Photo of Darren Matos

Darren Matos, Buccino Leadership Student

Darren Mattos, known to his friends and family as DJ, was a student leader who participated in Seton Hall’s 3rd Annual Pirates LaunchPad Summer Accelerator Program. During this program, DJ expanded his business, his Elite Arts. Elite Arts is an art brokerage company founded to give young artists greater recognition and value for their art. The company operates primarily through festivals, conventions, and other events, but you can also contact them through their website.

The Pirates LaunchPad Summer Accelerator Program is run by Seton Hall’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. This competitive program is open to all undergraduates, but we select six to eight startup teams or individuals for the program. Meet industry professionals, alumni and improve your business. Throughout the program, students refined their ideas and goals through workshops, created business prototypes, and improved existing business ventures. At the end of the program, the student who completed all steps was eligible to receive her $2,000 seed her money for business endeavors.

DJ was inspired to start Elite Arts in his free time during the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, he tasked himself with making his room look great, but realized he needed unique art and other decorations that you won’t find anywhere else. This prompted DJ to begin research in the field of art mediation. Always wanting to start his own business, he realized this was his chance and in June 2020 he founded an LLC.

With the goal of providing affordable and diverse art with a wide range of customizable options for newly commissioned productions, the DJ sought out a community to support his endeavours. This is where Pirates Launchpad provided support and resources to improve his business.

As program participants, DJs received a variety of resources. One of the most helpful resources is the LivePlanner software that manages and forecasts your earnings, losses, and more. Additionally, I have found that discussions with peers are very productive as they reduce the burden of being an individual entrepreneur.

While building his business, DJ applied the skills he learned in the Buccino Leadership Program. His experience as a student of leadership taught him the value of a leader who “listens first, then speaks”. With this lesson in mind, DJs were open to feedback and constructive criticism from others. During his first two years at Elite Art, this receptivity was crucial and allowed him to refine his business vision.

With the help of his colleagues and mentors, DJ shifted the original framework of Elite Art into an art customization company, making it more like the structure of a traditional art brokerage firm. He cites Buccino’s previous hands-on experience receiving peers’ feedback in his leadership program as imperatives to realizing his vision of becoming an adaptable leader and developing elite arts. I’m here.

Even after the Launchpad program ends, DJ and his peers are still discussing business and staying up to date on new developments. DJ recently heard from a fellow student who attended her first Farmer’s Market that she introduced her business to Plague in memory of her father.

When asked about the future of Elite Arts, DJ said its future was “uncertain in the best possible way”. He knows the ultimate goal of the company is to own his gallery of uniquely designed art, but before that, pursue his gallery pop-up and create his storefront online. and wants to add more sales events. He has grown in northern and central Jersey and hopes to expand to New York in the future.

The Institute is extremely proud of the work DJ has accomplished with the Pirates LaunchPad Summer Accelerator Program and can’t wait to see what Elite Arts has in store.

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