By Todd Travis
If this were an entertainment magazine, we would probably be bragging to you about the lavish lifestyle Pete Brown, owner of Ash Interactive, has lived amid his successful career. From being donned one of the early tech entrepreneurs, to riding speed boats in Miami, to simultaneously being the marketing director of two large companies, there’s quite a bit to mention when it comes to Brown’s success. But that’s not really the message that Brown would want to share with fellow Hendricks County Business Leaders. It’s rather the opposite, really.
Going back to Brown’s earlier life, he had his eyes set on elementary education, and that’s exactly where his career started. Being able to teach and influence young people has always been a passion of his. A change of scenery, however, would also serve as a catalyst for a change of heart. Brown’s wife, Annette, had a career move that brought them both to Indiana, and with that came a new direction for Pete Brown’s career.
“I thought I was going to be a teacher and maybe eventually a principal or something like that, but when we moved to Indiana, it was clear to me that I was supposed to get into something else. It may have been a God thing, since my wife and I have faith as Christians, or possibly a life circumstance thing, but it was definitely a clear message,” Brown shared.
As he considered different pathways, one thing Brown knew was that he wanted to be able to impact people through his work. He thought if he zoomed out his perspective, he could take his passion that allowed him to influence young people, and find ways to influence not only young people, but the community around him as well. This initially resulted in Brown taking a job at the Eiteljorg Museum in Education and Public Programming.
It was through this change that Brown was able to really bring his talents to the table in a variety of ways. In particular, he was able to merge his passion for education with his passion for art and technology. From the age of 14, Brown ran a recording studio as a side-hustle, and developed a proficiency for multimedia technology. He used these skills to help market and organize various events the museum held throughout the year. Eventually, he was doing so much that the museum created a position to expand his role into more of a marketing specialty.
“At the tail end of my time at the Eiteljorg- which was awesome and helped me get tied into my community, and I’m grateful for that- I had an idea for an app. It was called Piggyback, and it was basically a Google Maps for art, such as museums, zoos, cultural, and/or historical institutions,” Brown explained.
Now it’s time to queue the glitz and glam portion of Brown’s career. As a result of his idea, he was picked up by a social entrepreneur incubator called Flagship, which provided him with funding, mentorship, and time to focus on his dream project. Before he knew it he was being called a “tech-entrepreneur” and put on the path to create the next Google or Yelp.
“Nowadays, everybody and their mom is a tech entrepreneur. But back then, that was scary because it felt like total imposter syndrome for me. I thought, ‘I’m not a tech entrepreneur, I’m just a teacher who has an idea,'” Brown remembered.
In the midst of his doubt, Brown was able to forge ahead and get on board for the ride of his life. His experience included a mix of learning, growing, failing, laughing, crying, and everything in between. But at the end of it all, he can say he’s grateful for what he got out of it. His app, Piggyback, did not turn into the next Google, but it did eventually develop into what is now his company- Ash Interactive.
While it was difficult, letting go of the app he created allowed Brown to come back to some of his passions. And he realized that his passions were actually subsidizing what he was doing with the app anyway. This is where he was able to get back to the core of who he was and to begin a new era with Ash Interactive. While the services they offer range from marketing, web design, and business consulting, their mission is simple- to help people figure things out.
“I had observed that everyone has the exact same tools. In a lot of cases it was the small companies who were busy, or the non-profits who felt like they didn’t have the money to use them. Those are the people who I felt like I could help- by basically just showing up and saying ‘Yes you can do it,'” Brown summarized.
That’s the message that Brown wants to share with this community. Through his own efforts and the efforts of his growing team, he hopes to equip people to go out and make the impact they are capable of, which incrementally helps the greater community. It is exactly the mission he began with, and the mission he hopes to see grow beyond where he can even take it himself. For more info, visit ash-interactive.com.