It was a muggy mid-morning on September 5, 1995, that I rapped on the door of Ed’s squalid, one-bedroom apartment, sauntered inside, and said, “OK. Now what?”
To his credit, Ed suggested we divide and conquer (a phrase he continually uses to this day).
So, while Ed focused on setting up our first bank account, business line, fax machine and other sorts of operational and administrative necessities, I set meetings with the trade press, CEO’s of large PR firms and a few advertising folk I knew. My goal: To let the world know we existed, and ask that they forward any, and all, new business leads that didn’t make sense for them.
Ed and I also smiled-and/dialed every former client and prospect we knew, hoping against hope that the $12,500 loan I’d received from my mother-in-law and older brother would somehow see us through those first, dark days.
We had no formal business plan, but agreed to review our situation after six months and decide whether or not to continue. Happily, we began winning accounts within three months.
And, by pure happenstance, we decided to name the firm in honor of my black lab, Pepper. Then, along came the dot com boom and, with it, scores of VC-backed start-ups who assumed that, because of our name, we specialized in dot com PR. We didn’t, but we quickly hired people who did.
The ensuing two decades have been a wild, kaleidoscopic roller coaster ride replete with the highest highs and the lowest lows.
I can’t speak for Ed, but my main motivation for starting Peppercomm was very personal. I didn’t want to look back 20 years later, and wonder, “What if?”
Now, I look back and think, “Thank god I did what I did when I did it.