“Confessions of CEOs” is a series on how business owners are changing the service landscape. Today, we’re chatting with David and Jennifer Pfahert, CEOs of Silent Stream Media, a video production agency, on how great family values translate to great business practices.
So, why Silent Stream Media?
David: Media is in my blood. My grandfather started his own illustration company, where my father was the director, and my uncle was one of the graphic artists. I had my hand in all avenues of media content. Both my grandfather and father had taught me the business ropes while my uncle guided me with his vast artistic knowledge. What I have seen with raising my children is that they don’t teach you how to be entrepreneurs in school. They inform you mainly how to work for someone else. You don’t get “out of the box” ideas or experience even only remotely what it takes to own your own business. You need drive and passion as well as continually evolving with the times.
Jennifer: My passion has been with the interworkings of a social/psychological aspects of media and how it connects and tells a story with the community. At university, I worked three jobs and went to classes and managed to stay in touch with my friends and family by documenting my life on social media. With this stream of using many technologic devices, I can start conversations, let my family know what I’m up to and keeping up with the latest trends.
Who inspired you?
David: My mom. She managed a household while obtaining a master’s degree and working. She’s now retired as a Microsoft executive. I look up to my mom and hope that one day I could look back and achieve just as much as her.
What is your biggest claim to fame?
David: I had started multiple businesses, including one in audio engineering where I had the pleasure of working with celebrities such as Incubus, Hootie and the Blowfish, and Tori Amos. Working with such high profile clients meant managing a super strict schedule and high expectations.
What is your secret to success as a working couple?
David: Listen, divide and conquer based on our mutual strengths. She works on social media and engagements, and I focus on the design and fresh content.
Jennifer: Being present and not focusing on financial gain. If your heart is in the right place, then everything will fall into place. The universe will provide what you need, and that will provide intention.
What important lesson would you want others to take away?
David: It doesn’t matter where you’re currently at, what matters is that you’ve started. Make sure you’re 110% passionate about what you’re doing and that you can do it 16 hours a day.
Jennifer: Teamwork and preparation are also essential in managing your business. You need to know who to call before things go south and have your resources lined up (from plan A to Z). Partners should include your local chamber of commerce, banks, insurance and legal. You never know what life is going to throw at you. We also partner with talented folks like LogoUNLTD.com and Qivugraphics.com; they’re both amazing at creating luxe marketing swag which is a must-have in our line of business.
What non-profits do you back up and why is it important?
David: Having two dogs of our own, we support a non-profit called Homeward Pet in Woodinville. In 2018, they adopted out 1,754 cats and dogs and that number historically grows exponentially every year. In the past, we had a rescue of our own and have found Homeward Pet in-line to our beliefs. We had the opportunity to help this organization by doing an event for them and raising funds to sponsor dogs and also helped in finding current adopters.
When all is said and done, what do you hope for Silent Stream Media to achieve?
Jennifer: We want to foster connections between real people and businesses. We’ll keep making marketing solutions accessible to all local businesses, not just big brand corporations through education, creation and coaching.
Silent Stream Media is a preferred partner on Beaze Beta.
“Confessions of CEOs” is a series on how business owners are changing the service landscape. Today, we’re chatting with Raise Your Media, a digital marketing agency that focuses on brands. This diverse power couple, Dominika and Marcus Thompson, discuss survival tactics when pursuing your own startup.
Left to Right: Dominika and Marcus Thompson of Raise Your Media. Photo Credit: Beaze
So, Why Raise your Media?
Dominika: A while back, my sisters and I were already involved in the media production, sales and marketing of several theatre and dance projects in Poland, Israel and Japan. Earlier in my career, I was in marketing, sales, and management for consumer goods. I specialized in working with small businesses developing relationships and making sure that marketing solutions worked on the retail customer level. Starting a small business-oriented marketing agency was a natural progression for us.
Marcus: I had many jobs in the customer service industry, from restaurants to retail to real estate. The one thing they had in common was the relationship with the customer. It’s so humbling and yet rewarding to have clients ask for me by name. It’s been an absolute joy connecting with people whether it was interviewing celebrity chefs or attending premier events with clients. I decided a long time ago that working my life away for someone else wasn’t going to cut it anymore. So far, I’ve met all kinds of entrepreneurs with dreams and ambitions beyond my wildest imagination and I find myself equally inspired to reach for the sky. I was already doing the leg work, why not me too?
Who inspires you?
Dominika: My father is my inspiration. He was a business owner during my childhood and always involved my sister and I. Seeing how that business was a part of the community it spurred me to one day start a business of my own. He allowed me to sell cherries when I was 7 years old and that taught me how to earn money at a young age.
Marcus: Bruce Lee. His desire to leave a legacy and pursuit of perfection inspired him to overcome his limitations daily. He never compromised in the face of discrimination and achieved his dreams/goals one step at a time. Being a minority growing up in the South, I’ve faced my share of discrimination. Knowing what Bruce overcame inspires me to take on all kinds of challenges.
How did you survive the startup phase?
Dominika: When we first started, we were the cliché struggling start-up. We had to get our foot in the door by doing free social media content and management of social media accounts. This stage of our business didn’t produce much revenue; to pay the team and bills, Marcus worked as a real estate agent and other jobs on the side. Now those clients that we did free work for have been our loyal customers with monthly retainers; they’ve also recommended new customers to us. It only took that initial investment on our part, but the payout was worth it.
Marcus: While first impressions are essential, don’t judge a book by its cover. When people first met Dominika, they greatly underestimated her abilities. People said things like, “What would a person from Poland know about marketing in America.” She understood their apprehensiveness and proceeded to blow them away with her knowledge and experience. She had answers for questions they were going to ask and issues they didn’t know they would ask. She proves doubters wrong all the time. Being confident and doing the prep can go a long way.
What is your secret to success?
Marcus: Under-promise and over-deliver. Always put value first, even in small instances, like making your client laugh during a meeting when they’re not having the best day. It all counts and plays a tremendous role in creating a customer journey.
Dominika: Be genuine about who you are and what your business has to offer because trust is the foundation of a great business relationship. The market grows fast and is extremely competitive. In order to stay successful, you have to constantly invest in your knowledge.
Any tips for businesses that are looking to market themselves better?
Dominika: Make your content count; get up-close and personal. For example, a bakery can share photos of their cakes, but after a while, the content gets stale. When you have the sous chef take video and pictures of what it’s like in the bakery and the process, it tells a story about the bakery that illustrates the team dynamics and who they are. This makes for a more organic story, and it’s what people like to hear and see. By creating content revealing who they are it creates a face of the business and can be relatable to everyone. Don’t get caught up in counting your likes on social media platform. You can get that by engaging your team and getting everyone involved.
At the end of the day, what do you hope for Raise Your Media to achieve?
Dominika: I want to help other companies to elevate their brands in a disruptive way, no matter the clients’ budget.
Marcus: I want us to be a media company for the people. We want to be world-renowned for still being down-to-earth and approachable to any business, big or small.
Raise Your Media is a preferred partner on Beaze Beta.