Adam Riemer ’94 demonstrates that business can be an art form.
“I enjoy the challenge of creating and developing something that has never existed before,” says Adam Riemer ’94. “The process is what I love.”
Adam, who majored in television-radio with a concentration in media management at IC, was a staff photographer for the Ithacan, assigned to take pictures of campus visitors Phil Collins, Dire Straits, and Edie Brickell, among others. He worked for IC radio stations WICB and VIC, where he interviewed and recorded “voicers”—quick marketing messages—with celebrities such as Oliver North (I can’t say I listen to Adam; that wouldn’t be the truth”) and Bo Diddley (“This is Bo Diddley, and Bo don’t know Adam”). During school breaks he interned at New England Cable News and Boston radio stations WBCN and WZLX. “My internships were extremely valuable,” he says, “for both making contacts and [adding to] my résumé.” He also fondly remembers being a teaching assistant for TV-radio professor Megan Roberts and credits her with giving him both personal and professional guidance.
After graduating, Adam landed a job in the production department at MTV, where he administered budgets, trained staff, and managed schedules. He played a vital role in the production of Unplugged segments featuring musicians such as Bob Dylan and Kiss, the Video Music Awards, and more than 100 episodes of the dance show The Grind. He also worked on “spring break” specials, traveling to Florida, Hawaii, England, and Jamaica.
“It was fascinating,” Adam says of his time with the channel, “to take an idea from a conference room to a final edit and to know that millions of people watched it.”
In 1999 Adam left the glitz of MTV to start two companies. With his cousin Mark Paresky, who shares his entrepreneurial spirit, he created EveryoneSmile.com and SmileShot.com. At EveryoneSmile, consumers upload digital images from their cameras, order inexpensive prints, and have their images printed on mugs, magnets, mouse pads, even cakes and cookies. At Smileshot.com, professional photographers post and sell their prints; it’s especially useful for weddings, family reunions, and other big events.
Thanks to Adam and Mark’s creative marketing strategies, clients such as Norwegian Cruise Lines, Aerosmith, and Christina Aguilera signed on, boosting the sites’ popularity. As the businesses grew, Adam became something of a celebrity himself, helping to preserve memories of the Rosie O’Donnell Show’s farewell episode. O’Donnell provided 250 EveryoneSmile.com cameras to her audience so that everyone—herself included—could snap photos of the send-off.
Adam and Mark believe that businesses have an obligation to contribute to communities. While appearing on NBC’s Today Show, they gave away hundreds of cameras and prints to disadvantaged kids. In 2004 Adam volunteered with other professional photographers to take pictures of the JCC Maccabi games—the Jewish teen Olympics. The professionals used SmileShot to sell their prints, donating the profits to the games. And in 2003 EveryoneSmile.com donated a print to each of 25,000 participants of the New York City Race for the Cure. “[Charitable work] was a core value underlying our approach,” says Adam.
While attending the wedding of his friend Arinne Tress ’94 to Rob Grauer last year, Adam ran into their mutual friend Heidi Marshall, who was readying to direct a movie. A few weeks later Marshall invited Adam to produce her film, A through M, about an activist who discovers that the man she loves is working for the cause she opposes. The film debuted this March and has so far been accepted into four film festivals.
By last year Adam and Mark felt they’d taken the companies where they’d intended. “[Creating and running the businesses] was a great experience, because it combined a lot of my interests—in photography, visual images, and entrepreneurship,” says Adam. But the men were ready for new challenges, and sold their websites in November.
Adam doesn’t plan to kick back and relive his successes via a scrapbook. He intends to use his contacts to create more film and TV projects. “If you have a passion and enthusiasm for something,” he says, “others will recognize it and will want to work with you. It may sound like a fortune in a fortune cookie, but it’s true.”