Kevin Wolf and wife Tiffany, will always remember the exact day they moved from San Carlos to Menlo Park – Dec. 27, 2005 – the day that Tiffany learned she was pregnant with their first child. “One reason we moved to Menlo was the great schools,” Kevin says. As a Hillview neighbor, he knows there will years of noise and disruption while the school is renovated and expanded. “But we’ll benefit from the push to modernize the schools when [son] Matthew starts kindergarten at newly-renovated Oak Knoll next year.”
Kevin had no trouble transporting the home-based business he started in 2002 – Tool Guy PR. He describes his company as, “an unconventional PR services firm that’s focused on helping early stage hardware and software companies.” The move to Menlo coincided with the firm’s expansion; he now has a five-person staff and about a $1 million in annual revenues.
He attributes his steady growth – even in the tough economy – to his different business model: “We’re the only Silicon Valley PR firm with a ‘Utility PR’ business model, which provides clients maximum flexibility in their PR programs and PR budgets.”
Tips for operating a successful business in Menlo Park
Given his successful track record with Tool Guy PR, we asked Kevin to provide tips for operating a successful business in Menlo Park. His reply:
“Get to know your neighbor: The man who lives next door was a professor at MIT who had helped found the open source software movement. Other neighbors are venture capitalists, software entrepreneurs and marketing execs. It’s amazing how many business connections I’ve made simply by knocking on our neighbors’ doors to ask for an egg or a cup of sugar.
“Highlight your zip code: Stop just short of getting a “94025” tattoo but let people know where you’re based. Menlo Park has tremendous cache in the Bay Area, the U.S. and, believe it or not, internationally. I’ve been surprised how many clients, partners and prospects consider Menlo Park to be an important hub for the technology and venture financing industries, and that connection has been an asset in growing our business.
“Don’t just work here, live here: As a transplant, I’m sensitive to how difficult it can be to join a new community. But one of the best things we’ve done since moving to Menlo is become active in the community. For us that’s meant moving our banking to Santa Cruz Avenue, patronizing all the local eateries, making friends with the folks at Draegers and more recently at Safeway, and being a fixture in parks and schoolyards throughout the city. Knowing the people who live in and love MP has stimulated a number of business opportunities, while enriching the experience of living here.”
Photo by Chris Gulker