RTW Photography

RTW Photography: Growing with Style

Full-service Photography and Videography Company Expands with Assistance from Florida SBDC at UCF and Florida PTAC at UCF


Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4879 or HThayer@ucf.edu

Pauline Davis, Assistant Director/Consultant, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4852 or Pauline.Davis@ucf.edu

Kara Vernon, PTAC Specialist, Florida PTAC at UCF, 407.420.4890 or Kara.Vernon@ucf.edu

Orlando – Three friends came together, each with different backgrounds, to start RTW Photography. One was an engineer, another a CPA, the third an educator. None had owned a business before, but they had goals and aspirations to become entrepreneurs and photography was their calling.

The company enjoyed early success but the partners – Derrious Robinson, Founder & Director of Business Operations; Lavell Monger, Director of Marketing & Communications; and Walter Tre Idlette, Director of Finances – wanted more, and sought ways to grow and expand. It was then that they turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) and its affiliate, the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center at UCF (FPTAC at UCF), for guidance.

RTW Photography is a full-service photography and videography company serving individual, commercial, and government clients. “What separates us from our competitors is that we offer so many services within the camera photography world,” says Monger. “Videography, photography, photo booth, live screens – we capture anything and everything that can be captured in front of a camera, and we do it with style and professionalism.” There are many satisfied customers who will testify to their high-quality work.

Seeing opportunities to grow is one thing, knowing how to implement is another. For that reason, the team at RTW approached the FSBDC for its no-cost, expert consulting, business training, and access to market research. In addition, they called upon FPTAC to assist with obtaining government contracts.

“The main reason we reached out to the FSBDC was for guidance and mentorship,” recalls Monger. “In fact, the FSBDC has been instrumental in helping us grow our business,” adds Idlette. “They have helped us with organizing our finances, pursuing government contracts as well as marketing our company.” Further, says Robinson, “we realized that, in order to be really successful, we needed to figure out a long-term plan for how we could grow our business. Working with the FSBDC has been a real partnership doing that. They have been there guiding us on how to chase government contracts, grow our commercial client base, redesign our website, budget and forecast our finances. We’re very grateful to the FSBDC for that assistance,” he concludes.

With the assistance of the FSBDC and FPATC, RTW has achieved significant results. “We’re blessed. Our business is growing,” says Idlette. “With the Pandemic, we had a slow start but the FSBDC and team really helped us focus and prioritize on what to do next.” With the assistance of Kara Vernon, PTAC Specialist, RTW bid on and won a 10-year contract for school photography with Hillsborough County Public Schools and is positioned to bid on other government contracts. Thanks to assistance from an FSBDC Business Recovery Team of five consultants led by Pauline Davis, an Assistant Director and consultant herself, the company pivoted to focus on commercial and corporate clients and was able to grow revenues by 40% in 2020.

“It’s been a great partnership with the FSBDC,” founder Robinson said in closing. “We look forward to continuing to work with them as the years go by.”

For more information about RTW Photography, please visit https://ridethewave.co/.


About the FSBDC at UCF

Hosted by the University of Central Florida (UCF), and with its main office in the National Entrepreneur Center located at the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is part of the UCF Office of Partnership & Innovation and the Florida SBDC Network.

The Florida SBDC at UCF provides aspiring and existing small businesses with no-cost consulting, low-cost training, and access to business data and research resources. In addition to its core service offering, the Florida SBDC at UCF also offers specialized services to qualifying companies, including capital access, market growth, government contracting, international trade, business continuation, cybersecurity, disaster planning and recovery, and more. The FSBDC at UCF serves an eight-county area that includes Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties and maintains 9 service centers across Central Florida.

In 2020, the FSBDC at UCF served more than 2,800 entrepreneurs in Central Florida with consulting services, resulting in more than 10,000 jobs created, retained or saved; $1.2 billion in sales growth; $92.4 million in capital formation; $92.7 million in government contract awards; and 86 new businesses started. For more information, please visit www.sbdcorlando.com.

About the Florida SBDC Network

For over forty years, the Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide existing and emerging small and medium-sized business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for Florida’s economy.

In 2020, Florida SBDCs provided 162,476 hours of professional business consulting to almost 23,900 client businesses, resulting in almost 38,000 jobs impacted; $4.4 billion in sales generated; $335 million in government contracts acquired; and $385.8 million in capital accessed.

A statewide network of over 40 offices, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Defense Logistics Agency, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network, headquartered at the University of West Florida, is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs and is a 2016 recipient of the President’s E Award for Export Service. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.

FSBDC at UCF | 3201 E. Colonial Drive | Orlando, FL 32801 | p 407.420.4850 | f 407.420.4862
sbdc@ucf.edu | www.sbdcorlando.com