Graduate student starts entertainment investment firm

Iovine and Young Academy student Jonathan Haile began his online graduate degree last summer. (Julia Rosher/Daily Trojan)

Jonathan Haile first jotted down the idea for his investment firm on the back of a napkin at The Standard in West Hollywood when he was a teenager. A semester into his studies at the Iovine and Young Academy, where he is pursuing his master’s degree, Haile’s business dreams are now becoming a reality.

Haile, who spent his teenage years working in the entertainment industry, knew the potential of investing in social events. With the help of two co-founders, David Berry and Jake Kasheta, Haile launched Primary Endeavors, a boutique investment firm that specializes in parties and concerts, loosely based on his original back-of-a-napkin plan. The firm was officially launched at the beginning of January.

“[The three of us have] been working in different facets of entertainment, which is essentially the industry that we invest in, for a really long time,” Haile said. “For me, it was really important to develop my network and to develop a set of skills that were marketable and could be a real value add for the people we were working with.”

Haile was born and raised in Los Angeles, and has worked in several entertainment positions since his high school years in 2007 — from contributing to marketing strategies for Repossession Records to being an agent trainee at Agency for the Performing Arts.

After receiving his undergraduate degree in business from Pennsylvania State University, Haile moved back to the West Coast to  further develop his skills at USC. He is currently in his second semester at the Academy working toward his online Master of Science in integrated design, business and technology, which was launched in 2017 and is the first graduate program offered in the Academy.

In an email to the Daily Trojan, Iovine and Young Academy Dean Erica Muhl said the MS-IDBT program teaches students like Haile to work in innovative ways.

“Our students are taught … how to work through the longer periods of creative ambiguity and uncertainty that are necessary to envision truly innovative solutions,” Muhl wrote.

Haile said he didn’t feel comfortable launching Primary Endeavors until he began his graduate studies.

“The seed was planted super early, and it’s something we’ve been trying to do for a long time,” Haile said.  “It was really important for us not to move on something until we were each prepared.”

Haile’s business essentials professor Joshua Alexander said he believes Haile’s inherent traits were also part of the reason that he has been able to move forward as an entrepreneur.

“[Haile] demonstrates an intellectual curiosity that I’ve noticed is very common in successful entrepreneurs,” Alexander said. “He has a very optimistic outlook. When you combine those two things together, it generally puts an entrepreneur or would-be entrepreneur on that track for success.”

Berry, one of Primary Endeavors’ co-founding members, credited Haile for his creativity.

“Jon is a really unique and creative person in different ways than most people,” Berry said. “Not so much in artistic ways, but in intellectual and logistical ways.”

Haile said his primary goal for 2019 is to foster more local relationships and find business partners in Los Angeles. Though Primary Endeavors does not currently have a headquarters, the company is looking to move into an office Downtown in the coming weeks to make room for expansion.

Primary Endeavors invested in festival company Northern Nights Music Festival and loudspeaker manufacturer PK Sound in 2018, but the company wasn’t publicly launched until this year.

“We were more interested in empowering other people that were already doing really cool things … than we were growing something from the ground up and having ourselves be the face of it,” Haile said.

He said his firm’s decision to invest in entertainment and leisure rather than technology was purposeful, especially as a L.A.-based firm. As his firm enters its first year in the public eye, Haile said he is hopeful for the future.

“The economics of the entertainment industry are a little bit different than the economics of the tech industry,” Haile said. “Those companies have different needs than tech companies have, and if you feed those needs in unique ways, you can get different and … preferable outcomes.”