Brent Lightner of Taoti Creative in Washington, DC joins the podcast to talk about how he became an accidental — but quite successful — agency owner.
At the dawn of the Netscape era, Brent took on a web development challenge in search of scholarship funds. Two decades later, he leads an award-winning creative firm.
“When I went to college, I was a chemistry and biology major, and I ended up getting accepted to Tulane medical school. And so this whole thing was supposed to come out with me being a doctor on the other end, and the websites were just kind of a means to an end to pay for school the whole way through the process,” Brent told Chip.
It turned out that wasn’t the path Brent followed. Instead, his work drew the attention of news outlets like the Wall Street Journal and Der Spiegel.
As a young web designer, Brent had the kind of life that many 20-somethings would envy. “I’m hanging out by the pool all day with my laptop and my bathing suit,” he explained.
Later, he gave up poolside work and set up his team at his house. “First, it was my second bedroom. And then we moved to the dining room. Then we moved to the basement, and I had to buy a new house just to get the bigger basement. And I was basically running a sweatshop out of my basement at that point.”
Today, Taoti makes its home in its own building in the nation’s capital.
As a marketing agency leader, Brent made an observation that will resonate with many of his peers. “The clients pay us, but it’s their audience that we actually work for.”
Brent isn’t content to rest on his hard-won success. Instead, he is looking to what the future holds.
“I think there’s a lot of new stuff that’s going to be coming out, between virtual and augmented reality, and all these other different ways that you bridge that gap. That’s where I think there’s just a huge amount of potential for innovation. That’s what excites me,” Brent said.