Edgar Martirosyan was the lucky guy who became an overnight celebrity after handing out pizza slices at the Academy Awards to stars like Harrison Ford, Martin Scorsese and Brad Pitt. The broadcast—which garnered an estimated 44 million viewers worldwide—led to a frenzy of orders for Martirosyan’s Hollywood pizza franchise, Big Mama’s and Papa’s Pizzeria, and a $1,000 tip from Oscar’s host Ellen DeGeneres.
Now, he hopes he can parlay that 15 minutes of fame—or just a few minutes, in his case—into a successful business.
Martirosyan and his brother Erik are opening a new artisanal pizza place called Wood in Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood. The brothers told the Los Angeles Times that they’ve owned the Big Mama’s and Papa’s franchise on Hollywood’s Sunset Boulevard for eight years, but they’ve always dreamt of starting their own upscale pizza restaurant. "We even have a mixer from Italy for the dough we make daily," Erik said. "We wanted the right ingredients, the right products—all shipped from Italy."
Martirosyan wouldn’t be the first person to try and spin short-term stardom into a business opportunity. Many reality TV stars—even those who were booted or “voted” off shows quickly—including those featured on Donald Trump’s NBC show The Apprentice and Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New Jersey, have gone on to launch businesses. Stephan Aarstol, an entrepreneur who got a major investment after appearing on ABC’s Shark Tank, even wrote a blog post with tips on “How to Make the Most of Your 15 Minutes of Fame.”
Mary Helen Bowers owned a New York City dance fitness studio called Ballet Beautiful when she commissioned to help actress Natalie Portman become a ballerina for the 2010 movie Black Swan. After becoming an overnight sensation thanks to the movie’s success, Bowers was able to transform her company into a virtual ballet training company that live streams fitness classes and private lessons over the Internet, according to a 2011 profile in Inc. Her membership grew 5,000 percent in the six months after the film’s release.
Marketing pros say that people who get short-term celebrity status—whether an appearance on The Late Show With Jimmy Fallon or a viral YouTube video—can use it to start or expand a business by being ready for it. They should have a website that tells their story and their contact information readily available for anybody who wants to reach them, and make sure people can find them by searching their name on Google. They should even start a Facebook campaign about themselves and interact with people on Twitter. Social media is a popular way to keep the celebrity status alive.
"If someone sees you on Good Morning America, chances are, they're going to look you up online," marketing consultant and author Chris Brogan told Inc.
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