For well over the last year, my wife Nicole and I have struggled against many, if not ALL odds to open our very own independent art-house movie theater, Moxie Cinema, in Springfield, Missouri (you know, Brad Pitt's hometown). Our mission is simple: "to create a unique and inviting venue for the exhibition of smaller, lesser-known films that have traditionally been unattainable in the Springfield market. By providing intriguing film series and offering a cinematic experience that differentiates itself from the typical multiplex affair, we hope to create a one-of-a-kind service that will benefit the downtown community along with the rest of the metropolitan area."
We have worked tirelessly to open The Moxie, which only seats about 70 people, in an old bank in the heart of Springfield's historic downtown district. In that span of time we've had to change buildings, downgrade our plans from two screens to one, spend nearly 80% of our budget on unforeseen building renovations, push back our original opening date from March to September, and auction off the naming rights to our concession bar (affectionately known as the Cinebar) on eBay in a desperate attempt to raise more start-up capital. It hasn't been easy, but we quickly learned that if you can't roll with the punches -- or in our case, sledgehammers to the abdomen -- then you shouldn't get into the ring in the first place.
Of course, opening The Moxie hasn't been all dark clouds and poorly chosen analogies. We've had the opportunity to meet a lot of great people and become part of Springfield's growing arts community. The Moxie Blog has also played a crucial role in our progress by allowing us to interact in a variety of ways with our potential customer base, but I'll touch on that issue at a later time...
So where does The Moxie stand today? Well, we're nearly one month away from our tentative opening date on September 2 (extreme emphasis on tentative) and we're completely out of money. We still have a lot of work to finish between then and now, including a crazy plan to raise a sizable chunk of funding to see us through to opening day. Will it work? Will I ever tell you what it is? The answer to both of these questions is "yes." I hope.
Diary of a Startup is a weekly blog written by Dan and Nicole Chilton, who are currently starting up an art-house theater in Springfield, Missouri. Dan has been chronicling their progress for more than a year at The Moxie Blog.