At Lykens Companies, we’re proud of our tenants and their awesome pursuits. This week, we’re highlighting Joseph Chekanoff from the Wonder Bread Lofts. A Columbus native and Ohio State graduate, Joseph attended the Fisher College of Business where he majored in Information Systems. Though specialist with computers, music was always Joseph’s creative passion. He toured with different bands, choirs, and more.
His musical background taught him to challenge the status quo, a mindset that’s led him to where he is now. Just recently, Joseph launched his own digital media company, Chek Creative. We caught up with Joseph in his apartment to hear his story and find out what Chek Creative is all about.
What is Chek Creative?
Chek Creative is a solution to the “online” problem. We make digital and online interactions a strategic asset for organizations through web design and development, social media campaigns, advertising, consulting, and training. We work with both small and large businesses, nonprofits, and individuals across all industries to curate a digital identity that translates into a strategic asset.
Take us through the story of Chek Creative. How did this start and grow into a full-time business?
As a Freshman at Ohio State in 2012, I was contacted by a high school friend that worked for The Pines at Tuttle Crossing. Her site hadn’t been updated since 2005. I built their new site on Squarespace, a platform that makes it easy to get into web development. My brand blew up from there. Referral after referral, local companies have reached out to have me take their online identity to the next level.
Today, I manage over a dozen websites for companies, individuals, and organizations. This blog post is my first “exposé.” All of my other advertising has been by word of mouth, and I’m proud of that. I hope to continue growth through organic conversations both online and offline.
What sets your company apart from other digital media companies?
Chek Creative is a strategic partner, not a “necessary evil.” We have a hands-on approach to making online interactions a part of any organization’s success. We do this through strategic decisions that make the “digital” part of the equation so simple that it disappears. While our competitors have complex packages and a high overhead because of their many employees and expensive offices, we create individualized packages for each client that identify what will make them successful years down the line.
What do you see Chek Creative becoming? How do you envision it bettering Columbus (and beyond)?
The most exciting thing about starting my own business is that I have the opportunity to completely control its scope and reach. I see Chek Creative as the digital resource for business large and small. Photographer’s Website? Done. Outreach for the next best restaurant? Done. Non-Profit Donation Campaign? Done. Training staff to fully leverage the online and e-commerce channel? Done.
Chek Creative will grow to a small team of passionate technologists and self-starters that want to make Columbus a more integrated, influential community of engaged individuals and organizations. I hope to expand outside of the Columbus area in 2020, where my vision plants small outposts in Cincinnati and Cleveland to grow our message: “Better media, for all you do.”
At what point did you know it was time to take the jump and pursue Chek Creative full-time?
I have always been influenced by my friends and family, who encourage me to take on self-employment, or what I have called “The Race.” I’m a runner and participate in two amazing Columbus half marathon events every year. I heard a professional athlete say “there is no finish line” once, and that echoed over into my professional life fairly quickly. Each event has just led to a desire to perform better at the next. It was at my last half marathon, the 2017 Nationwide Children’s Columbus Marathon, that I realized it was time to pursue “The Race” that is Chek Creative full time.
What advice would you give to someone hoping to turn their own side-hustle into a full-time passion?
At some point, your full-time gig gets in the way of the part-time hustle. It’s at that moment where you have to decide between comfort and insecurity. There is no “right” answer; each person has to get there on their own and at their own pace. But if the drive is there, my advice is simple: There’s never a better time than now.
My favorite quote is from Steve Jobs and Apple in the ‘80s: “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” Now I don’t expect Chek Creative to be the most valuable company in the world, but I’m crazy enough to think that I can break the current ceiling for digital agencies.
Oh—another, not-so-exciting quote I live by: “Answer every call, every email, every day.” That is a quote from Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase. It’s not just about efficiency; it’s about showing you care. No one will care about your goals until you show your value and passion towards what they want to accomplish.
What’s been your biggest surprise as you’ve pursued Chek Creative becoming a full-blown business?
First, people care about your success, too. They do. It won’t show until you show them that you care, but once that partnership is established, clients, friends, and family become stakeholders in the success of your endeavors. The best of them will offer their hand in helping you achieve your goals.
Second, my To-Do list has never been so long. I have always considered myself to be an organized person, but when you’re the leader of a one-man shop, even your strengths are put to shame by the sheer depth of opportunity out there. Every time I think I’ve finished a part of “The Race,” a new starting line appears.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
I am so thankful to have a supportive network of clients, friends, and family. Although I’m taking this business on by myself, I am nowhere close to doing it alone.
We’re thrilled for Joseph and the launch of Chek Creative! Columbus’s growth wouldn’t continue if it weren’t for people like Joseph being willing to take the leap with their small businesses.
If you’re a Lykens tenant like Joseph and have a business or project that you would like to highlight, be sure to reach out to your leasing agent and let them know that you’d be interested in a blog feature like this one! In addition to a spot on our blog, you’ll have professional photos taken and edited at no charge.