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An Inside Look Into Camden’s Newest Startup: Penji




Within the developing City of Camden, there are gems popping up in their business district. We sat down with Penji’s co-founder, Johnathan Grzybowski. In this conversation, we learned about the problem with design and what Penji is doing to resolve it.

Penji is a dependable on-demand design service that helps marketing teams receive custom design at an affordable monthly cost.

How did you come up with the idea of Penji?

It’s the culmination of our journey as a design agency and our desire provide jobs for students in Camden. Penji is a product we built from the ground up to give our customers a better experience working with a designer, meanwhile we focus on training and hiring students in Camden.

We believe our platform can give customers high quality design at a set monthly cost while giving internships, jobs, and opportunities to students within our community.


What does Penji mean?

Let’s just say that there are a lot of hints out there in the digital universe and we will leave it up to you to decide what you think Penji means.


What is the problem with design today?

The main problem with design is that “pick two” stigma in business. Typically, clients want affordability, quality, and speed, but never have all three.

For example, if you’re a startup looking to expand your marketing strategies, you’re stuck scouring the internet to find a high quality and affordable designer. So then you hire that designer, but you get your affordable and quality design delivered…late. The problem here is speed.

If you’re an established company, you’ll likely hire an expensive agency to deliver high quality design on time, however you’ll be paying an arm and a leg for it. The problem here is cost.

We believe that we are in an age where we can build just about anything we put our minds to, but the greatest differentiator we have in business is design. We shatter the pick two stigma by helping marketing teams to obtain cost-effective, quality design, on time – every time.


What is your mission?

We strive to be a community conscious design platform that delivers an exceptional service while providing learning and job opportunities for students in underprivileged communities.

We’ve been in Camden for almost three years and have seen a complete transformation throughout the city. New businesses are coming into the city and are now opening their headquarters here in Camden. We want to set the precedent as one of the first community conscious tech startups to relocate to the city and pave the way for others to follow.

We also believe greatly in the entrepreneurship and business community as a whole. We set out to develop a product that entrepreneurs, business professionals, and marketing teams want to use.

Finding a quality designer is hard, but at Penji, we believe there are great designers hidden within our community. That’s why we provide design internships, workshops, and learning opportunities to help students learn about design and further hone their design skills.

We are allocating our resources by focusing on the future of design and it begins here in Camden. By giving resources to educate students and professionals about design, it will allow for a smarter workforce, paid internship opportunities, and help grow the local economy.


Can you describe your team?

One of the hardest things to do in a business is to find a reliable team that sees our vision and believes in our mission.

It starts with our core team:

Jie is the glue that brings everyone together. She’s that fiery outgoing personality that is an absolute joy to be around. She’s the person you first want to meet at a networking event, because she will set the tone of incredible people you’ll meet during the rest of your event.

Then there’s Liam, we call him our “Damn Good Designer.” Well, actually, he calls himself that, but that’s a different story. Liam first started as a young and talented designer, now he’s head of design, and sets the tone for everything that’s delivered to our clients. Liam has thorough process and focus on our quality control to make sure that when we design an item for a client, it’s met with the highest quality.

Our dark horse is Steven. The quietest person in the room and the individual with the biggest brain. He’s our problem solver and is dedicated to providing a memorable experience to our customers. What makes Steven so amazing is his ability to do all of his tasks, with little involvement from the founders.

One of the hardest workers on our team is our sales manager, Andria. If you’ve received a phone call, a cold email, or an ask for a guest post or podcast interview, it more than likely came from the focused mind of Andria. With her efforts, we’ve had the opportunity to grow as quickly as we have.

I would be remissed if I didn’t mention the efforts of our outreach specialists, Thomas. He’s the slider of all sliders of DM’s. He’s handling an exceptional campaign for cold outreach and has the ability to execute the most difficulty of tasks. Our interns are also a major asset to our success. The willingness of our team to take these individuals in as our own, and have the ability to constantly teach, is the foundation to who we are today, and the community conscious platform Penji is.

