In Conversation with Amy Ogden of The Collective

Amy Ogden_Blog Header

Describe your business in a few words?

My company is called The Collective. I’m a matchmaker between companies and agencies. I solve the problem of companies spending weeks blindly searching for agencies in digital marketing, PR, social media, branding, creative and more. At no cost (key differentiator), companies work with me to save time, “skip the line” and are expertly matched with highly vetted, best-in-class agencies that deliver. 

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

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, I had the space to take a breath and clear my head. I was sitting alone in my NYC apartment with an 8-week-old puppy and the gift of perspective. I felt like we were experiencing a crack in the universe and if there was ever a time to take a leap in life, this was it. I had an idea for a business model that just made sense to me and I decided to give it a shot. The beginning of the pandemic felt so surreal that I remember thinking things couldn’t possibly get any worse, so why not take this risk? To be really honest, without the pandemic and the universal shakeup we all experienced, I don’t know if I would have had this idea or had the courage to try it. I’m so glad I did – it has surpassed my wildest expectations. Even I didn’t dream a dream this big. 

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

I was part of the leadership team at a PR and social media agency and was responsible for business development and branding. I was at that agency for 9 years. Before that, I was at another marketing agency for 10 years. My agency background gives me a unique lens when I’m matching clients with agencies. I know what a good client acts like and I also know what a healthy agency feels like.

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Not at all. In fact, many people have asked me over the years if I would ever start my own thing and I consistently said no. I’ve always loved having a senior level role at a respected company. The only reason I started The Collective was because the business model made so much sense and I just knew that I was the right person to create it. I’m so happy I did.

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?

I used LinkedIn strategically through joining in conversations and maintaining relationships. One thing I firmly believe in is the magic of connections. I will talk to anybody because you just never know where that call could lead and I truly love meeting new people and hearing their stories. I say no in a lot of other areas to protect my energy (consulting work, joining groups and boards, hosting webinars, etc). I reinvest every moment I have into The Collective. My clients and agency partners get the very best of me every day. I really believe that good work is the best marketing tool you can have. I focus on good work. 

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?

I launched The Collective on July 7, 2020. Starting a company alone, in a New York apartment (spoiler alert: they’re small), during a pandemic was very unceremonious. I wish I had asked for more support and encouragement. Those early months were exciting, but also really lonely. I also fully acknowledge that we were (and still are) in the middle of this horrible pandemic and people had much more important things to focus on than championing me and my company, but I do wish I had asked for more help. 

The other mistake I’ve made is a limiting belief I’ve told myself for years. The story was, “I could never be in a fully commissionable job on a single income.” I decided years ago that I needed the stability of a salary and couldn’t be in a risky role that was based on commission. I was wrong.

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

I’m most proud of what I did in the years leading up to launching The Collective. For a few years before launch, I got my personal finances in really good shape and lived below my means while I saved and invested a percentage of my income. I had no idea I would launch a company one day and didn’t know what I was saving for, but I trusted that I would be grateful for that money when the time came. If I didn’t have the financial cushion of my savings and investments, I couldn’t have started my company because I needed to be able to live with no income for several months. I’ve always said money in the bank is equal to freedom and options (my online savings account is actually named “Freedom and Options” as a daily reminder of this). I’m a huge believer in financial freedom and smart financial management. 

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

From my years of experience at companies with employees, my best advice is to take your time with interviews and not rush the process. Hiring someone is a commitment that will hopefully last for many years. I’m surprised how quickly some companies extend a job offer without really getting to know the hire and, honestly, how many people accept jobs without asking more questions.

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

I started my company mid-pandemic, so it’s all I know. I do think that if I’d started this before the pandemic, it may not have been accepted as quickly by clients or agencies. During this time, brands need expert agency partners to keep their growth on track and agencies are more open than ever to working with a partner like me. Sometimes I wonder what it will be like when the pandemic is in the rear view, because this really is all I know as an entrepreneur. Instead of future-tripping, I’ve tried to focus on each day and not get too far ahead of myself. I tell myself each day to do my very best work and that when good days stack on top of more good days, you have a good life.

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

I expect to stay true to my business model. I expect to keep expanding my agency partners – I’m always on the hunt for agencies that do world-class work. And I’ll have a couple of people working with me, expanding the mission of The Collective.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?

You’re not as in control of your life as you think you are. 

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

I wish I’d known how fun it would be. It’s really, really fun to create something from scratch. That’s been a sweet surprise.

How have you managed to stay grounded this year?

Launching a company alone in a tiny NYC apartment will keep you grounded. I took almost all of my calls sitting on the floor with my computer on my coffee table (see photo) because I didn’t have a kitchen table or desk. I just moved to Nashville in March 2021. NYC was a dream, but I needed to be in a space that’s more expansive in order to reach my vision for this company (and to get off the floor, literally).

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

I’ve had very little work/life balance since starting my company. I’m doing this interview at 11 pm if that tells you anything. It’s also been a pandemic, so I just don’t have much else to do other than work. Balance is a goal for 2021. I need to get my wellness and personal life back on track.

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

How much time do you have? I’ve worked on a rabbit farm, pulled chickens (don’t ask), cleaned commercial corn production machinery…. I lived in a small country town during high school so I had a lot of very strange jobs.

