Recently, we caught up with entrepreneur Andrea Keating ’83, one of the newest members of the Dingman Center Board of Advisors. Ms. Keating shares her insights on building multiple businesses from scratch, her advice to young entrepreneurs, as well as what excites her the most about the Dingman Center’s programs and the DC startup scene.
What are you most focused on right now?
Growth. Every company needs to focus on growth at all times, whether its growth in brand reach, sales pipeline, contract numbers, or company size, you always need to continue growing.
The way that I have been able to grow my companies has been to develop companies that sell to the same pipeline. My first company was Crews Control, a video crew outsourcing service that provides over 2000 crews worldwide to in-house media departments of Fortune 500 companies. Those companies then approached me to handle their staffing needs for freelance production. So I co-founded Team People, a company that targeted the same pipeline, but with a slightly different product that my clients were looking for.
Fast forward to last year when I came across a tech company called Scenios that provides cloud-based production tools. I immediately saw that this product was applicable to my corporate clients, and now I sit on their board. This opportunity came about because the founders of Scenios knew that I was knowledgeable about the corporate media and that was the market that they wanted to target.
What is your involvement at Dingman and why is it a special place?
I’m a serial entrepreneur. I’ve founded or co-founded 4 companies and had the ideas for at least dozen more. When I was asked to judge my first Pitch Dingman Competition I was blown away by the knowledge, the creativity and the passion of the students and their business models. It’s so exciting to feel the startup energy of what could be the next great business. I have been so lucky to be successful in business and I am honored to be able to share some of the insights and lessons learned I have a gained over the past 25 years with other entrepreneurs.
What do you think of the DC area as a place to start a business?
I think the DC area is a great place to start a business. It is ripe with intellectual and financial capital and people who live and work in the area are driven to succeed. I also believe that there’s a different kind of energy here because it’s an international city with close proximity to the federal government while also being a growing tech hub. All of this combines into a perfect storm with opportunities in both the public and private sector. It’s one of the best kept entrepreneurial secrets, and by putting together programs such as the Dingman Center with what the tech community is also doing to establish its presence, it’s only a matter of time before the world recognizes DC as a top tier entrepreneurial region.
What Inspires you?
My fellow entrepreneurs are my biggest motivators. When you start a business, especially if you start it alone and without a partner, it can get very lonely. I made it a point to get involved with organizations such as YEO (Young Entrepreneurs Organization) and joined a forum, which gave me the opportunity to build a peer group to share ideas, challenges, frustrations, and successes. This led to me joining other groups such as YPO (Young Presidents Organization) and C200, an invitational only organization of women business owners worldwide. Surrounding yourself with other entrepreneurs is the best way to grow.
What originally made you decide to start a business?
I saw a need and knew I could provide a better, more cost effective solution. I never set out to make money or to build a global company, but rather to fill a need in the industry. If you are providing potential clients with a great product or solution at a good price the rest will follow.
What has been your greatest entrepreneurial challenge?
Seeing the big picture. Often times I would get bogged down by a challenge or process and had to remind myself to step back and to look at the big picture objectively. By taking a look at the market, my client base and my vendors from a bird’s eye view, solutions suddenly become clearer.
What is the single most important piece of advice you would give to a young entrepreneur?
Follow your instincts. If it feels right it probably is. I’ve never made a business decision that I felt good about that ended badly… but I’ve ignored a few red flags or over – analyzed a few opportunities and later regretted my decision. Follow your gut.
Andrea has more than two decades of production management experience and is considered to be the founder of the crewing agency industry. In 1988 she founded Crews Control, the world’s first and leading crewing agency representing location talent worldwide. Today she guides the screening, management, scheduling and payment of more than 2,000 creative specialists worldwide. In addition, Andrea co-founded TeamPeople, a premier creative staffing company that provides on-site management of corporate, association and broadcast media departments as well as recruitment, paymaster and payroll services. Andrea graduated from the University of Maryland and is a member of the Dingman Center’s Board of Advisors. Connect with Andrea on LinkedIn.