Finance and Women Entrepreneurs in the Entertainment Market

Melanie Krinsky and Charlene Paling, veteran lenders in the entertainment industry, have teamed up to create the Los Angeles-based Entertainment & Media group at Western Alliance Bank.

The pair moved to Western Alliance in the fall of last year to begin setting up the institution’s entertainment lending division. The new division has already made $300 million in loans, with a reported $100 million in potential deals pending.

Entities within the entertainment entrepreneurial space are primarily victims of habit and tend to go to the same sources for funding. The large number of loans granted already indicates a clear need in the market.

The couple has been working together in separate companies since 2017. When they first met, Paling had recently transitioned into entertainment banking after a career as a lawyer, and Krinsky summed up her tenure at an entertainment bank in LA.

“There’s just something about being a woman in entertainment finance, especially as we’ve both grown in our careers and traveled to international events, that definitely helped us bond,” Krinsky said.

Statistically, female writers and producers struggle to attract funding for projects, and when they do, they get less money than their white male counterparts. Paling and Krinsky wanted to not only correct this, but also take advantage of a huge chunk of the industry that is underfunded with powerful stories and ideas.

Since borrowing is a relationship-inspired venture, the couple is enjoying their relationship with the bank so far.

Krinsky said at the bench, “A lot of people we talk to in the company have never heard of Western Alliance,”

“I love telling them who this bank is. The first thing to know is that this is a national investment bank with over $50 billion in assets – and everyone here, right down to the CEO, is excited to be in the business of entertainment and media lending.”

Western Alliance is a consistent player on the Forbes list by America’s Best Banks and was named the second best institution of the 50 largest public U.S. banks by S&P Global Market Intelligence in 2021.

“I am impressed with the deep expertise within the bank’s national footprint, in addition to its international banking capabilities and all the resources and cutting-edge products and services our customers need,” said Krinsky. “Senior management wants to know more about this company, understand our customers and our deals – they actually want to say yes. It is of course a bank that handles credit with care, but everything is customised. The bank supports our desire – and the desire of our customers – to act quickly.”

The bank’s vice president, Robert McAuslan, who oversees the new division, said of the women founders’ exciting progress: the capabilities of the bank and the increasing liabilities in spaceis promising.”

Female Entrepreneurship

Frame Fitness co-founder and CEO Melissa Bentivoglio has had to navigate entrepreneurship as a woman since her company was founded in February 2020. Given the striking difference in treatment in acquiring finance and business from every perspective.

Starting right at the start of the COVID pandemic, realizing that investors weren’t keen on investing in brick-and-mortar stores in such a volatile market, she pivoted heavily to launch the state-of-the-art Pilates reformer, The Frame Reformer. so that people could exercise at home.

The reformer is affectionately referred to as the “Pilates Platoon” for his potential to change the Pilates market at home.

The product changed her future as an entrepreneur and was named the Best Pilates Reformer of 2022 by Women’s Health Magazine, PopSugar as a Must-Have Pilates Machine, and Well and Good as the Best Pilates Equipment of 2022.

Speak about attracting investment as a female founder she said: “It is a challenge, and certainly a risk to continue. I teamed up with my husband and took my three kids to Los Angeles to start prototyping the reformer.”

“After development, we suspected that we needed further investment and then I realized that navigating this environment as a woman was very different.”

Bentivoglio was able to adapt Frame Fitness’ activities to new market and consumer demands, attracting numerous investors to its door.

After garnering significant attention in fitness and investment circles, Bentivoglio and co-founder Lee Belzberg have secured a handful of strategic partnerships and investments.

All the major investors in Frame Fitness’ digitally-enabled home Pilates reformer are major players in the traditional physical gym. Mark Mastrov, founder and former CEO of 24-Hour Fitness, Michael Bruno, owner and CEO of Core Health and Fitness, Jim Rowley, CEO of Crunch Worldwide alongside Jaclyn Johnson, marketing enthusiast and founder of Create & Cultivate.

On the need to have diversity and representation in the investment space, she added: “It is extremely important that there are people with different views and backgrounds in the lending and equity space. When everyone comes from the same place and looks the same, it is very difficult for them to understand other people’s lives, and more importantly, the market in general. This is how people miss opportunities.”

“The women at Entertainment & Media will be able to see projects differently and have a level of understanding and relationships that some in the industry may not have. Likewise with us, we have a mix of investors who understand our industry and the needs surrounding it. COVID – while devastating – gave us an opportunity that our investors understood because of their industry experience and our ability to connect.” She added.

With female project investment on the rise, more diversified storytelling and investment in the entertainment landscape in general is expected to mature.

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