The founder series explores the minds of business owners and their journey to make a difference in their industry. We interview these business founders to understand the life lessons that mold them into who they are today. We also learn more about their company, their products or services, how they are different from their competitors, and the problems that they are trying to solve for their customers. The information that these business owners provide to us helps inform other entrepreneurs who are looking to make an impact in the business world. We all can take these lessons and apply them to our entrepreneurial journey. We want to thank every business owner who volunteered their time to participate in these interviews and share their knowledge with the community.
Great to meet you. Thank you for doing the interview. We want to know more about your journey, early struggles, success, and some wisdom that we can pass on to others who are interested in walking your footsteps toward becoming an entrepreneur. We know that being an entrepreneur is not all glory and fame, but there are hard times too. We believe that others who are interested in being a business owner can gain insight from other business founders like yourself. Again, we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Let’s get this interview started!
Let us start off with some basic questions to learn more about who you are as a person.
Can you tell everyone your name, please?
Yes, my name is Toniann (Andries) Mendelzon.
Where did you go to school?
I am currently pursuing my master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University’s Medill School Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. I completed my undergrad at the University of Louisville.
Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shaped who you are today?
In my sophomore year of high school, after a summer of training and hard work, I made it onto my school’s volleyball team. As a scrawny, 5’2, 16-year-old, it was a surprise. Shortly after being selected, the coach told me that she added me to the team, not because of my mediocre volleyball skills, but because of my attitude and ability to pump up the team. While this frustrated me at first (obviously, I wanted to be a sports rockstar), it taught me something that has stuck with me to this day. Your attitude is hugely influential upon how people perceive you, and the perception of you is your brand. To build a strong, positive brand, you need a strong, positive attitude.
We all have entrepreneurs whom we look up to in our industry. These business leaders help influence, shape, and drive our ambition to succeed. These entrepreneurs could be someone that we have worked with on a project or could be someone that we look up too from a distance. For example, Bill Gates is a big inspiration to me not only because of his work in Microsoft but his outstanding contributions to society.
Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why?
There are many people who have influenced me professionally and personally over the years, but my most significant influence has come from my father and mother. My parents have run their own business for over 36 years and have gone to the ends of the earth to make it succeed. The privilege of growing up with entrepreneurial parents instilled in me the desire to take control over my professional life and build something I can be proud of. My parents would always tell my sister and me to make ourselves indispensable, to provide value to those around us, and to do our best no matter the situation. I think those three pieces of advice are the pillars which support my work ethic today.
Thank you for providing background on who you are as a person. I always find it fascinating to learn who a person is and their early life lessons. Let us move forward with the interview and discuss what you are doing now and how you are making a difference in your industry.
What is the name of your company?
Team Bandit Creative, LLC.
Where is your company located?
What services or products does your organization provide?
I provide freelance marketing consultation, content creation, and various creative/writing services to individuals, small business owners, and start-ups who need the help.
What problem is your business trying to solve?
A lot of small business owners are specialists in their craft but have no idea how to get their message out or market to the right people in the right places. In a freelance capacity, I offer a helping hand to send them in the right direction.
How is your business unique against your competitors?
My services are straightforward, very inexpensive, and almost basic in nature. The people I help are not those who can afford (or have the scale) to hire an agency or full-time person. Additionally, I do not have the capacity to offer all that they could find with a full agency, so I’m essentially giving them less for less. A client might need help with a logo, or a one-off video project, or help with their writing skills. Team Bandit Creative exists to do just that.
How did the idea for your business come to fruition?
I am a creative soul who likes staying busy and trying different things. As a digital marketing strategist for a full-service creative agency in Baltimore by day (which I LOVE), I mostly focus on strategy and don’t often have the opportunity to flex my creative muscles. By starting Team Bandit Creative, I gave myself the space to do what I love in my spare time, while also helping other small business owners with their creative needs.
Where can people go on the web to learn more about your business?
My website: www.teambanditcreative.com
Final question. We would like to thank you for the interview. We have one last question to ask you about imparting some wisdom to future entrepreneurs.
What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?
I would say… 1) If you’re thinking of starting a business, don’t do it because you think you’ll automatically become wealthy or famous. Do it because it is something you feel passionate about. 2) Build relationships. Relationships are going to be your most valuable asset as you build your brand. 3) Give yourself time. Too often we see stories on social media about people who ‘got rich quick’ with some scheme. Life doesn’t always work like that. Good things take time, so give yourself room to breathe and do not expect instant success. Keep working hard, and you’ll end up where you’re meant to be.