Article by Kat Pratt
On April 18, 2013 PeopleFund had its annual PeopleTalk event featuring Alamo Drafthouse’s founder & CEO Tim League. It was a luncheon event at the Alamo Cinema Village with food from the Alamo kitchens. The event began with a presentation by Texas Certified Development Company who generously donated a technology lab to PeopleFund. TxCDC’s President Suzanna Caballero emphasized the importance of helping clients become successful business owners. “PeopleFund embraces the concept of client training and education to help business owners succeed,” she said. “With this $25,000 grant, we are investing in PeopleFund’s ability to better train and support Austin-area businesses.”
Tim League’s PeopleTalk presentation was about his entrepreneurial journey and how he and his wife Karrie League first got into the movie business as two 23 year olds in Bakersfield, California. They were young and inexperienced, but the lessons they learned from their missteps helped them to create Austin’s beloved movie theater.
Tim discussed the risks he, his wife, and their families took: “You have to be comfortable with the worst case scenario, and if you’re ok with that entrepreneurship is for you!” Not many of their initial ideas were great or successful, but Tim said: “You can learn a lot by repeatedly falling on your face.” It was through these early missteps that the Leagues learned about the movie business, and they also found that it was their true passion to create not just a movie theater but a cinephile community.
In beginning the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin the Leagues had a vision of what a movie theater could be. No ads before shows, no cell phones disrupting the movies, no loud children in movies, and various other hallmarks of the Alamo experience came from personal irks of the Leagues. These ideas set the Alamo Drafthouse apart from other movie theaters. The Alamo experience is centered around film and the appreciation of film. The excellent customer service and professionalism of the staff is key to creating the Alamo experience and is a significant to how they measure the success of their business.
The current challenges facing the Alamo Drafthouse are ones having to do with their expanding into cities outside Texas. Just as the cinematic culture will vary from place to place, there are great challenges to keeping true to the Alamo business model while adapting to existing cinephile cultures. The audience question and answer session with Tim League lasted 45 minutes as participants delved deeper into topics Tim discussed in his PeopleTalk presentation.
Special thanks to Tim League and the staff at Alamo Drafthouse, attendees, and the Texas Certified Development Corporation