Lastly, my cofounder is the ying to my yang. We are the perfect balance and level each other out. During the entire process of creating Penji, we stuck to each other’s strengths and maintained focus. I couldn’t have done it without him.

I am grateful and honored to have such an inspiring team.


Who is your ideal customer?

Our ideal customers are marketing teams seeking to improve the overall quality of their marketing materials, having designs done on time – every time, and to lower their overhead.

Our clients consist of Rutgers University here in Camden, Camden County College, Cooper’s Ferry, Hardenbergh Insurance Group, Boomerang Office Furniture, just to name a few. These are organizations with large marketing/sales teams that have integrated Penji into their business with ease to better their digital products.

Then you have startups and other small businesses like Only Good Things that just started their business and need help to brand their digital imprint. Level5Wealth that has been in business for years. They are absolutely killing it, but their previous designer left a lot to be desired. Waterfront Lab that’s doing incredibly awesome things for the city of Camden. They have an event every week that needs a graphic for promotion on their social and email channels. These organizations are using Penji to help get their time back, so they can spend more time on their business.

Finally you have non-profits and other economic development organizations like Cathedral Kitchen, Kingsway Learning Center, and Waterfront Ventures. We are so proud to have these organizations as clients because we are artistically telling their story through our digital design efforts.


What differentiates Penji from your competitors?

We’re a monthly subscription service that starts at $349/m for 15 hours of design. Penji is a project management service that allows you and your entire marketing team to work seamlessly and efficiently with our designers and project managers. Gone are the days of going back and forth with emails and poorly marked revisions.

We wanted to make a product that is so simple and easy for our customers to use. Every piece to our backend was done with purpose. Khai, our internal design team, and our development team did a brilliant job.

As soon as you sign up you are met with a screen that allows us to understand your brand. It takes less than five minutes to complete. As soon as you’re complete with that task, you’re set to begin submitting your projects.

Once projects are submitted, your project manager and design team begins working. In under 24-48 hours you will receive the first draft of your design.  If a revision is needed, Penji’s project management service is intuitive enough for you to easily communicate your changes. A simple click of the mouse will unlock an edit section on that design for you to submit your request.

We also transparent to our clients. We bill on recurring monthly basis, which makes using Penji predictable. You’ll never have to wonder if a design is going to go over your budget. Our clients will always know the status of their project, which team member approved what, or who on their team submitted which revisions. Penji provides both transparency and control for marketing teams of all sizes.


What are some challenges that you faced with Penji?

Well, our first challenge was to prove that we have a viable product with a good product/market fit. We introduced the idea to our closest friends, networking groups, and cold called close to 400 local businesses to see if what we were building is a product that marketing teams want. We received a ton of feedback making it difficult at first to understand what each person wanted from the product. We continued this process for about three to four months before designing a single aspect of Penji.

Although this challenge was rather tedious, it did two things for our business:

  1. It allowed us to get feedback to create a better product.
  2. It allowed us the opportunity to get initial interest and beta users before the product launched.

Having general interests in our product was a huge lifesaver because we didn’t have to go far to get our first initial customers. We brought our contacts into our sales process. We told them what we were doing, how we were doing it, and what they needed to know about the product itself. We used things like email newsletter, blogging techniques, and even vlogging to document our process and the production of what Penji is today.


How do you plan on scaling?

In the beginning we needed to solve two huge issues within our business; sales and delivering design in a cost efficient and timely manner. To scale design, i’ll leave that up to my cofounder to discuss in more detail. What has made us so successful is sticking to our roles and not straying away or butting into one another’s process.


So then, how were you able to scale sales and get your first 100 customers?

We’re not at 100 yet, but we’re getting there! It started with documenting every single process, number, and interaction that we had with a prospect (Cold lead). We became a numbers and analytics company. Salesforce and other CRM were not cutting it for us, so we developed an internal CRM that allowed our sales team to be more efficient while allowing us to see the data in real time.

Our cold call and cold email strategies are not revolutionary by any means. We did the work that others didn’t want to do and continued to refine the process over time. If you’re curious how we are doing it, we’ve documented every single strategy and step on my personal vlog/blog. All of our scripts, templates, and internal processes are all there for the taking.

