About The Entrepreneurs
Our names are Andrew and Mike and we are The Cork Bros. We are the co-founders of Cork Bros Studios. We started our journey back in January 2018 when we decided to be restaurant consultants. Now we are a digital marketing agency that focuses on creative and strategic visual solutions. We create dynamic photos and videos for businesses that elevate their social presence. We run the social media accounts for businesses to increase brand exposure, build a loyal following, and generate more leads.
We’ve created content for brands such as Jekyll Brewing, Pontoon Brewing, Angry Orchard, Quest, Rabbit Hole, Boxed Water, Body Armor and Stone Brewing.
We started off as restaurant consultants and couldn’t sell our “services” to anyone, so we needed a way to start meeting with the business owners. So we dedicated 100’s of hours to learning the craft of photography, videography and social media. We took the plunge into photography not having any experience. Fifteen months later here we are creating stunning visuals for the beverage and food industry.
1. What made you decide to try restaurant consulting?
We became aware of a consulting need at a San Francisco bar that piqued our interest. Initially we got into the field to get a free trip to San Francisco and hopefully create a great success story. In those beginning days we thought we could conquer any restaurant problem by combining Andrew’s decade of restaurant management experience and Mike’s business acumen.
2. At what point did you decide to become a digital marketing agency instead?
We were only providing marginal value to restaurants as consultants, not enough to justify charging them any amount of money. After one year we had made $44 and that forced us to reconsider the services we were offering. Digital marketing and content creation were the only things that restaurant owners were interested in so we leaned fully into that and, began our journey of acquiring skills that we had no background in.
3. What resources (books, courses, podcasts, webinars, workshops, etc) did you use to learn videography, photography and social media?
The biggest social media resource when we were starting was Gary Vee. He goes in-depth about the platforms and strategies in a way that really reduces the learning curve for novices. Youtube has been the biggest resource for learning photography and videography. There are so many exceptional channels on Youtube that allow you to learn the nitty-gritty of every aspect from lighting, gear, editing, posing, etc.
4. What kinds of obstacles did you encounter when you first started your digital marketing agency? How did you overcome them?
The first obstacle was convincing owners that we could provide them value and return on investment, especially before we had created a portfolio. We overcame this by providing initial services for free or cheap so that the barrier to entry didn’t seem so high. Doing that allowed us to show our value to skeptical businesses and win long term contracts that were more lucrative.
5. Since that start of the pandemic, what adjustments have you made for your business?
At the beginning of the pandemic, we doubled down on increasing our skills. New client work dried completely up so we had a bunch of time on our hands, and we used it to build our portfolio of service offerings so we could attack the opportunity that would come once people began spending on marketing again.
6. What advice would you give to people who are looking to go into business with a friend or family member?
Make sure that you guys build a solid foundation based on trust (of each other’s motives), vulnerability, and respect. There are going to be so many challenges and stresses on the journey. You need to be with someone you can count on in those moments to not lose their cool or give up too soon.
7. What is the best advice you have ever received when it comes to running a business?
Drown out the outside and inside noise. No one knows what you are sacrificing and the work you are putting into your business. They also don’t know how much it means to you. Therefore, you have to keep their opinions and voices at an arm’s distance.
8. Who are some entrepreneurs that you admire and why?
- GaryVee- He inspired us to start creating consistent content and to drown out the outside noise. He also inspired us to be patient and just stay true to ourselves.
- Simon Sinek- His “start with why” talk really inspired us to really think about why we are doing what we are doing!
- Pinky Cole (CEO of The Slutty Vegan) – Pinky is an inspiration to entrepreneurs to not give up on their dreams. To always keep pushing and don’t stop, no matter what obstacles come your way. She has created an ICONIC brand in less than 3 years. She’s a local Atlanta inspiration!
9. What are some key qualities/skills that are necessary to have in order to be a successful entrepreneur?
Curiosity and a desire to learn. When you start your entrepreneurial journey you won’t know even a tenth of what you need to know to make the business a success, but you will have the opportunity to learn those things. If you are open to learning and growing then you have a much higher chance at success.
10. What are some common mistakes that business owners make when it comes to social media?
- Many business owners chase followers instead of growing organically and attracting followers who are actually interested in their brand. They don’t reply to comments and story replies and wonder why their engagement drops.
- Assuming what content their followers want to see. One very beneficial practice for business owners would be to ask their followers what their favourite content that they produce is and what else they’d like to see.
11. If you could choose any food or drink-related product to do a product shoot for, what would be next on your list?
A Michelin star restaurant. Their attention to detail with plating and presentation is immaculate. It would be a pleasure to combine that artistry with our creativity. Here are some examples: Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, New York City; Alinea, Chicago and The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, CA.
An iconic drink brand. Coca-Cola, Gatorade, Red Bull, Hennessey. Just to name a few.