by Art Levy
Thirty years ago, Will Quinones was an aspiring dancer, traveling from one audition to another. The experience, he says, was both costly and inconvenient and later inspired him to create the Talent Shopping Network, which enables performers and agents to conduct auditions online.
The performers — so far more than 2,200 have signed up — pay a fee starting at $3.99 a month to post their auditions on the site, where entertainment industry professionals, who also must subscribe, can watch them sing, dance or act. The site enables agents to ask an actor to download a script and read a specific part. Singers can record a song on the site and download it to their online portfolio.
“It’s a tool to save everyone time and money,” Quinones says.
After giving up professional dancing long ago, Quinones, 47, managed a singing group but eventually settled into a career in sales, marketing and entrepreneurship, including owning a Tampa business that provides labor to construction companies. He started the Talent Shopping Network in 2009 with $200,000 of his own money. He also has $400,000 from investors. The major expenses so far, he says, have been costs associated with building the website’s platform.
Quinones expects rapid growth this year. Late in 2012, the network became an accelerator client of the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, which links emerging tech companies with attorneys, marketing professionals, entrepreneurs and potential angel investors.
Tonya Elmore, president of Tampa Bay Innovation Center, says the network was accepted as a client because of the “creative way” it brings “technology applications” to the entertainment industry.
“We help companies like Will’s get to the next level,” she says.