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

I keep a fresh, hand-written list of tasks next to my computer and stay focused on what needs to get done each day. I don’t get distracted by household tasks during the day – I act like I’m at an office even when I’m in my kitchen working from the counter. I eat healthy food all day long so my brain is awake, focused and strong.

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?

It means believing in myself and the vision I have for my life. It means championing others who are building their dreams. It means setting the stage for those who dream one day of creating something from nothing and showing them what’s possible.

Share it!

Posted in

Leave a Comment

How to achieve a life of financial freedom with Alisha Pennington of ATvantage Athletic Training

Describe your business in a few words? Empowering, Dynamic, and Comprehensive. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I have been a business owner in a very niche industry (athletic training) for almost 10 years, so I have experienced the freedom and flexibility that comes with being a business owner. My…

How Jenny Strebe used positive affirmations and crystal healing to create her modern haircare brand AIIR Professional

Describe AIIR Professional in a few words? A modern haircare brand that is focused on well being through positive affirmations & crystal healing. What made you take the leap to start your own business? As I was driving every aspect of my stylist business and social media facets, the peace and relief I found in…

How FLyQuest CEO Tricia Sugita is using the esport platform to affect real change and make people happy

Describe your business in a few words? FlyQuest is an esports organization competing in the franchised League of Legends League Championship Series (LCS). What made you take the leap to help transform FlyQuest into the organization it is today? One of my primary goals throughout my career in esports has been to create a community…

Lauren Montgomery, founder of Monty’s, on making simplicity the new sophistication through her line of plant-based dairy products

Describe your business in a few words? Monty’s makes clean and craveable plant-Based essentials like cream cheese and butter that nourish your mind & body. With simplicity and nutrition at the core of the brand, Monty’s selection of cream cheeses and butter are made from real-food ingredients and crafted using time-honored techniques like fermentation. What…

How Maradith Frenkel turned bamboo into pajamas for the whole family with Little Sleepies

Describe Little Sleepies in a few words? We make buttery soft bamboo sleepwear that your whole family will love. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I saw a white space in the market after I had my son. I absolutely could not find a sleeper that checked all of the…

Erin Coles couldn’t find exactly what she was looking for in a band for her wedding so she launched her own — The Metropolitan Players

Describe your business in a few words? The Metropolitan Players is a wedding band collective based out of NYC – so we provide incredible music for weddings! What made you take the leap to start your own business? When my husband and I were planning our own wedding, we couldn’t find exactly what we were…

Azora Zoe Paknad on creating a new entry point to sustainability with Goldune

Describe Goldune in a few words? We make sustainability less beige! What made you take the leap to start your own business? I was into the sustainability world, personally and professionally, but I didn’t see myself in any of the dominant narratives I saw on Instagram or online in general. On one end of the…

Elisa Marshall on creating warm, French-inspired spaces with Maman, a collection of NYC-based cafés and venues

Describe your business in a few words? Maman is a New York City-based collection of cafés and event venues, offering family inspired recipes with French influences in a warm and welcoming home like environment  What made you take the leap to start your own business? Before I opened Maman, I had many passions and there…

Kim Hehir, co-founder of Brutus Broth, on enhancing your dog’s health through specially formulated bone broth

Describe your business in a few words? Brutus Broth is the latest innovation in pet health, made with human-grade bone broth that has been specially formulated to enhance any dog’s existing diet by adding beneficial nutrients, amino acids, and joint protecting supplements. What made you take the leap to start your own business? Sue’s dog…

How a lack of female empowerment in the real estate industry lead Marina Shiferman to create her business, The Real Estate Academy

Describe your business in a few words? I teach women how to buy and own real estate correctly so they can be the bad ass queens of their own lives. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I was a realtor for 10 years, I loved it but something was missing.…

Carla Olivia on revolutionizing the beauty bar experience with DashBar

Describe your business in a few words? DashBar is beauty made efficient! We are one stop beauty and wellness for the modern woman. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I have been an entrepreneur since I was 22 years old. I started my first business because a great opportunity was…

Christina Matteucci (a.k.a TeucciMama) on her 19-year tenure as the ultimate Number Two

Describe your business in a few words? I’m Christina Matteucci, Executive Director of David Beahm Experiences and proud “Number Two” to celebrity event designer David Beahm. I’ve produced legendary soirées all around the globe, but it’s my unique, 19-year tenure as the ultimate Number Two that qualifies me as a sought-after speaker and coach. In…

Niki Shadrow Snyder on coining the term “givefluencer” and making an impact with the Project Pop Drop foundation

Describe your business in a few words? My husband and I started the idea for the Project Pop Drop foundation on our first date. Our business sponsors a monthly drop off at a different homeless shelter each month. We spearhead these donation events with our children, and with local businesses and schools. We call this…

How Natasha Case of Coolhaus is disrupting the dessert space with cutting-edge ice cream creations

Describe Coolhaus in a few words? We are an innovative dessert company, specializing (for the time being) in ice cream/ice cream novelties. We are known for thinking outside the box, super unique partnerships, a truly cutting-edge brand identity and an inventive way of entering the marketplace with our trucks, brick and mortars, and now national…

How Jennifer Jolorte Doro used strategic partnerships to build Nouri from the ground up

Describe Nouri in a few words? Supporting people to feel their best. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I wanted something of my own. I’ve worked for many successful entrepreneurs and I knew I could do “it” my way and really enjoy it. What was your background prior to starting…