Starting a new business is an ambitious endeavor. Keeping it relevant and growing year-after-year is even more daunting. That’s why we’re proud and excited to reach our 20th anniversary in a challenging business.
To get an up-close and personal view of this remarkable journey, with all its twists and turns, we sat down and interviewed Sophie Terrisse, CEO of STC Associates. Focusing primarily on the dramatic turning points of the last 20 years, here is a brief outline of STC’s remarkable history.
How it all began. Often, entrepreneurs will say that they started their business in their parent’s garage (Steve Jobs) or some other exotic spot like the kitchen table. STC started in a closet. In 1992, while Sophie was holding down two jobs, one as a full-time PR intern, and a second as a restaurant manager, she founded STC: moving from the closet, to the bedroom, to the living room of her Soho apartment.
Soon, STC was handling freelance projects for Cross Border Enterprises, including Balmex and Gold Bond Baby Products. Rapidly, clients in the luxury and wine/spirits industry followed. “For two-and-a-half years, I was strictly a business and communications consultant who told clients, ‘this is what you need to do to bring American products to Europe and vice versa’. I would create introductions, establish relationships and help to launch brands in new markets. Then I would disappear until the next project”.
Moving up, doing more. A fortuitous meeting with Laurent Bourscheidt, who had a Master’s degree in architecture from the Beaux Arts School in Paris, and is now STC’s Creative Director, resulted in a sea change for the fledgling agency. With Laurent’s design sensibilities and Sophie’s business acumen it was possible to expand the scope of the business. “We focused on creating new mediums for our clients,” says Sophie. “For example, we created a series of books on the annual collection of luxury watchmaking–a first in the U.S. that remains in publication today.”
First global step. During this period, many of STC’s clients were household names. But, the big breakthrough came with their first telecommunications account, Trans Global Communications.
This was quickly followed by engagement by Global Crossing. “We made our pitch in a room with 12 people from the company’s board of directors,” explains Sophie. “They hired us on the spot and we started driving database marketing and DGMs around the world within weeks. The four-year relationship with this client was a turning point and resulted in STC moving from a national agency to a global contender.
Crossing time zones. Because of STC’s experience with Global Crossing and telx, the agency was approached by an affiliate of Indian incumbent, VSNL, with aspirations to become a key global player in the telecommunications industry. VSNL needed a partner that could commit to an aggressive and continuous growth path, while ensuring their brand would perpetually stay ahead of the curve. “I found myself on a 19-hour flight to Singapore with my three-year-old son,” says Sophie. “At first, we worked out of one of Tata’s offices, but then we acquired our own space and started hiring people”.
Soon, offices in Singapore, India and Europe were thriving. All of STC’s offices, both in New York and abroad, are a reflection of the same concept: open, friendly spaces for easy back-and-forth exchanges of creative ideas. No closed doors, Actually, no doors at all.
20 years. Hundreds of STC’ers and clients. Millions of frequent flyer miles. More horizons conquered than ever expected–and more to conquer–than the view from the closet could ever have dreamed.