We had the good fortune of connecting with Robert Fulton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Robert, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Éclaireur was born out of a desire to help my friends and the ballet industry. Over the pandemic I chose not to be stagnant, and was driven to fill my time with purpose. The idea for Éclaireur came to me in 2019 while I was still in training to become a professional ballet dancer. Several of my classmates suddenly were cut from our training program, and had to scramble to audition last minute. They struggled so much to find information on programs that some even had to quit dancing. I thought to myself “Why is there no centralized database for dancers to find information on training programs, auditions, and company jobs?” I did not know where I was going to begin, or where my idea would go, but I decided one day to start on something (though none of it made it to the final product). After collecting initial information it was amazing how quickly the website progressed. Through surveying more dancers and members of the industry, I came to realize that our website could become a necessary component to the auditioning process. I soon found out that the website would require more advanced features, and a template simply could not do. Shortly after, Éclaireur’s website developer and co-founder joined the team. Suddenly the pandemic hit and we were left with an abundance of time and few obligations. We started the LLP in the summer of 2020 and grew exponentially from there. One year later, it has come so far! We recently won a shark-tank style competition through the Pennsylvania State University IdeaMakers Challenge and gained some funding to really take off.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Getting to the level that I am at today was no easy feat, especially when I have two left ones. The lessons I have learned through years of hard-work, dedication, and sacrifice set me up to take life head on. I started dancing at a local school in Pennsylvania, but had to drive hours to get to my studio. I decided to leave my senior year of high-school to train with the Houston Ballet Professional Program. After graduating, I became a Trainee with Ballet West. Though I attended these prestigious programs, it did not guarantee me a professional contract. However, I worked tirelessly and the next year I was hired to dance for the Nevada Ballet Theatre. With ballet being such a high-risk career, I wanted to ensure my future by having options. I decided to obtain my college degree online as I pursued my career. In addition to being a professional dancer, I am obtaining a degree in Business, a member of the AGMA Union negotiation’s committee, and a budding entrepreneur who created his company from the ground up.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am all about adventure and excitement. Although I haven’t lived in California for very long, I have a niche for discovering cool spots. One of my favorite things to do in California is hike. I would bring my friends to Mount Baldy or go on a coastal rock-climb to a secluded beach around Crescent Bay. In California there is fantastic food all around. I love a fine balance of delicious Pad Thai from the District Mall in Tustin and animal style burgers from In N Out. We would spend lots of time walking around exploring the city and surrounding areas. I would show them the Ballet Project OC studios in Tustin where I dance and we would get ice cream on Balboa Island at night.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
First I need to give a shout out to the rest of my team: Co-founder and Coder Sasha Ahrestani, Coder and Cyber-Security Analyst Eugene Ryoo, Ballet Advisor and Social Media Consultant Camille Kellems, and Ballet Advisor and Data Gatherer Anna Peabody. Their hard work and dedication to my vision is the reason for our success. Furthermore, the help of our mentors Elizabeth King and Duane Reese has been indispensable in guiding us through our first business startup. I would like to thank my parents for their constant support. I would also like to give a huge shoutout to Ballet Project OC for the inspiration to continue to build a company from scratch. Finally, to the Pennsylvania State University for providing me with opportunities to gain mentorship and funding for the company.
Jack Hartin Penn State News