Being a small business owner is challenging enough without the additional obstacles imposed by a pandemic and civil unrest. After opening in December 2019, REC Philly had to shut down its state-of-the-art creative facility only three months later due to the state mandates. The entrepreneurs had to act quickly to adapt. One thing that helped them sustain those changes was access to capital through the Micro-Loan Recovery Program.
During this time of unprecedented challenges, Univest, Bryn Mawr Trust, Customers Bank, OceanFirst Bank and WSFS committed $650,000 to fund the Micro-Loan Recovery Program with the goal of helping Philadelphia businesses reopen and keep the doors open for years to come.
Creating a Place for Creators
Cofounders Will Toms and David Silver have been best friends since high school. Their friends were talented creatives who didn’t know how to navigate the entertainment industry in order to make a career from their art. Will and Dave decided to take things into their own control. They threw their own events and built their own studio. Over time, they formed a community of other creatives.
Having to shut down their state-of-the-art creative facility only three months after opening due to the pandemic and state mandates was “brutal,” said Dave Silver. “As young entrepreneurs, we quickly had to figure out how to save our business.” The company was forced to make difficult decisions, furlough staff, and quickly communicate to their 1,000 customers, investors and partners. “It was the most challenging part of this journey so far. We had to turn our business into a virtual product overnight.”
The pandemic caused the company to adapt overnight in an effort to meet their customers’ needs. They increased their focus on digital content and resources and they’re currently in the process of launching a digital membership product.
The Micro-Loan Recovery Program provided REC Philly with the opportunity to access additional capital. “The stress of 2020 is one thing but having access to capital is another,” explained Dave. “This micro-loan program has really helped our company have a bit more breathing room to operate our business and get back to focusing on growth.”
While REC experienced their own shutdown and struggles throughout the pandemic, they were still able to give back to their community of creators. The company distributed more than $50,000 in grant funding and more than $35,000 in sponsored memberships thanks to their community partners.
REC also runs an entire creative agency that is powered by its members. They work with some of the country’s top brands to create content and events for some of the well-known brands nationwide. In a nutshell, they help their creative members get paid to do what they love. REC Philly is dedicated to providing its members with the resources, education and opportunities to build sustainable and scalable businesses around their talent.
While 2020 presented unprecedented challenges, it also provided some valuable lessons. Dave explained, “I’ve learned that not every problem is a big problem or an urgent problem. Throughout this journey, when something went wrong – it felt like the end of the world & it needed to be fixed immediately. We have come to realize that most problems aren’t as important as we think they are in the moment. All things can be corrected by remaining calm and keeping a clear line of communication.”
He went on to share, “If you truly believe in what you are trying to create — just keep going. Persistence is what will get you to where you want to go. And just be a good person.”
Small businesses are at the heart of every community, including Philadelphia. At Univest, we have the privilege of working with local entrepreneurs whether it’s to get by during a pandemic, start a business or expand to a new facility. We’re honored to be their partner and help on their journey to success. To learn more about the Micro-Loan Recovery Program or to apply for a loan, click here.
Univest Bank and Trust Co. is Member FDIC, Equal Opportunity and SBA Preferred Lender