The Nine: Matt Gajowniczek

Name: Matt Gajowniczek

Title: President, Founder

Company: Sound, Production & Lighting

Twitter: @spl_chicago

Location: Chicago, IL

Overtime: In his spare time, Gajowniczek enjoys traveling, cooking, and woodworking.

Matt Gajowniczek, Sound, Production & Lighting

Why You Need To Know Him: In 2009, while still a college student, Matt Gajowniczek started Sound, Production & Lighting (SPL). After earning a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in lighting design in 2011, Gajowniczek wanted to move beyond working community theater gigs. He branched out to embrace innovative approaches in the rental and staging market with immediate success. His client list is comprised of heavy hitters Nike (including a pop-up shop/interactive space at the 2019 Super Bowl), MillerCoors, and the Make-A-Wish foundation. Recently, Gajowniczek—now age 30—set his sights on expanding into pro AV fixed installations, and he’s making quite a name for himself.

I Do: Who could imagine that a weekend gig with a wedding band would launch into founding a cutting-edge AV company? Gajowniczek, that’s who.

Gajowniczek, born in Poland, moved to Chicago when he was seven. High school theater production work led to a sound gig with a wedding band. “I loved doing wedding gigs on the weekends,” Gajowniczek said. “But my goal was to book gigs on the other five days of the week with this great equipment. I jumped into live events and never looked back!”

Get Creative Gajowniczek’s calling card is his creative, fresh approach to all things AV. For companies eager to break the pro AV mold, SPL willingly strays off the beaten path and infuses every job with technology innovation.

Gimlet Media, now a part of Spotify, retained Gajowniczek as the consultant on the 27,000-square-foot buildout of its new headquarters. SPL, realizing an opportunity to do things in a new way, bid on both studio and production/office space—and to Gajowniczek’s surprise, they won both bids. SPL’s innovation means all processing comes down to a pair of QSC Cores, allowing for interconnectivity. This approach was a reason Gimlet selected SPL.

Most podcast studios seek to emulate the example of radio in terms of technology, but Gajowniczek’s technical model allows for a very small amount of hardware to be present in the room, while still providing a high-quality recording—giving Gimlet the ultimate flexibility. The build-out was for 12 podcast rooms and one live music room. As far as Gajowniczek knows, it’s the first podcast studio that’s been technologically equipped in this way.

“Break rules—if we didn't, we'd still be driving cars with wood wheels,” Gajowniczek said. “I always commit to something and then worry about how to execute it later.”

Onwards and Upwards: So, what does the future hold? SPL is building out three podcast recording studios in NYC for the Wall Street Journal and connecting remote studio locations for Gimlet. In this vein, SPL is banking on Gajowniczek’s creative approach to integrate larger projects with national clients.

Gajowniczek hopes to expand his team of nine people, and his formula is simple. Just like he did in high school, he will creatively attack every challenge. Start with the problem to solve, then figure out the most creative way to solve it that provides maximum system stability and minimal cost of use. Never underestimate the power of the wedding band to propel one tech-happy teenager into AV superstardom.

Get to know the rest of The Nine.