When Michael Smith and Terrence Williams met at a mutual friend’s wedding, a growing entertainment company was born. While both Smith and Williams were ideating the possibility of future dreams, business ideas, and passion, they both realized that they were at moments where things needed to change.
From there, the two had identified their inflection points.
Based on the company’s website, Inflection Point Entertainment is “a multi-media company that tells the stories of inflections within the journeys of individuals, institutions, and industries.”
And since that pivotal moment, that is precisely what Smith and Williams have been doing: telling diverse stories of people advancing culture and navigating their inflection points.
“It’s just been a beautiful marriage between the two of us in terms of how we think and challenge one another,” Smith stated. “We have a shared vision for the stories we want to tell, how we want to tell ’em, and with whom we want to tell ’em. We are both at a point in our lives where we just want to do dope sh-t with cool people.”
While a mutual friend brought them together, their respective backgrounds are a strength to what they are building.
Michael Smith is most likely known for his time as a commentator with ESPN. Williams, however, is an established attorney whose client lists boasts names from the entertainment industry.
“I’m the legal side of the business, and for 15 years, I’ve done everything from television networks to music record labels, sports, kind of across the gambit,” Williams stated. “So, I tend to be the miserly one. Like, ‘Hey man, we’re a startup. We can’t afford this.’ And sometimes he’s like, ‘Alright, you’re right.’ But then there are also times where he’s like, ‘Hey man, we got to spend money to make money.’ And I’m like, ‘You know what? You’re right.”
While the two business owners found each other during their own inflection points in life, they were very confident in what they wanted to build and how to scale their business. Inflection Point Entertainment is the parent company, but Inflection Network is a podcasting vertical gaining traction.
Led by veteran media executive Charita Johnson, Inflection Network has a distribution and marketing partnership with iHeart Radio. Boasting the mantra of “Louder for folks in the back,” the podcast vertical intentionally brings diverse stories to its audience.
“The types of talent that we are looking for, the voices that we’re looking for to be a part of the inflection network, we’re looking for people who are trying to go to the next level, and we’re trying to help them get there,” Smith said.
Although they are looking for hungry creatives ready to move forward in the podcasting space, they aren’t just putting everybody on. Smith and Williams have a specific formula and an inner knowing for who could be a good fit in the industry.
“I think the two things that separate us are our intentionality to being talent-forward, being talent-friendly, and really finding people looking to break into that next level. That is our niche, and I think we do it really well,” Williams explained.
“I think there are people who want to do a podcast, and then there are podcasters. We need podcasters, not just people who want to podcast,” Smith added to the conversation. “If I had to pinpoint something [about identifying talent], I would ask, ‘Do I see some of myself in them?’ And what I mean by myself is not my voice or my perspective or my presentation; when I say ‘myself,’ it is like, ‘Do I see somebody who is hungry, is driven, has a clear point of view, and just needs a platform?’ They just need somebody to believe in them independent of their perception of them, if that makes sense.”
Regarding growth, the future is about scaling in a way that makes the most sense and provides the best value for where the company wants to grow. This scaling is also accurate to the financial future of the organization.
“I think that we’ve tried to be really smart and intentional about how we’ve grown and capitalized the company. We decided we didn’t want to do raises and stuff too early. We didn’t want to do it just to do it and say, ‘Oh, we raised $10 million to do this,’ but you give away the farm on something that, who knows, is a $200 million company. And so that part of it is an ongoing conversation for us. Mike and I are always discussing the best next steps are,” Williams said.
For the company as a whole, movies, documentaries, and shows are in the pipeline. As it relates to podcasting, Inflection Network has some upcoming projects in the spring that Smith and Williams believe their audiences will enjoy.
“So the inflection network, the podcast network, will continue to grow and develop. We feel really great about the team that we have running. We have a development slate that leads us pretty much through quarter two of next year for the most part. So we’ve got some really good things in the pipeline,” Williams said.
Inflection Point Entertainment is steadily growing with an optimistic perspective for the future, so much so that the business bond continues to fortify Smith and Williams’ personal bond.
When asked what song describes their temperament about the long view of business, they both referenced “Songs for You Live” by Donny Hathaway as outlining the soundtrack to the future.