Finance and women entrepreneurs in the entertainment market

Seasoned lending veterans in the entertainment industry, Melanie Krinsky and Charlene Paling have teamed up to create the Los Angeles-based Entertainment & Media Group at Western Alliance Bank.

The couple moved to Western Alliance in the fall of last year to begin the process of creating the institution’s entertainment lending arm. The new division has already issued $300 million in loans, with $100 million in potential deals pending.

Entities within the entertainment entrepreneurial space are mostly victims of habit and generally go to the same sources of funding, the high amount of loans granted already highlights a dire need in the market.

The couple have worked together since 2017 in separate businesses. When they first met, Paling had just moved into entertainment banking after a career as a lawyer, and Krinsky was summing up her tenure at a Los Angeles entertainment bank.

“There’s just something about being women in entertainment finance, especially since we’ve both grown in our careers and traveled to international events, it’s definitely helped us bond “, said Krinsky.

Female writers and producers have statistically struggled to raise funds for projects and when they do, they are less funded than their white male counterparts. Paling and Krinsky aimed to not only fix this, but leverage a vast portion of the sector that is underfunded with powerful stories and insights.

Since lending is a relationship-driven business, the couple are enjoying their relationship with the bank so far.

Krinsky said of the bank, “A lot of people we talk to in the industry haven’t heard of Western Alliance,”

“I love having the chance to tell them who this bank is. The first thing to know is that this is a national merchant bank with over $50 billion in assets – and everyone here, including the CEO, is thrilled to launch into the entertainment and media lending business.

Western Alliance is a regular player on the Forbes list of the top U.S. banks and was named by S&P Global Market Intelligence as the second-best institution among the 50 largest public U.S. banks in 2021.

“I was impressed with the depth of expertise across the bank’s domestic footprint, in addition to international banking capabilities and all the resources and sophisticated products and services that our clients need,” says Krinsky. “Senior management want to know more about this business, understand our customers and our transactions – they actually want to say yes. This is a bank that has a conservative approach to credit, yes, but everything is tailor-made. our desire — and our customers’ desire — to act quickly.

The bank’s Executive Vice President, Robert McAuslan, who oversees the new division, said of the founders’ exciting progress: “In just six months, the list of leading entertainment companies doing business with us, combined with the capabilities of the bank and its growing commitments in the space. , is promising.

Female entrepreneurship

Frame Fitness co-founder and CEO Melissa Bentivoglio has had to navigate entrepreneurship as a woman since founding her company in February 2020. Noting the stark difference in treatment in acquiring funding and business from each point of view.

Early on in the COVID pandemic, she realized investors weren’t thrilled about investing in brick-and-mortar in such a volatile market, so she pivoted sharply to launch the cutting-edge Pilates reformer. technology, The Frame Reformer, so people can train at home.

The reformer has been affectionately dubbed the “Peloton of Pilates” because of his potential to change the home Pilates market.

The product changed her future as an entrepreneur and was voted by Women’s Health Magazine as the best Pilates reformer of 2022, by PopSugar as a must-have Pilates machine and by Well and Good as the best Pilates equipment of 2022.

Speaking about raising investments as a founder, she said, “It’s a challenge, and certainly a risk. I teamed up with my husband and took my three kids to LA to start prototyping the reformer.

“After development, we assumed we needed additional investment and that’s when I realized navigating that environment was very different as a woman.”

Bentivoglio was able to adjust the activities of Frame Fitness to meet new market and consumer demands, and thus attract many investors to its doorstep.

Having garnered a lot of attention in fitness and investment circles, Bentivoglio and co-founder Lee Belzberg have secured a handful of partnerships and strategic investments.

All major investors in Frame Fitness’ digital home Pilates reformer are major players in the traditional physical fitness space. Mark Mastrov, founder and former CEO of 24-Hour Fitness, Michael Bruno, owner and CEO of Core Health and Fitness, Jim Rowley, CEO of Crunch Worldwide, and Jaclyn Johnson, marketing enthusiast and founder of Create & Cultivate.

On the need to have diversity and representation in the investment space, she added: “It is extremely important that there are people from different viewpoints and backgrounds in the lending space. and equity. If everyone is from the same place and looks alike, it is very difficult for them to understand each other’s lives and, more importantly, the market as a whole. This is how people miss opportunities.

“Women in Entertainment & Media will be able to see projects differently and will have a level of understanding and connections that some in the industry may not have. Similarly, at home we have a mix of investors who understand our sector and the necessities around it.COVID – while devastating – has given us an opportunity that our investors have understood because of their industry experience and our ability to connect.

With the investment of women’s projects on the slope, more diverse stories and investments in the entertainment landscape as a whole should materialize.