We had the good fortune of connecting with Darrell Perez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Darrell, how do you think about risk?
It is always a risk-taking game when starting any business, but I like to call it a leap of faith! That first leap of faith I took was leaving my 9-5 retail job of five years and consistent income to start my business. My finances at the time were not the greatest, so in hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best idea. But I had this gut feeling that it was now or never. I trusted myself and my instincts and continued to pursue my passion for DJing and into the event production world! Since then and even today, it has continued to be a game of risk playing, and sometimes I love it, and sometimes I’m not too fond of it. But I believe that is why I enjoy this industry and being an entrepreneur so much! I enjoy the rush and adrenaline that comes with it. I think that has a lot to do with the success of Xperience Entertainment, honestly. I learned early that there is never going to be a dull moment when owning and running a business. The challenges and risks taking get larger as you keep climbing! Even this year, when COVID hit, instead of lying low, we wanted to adapt to the “new” event world around us. So we doubled down and invested in newer products that we were confident in and would sustain us during and post COVID. Decisions like that can make or break a company, but so far, it has worked for us and is paying off for sure! It has even made us a more competitive company in our local market!
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My business’s heart really dates back to my junior high age when I started to learn and pick up DJing. It became a bit of a side hustle, if you will, while I was in high school. I would DJ on the weekends and work at a retail job throughout the week. It was my Sophomore year in high school when I had the idea of Xperience Entertainment and what it could be. I was attending a State Conference Event, and there was a big dance at the end of the conference. The DJ Company had this big giant set up with a bunch of cool lights, truss, and just eye candy everywhere. I never knew a DJ company was capable of doing such cool and big creative setups. It was something I was super unfamiliar with. After that event, I ended up getting a job with that company. It was there, I started to really understand and learn that side of the industry and how it all came together. I stayed with them until I graduated high school. Fast forward to my sophomore-junior year in college; I realized I had to decide what I would do after graduating. I knew that if I wanted to take on Xperience Entertainment and make it really something, I had to start growing it then. I knew I always wanted to run my own business, and thinking about a 9-5 job in an office after college and leaving the DJ world really was not appetizing to me. So that definitely drove me to give it one final big push! From there, it all just started to come together little by little. I met Paul from Arizona Stage, who had just moved out here from Indiana; he was starting up a similar company at the time. I hired a few of my friends as DJs and Light Technicians, I trained them, and most importantly, I had my father, who just retired, was and still is my right-hand man. So I had a solid crew of about 5 guys, and we just started booking events from there! A couple junior high dances every Friday turned into about 5 junior high dances every Friday the following school year, which turned into hiring and training more DJs for the upcoming high school season. Next thing you know, we had 5 to 10 high school homecomings and proms lined up. By my senior year in college, I was full time with the business. I had to even convert over to an online schedule to keep up with our event load. It was such an awesome and fun moment in time. I was incredibly blessed with a fun group of guys who, a good majority are still with the company today. This past January, Right before COVID happened, it was a full circle year for us. Not only did we finally move into our own office, but that same event I was at my sophomore year in high school that inspired my dream for Xperience, we were contracted for that same event in January of 2020! The event took place in Sierra Vista, Arizona, and every high school in the state was pretty much in attendance. It was such a fun and surreal moment! It was honestly the last big dance for some high school students, so I am happy we could give them that. Building this company these past few years has taught me to never give up on my dreams. That sounds cliche to say, but you can really accomplish anything you set your mind to. You can’t give up, especially when you hit roadblocks. They will happen, but it’s all about how you choose to navigate around them and keep pushing forward. That will be the key to your success! It is always fun to learn from your mistakes and never give up on your dreams if they are worth it! Today, Xperience Entertainment has a staff of about 15 core event experts and DJs. We are a fully operational Event Production Company! We offer DJ services and Photo Booths, Event Lighting, Staging, Live Sound, and Visuals! We are located in Peoria, Arizona!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Assuming this trip would be a Non-COVID time of year visit, I definitely would plan to take them to some of my favorite hidden Speakeasy Bars across the valley. Then, I would show them around the growing restaurant and bar scene around Central Phoenix. It is a fun vibe and great culture out there! During the day, I would probably plan on hitting some of the more iconic and fun hike spots like Camelback Mountain and or a day trip of hiking In Sedona! On some of the other days, going golfing would be a great time, with some gorgeous views at some of the many golf clubs out here.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
For sure, some big shoutouts would be my parents and my sisters for their continued love and support! They never told me my dreams were never too big and that I could do anything I set my mind to! Even when they thought my ideas were a little crazy sometimes… My next shout out would be to Paul Thomas at Arizona Stage. His generous time and mentorship had played a crucial role in the development and success of my company. My favorite phrase he always used for me when I started was I needed somebody to tell me when my baby was ugly… Nobody likes to be honest with you, but I think it is super important to have a mentor and somebody willing to do that when you are young and starting. Thanks, Paul!
Photographers Austin Sills-Trausch and Michael Clawson