Interview with young entrepreneur Bryan Angelo
Cristian: Hi Bryan and welcome. You’re just 19 and already started your own business. What is it about?
Bryan: Hey Cristian, Thanks for taking an interest in myself and my business. Yes, I’m only 19 but my entrepreneurial ventures started many years ago when I was a sophomore in high school. I started taking an interest in graphic design when I was 15 and sold one of my first designs when I was 16. I tried my hand in the clothing line business but couldn’t find my niche or identify a target market so I took what I knew with graphic design and began working with small clothing lines to help build their brands with creative and original designs. Now we work with Small Businesses, Independent Clothing lines, Independent Artists, Professional Athletes, and Fortune 100-300 companies, providing them with graphic design services for advertising, business stationery, logos, branding & identity, and much more.
Cristian: I think there is a lot of competition in your field. Who is your typical customer and how do you find them?
Bryan: There is definitely a lot of competition in my field, it seems nowadays that everyone and their brother is a freelance designer. Since there are so many freelance designers and design firms our there it’s not like my phone is ringing of the hook, so I have take the initiative and make cold calls to potential clients that feel could utilize my services. A typical client for me would be a new or already established small business that never really put any time into graphic design or branding for their business.
Cristian: What makes your services different?
Bryan: I can’t say we’re different from any other company that provides services like ours because at the end of the day logos are logos and business cards are business cards. What I like to think gives us our niche is that we work closely with our clients, we are always in constant contact with them making sure that we bring their ideas and thoughts to life! Because our network of designers are so young one of our advantages is that creativity is always flowing!
Cristian: What is your most appreciated package?
Bryan: One of our most appreciated packages is the “Start Up Package” which can be found under the packages tab on our website at www.empoweredmediagroup.com. This package includes a logo design with 4 concepts to choose from, business card design, letterhead design, envelope design for only $699.00 and it includes 1,000 Gloss business cards full color front and back print. We have many more packages on there and we also encourage business owners to mix and match and let us create a custom package to fit their needs.
Cristian: Do you already have a portfolio? How did you get your first client?
Bryan: Yes I have a portfolio that I continue to add work to every week! I’m still building it and adding work but you can view some of my work at www.bryanangelodesigns.com. I got my first big client back in december of 2009 I was only a junior in high school at the time and I entered a design in the shirt design competition for our high school “Milkcan Game” and the company printing it liked my design and brought me on as a graphic designer, this company is Destination Athlete LLC. Since i’ve worked for them i’ve probably done over 200 designs and worked with them as they’ve gone from a local business to 10 franchises nation wide! Here are some samples of our work:
Cristian: Did you considered taking a job or how come you started a business?
Bryan: I worked a couple other jobs but I would always ask myself, “how is this helping me in the long run of life?” I never understood why I was working a meaningless job when I could be using my talents to help business owners bring creativity and design to their business. I started my business after selling designs to clothing lines as a high school student, I then started my own clothing line and it did alright and I won the Amazing Kids In Business Award from my local chamber of commerce. I then realized the clothing line business wasn’t working out and it’s not that I quit because it was hard, it really just wasn’t for me. I re-thought what I wanted to do and began writing the business plan for my business. The business plan is always changing and we always reach our goals and have to create new ones but I love using my talent to help small businesses grow and would give it up for anything!
Cristian: I believe you also have a partner? How important is to have a partner when you start-up?
Bryan: Yes I have a silent partner right now Blake Meacham. I got introduced to Blake over a year ago by one of my friends and clients David Leonard who owns a property management company in south Florida. It seems that I surround my self with business owners which is great for networking purposes. Blake owns a company called Perfect Shine Auto Management in Florida and works with high profile clients and top of the line expensive cars. For some people having a partner isn’t necessary but for Blake and I it really works out, We’re great friends and can handle business together with out any problems.
Cristian: And what would be the most important aspects of running a partnership like yours? Mutual understanding? Different skills that put together work better?
Bryan: With Blake and I, our partnership is like, E and Scott Lavin from Entourage haha! We joke around but have a mutual understanding of what needs to be done and when it needs to be done by and also which clients we need to approach. Blake has a great business sense and can work with clients to give them the necessary details to close deals which is great because then I have more time to focus on design work, focus groups, creative planning and working with current clients on their projects.
Cristian: Most young entrepreneurs have a hard time finding funding for their ideas. How important is funding?
Bryan: We never had any outside funding, We started everything with our own money, every dollar we make gets invested right back into the business. It would be nice to have a venture capitalist invest some money into the business to help with advertising, but other than advertising expenses, we don’t have many over head costs. We will be seeking funding and investors for a project we have been working on and building but we are currently keeping that under wraps until everything is set up.
