Spotlight: The Sketch Effect Gives Meetings and Virtual Events New Visual Life

The Sketch Effect Gives Meetings and Virtual Events New Visual Life

Lots of entrepreneurs are visual learners. But creating pleasing images that sum up meetings or ideas can be challenging. Luckily, that’s exactly what The Sketch Effect provides.

The visual communications agency provides a unique service for events and meetings. Unfortunately, this also means they’ve had to pivot significantly due to COVID-19.

The Sketch Effect Business Spotlight

Read about the company’s journey below in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Offers live and digital sketching services.

Founder and CEO William Warren told Small Business Trends, “We are a “visual communications” agency. What that means, is we help our clients communicate their ideas using visuals. Specifically, we offer animation services as well as a really unique live event (now, virtual event) service called “Graphic Recording” or Live Sketching. This is where an artist attends a meeting, listens to the meeting content, and sketches a picture of the big ideas and main themes in real time.”

Business Niche

An amazing team.

Warren says, “I think our business has a positive, enriching company culture, embodied in our team-members. And that spills over into the work we do and how we treat our clients. We get exceptionally favorable feedback from the majority of our clients. And it usually has to do with how much they loved working with our team.”

How the Business Got Started

As a side hustle.

Warren explains, “The Sketch Effect began as a fun side hustle while I was working full-time in corporate marketing. While in that job, I needed a creative outlet (I am a creative at heart). So I began to sketch during meetings. I’d either sketch the ideas in my notebook. Or I’d hop up on the whiteboard and sketch out the ideas for all in the room to see. At the time, this was just a creative outlet for me. However, I quickly realized that people saw value in this…they saw value of fusing ideas and simple drawings to create a more powerful form of communication. Soon, word spread. And people around the organization began to ask me to sketch for their meetings or their projects.

“Soon, people OUTSIDE the organization began to ask for this…and they offered to pay for it! I did some research and learned there were a few firms out there that specialized in this “visual communication” work, which was exciting to see. So, based on the demand I felt for this work, my excitement for the creative nature of the work, and my love of adventure, I decided to quit my job and start a business anchored on visual communication. We boot-strapped the whole thing and are coming up on 7 years in business.”

Biggest Win

Reaching a big financial milestone.

Warren says, “Last year was our first year doing seven-figure revenue. This was a huge goal of ours for a while and an incredible milestone to achieve. It came about by a lot of hard work, focus on the mission, commitment to excellence and commitment to our culture.”

Biggest Challenge.


Warren adds, “COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on our business. As I mentioned, the majority of our revenue comes from corporate live events. In March, we were shocked as our entire “gig calendar” simply vanished as corporate events were cancelled en masse. We’ve had to pivot our services and roll out a virtual version of our live event sketching product. Although we aren’t out of the woods, we’ve seen a lot of success selling this service and are getting great feedback from clients.”

Biggest Risk

Purchasing new equipment.

Warren says, “Last year we took a risk to buy our entire team (including our contract artists) iPads, betting that digital sketching is the next big thing for our industry (traditionally, we sketch with markers on canvas). This was a fairly big investment. And I’m glad we did it when we did! In 2020, with all our work being virtual, 100% of our live sketching work has required iPads. If we hadn’t equipped our team with this, we wouldn’t have been able to pivot so quickly.”

Fun Fact

They’ve worked in front of big event guests.

Warren says, “One time we sketched in front of a former US President.”

Favorite Quote

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds, who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Teddy Roosevelt.

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Image: The Sketch Effect; Top Image: Rachel Eleanor Philips, Sketch Effect Live Artist

Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 12 years. Annie covers feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.