Once we had our process down, we then created a workflow and then hired accordingly. We knew who to hire and how to hire based off of our numbers. We knew that if we wanted to grow by 25% we needed to increase our efforts by hiring two additional people doing x. Because of the numbers we knew what they needed to do, how they needed to do it, and were plugged into the process.

Along the same lines of documenting, we also put an emphasis on content marketing. The vlog did an incredible job bringing more people together. It’s funny, sometimes you may not get the comments or the “likes” directly within a social media post, but people are always watching. Get your information and message out to your audience, whatever way that works best for you. Stop thinking, stop waiting, stop believing that you need this huge and expensive set up, because you don’t. I recorded every vlog on my iPhone 7 Plus. I edited on my Macbook Pro using Final Cut and occasionally used my DJI Mavic Pro for b-roll. Other than that, that’s about it. I focused all of my energy on the story.


Where do you see Penji five 5 years from now?

I’ll revert back to our mission, we strive to be a community conscious design platform that delivers while providing learning and job opportunities for students in underprivileged communities.

It starts right here in Camden. In five years, as our organization grows, we will expand our efforts to other cities. For us, success means that we are able to give back to our community, provide learning opportunities for others to succeed, and allow businesses  to differentiate themselves through quality design from Penji.


Why Amazon’s Second HQ Should Choose Nashville



Amazon's Second HQ

Nashville is amongst 20 cities being considered for Amazon’s second headquarters site. The “Country Music Capital of the World” hopes to boost their state’s job market with the new Amazon Headquarters. Amazon’s second HQ expects to invest more than $5 billion to build the 8-million-square-foot facility and promises to create as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs over the next 15 years. Before any decisions are made, the company created specific requirements to be met for each city. Some of the requirements include a metropolitan area with over a million people, a time distance of 45 minutes from an international airport, direct access to public transportation, and to be able to expand 8 million square feet in the next decade.

The Unemployment rate is on the rise in Nashville. City officials have their sights set on the on the jobs that Amazon’s Second HQ will provide for 50,000 residents. “It is going to increase the size of the economy,” University of Tennessee Economist Bill Fox stated, “It is going to bring in a really highly skilled labor force that is not already there, a lot of community leaders. To have somebody with the worldwide vision of Amazon look at Nashville and say, ‘This is the place we want to be’ is really good for the brand.”

The aspect of new jobs may not be enough for some to welcome the online retailer with open arms. Residents of Nashville fear the new site would affect the housing market for low income families  in the process. “If you look at the size of Nashville, a headquarters like this bringing tens of thousands of jobs, it’s going to radically affect what the housing landscape looks like,” said Javier Vivas,’s director of economic research. Amazon’s decision creates an atmosphere for the conservation of gentrification not only for Nashville, but the other 19 cities in the running. “We have a housing crisis now and all this would do is throw gasoline on the fire,” said John Summers, a former Metro Council member who now leads the Coalition for Nashville Neighborhoods. “We cannot build affordable housing to replace what’s being lost by the rapid gentrification in all of our inner-city neighborhoods.”

The community of Nashville are now able to broadcast their opinions on Amazon. While state officials deal with the financial benefits, agencies and businesses within Nashville are now able to give insight on their city as well. This is why Amazon’s second HQ should choose Nashville.

If you are an agency from Nashville, and wish to contribute, please fill out this form here:

*Sponsored by Penji

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Why Amazon’s Second Headquarters Should Choose Northern Virginia



Amazon’s second headquarters

Among the top 20 shortlist for Amazon’s second headquarters, Northern, Virginia is not a stranger to the massive tech company. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos have frequently conducted business in the region. Bezos is known to own The Washington Post and Amazon’s cloud service AWS is situated in a huge data center in the northern Virginia region. It is no surprise that Northern, VA is listed on the list. This region proved to be a safe home for Bezos’ businesses, it would only make sense that Northern, VA is the next home for HQ2.

