Andrew W. Maturana: Owner, RAPT & Co-Founder, Secret Summer

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Andrew W. Maturana was born and raised in Manhattan and studied fine art, marketing and the culinary arts at multiple private institutions before pursuing an acting career with FORD Models and CESD Talent Management. Once his interest in the entertainment industry subsided, he embarked on his first ever business venture, RAPT, a bespoke New American catering and events company now located in the heart of Manhattan. Over the past five years, Andrew has vastly grown RAPT’s clientele, which now spans throughout the Greater New York area, Hamptons and the North Fork  of Long Island. RAPT provides farm-to-table, farm-to-bar and planning services year round. His clients include Saks 5th Avenue, Canada Goose, MTV, Helmut Lang, Paul Smith, GQ and William Sonoma to name just a few. Andrew co-founded and continues to co-produce the celebrated Farm-to-Bar Festival ‘Secret Summer’ with his partners Allison and Tyler. On Andrew’s free-time you can find him writing music and playing drums with Grammy-nominated song-writer Mark Wilkerson at their studio in Connecticut.

How did you get into the industry?

Being immersed in a very detail-oriented hospitality environment for several years inspired me to take on my own company. I saw this as a great way to employ my own ideas and developments and work as hard as I wanted to, on my own volition.

Any emerging industry trends?

What you’re starting to see now is a desire for very real experiences that run deep into their own causes and origins. Our ‘echo-boomer’ generation are an increasingly discerning demographic and can see right through the BS. As industry creatives, our ideas have to make perfect sense to our consumer base and have solid grounds to be taken seriously; aesthetic alone isn’t enough. Products and events that are merely designed to provoke are transient, therefore our businesses and new ventures need to satisfy the spirit of our teams and our audience in order to survive.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

Both, in abundance. As a privately owned festival, we’re always seeking new ways to achieve our quarterly and long-term goals which brings along as many challenges as opportunities. But to be more specific, facebook ads and google analytics are amazing ways to get a handle on your lead generation tactics to better understand who your audience is and how to optimize your client awareness. We’ve taken full advantage of these platforms and have scaled from third-party sales to 100% direct sales in year 4. This was a huge accomplishment for Secret Summer and a testament to the power of these fairly new business tools.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

Secret Summer was inspired by a simple observation: “there’s nothing out there like Secret Summer”. My business partners and I were attending many events, conventions and expos at the time and shared the same sentiment when it came to how brands were activating and engaging with their consumers. It all felt really dull and ineffective, so we began work on our first ticketed event in 2015.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

At RAPT, we plan on taking our bespoke food, beverage and planning services internationally and grow our team into the go-to brand for elevated on-site activations. Pretty much what we already do for major production companies and brands in New York but on a global level. At Secret Summer, we will be increasing the frequency and variety of our pop-up activations in NYC and taking the Secret Summer brand into even more dynamic industry territory but we can’t give away those secrets just yet.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

Every year we like to take on a major charity with stellar ratings. For instance, last year we invited Billion Oyster Project to be our official charity at our sustainable seafood event: Aquarius. We heavily support our local urban and state farms by sourcing from them year round. This brings a great positive energy to our day-to-day operations and team spirit.

I do think our marketing strategy to kick off the nation’s first and only farm-to-bar festival was a solid idea. Farm-to-Bar isn’t just about cocktails and mixology but represents a wholesome, fulfilling, quality-driven way of life that many can resonate with.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

I threw myself into entrepreneurship at a young age. Before I knew what it took to be a good business operator, we were already getting event requests from reputable brands and individuals in the New York area.                       

One realization has been understanding how vital a sound mind and body is. Your physical state directly affects your quality of work. Also, how to tactfully empower and motivate the people that work for you in order to facilitate their best performance possible. In my ongoing efforts to maximize productivity, those two things have been paramount.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

To exceed the customer/clients expectations and give them something unexpected, forward-thinking and unique. We want them to experience the A-ha moment; the kind of reveal that resolves to pure reward.

How do you motivate others?

In my opinion and experience, the only way to lead is to empower and respect the people you work with. To do this well can feel quite instinctual, which it is, but there are some really cool, comprehensive ways to motivate others and harness their creativity. For example, allow that person to feel comfortable with you and explain to them what motivates you personally. This automatically opens a line of communication that’s rooted by honesty and transparency. In turn, one can better understand what excites and motivates that person, better allocate tasks and fortify healthier business relationships.

Career advice to those in your industry?

Think big, don’t be afraid to take risks (smart risks) and make 110% sure that whatever you’re working towards speaks to you as an individual and excites you deeply. The path to your success should be fun, educational and exhilarating. This can only happen when you enjoy what you do.