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Tom Bedecarre, Founder And Chairman Of AKQA, Named National EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2013 Media, Entertainment And Communications Award Winner

Bedecarre won the competition, and to this day feels it was because he made a personal connection with his customers and delivered a quality promise.

Bedecarre went to Stanford intending to be a liberal arts major, perhaps going on to attend law school or enter government or politics. He interned with Leon Panetta, who was a freshman congressman at the time and realized, in the time he spent in Washington, DC, he wanted to be doing things, not just talking about or arguing issues.

His time and course load at Stanford spurred his interest in computers, technology and innovation, interests complemented by the love of communication he developed at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. He soon developed a passion for advertising during his early days at Ogilvy & Mather in New York.

After the dot-com bubble burst

The three-piece entrepreneurial puzzle now intact, Bedecarre founded AKQA in 2000 in the middle of the dot-com bubble by helping to bring together four companies. He and his partners had a vision of how devices would be connected, how media and communications would be shifting to digital and how the skills of an ad agency and a technology web development shop combined would create something new.

Then the dot-com bubble burst.

It was in this crisis that Bedecarre used all those skills he had learned through the years. In 2001, AKQA let go about 60% of the people it had just brought together. He closed offices. Partners with whom Bedecarre had worked for more than a decade were asked to leave, and the remaining management members loaned money back to the company to pay the employees who were retained and keep cash flow positive.

Through these tough times, Bedecarre remained focused on digital advertising, considered by many to be a risky strategy. Bedecarre credits reaching out to all of their key clients personally, almost all of which they still have today, with helping AKQA stay afloat.

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