Andrew Ryan co-founded a marketing and public relations company in 2009 primarily to serve the real estate industry.
He was only 25. The industry had just crashed. And that's exactly why Ryan and his business partner, Mike C. Gray, decided to strike out on their own.
They had nothing to lose, Ryan says, and "we kind of saw this opportunity with all this tumult in the industry." The two young men offered a fresh approach to selling houses using social media and digital marketing.
It worked. Commonwealth Partnerships Group — which also serves other professions and nonprofits — has won several awards for its work, and recently started a real estate investment fund. The company not only does traditional marketing, but also helps organize charitable events in new neighborhoods, such as blood donations and food drives.
Ryan's actively involved with the Home Building Association of Richmond, the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce's Henrico Business Council and YRVA, a young professionals' think tank. He's also a dedicated volunteer with Virginia Supportive Housing, which takes a housing-first approach to helping people who are homeless.
When Ryan married his wife, Jessie, this summer, the couple decided to donate a portion of their wedding budget to the housing nonprofit. It was important to share their good fortune "with people who don't have that love and support all the time," he says. Executive Director Alice Tousignant says the gesture brought tears to her eyes.