Photo credit: Joe Yang/T.D. Wang Advertising Group, LLC.
By: Maureen Francisco
One week in San Francisco.
Another spent in London.
This is now Tim Wang’s normal workweek schedule. No two weeks are ever the same. Wang is the founder of the Seattle-based marketing company, T.D. Wang Advertising Group, LLC. (“T” stands for Timothy, his first name, “D” for David, and “Wang” for his family name.) The firm focuses on businesses that want to target the pan-Asian, Hispanic and underrepresented audiences, an idea that transpired more than eight years ago. Now, he’s the Community Voice Awards “Entrepreneur of the Year” recipient.
Wang said, “[this] is truly an honor, especially since it comes from the International Examiner and the heart of this community, which is so near and dear to me. Also, without my talented team, I would be nowhere. So really, I’d prefer to accept this on behalf of our agency and hard work of our teams throughout the years.”
The second-generation Chinese immigrant founded his agency in August of 2004 off a $100 business checking account, laptop and idea. Wang came up with the concept after having worked in the nonprofit and grassroots community while serving as a marketing program manager and then executive director at the Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area (CIDBIA) in Seattle. The primary focus of the community organization was to support the neighborhood in clean and safe initiatives while promoting the International District.
Then in early 2000, small to large companies started to call Wang for more information on how to reach out to the Asian community. “It made me start wondering why?” As Wang began to research the Asian-American segment more, he began to find out that this population was quickly growing in numbers with strong consumer buying power. According to Wang, they are well-educated families, concentrated in key geographic areas, are brand-conscious and loyal consumers. “Instead of wondering why, it made me start to believe why not?” Wang said.
After some research, Wang realized that only a few marketing firms across the country specialized in these niche audiences and found no agencies were located in the Pacific Northwest “It was at the moment, I decided to give ‘ad life’ a shot,” he said. “I was 26 years old at the time when this venture began.”
Wang is 34 years old today. He still remembers the little to no sleep, working more than 100 hours a week, for two and a half years. You’d find him either from his living room or at coffee shops using their free Wi-Fi and learning the agency business.
In 2010, T.D. Wang Advertising tripled their revenues and have grown steadily since then. Today, Wang’s ever-expanding portfolio of clients include Verizon and Ascend, a local nonprofit organization that helps Asian Americans become tomorrow’s leaders. The group has won national and local awards for their advertising campaigns, and Wang has even begun opening an office in Los Angeles with a long-term vision to go national.
What advice does he have for budding entrepreneurs?
- Surround yourself with a strong team. In most instances, a business will require the services of others in order to get the job done and to scale.
- Flexibility is key. Things change, and it’s a fact of life. Not everything is going to go the way you had originally planned, but the key is how you respond. Our business like any other has gone through its ups and downs.
- Don’t be afraid of failing. Risks are all a part of owning a business and it’s okay to make mistakes. Learning from those mistakes is invaluable.
- Make time to rest. I still struggle with this last piece of advice, since it seems like I’m always running around on fumes. But the truth is, we are human and we are not made to work like machines or robots. Our body, mind and soul need to find refuge, and without it, we are inefficient and ineffective. Remember, it’s a marathon and not a dash.