Cristian: Do your customers have an issue with you being so young? What would be your advice for other young entrepreneurs
Bryan: So far none of my clients have had a problem with my age… as far as I know at least. When I meet with my clients face to face my age always comes up but luckily enough my portfolio and references are enough for them to take me seriously. I mean i’m only 19 and luckily my good friends over at www.Aphillyated.com hooked me up with Jimmy Rollins of the Philadelphia Phillies! Not many 19 year old designers can say that in a interview! I’ve worked with a lot of other entrepreneurs who are just starting out, and it’s great to see kids starting so young and my advice to them would be, if you have a dream, pursue it, don’t let anyone or anything stop you from pursuing your dream. You only live once and the only want to succeed is to do something no one has ever succeeded doing nothing!
Cristian: After the initial thought of starting a business, what were the next steps? Where did you get legal and business advices?
Bryan: Luckily my mom is a paralegal for a law firm and can help me immensely with any legal questions I may have. I never even took my business seriously until I started getting a huge influx of clients and needed to actually “work”! I started my business because I just loved graphic design and the appreciation businesses and clients gave me for my work was worth more to me than any check, but last year I got a lot of referrals and the clients started coming at a faster rate so I knew it was time to educate myself on business and graphic design so I read this book called Freelance Design in Practice “Dont Start Work Without It” and boy were they right it lists out everything you need to know about running a freelance design businesses! Books have been my main source of business advice you can ask any of my family members or friends I’m the last person to just read a book for fun, but I have really taken an interest in reading and I’m currently reading 3 books all based around graphic design and business.
Cristian: What do your friends think about your business? I guess you have less “party” time than them.
Bryan: My friends have been really supportive, My best friend Jake Sujansky- the one who set up this interview, has been my friend since 4rd grade and has always been very supportive of my business and helps in any way he can, as well as my friend Mark Warner who reaches our to potential clients and helps us find new jobs. My friend Conor who is finishing up his enlistment in the Marine Corps will soon be joining our team to help with advances in new technology to help our new project get off the ground. I surround my self with good people and it brings positivity to our businesses outlook. I definitely don’t get to party at college like my friends. I went to Bloomsburg University for a semester and hated the environment I was in and had nowhere and no one to network with so I’m at community right now and will be transferring next semester to a 4 year college. I have to say the lack of partying is probably what has helped me stay focused and on track. It’s great to go out and have a good time with my friends but I really have no interest in “keggers” and “house parties” I honestly would rather work and find new business or further my knowledge of Graphic Design than party.
Cristian: I have a couple of more technical questions. When a small company needs some design (maybe for a site, maybe for the business cards) how can they decide on the colors and branding?
Bryan: There are many types of factors that would go into deciding a color, like what type of business are they, would a warm color describe their business or would a bright vibrant color be a better fit. There are so many factors I could never list them all. As for branding and logos we would educate ourselves on their business and what types of products or services they provide and create different logo concepts that we think would fit their business.
Cristian: And for websites, what should come first, the looks or the usability?
Bryan: Both! A design can look AWESOME but if the users get there and are like “ uhhh okay now what” because there is so much going on it will be completely ineffective and wont help business! My personal style is creative, but sleek, just enough design accents to catch the users attention but also easy to manage.
Cristian: What are the most important mistakes businesses do when working on their designs with a design company?
Bryan: A lot of design companies are so big that they aren’t able to work one on one with a client to meet their needs or put in their creative opinion. The client doesn’t always know what they want so sometimes they work with a company that has pre made templates that they use on multiple clients, this doesn’t allow the client to have a competitive edge and an original design. So many people go through Vista Print. I don’t want to take a shot at Vista Print but the reason they can give away business cards for so cheap is because they have pre-made templates, that multiple businesses probably have!
Cristian: How should a small business promote itself? Online? Stationery? What do you think?
Bryan: Honestly both can be very effective! If your business is run mostly online I would have to say that online advertising an promotion would be your best bet there are many outlets to use to promote your business online you have to find the right ones to make it the most effective. Now i’m not saying stationery is a bad idea, we have been implementing business card marketing which has been very effective for clients. A lot of potential clients will just discard brochures and flyers because of how big they are, but with a business card you can put necessary information on them and they can go right in the wallet of your potential client.
Cristian: By the way, you told me you also help other young entrepreneurs. How is that?
Bryan: Yes, I didn’t start my business for the money, I started my business to help entrepreneurs and small business owners bring a creative edge to their company. Nothing is better then a satisfied customer that appreciates what you do for them! I have a couple “pro bono” clients like right now I’m working with Tom Boyd, Sean Bond, and Brain Bangley, the owners of See Me Apparel www.seemesawyou.com They invest all their profits back into their business, but I work with them to bring new designs and creative planning to their business. My goal is to help small businesses thrive in their market. If I can make a living off helping people do what they love while I do what I love then I will feel like I have reached success.