VezaTalks 010: Andy Strote

Stefan Katanic
Andy Strote
38 min
Episode number:

In this episode of our podcast, we are honored to have Andy Strote, the successful author of “How to Start a Successful Creative Agency,” as our guest. Andy’s experience in starting and running three creative agencies with an impressive client list, including Toronto Hydro, Hydro One, Colgate, Canadian Tire, CIBC, Manulife Financial, Canon, Enbridge Gas Distribution, Canada Health Infoway, The IdeaCity Conference, and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, make him an expert in his field.Our conversation with Andy delves into the challenges he faced while building his businesses and the strategies he used to overcome them. We also discuss the importance of creativity and innovation in today’s business landscape and how to foster these qualities in your team. Whether you’re a seasoned business owner or an aspiring entrepreneur, you won’t want to miss this insightful conversation with Andy Strote.

Read time:
4 Mins

VezaTalks is a platform that connects successful business owners and entrepreneurs with people just like you looking to learn from their experiences and gain insight into their strategies for success. Through interviews, these leaders share their stories of challenges and triumphs, offering advice and inspiration for those looking to follow in their footsteps.

1. Let’s Meet Andy

Andy Strote is a successful entrepreneur who founded three creative agencies in Toronto and has worked with some of the biggest companies in Canada. Andy's background was in copywriting, and he started his career in advertising by talking his way into his first job at a small agency. 

He gained experience by working at six different ad agencies before going freelance, which he found to be excellent training and a way to build his portfolio. 

Andy advises young entrepreneurs who want to start their own agency to consider working in a job first. It not only gives them experience but also helps them understand how bigger clients think and how they want to spend their money.

2. Learn & Grow

Andy began his career as a copywriter in an advertising agency and it was purely by chance. After being inspired by a friend he pursued a career in copywriting and put together a fake portfolio and eventually secured a position in a small agency. 

Andy worked his way up and gained experience in six different ad agencies before branching out as a freelancer.

“Looking back, working for established agencies was an excellent way to build my portfolio and gain experience with big clients. It's challenging to land significant clients when starting out on your own, as credibility and experience are crucial factors” -Andy

This job experience not only provided Andy with credibility and portfolio material but also offered them the opportunity to learn from more senior colleagues and mentors. 

Andy said he gained invaluable insights into how to manage and execute projects, as well as pick up tips and tricks from others. 

Andy explained that starting a business can be overwhelming, and there are many factors to consider. One of the most important things to think about is the software and tools you'll use to manage your accounting, estimating, invoicing, and other administrative tasks.

Andy also mentioned that getting your first clients can also be a challenge. While some people rely on cold-calling and emailing, others prefer to build fewer but more solid relationships. 

This approach can lead to long-term partnerships that benefit both parties. 

Andy gave an example saying when he started freelancing, he landed a significant client through a personal introduction. This relationship led to the formation of his first agency and he was billing hundreds of thousands of dollars right out of the gate.

3. Build Solid Relationships

By working with clients, one gains confidence hones their skills, and develops their own style. 

Andy explained "It's also essential to think and suggest possible solutions to clients, which is an essential aspect of the consulting role”, he found he needed to consciously work his way up the food chain to get bigger and more established clients.

While you can learn from trial and error, it's often better to learn from someone who has already done it dozens of times.

Andy mentioned a peculiar but very prolific motto he has “standing on the shoulders of giants can give you a much better view of the field”,  meaning take the time to seek out mentors or resources that can help you develop your presentation skills.

In Conclusion

By taking advantage of resources like these, you can gain valuable insights and skills that will help you succeed in the competitive world of creative agencies.

Andy Strote was excited to share that he has written a book called "How to Build Your Own Creative Agency” in which he emphasizes the importance of gaining experience before starting your own agency. This can give you a better understanding of how businesses operate and prepare you for the challenges of entrepreneurship. 

VezaTalks aims to offer valuable insights and inspiration to help you navigate both the challenges and opportunities of digital entrepreneurship. Watch the Podcast now!