'The View from the Other Side' w/ Bridgette Thompson

Q: What is the #1 piece of advice you would give someone that is interested in starting a company, side hustle, etc. but just can't quite make the leap? 

A: While my business partner and I bootstrapped our venture, those thinking of starting a new venture should not let lack of capital be a road block. If you have an idea with a unique value proposition that solves real problems in a large or growing market, there are abundant resources to help you get started: grants, Kickstarter campaigns, incubator programs, venture capital, etc. Here are a few resources to help steer budding entrepreneurs: SCORE  US Small Business Administration  Women’s Business Development Center

Q: What led you to go out and start your own business? 

A: I was raised in an entrepreneurial family so the fever started early, leading me to a series of intrapreneur roles within the asset management industry. In 2016, I began consulting with family members on startups which proved successful, so was given a loving nudge to put into practice what I was empowering them to achieve.

The idea for ARMAGA Media was born in late 2016 out of frustrations I had as a client placing advertising in the out of home space – placements were largely confined to limited fixed locations, engagement metrics were low and digital tracking with an omni-channel retargeting approach was virtually non-existent. So in 2017, as a side hustle, we built and tested the platform before launching in 2018.

Q: What do you think is the most important thing an entrepreneur starting a new business should know? 

A: Starting a business is a longer-term commitment. You should be thinking in terms of having 1-2 years of operational capital with a 2-3 year horizon for building a steady flow of revenue. Some startups have earlier success but those are the exception, not the rule. 

You may need to keep your day job for a while, yet be open with your leadership team about your side hustle. Reassure them that they have 100% dedication during expected working hours, while your side hustle gets the extra 50% outside of those hours. This approached worked well for me while maintaining an executive position at large global asset manager. When the time came to pursue the venture fulltime, I provided an agreed 90 days’ notice to ensure a smooth transition for my team.

Q: What do you think are some common pitfalls new entrepreneurs fall victim to? 

A: Inability to pivot. If you build it, they WILL NOT come. You need to be open minded and willing to adjust to market demand. For example, YouTube started out as a video dating service; however, users began to post videos that expanded far outside of its intended use. Instead of forcing users to adhere to platform guidelines, they pivoted to what the data was telling them users wanted. The rest is history. For ARMAGA Media, we are in the midst of a pivot moment that I’ll share details on in due course.

Q: On a more personal note, how do you feel starting a business can impact your family life? 

A: It’s vital to weigh the impact of starting a business on your family. How you setup your business can determine whether you are a slave to your business or (ideally) your business works for the lifestyle you and your family are working to achieve. Starting ARMAGA Media was a family affair from the beginning. My business partner is also my husband, and our children (Arthur, Maggie and Gabby) helped brainstorm the name ARMAGA, so we are all invested.

Overall, I’ve adjusted to more of a work-life integration approach versus a work-life balance model. This does not mean I work less hour, in fact, I actually work more! What’s changed is how I use time more effectively. For me, this means working on pitches and scheduling prospect calls/meetings from 9:30 – 3:30, allowing me the flexibility to pick up/drop off our children from school and have more meals together. Time communing 3-4 hours per day to my previous corporate job has been drastically reduced as I’m on the road a few days per week after/before rush hour instead. Early mornings and late evenings are then carved out for working on business operations, prospecting and sometimes industry events. Weekends include time for bigger picture thinking and prospect research in between family commitments

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Bridgette Thompson - ARMAGA Media

Bridgette is an internationally experienced visionary who has led marketing, product and sales programs at leading global asset managers. She serves as Co-Founder and CEO of ARMAGA Media, continuing to consult on acceleration strategies for privately held startups, including industrial flooring and real estate businesses. She joined the DyMynd Angels Fund as a top female funder and board member in 2018.

ARMAGA Media is based in the western suburbs of Chicago. With a passion for new technology, co-founders Bridgette and Archie Thompson launched ARMAGA Media to help brands create unique, immersive and innovative experiences that engage consumers and deliver campaign objectives.