In-Depth ProductionsIn-Depth Productions owner Carl Bassfield recently opened for business on Main Street in Blackstone. Partnering with the Longwood Small Business Development Center, he’s turned a passion for photography into a profitable business.

In-Depth Productions, a full-fledged media company, now offers photography and cinematography as well as music engineering and production services.

“Photography is just something I’ve always loved,” Carl explains.

Carl started taking photos at his church with his iPhone. Later, while working at Fort Pickett, he picked up more skills.

“I wanted my passion for photography to become a reliable source of income,” he adds.

Carl took a step in that direction last year when he signed up for the CO.STARTERS Core program, a joint effort of the Longwood SBDC and Downtown Blackstone, Inc. CO.STARTERS Core is a three-month, cohort-based program that equips aspiring entrepreneurs with the insights, relationships, and tools needed to turn ideas into action and turn a passion into a sustainable and thriving endeavor. The program has become a staple community facing integration of the regional GO Virginia initiative – RISE Collaborative.

“About 10 to 15 business people took that 10-week course led by SBDC consultants Brandon Hennessey and Katherine Beale,” Carl explains. “We were a very diverse group, but we helped each other grow.”

Topics ranged from finances to analyzing the market to finding target customers. At the completion of the course, each business was offered a chance to compete for a portion of a prize pool offered by the Town of Blackstone.

In-Depth Productions owner Carl BassfieldCash awards totaling $46,000 were distributed to five business owners; In-Depth Productions received second place and $15,000, which Carl used for equipment and to set up his new Main Street location.

Carl’s biggest take away from the program was a better understanding of a successful business structure.

“I went into the program with a lot of ideas that I was trying to do all at once,” he relates. “I had to realize that I couldn’t do it all myself.”

Subsequently he turned over the video work to a videographer and added a music technician to round out his staff of three full-time employees and three sub-contractors.

Carl readily recommends the SBDC to others.

“I look at Katherine and Brandon as extended family,” he concludes. “SBDC provides you with life-long resources. Having continued access to those resources — I consider that invaluable.”