In Conversation with Amber Allen of Double A Labs

Amber Allen_Blog Header

Describe your business in a few words?

Double A Labs is innovative, experiential, collaborative.

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

While working at Warner Bros., I recognized a gap in the marketplace for tech-forward, immersive, yet accessible experiences. I had wanted the freedom of building my own team and deciding the impact I would have on the world for a while, too, so decided to strike out on my own as an entrepreneur. Double A Labs was born from these two missions in 2013!

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

I worked in merchandising for Elizabeth Arden and Reebok, marketing for Disney, and managed sales and ran global gaming events for Warner Bros and built eSports for Riot. I’ve loved gaming ever since I was a little kid, but really learned how it’s an incredibly innovative and viable industry during my five years at Warner Bros. The business acumen I developed while rising the ranks of these brands has been invaluable while building Double A Labs from the ground up.

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Not explicitly, but I think I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart. Right out of college I looked for corporate jobs because of the stability they offered, but I’ve always been a person who looks for different routes to success (another lesson from playing video games!) By the time I was 25, I had 60 employees working for me at Elizabeth Arden, yet people were telling me to slow down. I did the opposite, and worked even harder and continued redefining job roles to suit my vision of a thriving work community.

Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?

My marketing strategy was my reputation. The relationships and career I built over 12 years in turn built my company. I NEVER marketed Double A Labs, our work and reputation spoke––and continues to speak––for itself.

We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?

The number one thing no one told me about was advisors. So when I started Double A Labs, I didn’t know how to put advisors together, and I didn’t know about a line of credit. No one told me that when you’re doing great and are cash flow positive, it’s time to go to the bank and get a line of credit. I also didn’t have “official” advisors in the beginning, I got unofficial advice from various sources. But having formal advisors creates accountability for yourself, and gives you secure knowledge that you have a trustworthy, experienced board behind you to provide advice.

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

Reaching 3 billion screens with our projects in six years. But also leading Double A Labs’s tech division to 286% growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. That would be a feat at any time, but I’m especially proud that we did this while so much of the world was put on hold. It shows that our AR/XR experiences were in demand to  connect casual gamers and tech users, and that we’re on the right path of using tech and visuals to educate and entertain all generations.

When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?

A go-to interview question is, “Why are you passionate about [insert area they’re interviewing for]?” Having a vision statement, or a driving reason behind what we’re doing, has played a huge role in shaping Double A’s development. I look for people that aren’t just talented, but also dedicated to passing along their skills for the generation that comes after them. That shows that they’re not just looking out for themselves, but also aiming to make the world a bit better using their unique skill set.

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Since people are staying home more, our immersive tech experiences have become increasingly vital for companies who want to connect authentically with customers. Customers can’t go out to physical events anymore, so we’ve been creating virtual events that maintain brands’ messages, purposes, and images while letting people escape into new realms for a bit of mental relief.

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

I hope to continue making platforms that educate and entertain simultaneously, while partnering with more companies such as Disney that are constantly revolutionizing how we consume media.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?

A change in mindset is one of the most powerful tools for self-evolution. Double A Labs could have panicked when physical events were shut down, but we pivoted to transform physical events into equally engaging virtual ones, really showing the power of AR/XR to blend physical and digital worlds. As a result, we’ve brought 21 additional people onto our team since March.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?

How to get out of the reptilian brain and take a breath before answering questions, instead of relying on impulse. Take a second for cognitive learning, instead of lashing out or jumping right into a problem. Know when to take a beat and say, “I need a minute.” When I started having meetings back-to-back all day and running out of energy, I needed to learn how to slow my brain and reactions down so I could pace myself.

How have you managed to stay grounded this year?

Lots of games that keep me connected with my friends and family. I like multiplayer games like Among Us and Overcooked 2 because I get to collaborate with other players on reaching a goal, whether that’s finding a traitor in a spaceship or cooking and serving food in a hot air balloon!

Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

I’m not a fan of that quote because I LOVE WHAT I DO!! I integrate my work and my life because I love to, build, create, and tinker. My play is fast: I love a great adrenaline rush, and anything in life that allows me to do those three things. I create and build with my close friends, and we share ideas and strategies and have fun.

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

I adore funky designer shoes! Burberry and Prada have the coolest designs.

What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?

  • I have to do my finance and legal meetings before noon so I can really focus.
  • Twice a week I need to have a meeting with someone smarter than me, or to learn something new. 
  • Create a work environment that makes you feel happy! Fill your office space with personal touches that will make you smile and motivate you to continue, no matter how big the challenge you’re facing is.

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?

It means being daring, yet also wise. It takes courage to decide to forge your own path, and intelligence and persistence to achieve what you set out to accomplish when you started your entrepreneurial journey. As a woman, being an Entreprenista means empowering other Entreprenistas to have confidence in their voices and ideas, so that they’ll speak up for what they know is right, even if they’re called too ambitious or competitive. It’s about changing the narrative for female entrepreneurs so that ambition and competition are recognized as good traits, when paired with empathy and generosity.

