Music has been a lifelong passion for Strato Doumanis. At 10 years old, he began a decade of piano lessons with a mentor who educated him on the history of music. Strato began playing classical music and later transitioned to classic rock and pop. Unbeknownst to him, he was laying the foundation for what would become musical programming for countless events.
When Strato and his co-founder Vincent Velasquez launched Hurricane Productions at 16 years old, it was the perfect opportunity for him to capitalize on this love of music. The two made an excellent team: Vincent manned the mic as MC, and Strato mixed tracks from behind the DJ booth. They continued to grow their small DJ business throughout their time together at Rutgers University and soon earned themselves a reputation as top-notch entertainers.
Over the years, Hurricane grew into a full-fledged media and entertainment company, offering not only DJ services, but photography, videography, lighting design, and event production. Although Strato and Vincent occasionally reprise their roles as DJ and MC, both of them have seen a tremendous evolution in what they do within the company. Today, Strato is primarily focused on tech-related projects, including web design and projection mapping animations.
"My role evolves as the company evolves," says Strato. "Vin and I have always been about reaching a platform and immediately looking to the next one."
As much as Strato's day-to-day work has changed, a lot remains the same: At its core, his role has always been to advance the company as far possible using cutting-edge technology on a shoestring budget. Honing his expertise in this area has allowed him to become a mentor and teacher to other Hurricane staff members.
"I like being a role model and being considered an authority in a wide range of technical fields," Strato says. "The most satisfying thing, though, is being able to communicate a vision and trust that it will be fully executed. Only until Vin and I let go of trying to do everything and began to fully trust our staff were we able to grow."
Like many of his colleagues, Strato greatly enjoys working on Rutgers Dance Marathon year after year. This event has given Hurricane the opportunity to create, explore, learn, bond, experiment, and grow as a team in a professional environment unlike any other.
"Many bonds between our staff members were forged on the banks of the Raritan during that 30-plus hour event," Strato says.
More recently, Strato was involved in another exciting Rutgers event: a VRcade Mark Conference. True to form, he took advantage of cutting-edge technology to create an incredible experience for attendees.
"We set up six virtual reality stations and had attendees from the conference exploring Mars together and playing 3 v. 3 laser tag against each other," Strato explains. "I've been working with VR for a little over a year and it was rewarding to see the potential being fulfilled at an event."
One surprising fact about Strato: This accomplished artistic designer is color blind.
"I rely on relational color palettes and a variety of other tools to make sure things look right -- and my clothes match when I leave the house in the morning!" he says.