Fresh out of work as a result of the pandemic, Kristen Pucci took what she had learned from her career in business development and marketing and founded her own consulting business; a risk that the 27-year-old entrepreneur says has paid off.
Like many in the wake of the pandemic, Pucci found herself out of work last April only three months after starting a new job as a business development manager for a Harrisburg-based engineering firm.
Prior to joining the firm, Pucci held roles as a recruiter, senior business developer and account manager for a number of businesses in the architecture, engineering and construction industry.
Pucci’s two years in recruitment helped her sow relationships with area firms, a few of which had shown disappointment that she had chosen to leave her previous job with a recruitment firm and not seek work with them.
A graduate of York College of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing, Pucci’s two passions after college were marketing, particularly in the social media space, and business development– skills she found use for no matter where she worked.
Instead of finding work with one firm, Pucci saw the position she was in as an opportunity to be her own boss.
“Why would I pigeonhole myself with one firm when I could work for all of them on a consulting basis,” she said. “Instead of giving them 40 hours a week, I split up my time and gave whatever they needed per firm.”
Pucci began reaching out to the firms she knew that didn’t have marketing or business development staff and marketed herself as an alternative to a full-time hire.
With her savings she bought an LLC and founded KRAE Consulting, a reference to a nickname she was given in high school. The young entrepreneur added that “KRAE” also brings to mind the term “cray cray.”
“We take a different approach. We like to be creative and go above and beyond,” she said. “That’s who we are and that’s how I named it.”
Being a young entrepreneur working for herself for the first time, Pucci said that she didn’t have the experience older business owners may have as they start a new venture so it was particularly crucial to seek out a lawyer and an accountant that could field even the most basic of questions.
“I never had the life experience of having to start a company and I didn’t know that many other people that started companies either,” she said. “I had to reach out to people who were older than me and more experienced than me and pick their brains.”
KRAE specializes in social media, marketing, businesses development and sales and currently sticks to the architecture, engineering and construction industry that she started in.
KRAE was founded in April and began making money in May, something that Pucci said she couldn’t have done if her first clients, who had known her from her previous work as a recruiter, hadn’t taken a chance on her.
Snyder County-based engineering firm LIVIC Civil brought KRAE on as a consultant last year and is three years into launching its own business. The firm wrote in a statement that it was Pucci’s attitude that drove them to bring her company on.
“We partnered with KRAE to administer our social media needs, assist with marketing, and business development,” LIVIC Civil wrote in its statement. “KRAE has transitioned into truly being a business partner. Our successes are shared as we strategically pursue similar goals.”
Today, KRAE has two employees. Pucci hired her first in August and her second in September. She said that she was blessed to have already amassed management experience in her previous roles, seeing as though the speed at which her company has grown has not left room for error.
“We have absolutely exceeded every expectation I had for being less than a year in business,” she said. “In just a couple months I had to hire another person and in my first six months of business, I had multiple clients. I was positive in cash flow so much so that I had to hire two people and by hitting a year we will be in a very good position for next year.”