Vincent Velasquez has always admired the "showmanship" of live events. He also grew up in a era where every family owned a personal computer. These factors influenced his belief that "everything is entertainment and we crave it at all times."
As a student at St. John Vianney High School in Holmdel, Vincent met Strato Doumanis, who would later become his co-founder at Hurricane Productions and its sister brands, MediaCutlet and CaneAV. But back in 2003, the two music-loving teens just wanted to entertain the crowd at a backyard party.
"We needed people to trust that we were responsible, show up on time and perform the job they hired us to do," says Vincent.
It didn't take long for Vincent and Strato to build their reputation as a stellar DJ and MC team, and Hurricane Productions was born. As the business grew, each of them started to bring in more of their own interests and skills.
"Our strengths really compliment each other," Vincent says. "It's earned us the ability to provide a living for each other and everyone else connected to our business."
Vincent and Strato went on to Rutgers University after high school and continued to build Hurricane Productions during their time there. Through his work as a sports reporter, Vincent had learned how valuable photo and video had become to news organizations in a digital world. He soon realized that if Hurricane could serve its clients with bundled media services while owning that content, their marketing would forever benefit.
"I was being challenged to help turn a 'print-first' outlet to a more 'digital-first' model," Vincent explains. "We were already 'digital-everything' at Hurricane. Could I take this other world I was working in and merge it with the world that we created? The short answer was yes."
Over the years, Vincent and Strato grew from a small, two-person DJ company to a thriving team with full-time staff and contractors. Despite their impressive growth and more than 15 years in business, Vincent still considers Hurricane a "young team that is still learning." However, they're also established enough that people know they aren't going anywhere.
One of the things Vincent loves most about the team he's cultivated is the ability to give people from all backgrounds and experience levels opportunities that no one else would give them, because of factors like age, education, gender, etc.
"Anyone who has worked at Hurricane has been given more responsibility here than they’ve ever been given anywhere else," he says. "We are most proud of people who have worked here and then earned new opportunities other places. I think that says more about Hurricane than anything else."
Although he knows every aspect of the business and can technically execute every necessary task, Vincent is passionate about learning how to identify aspects of the business that he can delegate to Hurricane staff members.
"I love seeing how someone can grow into a role, own it, and make themselves and our company better," Vincent says. "It's not easy to let go of control, but I can do it because I know I’m not letting go of quality."
Vincent has a lot favorite Hurricane projects – some successful and some not ("the ones that failed completely or didn't resonate ... taught me to keep listening to decision-makers and to keep my finger on the pulse of what people want," he says). However, a recent standout for him was producing the Grand Opening of an Audi dealership in 2015.
"It was truly a spectacular event [that] activated all aspects of our businesses," Vincent says. "And like with most work, we earned it through a referral. Being a decent person and having a great team is what brought that event to life."
When Vincent isn't running his multiple companies, you're most likely to find him at the Jersey Shore.
"I'm not good at sitting still in the sun, but I do love the beach," he says.