Want Some National Attention? Here are Tips from Buffalo Businesspeople Who Got It

Gaining national attention, even for a 30-second clip, can be a big break to launch a career. These Buffalo entrepreneurs have been in the spotlight and they have some advice on what to do.

Chef Darian Bryan uses social media and a few experiences under his belt, having competed on both
“Chopped” and “Supermarket Stakeout” on the Food Network last year but that didn’t happen overnight. He had been applying to be on “Chopped” for eight years. “There are so many businesses and companies that overlooked my work, but I just never stopped,” he said. “Being a Black man in Buffalo, in America, it is hard to be seen.

You want some national attention? Here are tips from Buffalo business people who got it just have to keep going and work.

After his wife sent an email to the production company, the makers of “Chopped” responded and interviewed him. But nothing happened until they reached out four years later and told him to reapply.

“They were watching me on social media,” he said. “People are watching you all the time to see if they want you to represent their brand. You have to sell yourself and give them high energy.”

Bryan has also appeared on CBS This Morning, which was looking to feature chefs. They found Bryan on Instagram.

“You have to play the part and present yourself in a way where people will reach out to you,” Bryan advised. “You have to attract a certain crowd. I have to put in the work and put myself out there all the time. I don’t do half-ass work. Quality and appearance and consistency. Big brands see that and want to do business with you, because they see you have high standards.”

One of the first steps is to invest in yourself, starting with getting a good camera or camera phone to better display yourself and your products on social media. “If you have to pay a few models here and there to showcase your product, then you have to do that,” he said. “National media, they see that you invest in yourself, and they want to invest in you too. If you want to stand out and be different, you have to do
something different. I started a pop-up restaurant and brought in fashion with chef jackets.” What’s most important is to be yourself, be comfortable with your brand and be proud of your product, Bryan said.

Tye and Courtney Caldwell emphasize smiles and soundbites

Courtney and Tye Caldwell, co-founders of ShearShare, a marketplace that offers B2B
tools for self-employed hair stylists, were recently featured on NBC’s Today Show after a
four-month process.

A PR firm familiar with 43 North pitched their startup to NBC. The couple met with
Today producers via Zoom, which eventually led to a 4.5-minute segment on the show.

“What resonated strongly with the producers was seeing two non-technical, married co-founders leveraging technology to impact Main Street businesses,” Courtney said in an email. “And these everyday businesses represent the backbone of the American economy.”

Be mindful, she said, that a full day of filming will be narrowed to a few minutes on a

“In some cases, make sure your responses can stand alone as an individual soundbite,”
she said. “Bring your energy to the interview, and don’t forget to smile for the camera.”

The time and effort were certainly worth it, Courtney said. Since the segment aired in
July, ShearShare has new users, new collaboration deals, potential investors and an
influx of resumes from job candidates, she said.

“Money can’t buy what the Today Show provided for us,” she said. “It’s as if Al Roker was
a sales rep for ShearShare in business development, marketing, fundraising and HR all in
one day.”

Manufacturing companies often have different marketing priorities and approaches,
especially for a small, home-grown company in Wyoming County. Upstate Door is a high-end residential door manufacturer in Warsaw, with about 90 employees led by founder and CEO Robert Fontaine. They make custom doors for multi-
million-dollar homes, penthouses and vacation homes along the East Coast. The company has kept a low profile until earlier this year, when Fontaine agreed to being featured on the TV show “World’s Greatest.”
He turned them down several times, but after a two-hour April interview with the producers, he agreed.
His team cleaned up the shop, installed new signage and organized office space in preparation of hosting the film crew for one long day in June. The episode aired in October with a three-minute video about Upstate Door. Though Fontaine didn’t necessarily see an influx in business, he did see an ecstatic team.

“It meant a lot more to everyone else than I realized, and I would have said yes a lot
quicker had I known that,” he said.

After the show aired, he got a call from the CEO of a small, local ladder company that
Robert Fontaine, CEO, Upstate Door in Warsaw also was approached by “World’s Greatest.”

“He asked, ‘Would you do it if you were me?’” Fontaine said. “I said I would. I did it for
my own people. From what I saw, it built a lot of pride and respect. It’s not always about
us as owners. It’s about what we’re promoting.”