NEXT is excited to bring you a new blog series – Meet a NEXT Marketplace Partner – we are so grateful for our partners and we believe thoroughly in their mission, their value proposition, and their ability to help our clients succeed and grow! For our first installment, please meet Sean and Dan of Kapowza!
Sean and Dan are Partners at Kapowza, a Baltimore-based Creative Agency that specializes in graphic design, website, video, and social media support for small to mid-size companies. Kapowza was founded in 2015 in the Emerging Technology Centers incubator and co-working space in Highlandtown. They’ve previously supported startups like Whitebox, Cide Kic, Moink, and TEDCO’s Maryland Venture Fund.
What do you love about being an entrepreneur?
As an entrepreneur, we have the freedom to do what we want, try things out, test, iterate, and go from there. We took our experiences at previous agencies as a way to see how best to serve clients and what not to do. Being an entrepreneur allows us to really enjoy a wide variety of opportunities and solve some complex problems, creatively.
What makes your business unique?
We’re a really good mixture of established creatives and new talent, we’re consistently punching above our weight when it comes to the solutions possible from our team. Coming from an Incubator/Co-Working space, we’re uniquely aligned with early stage companies – understanding their needs, what they’re up against, and how best we can help.
How do you create great company culture?
This is something that we don’t take lightly. It really comes down to hiring the right people and making sure that nothing is too sacred. We always try and keep open lines of dialogue and listen to what our team needs, how our culture is defined, and where everyone wants to go. Getting buy-in on the direction of your company and proving to your team that you value their opinions and outlooks is a great way to ensure a positive company culture.
What is the best advice you ever received?
The best advice we’ve ever received boils down to: “Don’t follow your passion. Follow your effort.” Ask yourself, where do I spend most of my time, that’s where you should be aligning your career and work goals.
What is the hardest lesson you ever learned?
We’ve had our fair share of opportunities come across our path that just, for often times more than one reason, seems to good be to true. Trust your gut in those moments and ground yourself in reality. If it’s too good to be true, it most likely is.
What is an important trend you are watching?
Like everyone else, working from home culture is something that we’re paying a lot of attention to. It’s been amazing to see what our team is capable of remote working. We believe that a company doesn’t have to all be in an office five days a week to still deliver and be productive. Respecting and being aware of the precious balancing act your staff is dealing with is a good way to show trust.
What advice would you give an entrepreneur starting out?
Don’t trust advice as much as you think you should. If you agree with everything being told to you, how much are you compromising your vision and passion? When it comes to advice, trust yourself more than anecdotal evidence.
What are the best things about the DMV ecosystem and what are ways it can still be improved?
This region is perfect at providing a wide range of talent and a plethora of interesting companies. We benefit from being so close to major markets like DC, NY, and Philadelphia, but just far enough away to still be considered our own area. Being from the DMV, and Baltimore specifically, we feel like it gives us an original voice that helps differentiate our clients from those coming from the west coast or other entrepreneur ecosystems.