Andrew Woods is the CEO of Duckpin. Andrew is a thought leader, influencer, visionary, and successful entrepreneur. Andrew provides the leadership and energy that has inspired the creation of Duckpin. Andrew Woods joins other leading CEOs and Founders taking part in our Leader Roundtable Interview Series. The DotCom Magazine editorial team has recently awarded Duckpin with our Impact Company of 2019 award. We are delighted to have Andrew join us for our Leader Roundtable Interview.
Andrew, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy day for this interview about your company, leadership, and entrepreneurship.
1. Andrew, please tell us about Duckpin.
Located on the outskirts of Baltimore, MD, Duckpin is an integrated brand, web and marketing agency focusing on creating complete and cohesive brand experiences. From logo design and brand development to custom web solutions and marketing strategies, Duckpin prides itself on being a goal-oriented and results-focused partner dedicated to client success.
At Duckpin, we’re fortunate to work with companies ranging from national brands such as Under Armour to local businesses such as Saiontz & Kirk. We also proudly support a wide range of local organizations with international impact, such as The University of Maryland School of Medicine and The International Dyslexia Association.
2. How did you come up with the idea for Duckpin?
Cara Bonadio, Chad Birenbaum, and I worked together at an agency that specialized in packaging design prior to founding Duckpin. The idea to start an agency came from a mutual desire to push our creativity into a more digital space, so that we could help clients in a larger capacity. Our goal was to immediately enter the web and digital marketing industries, and continue to explore emerging technologies such as AR, VR, and AI to keep our customers at the forefront of success.
Our name “Duckpin” is in reference to a form of bowling that originated in our hometown of Baltimore, MD. One of the unique aspects of Duckpin bowling is that the bowler gets three rolls instead of two. With three founding partners, we compared our “three perspectives to solve a problem” to the three opportunities to knock down the pins.
3. What is the key to your company’s success?
A perpetual focus on delivering value. Business is all about value, and the obvious place that starts is with the customer. The customer has a goal or an expectation, and it’s our mission to deliver more value than they expected.
But as we’ve grown, we’ve applied this concept to all of our relationships, not just our customers. Employees, Referral Partners, Channel Partners, Vendors… every relationship is strengthened when the goal is providing great value.
4. Many of our readers are just starting to build a company. What advice can you give entrepreneurs just starting out with a new venture?
As early on as possible, try to build a network of business advisors. It may be a friend, your accountant, your lawyer, entrepreneurs from a local business networking group, or anyone else with the experience you might be lacking, whether that be industry experience or general business experience. Having them as a resource when you need direction will be invaluable.
In your first year, try to do as much as you can yourself. This serves two purposes. The first is obvious; save money while you’re taking on the most risk! The second will stick with you longer; develop an understanding and an appreciation for everything that is required to make your business run.
After about a year, it will be time to delegate for growth. Decide what an hour of your time is worth, and start looking at the tasks in your day that aren’t worth that amount. Delegate these tasks, either internally or to outside vendors, then focus that freed time on building relationships that support your company growth.
5. For other entrepreneurs seeking to build a business as successful as yours, what advice can you give them when times get a little challenging?
Embrace the chaos when times get challenging. These chaotic moments can be the most valuable and insightful; they destroy complacency and ignite innovation, all while providing an energy that you’ll miss once it’s gone. But don’t worry, it will be back just as soon as you get comfortable again.
6. How do you make sure your customers will become raving fans of your company?
We exceed expectations.
To illustrate the power of this, I’ll share an experience I had with a company called Big Agnes that sells ultralight backpacking gear. I had torn my tent on a backpacking trip and reached out to their team to schedule a repair.
My goal was to get a quality repair, pay less than $150, and get the tent back before my next trip which was 6 weeks away. Big Agnes gave me a quality repair for free (even though it was out of warranty), sent a free tent lighting kit and stickers, all within 3 weeks.
I will tell the world, for eternity, that Big Agnes is the best name in backpacking gear and I am a customer for life.
7. In today’s fast changing business environment, how do you stay abreast of things?
In regards to business in general, I find that staying closely connected to others that share the same level of company size/maturity is best. We’ve done this through various networking and advisory groups, where we can face new challenges, discover new processes, and hold each other accountable to our goals.
In regards to the marketing industry, we use a combination of industry-specific events, online training, in-person training/consulting, and a lot of reading the latest from other thought-leaders in the marketing space. There is no one resource that does it all, so we work with our team each year to budget based on educational goals.
8. What is your “Why”? Why do you get up in the morning, and how do you keep yourself at peak performance to lead Duckpin?
My business card says “CEO and Mechanical Mad Scientist” and that’s because I’m a problem solver to my core. I love the challenge and the pace, and this industry has an unlimited supply of it.
9. Can you recommend a book that has had an influence in your career? How did it influence you?
Screw Business As Usual by Richard Branson.
I’m an advocate for environmentally and socially responsible lifestyles, but I also believe in building a business and the financial success it can bring. At one time, I felt that these were two conflicting attributes. This book explores the concept that businesses can thrive while being socially and environmentally responsible, with great examples of how companies have succeeded.
This book was also the inspiration for Duckpin’s Volunteer Time Off Program, introduced in 2016, which provides employees 2 extra paid days off per year to contribute to a charity or cause of their desire.
10. What makes a great leader?
Leadership goes back to the concept of always providing value. A great leader provides value to the team by way of compensation, education, opportunity, awareness, empathy and more. In turn, this enables the team to deliver value in the same way to the customer. By building a culture of value, everybody wins.
Andrew Woods, thank you so much for participating in the DotCom Magazine Leader Roundtable Interview Series. We very much appreciate the time you spent helping our readers learn more about what it takes to build a great company and become a great leader. We wish you, your family, and of course Duckpin, nothing but the best.