Anyone who has seen a television show or movie about a work place dreams of working with their friends. What could be better? Working with people you know, trust, and are able to communicate well with provides a comfortable and efficient work environment. As Jeremy Jensen and Jess Perry of Cutthroat Print know, it also adds value for customers.
Jeremy and Jess’s friendship goes all the way back to high school. They bonded over being the new kids in a small town. They were in the same class, social circles, art classes, and did set design for the theater department, all things that helped them form a strong friendship.
Even then, Jeremy and Jess were building a foundation that would propel them into entrepreneurship.
They designed posters and multimedia marketing for extracurricular clubs and organizations at Centennial High School in Utica, Nebraska, located between Lincoln and Grand Island.
“I would call it artistic organization, helping with event coordination, imagery, design, and overall production,” says Jeremy.
They even created an early HTML social media-type site by putting pictures they took at school events on a website Jeremy designed. “That was even before MySpace,” adds Jess. “It gave students an opportunity to learn how to explore the internet, and created content they were interested in.”
After graduation, Jeremy and Jess got an apartment in Lincoln. Jess was taking graphic design classes at Southeast Community College, and Jeremy was working as a graphic designer and marketing specialist with Home Real Estate.
Jess and Jeremy admit they had their fair share of problems living together for three years. “When living with someone else who has a completely different outlook, there’s a lot of layers of irritation that come from both people,” says Jeremy. “It’s like dynamite and a match, at times.” However, these tribulations challenged each other’s communication styles and what formed is a strong trust they still sharetoday. Because of this experience, each know how the other works.
While living in Lincoln, Jeremy and Jess also worked together. After Jeremy attained his real estate license, the day-to-day design and marketing ended up being too much to balance along with sales. In 2003, at Jeremy’s suggestion, Jess was brought on to take over those duties. It was a move that taught them the importance of building a team that communicates well, works efficiently, and shares a clear vision. “Jess was the one person I knew could handle projects with minimal guidance. He has an uncanny ability to take my vision and knock it out of the park with his own creativity,” says Jeremy.
In 2007, Jess took a new opportunity working at Cabela’s in a print shop. Jeremy continued practicing real estate. However, the two continued to communicate regularly. “It seemed not a week went by that we weren’t calling or texting each other, talking about business opportunities, or even just fun creative projects we could collaborate on,” says Jess.
Over the next 7 years, their entrepreneurial spirit and teamwork continued to have a big part in their friendship. They created video productions, sold cell phones, toyed around with lots of different entrepreneurial and creative ideas, and even organized several murder mystery dinner theaters with friends for fun. Jeremy took the product/service development and sales/marketing lead, while Jess worked on creative design and implementations.
By 2012, Jess was creating t-shirt designs for a local apparel company and Jeremy was working for a non-profit organization. It was clear to both of them that the ying and yang of their friendship and business ventures were destined for something greater.
The next year, Jeremy founded Cutthroat Print, and had Jess contract part-time on projects. As Cutthroat Print grew, it allowed Jess the opportunity to come aboard full-time as the Head Graphic Designer.
They have team conference calls for at least 30 minutes each day to discuss customer projects and deadline schedules. Jess compares their work to playing basketball. Passing the work they do for their customers back and forth until it is just right, and then….SWOOSH! It’s a slam-dunk.
Jeremy and Jess know that customers reap the benefits of that collaboration. “We charge hourly for design services,” says Jeremy. “Jess knows exactly what I am looking for in projects. He sees my vision and understands the customer’s budget. Our long-term friendship makes it easy for me to trust him.”
“And sometimes, I have to rein him in! Because the vision gets too big,” adds Jess.
Their collaboration cuts down on the time their clients are paying for, and makes the project nearly stress free for everyone involved. Plus, the communication between the two means customers can trust that they will get exactly the result they want.
“Even though most of our customers probably don’t see it, the teamwork we have everyday is critical. The amount of work that can go into one project from conception to completion can be tremendous, and simply too much for just one person to take on,” Jeremy said. “Jess’ role with the company and his relationship with me is not only important; I think it’s actually imperative to help save our customers money. There are not many people who would understand my expectations, impress the customer, and supersede the customer’s goals like Jess can.”
“I never thought that I would have this kind of collaboration with Jeremy, but looking back on it, it makes sense.” Jess said. “With Jeremy’s experience in sales and networking, we make a great team, and are both doing what we were born to do.”
Jeremy and Jess are also involved in business networking, both are in Center Sphere Chapters (Jeremy in Omaha and Jess in Lincoln), and they belong to the Lincoln Independent Business Association.