061: Steve Ewing (The Urge)

Steve Ewing on Innovation City

“Kill it, every time. That should be your whole motto. Everything you do, just smash it.” — Steve Ewing

Welcome to Innovation City—powered by Venture Cafe—where Tyler Kelley and Michael Johnson, Co-Founders of SLAM! Agency, interview innovators, creators, and disruptors to discover how business is changing in the modern world.

Created and produced by SLAM! Agency in collaboration with Venture Cafe St. Louis and Venture Cafe Miami, Innovation City gives you an inside look at how rapidly business and culture are changing thanks to increasing diversity and inclusion, heightened creativity, and a stronger and better-connected business community. Venture Cafe is the largest combined gathering of entrepreneurs and innovators anywhere in the world. Events are held every Thursday in St. Louis, Miami, and other leading innovation cities around the globe.

Today’s guest is Steve Ewing, Lead Singer/Songwriter of The Urge and Owner of Steve’s Hot Dogs. Steve formed The Urge while he was still in high school, creating music with an eclectic mix of punk, reggae, hip-hop, and ska. Steve’s Hot Dogs was born out of his desire to feed his audiences as well as entertain them, and it’s been a resounding success that quickly resulted in opening a second location. Steve sits down with Tyler and Michael to talk about making music, running two restaurants, and why he works so hard at everything he does, whether it’s killing it at a live show, serving great food, or competing as an amateur bodybuilder.

They discuss:

  • Where Steve got the idea for Steve’s Hot Dogs
  • What it’s like to have a restaurant on The Hill, St. Louis’ Italian neighborhood
  • How he comes up with ideas for different hot dog topping combinations
  • Taking flavors as far as they can go
  • The relationship between music and entrepreneurship
  • Starting a band and the road to mainstream success
  • What it was like when MTV was king
  • Anybody remember radio?
  • The importance of continuously making music and playing live shows, no matter how far they had to travel to play
  • Making connections with other bands and touring
  • The current disruptions in the music industry
  • How new bands are hustling on YouTube
  • Releasing singles or short EPs instead of full albums
  • What Steve likes about the new developments in the music market
  • How the modern music process allows bands to put their best foot forward
  • The importance of building an audience, for bands and businesses
  • Lessons Steve learned from touring with The Urge that he could apply to Steve’s Hot Dogs
  • The challenges of being a band from the Midwest
  • The importance of professionalism = killing it every night they performed, and killing it every day cooking food
  • The importance of consistency in cooking
  • The difference between life on the road and running two brick-and-mortar stores
  • Funding challenges that small businesses face
  • How to grow your brand and expand your presence
  • Crowdfunding their 2nd store
  • The power of crowdfunding
  • The importance of having a campaign manager for crowdfunding
  • How crowdfunding can help your brand and increase consumer awareness
  • The importance of customer service
  • Steve’s take on the startup scene in STL
  • What Steve looks for in the ideal restaurant location
  • How Tower Grove is coming alive
  • How Steve became a competitive bodybuilder and the awards he’s won as an amateur