The trend continues: Two more Wachovia-ers have started their own business.
Deanna Lorianni and Meghan Codd are the founders and sole employees of Zuula Consulting, a copywriting firm that offers a broad range of services and specializes in financial writing, ghostwriting and promotional materials. They opened in July, a few days after their last day with Wachovia Securities.
Lorianni, 28, and Codd, 27, first collaborated in February 2008 while working full time as marketing contractors for Wachovia.
“We started collaborating together on projects and realized, as writers, the fact that we could write together and not have any ego involved was an amazing partnership,” Lorianni said. “By March we had the idea of doing consulting; by April we signed the paperwork.”
Zuula’s start-up cost was about $5,000, which included money spent on site design, attorney fees, logo design, business cards, letterhead and minor equipment needs. Lorianni said they recovered that and slightly more in their first month of operation.
They hope to differentiate themselves by being a one-stop shop for copywriting and editing needs, including sell sheets, brochures, case studies, manuscripts and direct mail. The duo alternates between writing and editing duties on projects.
Lorianni and Codd said they received positive feedback from a pro bono Byrd House Market project. More work started to roll in, including contract work from another marketing agency in town and the editing of part of a book for a Wachovia Securities adviser.
But in September the financial markets started to tank. Codd said a lot of their work is still in the financial services industry, and, when the markets declined, they experienced some pullback from financial clients.
“It ended up being good for us – our first three or four months were so crazy busy, we were doing a lot of work and not a lot of the business,” Codd said. “So having a month or so to grow our business was a good thing.”
Lorianni also put a positive spin on the slowdown.
“When the market did crash back in September, there was a slight hit. We felt it. Everyone did,” Lorianni said. “The strong point of being able to work through it is to be able to control and focus your business. It strengthened our skill in this market and our ability to develop relationships.”
They wouldn’t say exactly how much they charge for their services, because it varies from job to job and client to client.
“If the fee we provide is a little bit higher than the client can provide, we don’t just say goodbye,” Lorianni said. “We work with our clients in ways they can afford.”
Six months in, Zuula Consulting has served about 10 clients. Lorianni said they still receive some contractual work writing marketing materials for Wachovia Securities Financial Advisors. In addition, Zuula has contracts with local marketing agencies to help with excess work.
Codd said that for the first six months most of their work came from referrals made by clients or people they know.
“We’re going in [to the new year] with more of a big push to diversify our client base,” Codd said.
In 2009, they hope to double their client roster as well as hire a few more writers.
Zuula Consulting joins other start-ups launched by former Wachovia Securities folks, including Oyster Consulting, the Hoople Group and Riverfront Investing Group.