Though they shared some classes at GW, Tod Plotkin, GWSB BBA ’03, and Sara Evans, SMPA BA ’04, weren’t formally introduced until Plotkin’s senior year. They didn’t know that just a few years later, they’d be running a video production company in the heart of Washington, DC.
Plotkin and Evans are the creative force behind Green Buzz Agency (GBA), a boutique video production company with an impressive roster of clients that includes Hilton Worldwide and Under Armour.
As founder, principal and creative director at GBA, Plotkin works on the creative vision for many projects while also focusing on operational issues and brand strategy. Evans serves as chief operating officer and lead video producer, overseeing all phases of video production and technology processes.
Both Plotkin and Evans are directly involved in client relationships, writing proposals and project execution.
But before they became business partners, they were just two Colonials on a road trip to LA. After Plotkin graduated in 2003, the duo drove across the US work as production assistants in Hollywood. After a few jobs, they realized they’d get better experience working on graduate thesis films at the University of Southern California. So they spent the summer cutting their production teeth through roles like script supervisor and assistant director for student films.
After returning to DC, both Plotkin and Evans worked in corporate video for non-profit organizations and private companies. Plotkin spent four years running the video department for the Washington Wizards, while also conceptualizing GBA and taking on freelance projects. At the end of his tenure with the Wizards, he knew it was time to commit to making GBA a full-time reality.
And Evans agreed. “Sara was instrumental in getting the agency off the ground,” says Plotkin. By the summer of 2012, GBA was up and running, Evans was on board full time and projects kept lining up.
Plotkin, who has been fascinated with film from a young age, says he came to media production late in his GW career—but that didn’t stop him from minoring in electronic media and loading up on film theory courses. He also tried to establish a few student projects that “never fully caught on,” which he now says provided invaluable experience.
“[It] taught me what not to do as an entrepreneur,” he says. “Those were valuable lessons that saved me time and energy when I tried again post-college.”
One of Plotkin’s more successful projects is the What’s Next DC marketing conference, which launched in 2011. Dissatisfied with what the industry had to offer, Plotkin saw an opportunity. “I designed a marketing conference that I’d want to attend—with a heavy focus on groundbreaking case studies and high quality networking.”
With speakers like the chief marketing officer from national geographic and a global marketing solutions strategist from Facebook, What’s Next DC lives up to its promise to “cut the fat from your typical bloated business conference.” GBA looks forward to making the 2014 conference its best ever.
Though still a young business, GBA has snagged several industry awards, recently moved to a larger office and added to their team. And while building a business from the ground up has many logistical challenges, Plotkin says he loves the people he’s met through his work with GBA.
Looking back, Plotkin says he wouldn’t have predicted this path, but he’s learned a lot along the way. His advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
“When you’re first starting out, get coffee or lunch with as many seasoned experts as you can in your chosen field,” he says. “Ask them as many questions as possible. So many entrepreneurs waste time and energy on assumptions that could have been cleared up from the start had they asked the right questions to the right people.”
Plotkin also emphasizes learning from every opportunity. “You’ll learn a ton whether you succeed or fail,” he explains, “but those lessons can make all the difference when implementing your next big idea in the future. “