Share it!

Posted in

Leave a Comment

Melanie Rivera of Breaker28 on making an impact while finding joy in everyday life hiccups and surprises

Describe Breaker28 in a few words? We develop leaders with H.E.A.R.T. – Healthy, Equitable, Antiracist, Real and Trust-Centered. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I have been planning my business for four years – perfecting content, testing out approaches, and I feel that I have a message and a model…

Bex Gold of Brite Hair on combining ethics and fashion to drive innovation into the haircare space

Describe your business in a few words? Brite Hair makes quality ethical, vegan, cruelty free hair color & hair care products that are accessible and fun! What made you take the leap to start your own business? I founded a hair color brand after a long-term relationship ended – I was in my 30s and…

Sonya Tkacs of Recruitlynk on why marketing and selling your business as an owner never stops

Describe your business in a few words? The Recruitlynk mission is to recruit and source top executive and management talent with diverse backgrounds and experiences. We strive to help sustain and nurture inclusive cultures where differences drive innovative solutions and uphold diversity in the workplace. Our goal is to effectively hire leaders who care about…

Isabelle Tierney of The Feel Good Life on helping people lead more fulfilling lives with her ground-breaking methodology

Describe your business in a few words? I help individuals, as well as businesses, relieve stress and choose well-being. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I had a highly successful private practice for more than 20 years as a marriage and family therapist, but my personal life was anything but…

Brittany Whitlock of Big Mood Digital on why the thing you are afraid of is the thing you have to do!

Describe Big Mood Digital in a few words? I train business owners, marketers and teams on how to conquer digital marketing confidently making it approachable and manageable through private sessions and courses. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I love working with passionate people who get excited to learn something…

Courtlyn Jones of The Design Database on being a creative entrepreneur, and how she is helping freelancers create the career of their dreams

Describe your business in a few words? The Design Database is an online platform and community designed to be a support system for Creatives, helping them find jobs. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I was hired as a graphic designer at my “dream company,” 10 years after I set…

Erin Pohan of Upkeeping on overcoming fear, and her three best tips for staying productive

Describe your business in a few words? My goal with UpKeeping is to continually evolve to meet the financial accounting needs of entrepreneurs. We currently offer full-service bookkeeping services, accounting clean-ups and QuickBooks training. What made you take the leap to start your own business? For most of my life, I sat back and watched…

Danielle Elias Las of Bump’n Clothing on growing a business while giving back to the IVF community

Describe Bump’n Clothing in a few words? The ultimate in maternity and postpartum apparel. What made you take the leap to start your own business? The desire to create the perfect maternity pant while giving back to the IVF community. What was your background prior to starting your own business? Attorney; In House Counsel for…

Miriam Airington-Fisher of Airington Law on combining law and entrepreneurship and how she is making an impact

Describe your business in a few words? Airington Law is a women-lead law firm specializing in defending against wrongful convictions and litigating civil rights issues What made you take the leap to start your own business? I initially started my law practice out of necessity. I went through a divorce and became a single mom…

Michele Henry of FACE FOUNDRIÉ on why she leans into her fears, and the importance of dreaming big

Describe FACE FOUNDRIÉ in a few words? Efficient and effective focused facial bar specializing in all things face, facials, lashes, brows, and skincare. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I worked in my parents’ small inground pool business from age 13 all the way through college. Being an entrepreneur is…

Ashley Spriggs of Pivot Media on the power of genuine relationships

Describe your business in a few words? We are a media firm that gets your message the attention it deserves. We offer services in Public Relations and Podcast Management. What made you take the leap to start your own business? It was the right time! I was growing my client list as an independent contractor…

Mary Allard of The Third Place podcast on inviting listeners to explore uncomfortable conversations in a safe space

Describe your business in a few words? The Third Place podcast is a weekly podcast that invites listeners into the hard conversations that we have a tendency to avoid. It is a podcast that “goes there,” within a safe place where curiosity is encouraged, differences are welcomed, and empathy is embraced through healthy dialogue. What…

Kelsea Olivia of East Olivia Creative on creating experiences that spark curiosity, joy, and connection

Describe your business in a few words? East Olivia is a boutique creative agency that specializes in large-scale floral installations. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I have been starting businesses since I was a child, selling my crafts and babysitting. As an adult, I had an innate desire to…

Tiffany Roman of Small Biz Highlight on creating a platform to help small businesses thrive

Describe your business in a few words? Small Biz Highlight is a web show, created to help introduce the people behind a small/local business, their products and services, and discuss how COVID affected them. What made you take the leap to start your own business? Back in April 2020, COVID shutdowns were in full effect…

11 Mamaprenistas share their best productivity tips to manage a business and a family

1) Tierney Larkin, Founder at Larkin Living Spaces: “Be sure to have a designated space to work that is just for you and your business. It can be a makeshift office in the corner of a room, or even a traveling cart that you can take around with you to store all of your supplies…