Updated: Sep 8, 2020
This month, we’re featuring two WCE alumni from the Class of 2016 – Laura Dodds and Christian Madison – for our alumni spotlight. Our alumni spotlight showcases the entrepreneurial journey of the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship's graduates. Let’s meet Laura Dodds (‘16) and Christian Madison (‘16), co-founders of Bluberry Creative.
Meet Laura Dodds (‘16)
Laura is the co-founder and marketing director of Bluberry Creative. When applying for college, Laura knew she wanted to go where the best students were. She saw that the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship was made up of the best, and so she set off to be a part of it.
Experience in WCE
When Laura entered WCE, her intentions felt different from those of her peers. She never actually thought she would be running her own business one day. But everyone else in her class seemed so sure. Still, Laura’s WCE experience helped her gain the confidence and tools she’d need if and when the time to start her own business came. She didn’t know it then, but the time did come! And because of her experience at WCE, she was ready.
Post-graduation, Laura still had her mind set on pursuing a traditional 9 to 5. So it only seemed natural to accept her first job at the marketing agency she was interning at.
Unfortunately, four months later the agency closed and Laura spent the next 2 years searching to find a company that was the right fit for her. She held 5 different jobs during this time. It seemed impossible to find a company that allowed her to thrive as both a marketer and a person.
In December of 2018, Laura reached a major turning point in her life. She was diagnosed with a rare chronic health condition. It was then she knew that a traditional work setting just wouldn’t work for her anymore. It was finally time to start her own business.
That’s when Laura founded Savvy Bee. The marketing agency delivered data-driven digital marketing strategy and campaigns. Soon, Laura started collaborating on clients with another WCE alumnus, Christian Madison (‘16). After one of the most challenging client meetings the two had ever experienced, they realized they were stronger together. Laura knew that combined, their skills would amplify whatever they could accomplish.
Meet Christian Madison (‘16)
Christian is the co-founder and Creative Director of Bluberry Creative. When he was applying to colleges, Christian only applied to one program: WCE. He first heard about WCE when he was a junior in high school through his school guidance counselor. That summer, he attended the Bauer Summer Institute. The institute’s Entrepreneurship Day left him completely awestruck. It was love at first sight.
Experience in WCE
When he finally was accepted into WCE, he was surprised. His experience was not what he initially expected; it was better. Reflecting on his time at WCE, Christian says it was a time of constant self-discovery. It can be scary to learn more about yourself at first, he admits. But he came out on the other side better for it.
Really Great Branding Co.
After graduation from WCE, Christian set his mind on building his assets. He knew that if he was going to start his own business one day, he’d need to gain some capital. He strategically secured a position at a marketing agency knowing that he could bring the skills he learned there into his own company one day.
Six months later, Christian rejected a promotion offer at the marketing company to start his own. He was ready to make a shift to a career that aligned with his own creative mission and values. Christian’s first venture, Really Great Branding Co. focused on serving non-profit organizations in the anti-human trafficking sphere in Houston, TX.
During the year and half he ran Really Great Branding Co., Christian collaborated with Laura Dodds (‘16) on a few clients. Really Great Branding Co. tackled the creative and branding side of marketing, while Savvy Bee took on the data-driven analytical side. Their opposing but complimentary work styles were a match made in heaven.
And so they joined forces to start Bluberry Creative.
Bluberry Creative is a full-service marketing agency with vision, passion and purpose. The agency integrates data-based marketing strategy with creative branding and content creation to help their client partners deliver results.
Their strategy strikes a refreshing balance between usability and design. And that’s not the only thing that makes the marketing agency stand out. Bluberry Creative is unique in their commitment to anti-exploitation – they use their skills to help end human trafficking. As a result, the agency avoids partnering with industries or companies that don’t align with those commitments.
At Bluberry Creative, every client is considered a partner.
The company puts their partner’s best interests first. It goes hand-in-hand with their anti-exploitation principles. Money is not the main driver.
“When our partners thrive, we thrive,” says co-founder Laura Dodds.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have been slowing down and pulling back. But Christian says Bluberry Creative has instead “chosen to grow, adapt, and change”.
Now, Bluberry is exploring new markets in industries that are still functional, but could use a boost. They are seeking companies that need their help and then determine how Bluberry Creative can be different than what they already have.
Marketing During Difficult Times
Everyone knows that marketing is important, but they’re scared to spend the money.
This is especially true when times get tough.
“If the ship is sinking, don’t cut marketing!”, Laura warns.
Instead, Bluberry Creative suggests companies:
Figure out what their unique value is
Communicate that to potential clients, wherever they’re at.
Christian asserts that marketing during difficult times is really just “taking care of your audience.” Bluberry Creative encourages their client partners to work with what they have quickly and consistently to really take care of people.
Although tough times can be intimidating, they can also be times of great inspiration.
Afterall, creativity thrives on scarcity.
Words of Wisdom From Laura Dodds and Christian Madison
With our alumni spotlights, we always want to help and inspire current WCE students and WCE alumni accelerate through the learning curve. Here are Laura Dodds and Christian Madison’s words of wisdom.
Christian Madison’s Words of Wisdom: If you’re going to do it at all, you have to go all the way. Allow yourself to grow and change. Become more mentally healthy. Expand your emotional intelligence. Read more! If you don’t, you’ll burn out fast. Give it all you’ve got and then expand.
Laura Dodd’s Words of Wisdom: Don’t underestimate the value of marketing! And know that everyone feels imposter syndrome. Feeling it means you’re probably doing something right. It means you care about what you’re doing and recognize the value of people doing it well.
If you’d like to be spotlighted in this monthly series, click here to apply.
This WCEAN Alumni Spotlight was produced by Lauren Jefferson (WCE ‘16) and her team at FocusCopy. FocusCopy is a B2B copywriting firm that partners with entrepreneurial companies to better communicate how they transform their customer’s lives. Learn more about FocusCopy here.