By Emily Vogel
It’s February 2008. You’re 5 months pregnant, you’ve just bought a house, and the financial markets are on the verge of collapsing. What do you do? According to Winston Baker founders Katherine Winston and Amy Baker, you start a business! Now, I know what you’re thinking…these women must be crazy! But, before we get ahead of ourselves and start making any assumptions, let’s go back to the beginning of their story.
Chapter 1: The Dynamic Duo
Let’s first rewind back 17 years to winter 2001 in New York City. Katherine and Amy have just met at the Strategic Research Institute (SRI), where they are working under the company’s finance division. With Katherine producing conferences and Amy selling sponsorships, the two become fast friends destined for greatness (move over Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.)
Chapter 2: A Shared Vision
After 4 years of slaying business at SRI, Katherine and Amy decide to part ways (cue sad Adele song). Katherine goes on to pursue a career in digital entertainment marketing at GoTV and RealD, while Amy stays at SRI for 2 more years before moving onto the event management company RPMC. Although the women no longer worked together, they continued to share a common aversion towards “working for the man” and hoped to one day become their own bosses #GIRLBOSS #FEMPOWERMENT.
Chapter 3: Just Do It
During their years apart, Katherine and Amy continued to keep in touch often daydreaming about starting a business together. In February 2008, despite the fact that Amy’s pregnant, Katherine just bought a house, and the financial markets are on the verge of collapsing, the two put on their Nike’s and decide to “Just Do It.” They were finally ready to become their own bosses and nothing was going to stand in their way. BOOYAH!
Chapter 4: A Company is Born
By May 5th, 2008, Katherine and Amy registered Winston Baker as a company, officially becoming the owners of their very own conference production business. On May 6, Amy gives birth to a beautiful baby boy and goes back to sending out emails less than 24 hours later. (Not all superheroes wear capes.)
Chapter 5: Building a Business
Meanwhile, Katherine has been applying for several small business loans using her new home as collateral, but since the markets had crashed, they were denied each time. Luckily Bank of America, comes to the rescue granting them credit card approval for $8,000 and law firm Kaye Scholer comes through with Winston Baker’s first official sponsorship for $5,000. With that, Katherine and Amy produce their first event, the “Aviation Finance Summit”. The profits from that event allow them to produce two more conferences, which then provide them enough cash to produce even more. For the first two years of the business, every penny earned is put right back to the business and both founders work extra jobs and consulting gigs to keep both their company and families afloat.
Chapter 6: Generating Growth
The main goal of Winston Baker is to produce finance conferences as they had done with SRI; however, rather than covering many sectors, they decide to focus on three key sectors that they either had great contacts in or had great passion for. In addition to the aviation sector, they decide to create conferences for the entertainment and new energy industries. Within a couple of years, the entertainment events take a life form of their own. In March of 2009, Winston Baker presents its first ever “Film Finance Forum®” in Los Angeles and another one in New York later that year. The response to this format is so overwhelming that by 2010, the forum transforms into a global “Film Finance Forum Series” with additional events taking place in Cannes and Zurich. From 2011 and 2013, Katherine and Amy add even more global events under the same series including Moscow, Singapore, Rio and Shanghai. Within a few years’ time, Winston Baker evolves into the leading global conference producer of film finance conferences. During which, Katherine gives birth to two beautiful boys and Amy’s eldest son graduates from college. Is there anything these women can’t do?
Chapter 7: Redefining the Industry
Nowadays, Winston Baker is going through its next evolution. In putting together this series of film events, the founders have witnessed an entire paradigm shift of the movie industry with the proliferation of television and digital content, and the disruption of new technology platforms such video-on-demand, over-the-top, virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and so much more. In 2015, Winston Baker began offering new conferences to address the convergence of technology and entertainment, such as the “Entertainment Finance Forum” in Los Angeles, “Zurich Summit” in Zurich, “Immersive Summit” in Cannes, “Confluence Summit” in Menlo Park, and the “Content Capital Summit” in New York City.
Chapter 8: The Best is Yet to Come
Be a part of the Winston Baker Story by taking part in our events. For more information about the company’s current projects and upcoming programming please visit our events page.
Emily Vogel is the Event Production and Marketing Manager for Winston Baker and is also responsible for the company’s research and development efforts. Over the past two years, Ms. Vogel has helped the company organize and host nearly 20 events in 7 different countries, bringing together the most seasoned and successful entertainment executives and industry financiers from around the world. Prior to her work with Winston Baker, Ms. Vogel worked at Exclusive Media, the production company behind such Emmy Award-winning projects as “George Harrison: Living in the Material World” as well as numerous Oscar nominated films including “The Way Back”, “Begin Again”, and “The Ides of March” starring George Clooney and Ryan Gosling. Ms. Vogel was also the Head of the West Coast Division for popular digital brand Betches and spent time in Brussels working for the European Union. Ms. Vogel graduated from the University of Southern California where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations, Global Business and Entrepreneurship and was a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. Prior to attending USC, Ms. Vogel lived in China for 8 years and speaks fluent Mandarin.