brickler, who is now a full-time employee.
After graduating from IU with a degree in arts management in December 2014, Brickler now works as a ?publicist for the company.
Brickler was not planning to stay in Bloomington after graduation.
“I didn’t expect this, but I really like it,” Brickler said.
After working for the company part-time since graduation, Brickler was brought on as a full-time employee in February, helping musicians publicize their acts as they tour across ?the country.
The company has several openings remaining for next semester and is currently conducting interviews, ?Vietze said.
Interns are paired with a staff member and do general office work as well as special projects but also have opportunities to work at South by South West, and former interns have gone on to work in cities across the country, including New York.
Another project Vietze is working on, separate from rock paper scissors, is StoryAMP, an automated publicity service linking journalists and musicians directly.
The service works by giving musicians access to a list of thousands of journalists and promoters across the country and then automatically sending emails and updates to journalists in cities as the band approaches a tour date in that city. Vietze partnered with Sproutbox, a local technology incubator, to build the service.
“We have the publicity skill,” Vietze said, “They have the technology.”
Sproutbox is a Bloomington-based incubator that works by having start-ups pitch ideas to the tech incubator in a competition to see who can attract the established company’s resources. Sproutbox then works with the competition winners to develop technology to make it successful. StoryAMP won one of these competitions and worked with Sproutbox to build the technology for its automated service from the ground up.
“We were actually the first Bloomington-based ?company to win,” Vietze said.
For Bloomington to continue to grow in the knowledge-based economy, companies like rock paper scissors and StoryAMP will ?be essential.
“Luck only creates opportunities,” Vietze said, “You still have to stand out and work hard.”
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