Graduates Antoinette Marie Johnson and Tyler Westnedge have spent the past three years improving Philly neighborhoods through greening efforts while simultaneously growing their branding startup, At Media, towards its goal of $1 million in gross revenue.
Johnson received her degree in geography and urban studies in 2006, whereupon she took a job in Latin America working for NAVTEQ, a geographic information system company that provides mapping data to clients including Garmin, Yahoo and MapQuest.
Johnson said the job allowed her to see the world.
“I was traveling from months at a time to Argentina, Brazil and Mexico… but I came back [to Philadelphia] because I saw all of the things happening in those cities that were bound to happen in Philadelphia at some point.”
She returned to Philadelphia for good in 2009, and started applying the trends she saw occurring in international cities to her own neighborhood of Point Breeze in South Philadelphia.
“We in Point Breeze focused on greening efforts because there was a big lack of dedicated greening efforts for any one neighborhood,” Johnson said.
She said they started the Point Breeze Pioneers as a way to not just organize the residents, business owners and friends of the Point Breeze neighborhood, but also as a means to give the neighborhood its own unique brand. Johnson said she wishes to spread the idea of neighborhood branding to all of Philadelphia, as she believes it creates stronger bonds within a neighborhood and more clearly defines the kind of commercial and social projects a neighborhood would be interested in being host to.
“Point Breeze is unique, like any neighborhood’s needs are,” she added.
While Point Breeze Pioneers deals with greening efforts and organizing events in the community, the actual branding was managed by Johnson’s commercial venture, At Media. Through the combination of Westnedge’s self-taught design and technology execution and Johnson’s sales and branding expertise, At Media embodies the merging of “art and technology,” and provides tailored brand strategies to organizations all over Philadelphia.
Johnson and Westnedge were recently recognized as “Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2012” by the Philadelphia Business Journal for their success with At Media.
The co-founders attribute much of where they are today to their time at Temple. Johnson and Westnedge attended the same high school in Downingtown, but did not meet until at college. With two-thirds of At Media’s staff hailing from Temple, Johnson made it clear that Owls are perfectly suited for the company’s unique style of tailored, local branding.
“We’ve seen that in interns and employees of At Media, we find that Temple students know how to jump at it and start themselves,” she said.
More than good employees, the duo has found that Temple grads are also more involved in local events and charities – more than 50% of the supporters of the civic and non-profit projects At Media has worked on have been students or alumni.
“I think that Temple students have a clearer understanding of the dynamics in those kind of situations, and they look to get their hands dirty and really learn about the community and get involved in events so that they can make a positive contribution,” she added.
Johnson offered some words of advice for soon-to-be graduates looking to enter the professional world in Philadelphia: “The people you meet in the Temple network are your buddies. I only thought that only happened for Penn State alumni, but the truth is that… the Temple network is much stronger here in Philly, so why not utilize it?”
David Hamme can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.