Name: Mark Griffo II
Business Name: Griffo House
Describe your business:
Griffo House is a digital design and web development studio. Our primary clientele are early-funded startups disrupting their industry.
Tell us about your self-employment journey.
I picked up my first HTML book at the age of 13. I was amazed that I could use code to create visual elements in a browser. And once I figured out Photoshop? I was hooked. I decided I wanted to do both: develop and design.
I decided not to go to college. Instead, I read as many books on design and programming as I could find at the library. I always said “yes” to every opportunity and project. Year after year I expanded my skills and started to build a reputation in my community for quality work.
Organic word of mouth was everything for me. I still don’t have a portfolio online. When I got married in 2012, I was able to support us with my freelance income.
Four years ago we had our first daughter. I kept seeing ads for Collective and made the jump in 2020. Since then, the amount of work coming in has snowballed and I’ve brought other contractors on the team. I’m on track to almost double last year’s six-figure revenue!
What area of your business are you most passionate about?
Lately, I’ve been really passionate about growing the team of talent that I contract out to. I’ve loved cultivating the relationships with my team and building beautiful digital experiences with them for our clients. I was not passionate about taxes and IRS forms that’s for sure (thanks Collective).
What’s the most valuable thing you learned early in your career that has contributed to your success?
There are no shortcuts. Being honest, having integrity, and paying attention to small details goes a really long way. Word of mouth from good work is a very powerful thing – and the only form of advertising I’ve done.
How are you pivoting your business during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Not much has changed from an operational standpoint. Our team has been remote from day one. It’s been great to see the mass adoption of virtual tools. Because of all the virtual and digital needs, there’s been a huge demand and my business has grown exponentially. I’m very thankful because I know a lot of people can’t say the same.
What’s a recent project that you’ve worked on that you’re really excited about?
We created the brand and website for REGENT. They build these all-electric Seagliders for fast, safe, and low-cost coastal transportation. They already have a ton of traction – and a world class team. I’m sure you’ll fly in one in 2025.
We just launched a site for Noya. Their purpose is to re-engineer the world to harness the opportunity that climate change presents. They retrofit cooling towers to capture CO₂.
Are you a part of any freelancer communities? Which ones and how do they support you?
I was a part of Freelancers Union and they helped with amazing resources such as discounts, boilerplate contracts, and helpful articles that answered a lot of questions I had regarding my freelance journey.
What advice would you give other self-employed people?
First off, never stop learning. Second, focus on making your current project the best it can possibly be. Each project is a stepping stone to your success.
It’s a journey. I’m simply trying to create something better than my last project. If I could tell my younger self one piece of advice, it would be to realize the value you’re providing your clients and focus on communicating that when closing the deal.
How has forming an S Corp helped you level up your business?
Forming an S Corp has not only saved me thousands in taxes, but it’s given me confidence to grow my company into something bigger than “self”.
It would not make any sense to be in my shoes without an S Corp. I would be throwing money away.
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