Special/Signature Issues » 2016 Top 40 Under 40

Brian Forrester, 38, and Andrew Miller, 35

Co-Founders, Workshop Digital

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Business is all about good timing — and sometimes that timing is the length of a tweet. That’s how Workshop Digital co-founders Brian Forrester and Andrew Miller met when both of their businesses still were one-man operations.

The two took a meandering route through the business of the Internet, both recognizing a gap in the Richmond area for Web marketing.

Workshop digital is a newcomer to the scene, existing only since early 2015. But it’s been racking up the milestones. Its client base has grown to nearly 100 and its income has climbed into the millions of dollars. It made Richmond BizSense’s RVA 25 list for revenue growth and was named a company to watch by Venture Forum RVA.

Miller and Forrester also have placed emphasis on careful curating of its workplace culture — an ongoing project that routinely receives tweaks, they say. Miller describes the company’s core values as being “ethical, accountable, transparent, eager to learn and willing to fail.”

“We’re starting to get recognized as a place where people actually want to come and work,” Forrester says. “We’re very careful about changing the company culture as we grow and we’ve done this by hiring smart people and giving them the tools and the resources and the time to learn.”

“The open-door policy is kind of a cliché, but in our office we take it a little bit differently,” Miller says. “We don’t have all the answers. We’ve never run a company this size either, so we don’t claim to be the experts and we really empower our team to come to us with ideas to make things better.”

The company recently started an unlimited vacation policy, an attempt to loosen some of the friction of time off in a fast-moving industry. It hasn’t affected work flow in the way that you might expect, Forrester says.

Then there’s the Friday volunteering initiative he spearheaded, which allows team members to do charitable work for local organizations such as HandsOn Greater Richmond and Fetch-a-Cure — of which Forrester is a board member — in place of the normal eight-hour workday.

Forrester and Miller also serve as mentors with the Thrive program at the Greater Richmond Small Business Development Center, a non-profit that helps local small businesses get off the ground.

“I love the fact that our workplace is built on that open communication,” Miller says, “And just being known as the place where there’s no pressure to shuffle anything under the rug or hit some astronomically high quotas. We all know what we’re here to do and that empowers us to do our best work.”

Their striving for an ethical culture also extends to client decisions, with an emphasis on custom, quality work. “We don’t just stamp out the same patterns over and over again for every client. There’s a place for that in the market, but it’s not our strength,” Miller says. “We’re not trying to get every client in Richmond to sign up with us. It’s really the ones that know the difference between quality and the types of results they’re looking for.”