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Business Observer Friday, May 15, 2015 7 years ago

Entrepreneurs of the Year | Vinny Antonio

Victory Marketing Agency Fort Myers
by: Jean Gruss Contributing Writer

Why we chose him:

Ten years ago, Vinny Antonio landed a job traveling around the country dressed as a green lizard.

Little did he realize that the gig would lead to the creation of a fast-growing business in Fort Myers that hit $3.6 million in revenues in 2014.

Antonio, 32, was the Geico gecko at festivals, donning a costume, posing for photos and spinning a prize wheel. “It's brutal,” Antonio laughs.

But the job paid well, and Antonio saved his pennies, often sleeping in his truck so he could save his per-diem hotel allowances.

At each event, Antonio would hire a six-man crew to set up the Geico tent. “A lot of these people never showed up,” he says. “I kept a spreadsheet of all the people that did a good job.”
Over time, that database of reliable freelancers totaled more than 1,000 names.

That database became the foundation of his business, Victory Marketing Agency, which he launched in 2007 out of a 500-square-foot condo in downtown Fort Myers. “It was just me for two years,” Antonio says.

The company now has more than 25,000 names of freelance workers who will work in trade-show booths, serve drinks, distribute promotional materials and model products.

The key to managing all these freelancers with a staff of just 20 people is technology to keep track of events and people. “We do 1,000 events a month,” Antonio says.

A project that vaulted the company's reputation was the Maxim magazine Super Bowl party in Dallas in 2012. Victory hired 75 models who passed out hors d'oeuvres, played carnival games and danced with guests who paid thousands of dollars for the privilege to party.

On average, Victory pays its freelancers $17 to $30 and sometimes more per hour because Antonio looks for people who are punctual and reliable. “It takes a certain kind of person,” Antonio says.

2012: $2.2 million
2013: $2.9 million
2014: $3.6 million

2012: 5
2013: 12
2014: 20

- Jean Gruss

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