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Meet Matthew Stumm of Stark / Raving Branding and Marketing in Fort Point Channel

Today we’d like to introduce you to Matthew Stumm.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
For me, it’s always been about finding a creative outlet. Since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to work in a field that allowed me to be artistic. The challenge was finding a way to make a career out of doing what I loved.

I went to art school and have spent my entire career in Boston, so I’m fortunate to have been exposed to some of the city’s most amazing design firms and ad agencies. I always admired the self-made firms – those started by one or two incredibly passionate people who had a vision and an air of fearlessness. I watched them navigate the challenges of running a small business while still being committed to delivering the highest quality work for their clients. It was all so impressive to me.

In the process, I learned from them about both the creative and business sides of the work. The decision to start Stark / Raving didn’t happen overnight – it happened over the course of many years. It just took me time to get the guts to actually do it – and this past year I felt it was time to give it a shot.

So, it was the “highlight reel” of all of the things I truly love about this business that drove me to start my own firm. My goal is to create a space where creativity is at center stage and creative people can apply their talents to solve real business challenges. I want to deliver an experience for our clients that is both enjoyable and profitable. When you combine talented people with a thoughtful creative process, you can deliver results that make everyone proud.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It hasn’t been as hard or as easy as I thought it would be, which is one of the most interesting parts of the process. In the beginning, the biggest struggle was “making the leap” from the security of a full-time job to the life of an entrepreneur. Daydreaming about starting my own firm and all we could accomplish was the easy part. Taking definitive steps to make it a reality – that’s when it got a little scary.

Of course, I had my business plan and some milestones I wanted to accomplish during the first three months: get my first client, deliver a successful project, secure office space. The list of “firsts” was long and sometimes a little daunting. Eventually it all became more natural to manage. I just try to stay focused on today’s obstacles. The fact that there are obstacles is a good thing – it means we are growing as a company. And as we grow, there will be a million new obstacles to overcome, but that what excites me most. I enjoy the challenge.

But, this would have been impossible to do without the support I’ve received since opening our doors. It’s an invaluable asset that often gets overlooked when people talk about starting their own business. There will always be people who think you’re a little crazy for making that leap. And they are right – you do need to be a little crazy. The trick is having a great group of people behind you who believe you are crazy enough to succeed.

Please tell us about Stark / Raving Branding and Marketing.
Stark / Raving Branding + Marketing is a creative firm specializing in digital marketing to help businesses – both large and small – raise their brand profile, drive consumer interest and ultimately impact the bottom line in a measurable way. Strategies have evolved over the years and the reliance on data to help inform, shape and adjust a campaign has never been stronger. This abundance of information has changed the way creative teams conceptualize and execute campaigns.

In my early career as a designer, my colleagues and I were mostly focused on aesthetics, not so much the results. This model doesn’t work anymore. And that’s what sets Stark / Raving apart. Aesthetics and results go hand in hand. We believe that beautiful and informed work breeds results. We approach each project with an agile mindset, adjusting our approach and messaging based on real-time analysis of consumers are interacting with the campaign. We are measured on the results we deliver and we take that very seriously.

We also know that, while this can be a pressure-packed business, the experience should be an enjoyable one for our clients. We focus on making a space where clients can sit down and relax, have a conversation, and focus on the business challenges at hand. When they have a great story to tell, they will leave knowing that we are the right people to tell it.

We recently opened our first office on Congress Street in the Fort Point Channel – it was the logical fit for us as a firm. The area has a deep tradition in the arts and a future in technology. And it’s that combination that defines us as a firm and makes the work so rewarding.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If I had to do it all over again, I think I would have started this company sooner than I did. It has really been a fantastic and fulfilling ride so far and I am certainly glad I made this move.

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