Meet Torrell ‘Premier’ Ewan — The B-Boy Digitalizing the Dance Industry
From travelling worldwide to compete in breaking events to being shortlisted as an ‘Santander Emerging Entrepreneur’ to look out for in 2020, Torrell ‘Premier’ Evan’s journey into entrepreneurship via his passion dancing is an inspiring one to say the least.
I recently had the chance to sit down with Torrell to interview him about his journey, here’s what we spoke about:
How did you first get into entrepreneurship?
“From a young age I’ve had a problem with authority. Never liked being told what to do or that I can or can’t achieve something. This was a huge problem when I was young and was working part time jobs.
I had been working since around 14 years old and after getting fired from one of my student part-time jobs when I was 20, I decided that this was the time to take action and start trying to develop my own ventures. I then went through a plethora of different business ideas from games companies, to bike locks, to even YouTube. I eventually found a way to combine my passion of breaking with my passion of software engineering in late 2017, during my master’s year at university and never looked back since.”
How did the ‘Woosh Competition Management System’ first come into development? Where do you see the judging systems in the future for dance competitions?
“For my placement year at Sheffield Hallam University in 2016, I was working in Bristol, at a video game company. This was the first time I had expendable income so I decided to use that money to travel the world and compete in breaking battles. As a result, I attended 30+ events in that 2016 and I started to see common organisational issues within these events that I could fix.
I also noticed that the elite events used an electronic system to handle the judging and competition management, which made the events seem much more professional.
I then started to wonder “Why didn’t the average competition use these tools?” The technology was readily available and also accessible. I then knew that I had to step up and get it done.
Also, At the time of the entrepreneur bug finally taking over, I was learning an abstract programming language (Erlang) at work as part of a project, and I wanted to improve my skills, so I decided to create a very basic, text based version of the system, where in which you could run a single battle and it will calculate the winner when all the results are received.
After this, however, life took a hold of me and I forgot about the project for a year and a half or so. In late 2017, I picked the project back up for my final year dissertation project. I wanted to create a more robust version, which had a graphical interface, could run and manage a whole event from the top 16 and the judges would have tablets to vote for their selected competitors.
I created the version successfully and ran it at a live event for my dissertation experiment, getting a lot of positive feedback from the breaking community at the event. However, I didn’t get the grade which I thought I deserved for the project. This resulted in me deciding to reiterate on the project and create a second version, proving to myself that this was a project of quality, countering the feedback received from my supervisors. With this version, I got a team together in Sheffield and we put on a breaking competition, ‘Break The System’ This is where the system I developed played a critical role in the success of the event.
The event went extremely well and I was contacted by other event organisers who wanted to use the system at their event. From there I decided to enrol in different business courses, accelerators and competitions in and around Sheffield, to help develop the system into a profitable business venture.
I see judging and competition management systems playing a huge role in the future of the dancing and competition scenes as a whole. If other industries and companies are to take us more seriously, I feel that we need to have a more professional approach to how we conduct our events. As a scene we need to manage our events much more professionally. I also feel like we need to collaborate more with different industries in the performing arts space so we can create different leagues and championships.”
When did you first realise that you could merge your passion for dance with your coding skills?
“Even though the first few lines of code were written back in 2016, I didn’t realize the potential of the system until after running my event in 2018. Once that event was running and successful, I started to understand what I had created and the future implications that it could have in both my life and the competition scene.”
What advice would you give to the younger entrepreneurs who are reading this?
“Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Starting your own business puts a lot of pressure on yourself. If it fails, it’s on you and no-one else, but don’t be afraid to fail, as it’s such an important part of the process. You’ll develop your skills, contacts, experience and most importantly, your self-confidence!
If you have an idea, execute until completion, bring it to market, have other people try and test it, digest the feedback and pivot if necessary, and try once again!
Also, take advantage of the free and available business advice and competitions. I think business is way too complicated to do alone, and there are plenty of mentors and mentorship schemes available to help you through this tremendous process! You got this!”
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
“In 5 years from now, I see myself running my business full time. My current future aims however is to build and grow my business to the 7-figure mark by providing value to the communities that it serves.”
Do you need help with your breaking event or need Torrell to help you with the development of your upcoming project? Contact him below to see how he can help you take your idea to the next level.