Get to Know Perception Works Founder and CEO: Brandon Powell
Brandon Powell’s entrepreneurial mindset dates back to his days at Ivymount Middle and Kennedy Krieger High School in Maryland. Although he didn’t excel at math and English at the time, he didn’t let that hold him back and went on to teach himself HTML and CSS by creating websites, spurring a love of the tech industry that has stayed with him to this day. Diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and a learning disability at a young age, Brandon was told that he would need support throughout his life, but he has gone on to see the diagnoses as his “superpowers.” “When combined they make me a powerful entrepreneur,” he says. “It gives me the ability to be a problem-solver, to have imagination and be more creative, to have a sense of humor and perseverance, as well as a sharp memory and ability to handle multiple tasks at once.” For years Brandon dreamed of starting his own design agency to increase disability-inclusivity in the technology industry, giving those living with a disability “the chance to prove themselves,” and helping companies make their online presence more inclusive. Last year, he took the leap of faith. He says Perception Works started with no business plan, just the idea to test different services to see where his company could provide the most benefit to customers. In the U.S., 26 percent of adults live with a type of disability, according to the CDC. “People with disabilities have a story to tell. We need to become the face of that, and help businesses bring the story to the market and the media and into everyday life,” he says. The name was a natural fit, with perception defined as the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses. “This stuck with me throughout life. The way in which people see and perceive other people with different abilities leads to their own perception of how they should operate, knowing that a person learns from operating in their own way and not how the world expects them to operate.” Not long after launch, Brandon realized what his company was set to become: an innovative design, business consulting and technology agency that is proudly disabled-, minority- and Black-owned. The goal, he says, is to bring awareness to the tech world of disability-inclusiveness, to help businesses use technology, marketing, digital design and media to engage people with disabilities and bring them into the market. Based out of Maryland, but with a team of five working remote, Brandon says one of the company’s first aims is to help other businesses bring their websites into compliance with laws governing access to those living with disabilities. His team, he adds, is key to getting that done. “Throughout my process, I've found amazing, great and intelligent individuals to help me throughout my goal of creating Perception Works.” Together, he says, they are learning, growing and building. Brandon aims to grow the business and its offerings to a place where it is able to work with a number of large companies and government agencies, as well as small and medium sized businesses across the country and world. “Our innovative digital creative agency will transform recruitment processes and enable employment in a different way that brings video and personality expression to the mix,” he says, adding that traditional resume-based hiring does not work well for inclusivity. As part of the company’s growth, Brandon wants his role to center on mentoring and coaching his team members into leadership positions, to the point where Perception Works has its own inhouse development and research teams. He says his faith in himself and his company comes from his faith in God, which has helped him to be strong and courageous even when he felt unsure about his and Perception Work’s path. And his advice to others? “Be consistent and take risks, and don’t worry about anything that comes your way.” Also important, Brandon says, is maintaining a work/life balance. For that, Brandon wants to ensure staff are able to unwind over the weekend — which at Perception Works includes Fridays. And for him, unwinding is often done in front of his Xbox playing Call of Duty or other video games, or spending time with family.