From retail and restaurants to tech and media, contractors to coworking spaces, large, small, and everything in between, a diverse array of businesses call Alexandria home. In our blog series, Growing in Alexandria, we sit down to talk with businesses around the City to learn more about who they are, what they do, and why they love it here. Have an idea for a business in Alexandria to talk to? Email us!
Creative Liquid is an Old Town-based digital media firm specializing in video production, media consulting and website development. AEDP had a chat with Ryan Pratzel, President and CEO, to learn more about this interesting business.
AEDP: Tell us a little about Creative Liquid and your role.
Ryan: Creative Liquid is a strategic communications firm. We focus on video production and website development. Our core mission is our clients. Many of our clients are government, corporate, nonprofit and trade associations
AEDP: What is the biggest challenge of running your own business?
Ryan: There is no manual that tells you everything you need to know about running a business. In the early days this was one of the biggest challenges. As Creative Liquid matured and started to grow the biggest challenge became cash flow. Oddly enough, business really started to grow around 2008-2009, and due to the financial crisis, it was nearly impossible for small businesses to find financing. Despite this, we were able to grow revenue. We are a capital and technology intensive business, so we continued to re-invest in the business, which helped us continue to grow. While we are still fairly conservative with our budgets, we have set aside some of our profits as reserve funds. cash flow is always a concern. We manage this by staying on top of our financials on a daily basis and sticking to our budget.
AEDP: What have you found to be the most rewarding aspect of running Creative Liquid?
Ryan: Happy clients. When we get to final delivery on a project and a client tells us we made things easy and it was enjoyable to work with our team, that’s rewarding. This is why many of our clients come back project after project. It’s much easier to deliver a great service and retain good clients than it is to always be looking for new clients.
AEDP: Can you share the next big project or goal you are working on?
Ryan: Right now, we’re working on growing our web services department. Many clients know us for video production, but in 2018, we added a full-time web team. We currently support several organizations from small businesses to larger groups. Our team has also developed a web application that is a vital part of the operation for one of our larger nonprofit clients. We approach web services differently than some creative firms. Our background comes from the government space, so we try to get our clients to focus on secure, responsive and accessible websites.
AEDP: Do you have a favorite charity that you support?
Ryan: Lucky Dog Animal Rescue. It’s a foster-based animal rescue in Arlington that pulls adoptable animals from high-kill shelters in rural parts of the country. I’ve known the Executive Director since she started the organization and we provide them with a variety of video and marketing services. Our team also manages Lucky Dog’s website and we developed both their operational database application as well as their online application system.
AEDP: Finally, can you tell us why you decided to locate in Alexandria?
Ryan: I moved Creative Liquid from Arlington to Alexandria more than a decade ago because we were able to find affordable office space in Old Town. This was a challenge for a small business in Arlington, and this was before the big boom in co-working spaces. We like being in Old Town and I think it’s a good fit for our business.