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Success Story: Scott Pepper

Posted on in Success Stories, Venture Challenge

Scott Pepper has known what he wanted to do since he was ten years old. As a cub scout, he had to perform to achieve his entertainer’s badge, so his mother bought him a bucket of magic tricks. After receiving his badge, he then went on vacation with his family and came across a talent competition. He performed six minutes of tricks and surpassed the other two competitors, winning another vacation back to that spot for the finals. By the time the second competition came around, he’d found a mentor, a magician named Lenny, and he won again, this time against 22 competitors. From there, a lifetime love was born. 

Scott left school in England at 16 to work in the entertainment business. By 23, he was performing on his own and secured a job on a cruise ship. He went on to fulfill a dream of working for Disney for several years, a coveted cruise ship position, then met a juggler who helped him get a visa to the United States. After traveling across the country, he chose San Antonio as his final destination. 

He worked with Frank’s in Southtown until its unexpected closure, at which point he decided to find a location of his own. Almost like magic, he ran into the owners of his current downtown location, above the mirror maze. He walked into the space and saw its potential and decided to build out a stage and a home for his show. From that idea, he materialized The Magician’s Agency from thin air (and also a lot of hard work).

Scott heard about LaunchSA’s Venture Challenge at about the same time he was searching for a venue. He says, “It was so helpful because I was looking at the potential earnings and costs while trying to open this place.” He made it to the finals and won funding which helped him purchase curtains, chairs, and some illusions for the show. He is still in touch with some of the people from his cohort including Ricardo of Back Unturned Brewing and Jesse of Complete Chess. They meet up regularly at LaunchSA’s 1 Million Cups events and hang out outside of that occasionally. 

Scott says that 1 Million Cups also really helped him with his business. He remembers a specific comment from when he first pitched, from Luis Martinez, who cautioned him about how many people would actually get through his business. Says Scott, “He told me, ‘I think your numbers are wrong,’ and I was like, no, no, and then obviously he was right and we joke about it every time I see him now. It’s people like him that you have to listen to, because they’re there to help, to make sure you don’t make any big mistakes.”

The Magician’s Agency has been open for one year now. They’ve relied mostly on tourism for their business, but Scott is excited to expand into more local programs. They recently ran a program called Project Magic, a nonprofit run by David Copperfield, that teaches magic to children with disabilities. He also wants to bring magicians from around the world to perform in San Antonio. His goal is to get one magician a month from outside to perform for the San Antonio community. 

Having a small business is extremely stressful but Scott says he’s grown a lot from it. “With a permanent place, I can change little things about the show, experiment, try to improve. The audience might not know it’s different, but I do,” he says. If you make it out to his show, keep an eye out for the levitation trick. “It’s my favorite,” Scott says, “the combination of entertainment and art.There’s the element of the beauty of the dress, it’s choreographed to music, it’s just really incredible. When I was younger, that was always the trick I wanted to do most. Now I live out that dream every night.”