Excellence in Action

Nick Fehr ’09

Nick Fehr ’09 founded The Bosco in 2011 with Aaron Fisher-Cohen, helping create the first automatic GIF booth by building most aspects of the company’s software. Nick has grown The Bosco from a college fantasy to a profitable business with over 100 employees and offices in Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco that service clients worldwide. Before working on The Bosco, Nick graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles and worked at small digital agencies building high-profile web applications for brands such as Patrón, Infiniti, Nintendo, W Hotels, and Tiffany & Co. He splits his time between Brooklyn and Los Angeles and really only has one hobby, The San Francisco Giants. Nick earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from UCLA in 2009.

Describe your career path from UCLA to your current role.

I feel as though I should start with some of the course work that I took that gave me the skill set I needed to succeed in my career. Throughout college, I took so many programming and computing classes. While UCLA did not have a computer science minor at the time, I essentially put myself through my own computer science minor by taking all of those classes. While I was in college, I applied those programming skills towards building a photo booth because my friend and I figured that since we’ve seen them at parties, we could begin a business by renting them out. So we started renting out these home-grown photo booths at frat parties.

After graduation, I started living in New York, and given how fast paced the city was, I actually met my now co-founder on the street. He had heard that I had done the photo booth business before and was inspired by my skill set, and while I barely knew the guy, we started a business that same day. So we got together and raised a little bit of money and built our business pretty much from the ground up. We had enough money to support us for a few months while we prototyped and then we launched with zero dollars in the bank and started generating revenue from day one.

As for what The Bosco does, we create photo and video experiences for brands. Our work can take a simple form, like a digital photo booth for a Chanel Fashion Week Party, or be more complex like using facial recognition or building a video booth directly into a Lexus. Regardless, brands love us because we create unique experiences that also connect to social media, which makes us a powerful marketing tool. Our HQ is in New York, and we have offices Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago, but our work has been everywhere, from an international tour with Lady Gaga, the Winter Olympics in Russia, even the White House.

What inspired you to choose this career path?

I always had an entrepreneurial mindset for a lot of the past positions I’ve had. For example, if I was working with large data sets, I was thinking, “How can I rewrite this code? Or how can I reconstruct this data in a more efficient way?” I always wanted a sense of ownership over something that I had created. Entrepreneurship for me was an outlet for all my mental energy to be concentrated in one place and pay off in the long run. To me, working towards a bigger and more personal goal was much more important than just a paycheck.

How did your UCLA experience help shape your success?

The most instrumental way that UCLA helped shape my success was having the opportunity to take computer programming classes. That was the part of my education that I found most valuable. It’s definitely a useful skill set to fall back on and it’s also relevant for every area of academic study.

In what ways have you utilized the UCLA alumni network?

I have worked with a lot of my peers and colleagues from UCLA. I am not sure if Matthew Manos brought up a friend of ours named Emerson Taymor. Emerson started a digital agency and was hiring anyone he could to do contract work with, and Matthew and I did a lot of work for him for a while. I’ve had various friends from college who I’ve served as my clients, and it is really that UCLA connection that we use as a focal point for our interactions and business.

What has been your greatest career challenge and how did you overcome it?

To be honest, I feel like I’m dealing with it right now and I don’t think it’s necessarily resolved yet but I think the challenges of running a business are never ending, so it’s kind of hard to isolate it to one specific challenge. For example, this year we dealt with some mistakes that had a significant effect on our cash flow. If you’re not learning from those mistakes, you’re not growing and I think every time we’re challenged, we come out of it and develop some system that makes us stronger. I think the best lesson we’ve learned, at least this year, is the importance of focus and prioritization. We’ve been lucky in the past, we’ll try to do 15 things and a couple of those things will happen but I feel like if you set out and prioritize those 15 things, in order of importance, you can then tackle them one at a time. This way, you can end up doing all 15 of them in an efficient and organized way, rather than a disordered way.

What advice would you give to UCLA students and alumni interested in Entrepreneurship?

First and foremost, I think it’s important to enjoy your college years as much as possible. Truthfully, I think my biggest regret in college was not taking advantage of all the wonderful groups and organizations you can be a part of. What I realized after I left college was that the barrier of entry for a job or internship is very high, but the barrier of entry to commit your time to volunteer as part of a group on campus is next to none. You could just join in anywhere and if you’re smart or talented, you’ll find a way to work your way up, earn more responsibilities, and gain leadership experience. For example, you could spend a couple years working for some on-campus group and then find yourself managing funds, which is some of the most useful finance experience you can get in college. To conclude, I say surround yourself with as many people as possible that can be part of your network when you leave, and I think being involved in as many different organizations as possible is probably a good way of finding highly motivated people.

For alumni, it’s never too late to start your own business. Whether it’s in your spare time or if you have the luxury of being able to commit all of your time, I think owning what you’re working on is a good way to learn, even if it doesn’t turn into something. If any alumni want to talk to me about starting anything or about entrepreneurship in general, I’m more than happy to talk through those details because I think the most interesting way to learn is just hearing about someone’s specific challenges and problems, and guiding them through resolutions.

How do support and participate in the UCLA community now?

I am always happy to do anything for the UCLA community. Guest lecturing in entrepreneurship classes is a great interest of mine. I’ve never been involved enough but I really would be more than happy to speak in a class or mentor a student.

What’s next?

We’ve been working on diversifying our business model. We’ve passed the five year mark which is a big milestone for any young business. In the last few years, we’ve started a commercial film production company as well as an event design production company that does retail design and temporary events. So basically, we have three businesses now in some parts, but it’s still very important to stay focused on keeping our core business relevant for a long time. For our specific product offerings, we wish to continue remaining innovative and ahead of the curve. Doing so will allow us to develop a long-lasting business that will hopefully outlive us all.  

Interviewed by Stephen Mendoza, Business Economics student (exp. ’18)