Surviving as a small business for 10 years is no easy feat, but RAVE has come out on the other side of moving cities, an economic downtown and more to celebrate a thriving, 10-year anniversary.
Tobias Roediger founded RAVE with a business partner from his basement in Athens in 2006. It started as a side operation in addition to a full-time job, but once the 60 – 80 hour work weeks kicked in, “At that point we realized that it was probably time to do something different,” Roediger says, making RAVE the full-time affair.
The business canvased the community, building relationships with the big players in the area – Ohio University, Athens County Economic Development Council and several prominent nonprofits in the city. Eventually, they realized they had largely tapped out their market.
It was time for one of the many ‘take a step back and take a hard look at the business’ evaluations that Roediger would do over the next decade. The duo evaluated where they wanted the business to go, what type of work they wanted to do, and the type of clients they wanted to work with. RAVE considered locations like Austin and and Chicago, but “Eventually we said Columbus is where we need to be,” Roediger says.
So in 2009, he and his business partner moved RAVE to Central Ohio, going from a market where they knew most of the players, to a much bigger city and a brand new network. It was basically like starting the business all over again.
“That was a gigantic shift,” Roediger says.
The next few years would prove to be tumultuous. Roediger’s business partner left to pursue other interests, the economic downturn made 2012 a particularly rough year, but once the business turned a corner, Roediger asked, “Now what?”
He designed a five-year plan for the business that RAVE is working towards today.
“We’ve seen a huge amount of change within our organization from that standpoint,” Roediger says.
Today, RAVE is a full-service creative advertising agency, offering an extensive list of services for its clients, spanning branding and strategy, through implementation across all media. RAVE works with a large variety of clients, including large to small businesses in the B2B or B2C space, and from many industries.
“We’re being very intentional,”Roediger says. “What we are doing is sort of more the old school traditional model.”
RAVE doesn’t take on any competitors in the same space because they aim to develop long-term relationships with clients and like to dig deeper into a business’ operations.
As they hit the decade mark, Roediger is taking a look at how RAVE’s suite of services and mentality fits in the Columbus landscape.
“That’s why we are getting involved in some of the things we are,” he says.
RAVE has formed partnerships with organizations like Rev1 Ventures and Startup Grind. Roediger is also the incoming president of the American Advertising Federation Columbus (AAF).
“Being involved with an organization that is specifically geared towards our industry is really important, especially with how quickly the marketing and advertising industries are changing,” he says.
That intentionality is one of the things that has allowed RAVE to stick it out for 10 years.
“All along it’s been about intentionality, both from where the market’s going and from who we want to work with,” he says.
In addition to always keeping a toe in the water about where the industry is headed through organizations like AAF, Roediger regularly evaluates where they are as a business and what industries to explore. He not only has in mind what industries he’d like to see RAVE forge, but specific business both in and outside of Columbus he’d like to work with.
Over the years, RAVE’s structure of enlisting the help of trusted contractors has also allowed the business flexibility to scale up and down as needed.
On one hand, “That’s how we’ve been able to do really big things as a small company,” Roediger says. And on the other, “That’s what allowed us to weather the financial downturn.”
Continuing its evaluations and intentionality are in RAVE’s cards for the next 10 years. The agency is also ready to expand on the rapid growth it has seen over the last 18 months, both by pushing towards bigger, cooler, more aspirational projects, but also by growing their workforce. Roediger hopes to double RAVE from five to 10 employees over the next two years.
“Also, we’re looking at things like what technologies we can develop internally as an agency that are unique to us that can give us an edge,” he says.
For more information, visit rave.agency.