While the nation waits for the announcements of Amazon’s second headquarters, speculations rise as Amazon employees crowd The local news-source for Arlington Virginia have reported major traffic from an internal Amazon site. The article reporting the county’s green building council had received over 6,000 page views and 3,500 visitors from an Amazon web page that is only visible to Amazon employees. Amazon’s interest in the community’s dedication to sustainability is predicted to help the company’s future development of a sustainable building of their own.

The area is surrounded by copious international airports including Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport, and Richmond International Airport for Amazon’s consideration  of transportation. The bid for Amazon had reports of the Hub property as a potential site for Amazon’s second headquarters. This 85-acre undeveloped location is near the Dulles Airport, perfect for Amazon’s demands.

Amazon’s second headquarters

Amazon announced that they are developing a second headquarter of up to 8 million square feet in order to accommodate 50,000 workers. The plan to bring in 50,000 lucrative jobs to the new location will create billions of dollars in investment for the community. This opportunity for economic expansion does not come often, but neither does a perfect business location in Northern Virginia that is close to Bezos’ other businesses.

A possible site for Amazon’s second headquarters is on the border of Fairfax and Loudoun counties along Metro’s Silver Line. “We are very excited that Northern Virginia is included on the short list as a potential location for Amazon’s second headquarters,” spoke the chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Sharon Bulova. “Fairfax and Loudoun counties are able to offer a great quality of life coupled with an innovative and business friendly culture for future Amazon corporate neighbors and employees. With our highly educated and talented workforce and a location close to Dulles International Airport and a new Silver Line train station, we hope we will have the opportunity to welcome Amazon HQ2 to Virginia.”

Small businesses and agencies within Virginia are able share their professional insight to Amazon now as well. This is why Amazon HQ2 Should Choose Virginia.

If you are an agency from Virginia, and wish to contribute, please fill out this form here:

*Sponsored by Penji

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Why The Second Amazon Headquarters Should Choose Toronto



Second Amazon Headquarters

Amazon is considering their first international city for their second Amazon headquarters. The bids for HQ2 have reached Mexican regions too but the tech company have their eyes on Toronto. Prior to this announcement, Toronto has been established as a major technology center. Their advancement will only grow from here, perhaps even more when Amazon arrives.

The city reported that they are not offering Amazon much financial incentives, but is offering a 100-acre land as a potential site for their second Amazon headquarters that is approximately close to downtown Toronto. Although this site is outside of the United States border, Toronto is the best option for the innovative company.

The mayor of Toronto, John Troy expressed how proud he was of the city when Toronto attracted Amazon without offering significant tax breaks. Toronto does not have to resort to selling themselves for the second Amazon headquarters, unlike other competitors on the top 20 shortlist. Toronto is already home to a significant Google engineering operation, a major artificial research center and quantum computing institute. Due to the massive influence in technology, there are plans to direct Toronto’s waterfront into a massive tech-city for the near future. This environment will foster Amazon and future companies moving to Toronto.

 Second Amazon Headquarters

The second Amazon headquarters require proximity to a metropolitan area with a large population for employment, mass transit, an area that is 45 minutes from an international airport, and an 8-million-square-foot facility that will eventually expand to 740,000 square metres over the next decade. Toronto would be an ideal location to attract talent from overseas. This move will put Amazon’s name outside of the United States and begin their serious international affairs. North America acknowledged the massive tech company’s capability when Jeff Bezos was announced as the richest man alive in 2017. After Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos dethrones Bill Gates, the entrepreneur should look to invest in talent from overseas. This plan can start with a move to Toronto for the second Amazon headquarters.

Toronto holds a strong quality of life. Canada is notorious for their free healthcare, something that the United States is lacking. The affordable area is attractive to employees. “We’re excited to have this opportunity and to be able to tell Toronto’s unique story,” told John Troy. “There is no other place in North America that can boast the same talent, the same quality of life, the same vibrancy, the same economic strength.”

Small businesses and agencies within Toronto are able share their professional insight to Amazon now as well. This is why Amazon HQ2 Should Choose Toronto.

If you are an agency from Toronto, and wish to contribute, please fill out this form here:

*Sponsored by Penji

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