The Royal Connections Business Spotlight is a monthly feature about businesses owned by EMU alumni featured in the university’s new interactive directory.
October’s spotlight is on Fabrice Guerrier and his Syllble Studios Inc., (pronounced syll-a-ble). Guerrier, a 2015 graduate of the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, started the business in August 2017 in Washington D.C. He is chief executive officer, and David Russell is chief marketing officer.
Syllble Studios – pronounced syll-a-ble – is a collaborative storytelling startup that publishes fiction books and original serialized stories through collaborative writing.
Here’s a few highlights of the business since it began:
- The first collaborative book was published December 2017.
- The studio hosted its first collaborative writing meetup in Washington D.C. in April 2018 at Social Tables.
- The first “One Book in One Week” titled “The Wall” was published July 15.
- Guerrier presented a few weeks later at the Street Entrepreneurs Community Driven Incubator Fundraiser, hosted at Amazon DC headquarters.
- The fourth book, titled Mike’s Coffee written by Taiwo Adesina, Valeria Lake and Brittney Jones, was published last month.
- The studio is completing the manuscript of a Novel titled “Caden and the Dangerous Fools” co-authored by four writers from four different continents (U.K., Palestine, U.S. and Brazil).
- To date, more than 112 writers from six countries are engaged in creative ventures with the studio.
Guerrier, a Haitian American writer and poet who also works for the U.S. Department of State during the day, brings a varied background to his business venture. As he explains below, he has always been attuned to storytelling, and his studies at CJP fed into that interest.
He has also worked at the United Nations advocating for Least Developed Countries; founded The LEEHG Institute, a social venture; and served as president of the board of directors at Coming to the Table, a national racial reconciliation organization. He earned his bachelor’s degree in international affairs and leadership studies from Florida State University.
Guerrier is a 2018 Gabr Fellow at the Shafik Gabr Foundation, and has been a PEN Haiti Fellow at the PEN American Center, a Senior Fellow at Humanity in Action, and a Seth Godin AltMBA participant.
Tell us how your business began.
At the age of 14, I moved to the United States from Haiti. And during my high school days here, I would often walk around these halls carrying in my small hands a small notebook filled with all sorts of business ideas I would conjure in and out of the classroom while dreaming of building something from the very ground up through perseverance.
I don’t really remember when exactly I ever decided to become a business owner. But I do believe ideas are alive and they are starving to find the right group of people to bring them to life. They absolutely found me early on. I just needed to find and sort out the right ones worth fighting for.
I have been writing my novel for about two years and with my passions for creative writing, storytelling and technology, building this creative company and if done right, I believe we can change the course of history but it will require hard work.
How did your EMU education impact your choice of career and business?
One might wonder how a master’s degree in conflict transformation can be relevant to business? I would say in today’s changing and disruptive technological age, more than ever it’s relevant in how business is conducted. I would argue bringing a different perspective to a field such as business is an advantage.
At the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, so much of what we studied has shaped key foundations for business acumen but most importantly how we relate with each other and how we live in right relationships with our customers. For example, these concepts are all applicable: the theory of change, human centered design, strategic analysis, tenets of healthy organizations, implementing adaptive structures especially through Margaret Wheatley’s work and thinking deeply both on an international and interpersonal level through the lens of a reflective practitioner.
Storytelling is key to transforming the mindset and hearts of people, I learned that especially at CJP, also as a member of Inside Out Playback Theatre Troupe and working as national president of Coming to the Table. You see it in our dialogues, our novels, our TV shows and movies, they remain a key aspect on our capabilities to transform our collective psyche.
Creative writers can spend years writing to finish a book, get seen or even get published. We believe collaboration is the future of fiction. Through a sharing-economy-based approach, we connect writers locally and all over the world to build peer-to-peer production houses and get them to finish a compelling story in just a few weeks.
How do your values impact your business operations?
Values are the DNA of the company culture and what you are building. Values are the ways your business and team interrelate chooses to show up in the world and the impact you intend to make. You have to be clear on those values. A value-based approach of conducting business is the way of the future. At Syllble’s early stage now, values show up for me when I work directly with my cofounder David and all the creative writers we engage.
Share 3-4 “best business” insights.
- Execute: One of the best business insights I learned working on an early-stage startup is that you have to execute. It doesn’t have to be perfect but you have to ship and ship often, talk to your customers and bring them something they want!
- Team: The team and group of people you surround yourself with is key. If you don’t have the right team nor invest in the people you serve and work for, your company will not thrive.
- Vision: You need vision that can drive the direction of a company to inspire a shared vision for future employees and customers. My vision for Syllble is to have millions of writers all around the world collaborating, publishing many books, telling new and great stories and for our platform to be the center point of Hollywood’s next hit movies, tv shows, animation and more! But what remains key to ‘vision’ is having the ability to exactly show small step-by-step how to reach this vision. That is the challenge.
Read another Business Spotlight on The Emotional Health Center in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.