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Meet Judy Gatena of REP Interactive in Woodland Hills

Today we’d like to introduce you to Judy Gatena.

Judy, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My entrepreneurship story started over 30 years ago after the birth of my son. I was a single parent living in public housing, getting by on welfare, when he was born I was determined to turn my life around and inspired to be a better person. When my son was 2, I took him to daycare at 5 AM every day during the week so that I could work a sales job at a printer ribbon company. To say that I had a drive to work hard and be his rock would be an understatement and at 23 years old, I was driven to become the company’s top sales person.

It was around this time that I got married and had my daughter. I had a variety of ideas for how the printer ribbon company that I worked for could expand into different product lines. Unfortunately, these ideas fell on the deaf ears of my supervisors and the company’s key stakeholders – so I went off on my own and launched a more comprehensive printer supplies company. Abacus One Computer Supplies was born and thrived for over two decades.

The growth was tremendous and I never looked back. In three months’ time, I exceeded the profits I had made at my previous company. Over the years, Abacus One did several millions of dollars of business. Being my own boss allowed me to stay at home and fulfill my mission in life which was raising solid human beings. I had no idea how much they would change my life. It wasn’t until 2009 when my son, Steve, who was about to graduate from the University of Southern California, Asked me “Mom, do you have any ideas for a business that could fill a need in the market and that would be super fun?” I shared with him a spark of an idea that turned into my next company REP Interactive, a hybrid creative services agency and video production company. Having helped found REP Interactive, I worked for six years as President and COO with my son serving as CEO, and later our third partner Chris Carter. In 2015, we bought out my Son and I became the majority shareholder and CEO of REP Interactive.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
There were a number of struggles and a huge learning curve to overcome as I started new businesses, each had its own unique challenges. Starting out without any formal education or solid mentors, I worked solely by intuition as I gained the experience that I needed to fully understand how to run a business. Later, I became involved with organizations like the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO), which gave me opportunities to attend UCLA and Dartmouth and introduced me to a vast network of successful entrepreneurs whom I’m constantly learning from.

Starting each of the businesses was also a financial risk – I did not seek out investors and instead self-financed Abacus One, REP Interactive, and a third stock footage company Videofort (where I was also a founder in the initial partnership and remain a shareholder today). In doing this, I put immense pressure on myself to succeed – with my finances on the line, the success of each company was sink or swim for me and my family.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
REP Interactive is a hybrid between a creative services agency and video production company and is one of the premiere companies for producing branded content and corporate video. We partner with some of the biggest brands in the world to create Hollywood-quality video content that brings our customer’s stories to life. We don’t just make videos for corporations – we are an extension of brands’ marketing teams.

What are you most proud of and what makes REP Interactive Special?
I’m most proud of the people who work with us. Our team is passionate, creative, and talented, and being able to watch them chase their dreams and do work that they love and are proud of makes me proud as a business owner. Our team sets us apart from other companies – everyone works hard together and brings their own unique skills and ideas to the table in a collaborative environment in order to make the best content possible.

REP Interactive is also special because we see projects through from start to finish – we partner with brands to understand their needs, develop creative concepts and scripts for them, execute productions, and edit all of our videos in-house. Brands trust us to understand what they stand for and what products or services they provide and convey these things to the world through video.

What were you like growing up?
When I was a kid I was strong willed, defiant and wild. I was determined and had my own way of doing things. I guess not much has changed.

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