Local Entrepreneur Advises: Be Part of the Community

by | Dec 12, 2014 | Business

Andrew Curtis. Photo courtesy of Luis Cavero.

This article by Gregor McKelvie is reprinted with permission from Insider Tips, a column on the Tracks website.

This week in our Insider Tips interview, we spoke with Andrew Curtis, co-founder of vanguard ideation, a branding and visual design agency based in Sterling, Va. Andrew’s agency is very active in Fredxchange, a network of entrepreneurs in Fredericksburg. This interview highlights the benefits of delivering high quality agency services while giving back to the community you work in.

Can you introduce vanguard ideation and what your role is?

vanguard ideation is a creative agency focused on branding & brand development for startups, non-profits and businesses in need of visual solutions for their brand. My role as Co-Founder & Creative Director is to meet clients and build new and on-going relationships as well as make sure the creative standard we produce is consistent across all platforms we deliver.

What inspired you to spearhead a startup community?

After a few jobs in Northern Virginia it became too much of a hassle to commute and find value in pursuing jobs in the area. I grew up in the area of Fredericksburg and knew there was potential in tapping into businesses locally to help build the visual design media standard.

I became involved with Fredxchange in May 2013 when I went to a few of the meet-ups offered by the non profit. Fredxchange’s main target is to have a thriving startup community with a combination of growth & lifestyle businesses, to have a diverse community that not only benefits from each other but also helps alleviate the commuting problem the area faces.

What benefits does your relationship with the startup community have on your agency?

The benefits of being apart of a startup community that is in its early stages has made a huge impact because we are all on the same level playing field of wanting to grow our businesses but not having all the resources to do accomplish everything. vanguard was able to be a key component to help several of the startups in Fredericksburg have quality visual branding to get their business going. We’ve been able to network with a lot of local people in growing our business across the state of Virginia & DC.

I definitely recommend that agencies should be active in their local community/communities to help them learn from others on how to become better entrepreneurs. Sharing experiences and learning from mistakes is one thing that you can benefit from by being involved in local communities

How do you balance time between agency work, your community and other projects?

Balancing all of the community work and my day job is sometimes a challenge but one that is best well executed by scheduling. Most of the events I go to for Fredxchange are in the off hours of business operations, where I’m able to network and socialize in my community without it affecting my day job.

Making sure that time is well spent on community projects is also a task we balance out, especially with making sure it’s a good time investment that not only benefits us personally, but professionally, to grow and learn from these experiences.

And lastly, how important is it for agencies to have a grander mission beyond delivering products/services?

It is extremely important for agencies to have a grander mission as a whole. They are not only a service or product business but they are also an educational resource to help tell the story on how they got to where they are and to show the challenges they faced. With the knowledge of those challenges, other agencies are able to learn and benefit in making sure they don’t repeat those mistakes when trying to grow their business. It is also important for any agency to be involved with the community so they aren’t just focused on themselves, and rather the bigger picture in the role they play in it.

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FredXchange: Building a Startup Community in the Fredericksburg Region

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