Entrepreneurship Live! with Alamo Drafthouse Co-Founder, Tim League Recap

Tim League, co-founder and CEO of Alamo Drafthouse and co-founder of film distribution company NEON

Lights, camera… Alamo Drafthouse co-founder and CEO, Tim League, stopped by for a one-of-a-kind Entrepreneurship Live! Hosted by the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship on Tuesday, March 10th, 2020.

League highlighted his entrepreneurial journey, and detailed his successes and failures along the road, including advice on what he believes it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. The talk was followed by an audience Q&A session and a reception in Rowling Hall.

League discussing his journey to becoming an entrepreneur

League began his journey by founding the Tejon Theater, which he said failed miserably and closed in 1995. He took what he learned from that first experience, and moved to Austin with his wife in 1996. He said his biggest fear in starting Alamo Drafthouse was inexperience, and that most of the advice he was given was to not do it.

Setting his fear aside,, League opened up his first Alamo Drafthouse in 1997. League recounts that he was still inexperienced, but that did not deter him. “It worked here in Austin because of the great location and the great community,” he said. “The only qualification I had for opening up a movie theater is that I loved movies.”

League discussing the beginning days of Alamo Drafthouse

From there, League recounts his early days of Alamo Drafthouse with a mixed tone of nostalgia and disbelief. “We only had $230,000 to start the first theater, including kitchens, restrooms, and upgrading the water service”, all of which were upgrades that he and his wife performed themselves. Fast-forward to 2020, and Alamo Drafthouse is set to open their 38th location in San Francisco, for an eye-popping $18m.

League is also the co-founder of the film distribution company NEON, which has recently found success in its Oscar-winning movie Parasite, directed by Bong Joon-Ho.

Amanda Golden, Program Administrator for the Herb Kelleher Center and Q&A moderator, said she encourages students to attend the events and connect with the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship if they are looking for other inspirational stories, resources, or opportunities in entrepreneurship and innovation..

Quickfire Q&A session with Program Administrator Amanda Golden

“The most important reason to host these [events] is to show students that these entrepreneurial ideas they have, they can make them a reality,” Golden said. “By attending, […] they’re hearing a real story of someone who had an idea and then were able to build it and launch it and scale it into a brand that is recognizable.”

League’s advice to students was that, if you’re interested in entrepreneurship, get your hands dirty sooner rather than later. “I really like entrepreneurship at a young age because I like that bankruptcy is not that bad,” League said. “Be comfortable with abject failure, and if that doesn’t sound so bad then go for it.”

At HKEC, we’re all about igniting world changing ideas and preparing UT Austin student founders with the tools for startup success. herbkellehercenter.com