The Entrepreneurial Journey - Fueled by Passion and Tenacity
Meet Blake, a true Californian at heart, born and raised in Santa Monica. He's got a remarkable journey that led him from the studios of NBC in Burbank to being a Sr. Paralegal in L.A. But there was something special about Blake from a young age – he had a burning passion for investing and entrepreneurship.
As years passed, Blake's dedication paid off, and his success soared to new heights. He climbed the ladder of the industry he adored, earning accolades such as being ranked as the Best of the Buy Side Investor in 2001 and receiving nominations again in 2004. In 2008, he embarked on a new adventure and relocated to sunny Florida, becoming a full-time resident.
During his time in Florida, Blake has embraced the world of startups, wearing many hats and diving headfirst into the competitive business landscape. He has an unyielding drive to succeed, always striving for excellence. Then, in 2015, Blake's entrepreneurial spirit guided him toward fresh opportunities.
Reflecting on his extensive experience working with marketing agencies throughout his investment journey, Blake realized he wanted to make a difference. He envisioned a firm that offered comprehensive business strategies and a complete range of marketing under one roof – a true "one-stop-shop" for clients. That's when Dragon Horse came to life. Blake teamed up with President and Co-Founder Julie Koester, who shared his passion and vision for Dragon Horse and its sibling venture, Moxie Creed.
Qualities of an Entrepreneur
Blake believes that an entrepreneur's strong work ethic and self-confidence are essential. Early in his career, he learned that those things served as the mental and emotional foundation vital to persevere. He believes that failure is a crucial part of the entrepreneurship journey and that it provides valuable lessons. Blake states, "It's important to react with determination and use those setbacks as fuel to drive you toward greater success. I firmly believe that anyone can achieve anything if they are willing to prioritize and work hard. While setbacks are inevitable, how you analyze, address, and react to them ultimately makes all the difference."
In the early days of their holding company, Veedor Holdings, LLC, Blake and Julie worked tirelessly out of Julie's kitchen. They funded the business themselves without taking any compensation. It was a labor of love. In 2018, they finally moved into a slightly larger office space (yep, with actual desks!). Little did Blake know that Dragon Horse would rapidly gain traction, capturing the attention of others who quickly realized they were far from an average marketing agency.
Defining Success and Empowering Others
When asked about finding success, Blake is humble in his answer. He says, "Although my path may have been unconventional, I am not yet content with labeling myself as successful." Blake reminds others on this journey that every day presents new challenges and opportunities that require perseverance and unyielding determination. Blake attributes his successes to a deep-rooted desire to achieve and the unwavering willingness to prioritize, grind, and envision the future he ultimately desires.
Blake prides himself in being a support system to fellow business owners and fellow team members. He pushes those around him to strive to become the great leaders of tomorrow. One way to inspire entrepreneurs and visionaries is by setting a positive example. Blake's approach showcases concrete experiences of defeat and triumph, relentless drive, acknowledgment, and the advantages and outcomes of relentlessly pursuing one's aspirations and goals.
Today, Blake and Dragon Horse Agency have spread their wings nationwide. They have offices in Naples, Florida, and Santa Monica, California, offering complete marketing services and business strategies. Blake's unwavering dedication and meticulous analysis, honed during his investing days, continue to drive Dragon's Horse's success. But for him, it's not about the awards or personal triumphs – it's about empowering clients to achieve greatness. And boy, have they made an impact! Dragon Horse is now a multi-award-winning business marketing firm, serving clients from local startups to national powerhouses and international brands.
When we asked Blake about unique leadership lessons he has learned, he told us the following, "Success is rented, and leadership is earned. Success is temporary and must be pursued and reclaimed in a never-ending cycle. Leadership is something that comes from experience. It's something that is awarded to an individual based on their actions, values, behaviors, and capabilities. Both success and leadership can be taken away very quickly; thus, as Aristotle said, 'We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.'"
Driving the Future
At Dragon Horse, Blake says the approach is about finding the perfect fit between clients and their business strategy. They take the time to vet their clients, ensuring a harmonious partnership where the client's overall marketing strategy takes center stage. This often means embracing changes and trends in the industry. One of the most significant and undeniable breakthroughs today is the use of AI (Artificial Intelligence). Dragon Horse is embracing AI not just as a fleeting trend but as a powerful approach and tool that can boost efficiency, productivity, and service and product quality. AI has existed for some time, but it's only recently evolved enough to be seamlessly integrated into our daily lives and mainstream commerce. In 2016, our companies became early adopters of AI. We leverage AI to pinpoint inefficiencies in our operations and finances while uncovering areas for further optimization. AI is revolutionizing our research, clerical work, administration, and other vital functions, empowering us to achieve even greater success.
With each passing day, we are brought new opportunities and challenges. These opportunities and challenges motivate us to always strive for personal improvement.
Blake shares with us a final word of encouragement, "Never let anyone or anything stand in the way of your dreams, happiness, and well-being. Keep pushing forward and make sure to give back by sharing your knowledge and dedicating yourself to making the world a better place. Remember that you are capable of achieving anything that you set your mind to."
So, as Father's Day approaches, let's celebrate the tenacity and passion of fathers like Blake, who inspire us to pursue our dreams, overcome obstacles, and make the world a better place. And remember that with a little bit of Blake's entrepreneurial spirit, we can all achieve extraordinary things.