Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, Class of 2006
As a student, what Andrew Thomas liked the most about Drexel was that it was a real-world school. Not surprisingly, Andrew was ready to take on the real world long before graduation.
“My friend Jason and I did artistic things together in high school and then we went off to college and kept making films for fun,” he said.
A few paying jobs making commercials for a clothing company led to the realization that this hobby had the potential to grow into a thriving business.
Still a graphic design student at Drexel, Andrew traveled every other weekend to Penn State where he and Jason did client work out of a spare room they rented as their office.
“As soon as we graduated college, we really took it full-time,” said Andrew. In 2006, Andrew and Jason officially started the Manayunk-based branding and interactive agency known as Brolik.
Brolik offers its clients a suite of services from Web site design, to logo design, to corporate films and commercials. According to Andrew, Brolik is special because it’s focused on putting design first, being organized and innovative. Andrew holds the role of Chief Creative Officer, while Jason, who studied film at Penn State, serves as Brolik’s Chief Executive Officer.
They took on a third partner to serve as Chief Financial Officer – Andrew’s college roommate, Matt Sommer ’06, who graduated from the College of Media Arts and Design’s Music Industry Program.
The three set out to prove they have a knack for determining a company’s problem and coming up with an effective, streamline process to solve it.
“It was hard starting out because we were these young guys without a portfolio or anything to show for ourselves,” said Andrew. “We’d walk into business meetings and tell people twice our age that we’re going to help their companies. We really had to work hard to convince them.”
Now that they’ve had a few years to build up their client base and portfolio, things have changed. Most of Brolik’s new business comes to them as referrals from past clients. People are spreading the word about these hard-working young entrepreneurs.
In last year’s economic downturn, business slowed down and the boys of Brolik found themselves struggling once again.
“It really woke us up and we realized that we needed to get creative and improve our skills,” said Andrew. “Time that wasn’t filled with client projects was used to enhance our own Web site and in-house tools for project management. Brolik is better off for having gone through it because now we’re able to offer even better services to our clients.”
Business is on the up and up, and Brolik is back to servicing around 10 clients at any given time. They’ve also expanded their office to six staff members and have added event planning to their repertoire. Brolik is in its second year of hosting an annual event called Spark, which is an interactive conference where entrepreneurs can share business ideas and build relationships through networking.
Networking is something that Andrew credits as one of the most important things he and his partners do for their business.
“If we meet people at a networking event, we really try to help them by offering advice or putting them in touch with someone we know. Without fail that favor is returned to us down the road.”
He also knows the value of having a good support system. His advice to other entrepreneurs is to partner with good people. “You can’t do it all alone,” he said. “Every day at Brolik we rely on a community of people to help us get our work done.”
The 26-year-old entrepreneur enjoys snowboarding, but working most nights and weekends makes free time hard to come by.
But according to Andrew, owning his own business is worth it. “We get to do what we want,” he said. “We bounce ideas off of each other and don’t have to answer to anyone. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.”
Brolik is a slang term used to describe something that is powerful and impressive. Appropriately named, Brolik continues to impress, as plans are underway to grow the company and move from its Manayunk office to Center City.
Visit the Brolik Digital Agency website for examples of client work, including projects for Rager Energy, Philadelphia Film Market, and Philadelphia Fashion Week.