- Words Yazzi Gokcemen
The SUPER founder on becoming a maestro of live music-entertainment and what's next for his entrepreneurial adventure.
Mike Savas is the Founder and CEO of the music entertainment company SUPER (formerly known as Superfan Live), but he’s not your typical events executive. Since starting out in music management, it’s been Mike’s mission to transform the live experience into something extraordinary and take it globe-trotting.
For Savas, the allure of the industry extends beyond the accolades and profits, it’s about universal human connection. This lies at the forefront of his thriving business; taking a holistic approach, investing heavily and never cutting corners, SUPER sets itself apart as a curator of unforgettable VIP music experiences. The company is listed among the 5000 fastest-growing in the US thanks to the top-tier artists (who will go the extra mile for their fans) it attracts.
Mike’s clients to date have included countless icons – Bon Jovi, Metallica, Eminem, Oprah, The Rolling Stones, Guns N’ Roses, to name just a few. As well as seamlessly managing their world tours and festival stages, the visionary strives to incorporate charity into projects such as the time he fundraised aid for Nepal’s 2015 earthquake.
Speaking with Mike we learn that his sights are set on more SUPER projects, possibly involving international real estate. In any case, the goal will be to amplify communities and of course more music.
Looking back, did you always want to be an entrepreneur?
Absolutely! The idea of building a team, steering the ship, and creating something from nothing always fascinated me. I think that the greatest gift we have as humans is the ability to create, and there is nothing more beautiful than creating events. They only exist for a brief moment in time and yet they can live on forever in someone’s memory and have the ability to change the course of history.
What were some of your early ventures?
My first venture was a small DJ/MC company, followed by an adventure travel company. I have created three businesses in the same space I am in now, the final version is the one that took off.
What character traits and practices have helped you build such a successful business?
Enthusiasm and determination as well as compassion and kindness.
Tell us about the early days of SUPER – when did you decide to start building it and why?
I tried very hard not to build SUPER! For seven years I said no to scaling my work up into a full-blown business because I was enjoying a balanced lifestyle as a consultant working within promoter and management teams. Running a company sounded like a burden. Eventually the entrepreneur in me won out, I had to explore where things could go by launching a company of my own.
For those who don’t know, what’s SUPER all about and what do you do?
We are a global events company specialising in creating and managing VIP Experiences for touring artists and festivals around the world. Our clients include management companies, promoter groups, festival organisers and artists directly. Some of the people we’ve worked with are Oprah, Bon Jovi, Metallica, and Queen and Adam Lambert.
Your approach is very holistic – why do you think this makes you stand out in the space?
We care deeply about the customer experience from beginning to end and refuse to cut corners. We also invest more money into these experiences than many others in the sector so we attract clients who see the value in spending a bit more for their fans. Often fans can be treated poorly because businesses know they’ll buy tickets regardless; we never take this attitude and will turn down opportunities which ask this of us.
What challenges have you overcome building the company?
Live Nation…kidding, kind of. We are competing with massive entertainment companies. The reason we win business against groups like this is that people trust us, we do an incredible job on-site, and we truly believe in investing in the customer journey.
What’s been your biggest lesson?
Stand by your word and honour your agreements. It’s the cheapest and best investment you can make.
Any highlight moments that stand out?
I got a handwritten thank you card from Oprah and Hugh Jackman (on separate occasions) after we wrapped their tours. It is rare to get acknowledged by artists, especially of that calibre, so it made all the hard work feel worth it. I also cherish the diamond-studded Slipper When Wet necklace that Bon Jovi gifted to me after ‘earning my stripes’ and becoming part of their touring family.
Do you have any advice for budding entrepreneurs?
I encourage folks to be independent, especially in the beginning. I have tried having business partners in the past and while this has huge upsides, it ultimately slowed the process for me. I believe in momentum and quick decision-making.
Can you tell us a bit more about the humanitarian work that you do and why it’s important to you?
There have been several times throughout my career when the calls for help from humanitarian crises are overbearing and I feel compelled to use my business for this cause. Rather than talking about the work I’ve done, I’d like to take the opportunity to ask what more can we be doing in the touring/music business. We have such incredible influence and music itself has a healing power…how can we help in preventing and reducing impacts of disasters before they happen?
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
Sold, there is no doubt in my mind that we will build such an incredible and impact-driven company in the next five years that one of the dominating players in the business absorbs us into their own. It is inevitable. Now, don’t let me fool you and say that will be the end of SUPER…on the contrary…we are just getting started with the level of experiences and events we will be creating.
Where do you see your own career in five years’ time?
When I’m not building SUPER, I am actively investing in exciting real estate projects around the world, like a 100-year-old Pasta Factory in rural Portugal that we are renovating to be a state-of-the-art wedding venue and artist residency. I believe in the power of cross-cultural exchange, and amplifying communities using new technology and innovative ways of thinking.
In five years, I will be navigating ways to achieve this goal in the music industry, in real estate, and through other personal ambitions.