For the past thirty years in New York City, Terry Knickerbocker has acted, directed, coached, and produced art with some incredible people. The Terry Knickerbocker Studio is one of the top acting schools in NYC and students flock to his Brooklyn studio from all over the world in hopes of training with him.
He has coached actors on over 300 films, television and theater projects, both on and off-Broadway and regionally. Terry’s most famous students include Golden Globe nominee Emmy Rossum, Emmy winner Michelle Williams, Academy Award winner Sam Rockwell, SAGA nominee Zac Efron, and Tony-nominated John Leguizamo.
What is your business and what is its main goal?
The Terry Knickerbocker Studio is a two-year acting conservatory located in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. We are dedicated to maximizing every student’s artistic potential, and how to tie that success in the various avenues within our industry. Our brand and mission statement is “Training the passionate actor committed to excellence”.
The main goal of our business is to find and help actors who have talent, a spark, inspiration, and drive, but they often lack the skillset needed to be the best actor possible. After their two years of studying with us, we send them off into auditions with a toolkit that can help them launch their careers.
Our secondary business goal is to be the very best acting conservatory in New York and the world. To do this, we have created a world-class facility located in a job-rich environment, hired experienced and knowledgeable instructors, and have supportive alumni who dedicate their time to mentoring our current students.
There’s the element of quality in both of these goals. We want our actors to be the best, therefore we do everything in our power to provide the best environment and curriculum possible. When they arrive at TKS for their first class, we want to exceed their expectations and give them the confidence that they’re in good hands.
When did you start your business and why?
After 25 years of teaching with my mentor, I decided to go out on my own and start TKS in 2015. With my experience at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and working at another well-known acting studio, I knew that I wanted to develop my own curriculum.
On a more personal note, the birth of my son in 2013 motivated me to turn this scary dream into a reality. I wanted to be a great role model for him and not live with the regret of not achieving your dreams. Nobody ever tells you how difficult it is to work for yourself, find employees you can trust, support your family, and make all the right decisions to get your business off the ground. But his arrival into the world focused me and told me that failure wasn’t an option.
What makes you different from your competition?
Apart from my unique acting techniques and the individuals on my staff, I think my own personal focus and involvement make TKS different from other New York acting studios. I see my students as three-dimensional human beings and I try to positively influence them in other aspects of their life so they can be their best selves. This can include recommending our Yoga For Actors class to professional therapy. My main objective is to support their dreams, constructively teach them, and focus on maximizing each individual’s potential.
Our walls may not be covered in a long history and ivy but our people are some of the best and most talented. We frequently connect our students with our Emmy, Tony, SAG, and Oscar-nominated alumni who do a great job of giving guidance and realistic advice. The honesty and transparency from stars like Sam Rockwell, Emmy Rossum, and Yul Vazquez illuminate my student’s career path and motivate to overcome any obstacle.
The other difference is our emphasis on community participation. We’re not just an acting school, we want to be one of Brooklyn’s finest institutions and provide the community with an artistic resource. This, more than anything, feels important and keeps our students connected to us.
What marketing channels do you use for growth?
Instead of just relying on word of mouth, we are taking significant steps in improving our digital footprint so people can find about our studio more easily. We retain a digital marketing agency that helps us run ads on Google and Facebook along with Search Engine Optimization to help our website rank organically.
We have a dedicated internal social media team and we publish content on a daily basis across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. More recently, we have begun to experiment with other channels, including traditional advertising in trade publications, podcast sponsorships, and podcast interviews.
What are you expected to grow in terms of revenue for the next 12 months?
We had a tremendous growth period from 2018 to 2019 and are looking to continue that in 2020. Our Summer Intensive filled up quickly and we know that our various marketing strategies are helping us reach more aspiring actors.
If you are an entrepreneur and have a story you would like to share then please feel free to email us and we would love to interview you!