Florida Southern College alum Blake Loughrey turned a passion into a business in the form of ABL3.
Founded in December 2022, ABL3 aims to help people create high-quality content to promote themselves and their businesses. This is accomplished by recording content with clients, editing the content down for either short-form or long-form purposes and creating content strategy plans to boost engagements long term.
“The original idea was to go after residential real estate advisors and help them with video stuff,” Loughrey said. “We realized pretty quickly that there were a lot of people that fit a bigger niche that needed our help. Now, instead of just residential real estate advisors, the type of people that we like to work with are coaches, consultants; anyone that’s trying to provide value to the public by giving their expertise out.”
Loughrey’s passion for creating video content originated during his senior year of high school. After completing all of the necessary courses for graduation, his schedule allowed him to take whatever elective courses he wanted.
“One of the classes that I chose was the TV journalism class and every single day I was on set, with cameras in my hand, or talking to a camera, talking to students, interviewing people, and just fell in love with the whole process of telling other people’s stories and creating content that other people enjoy. That was the whole goal,” Loughrey said.
At the same time, Loughrey and his brother would watch YouTube videos for hours. After binging enough David Dobrik, they both decided they could and should make their own videos.
“The entire high school got behind it and our first video ended up getting like 1000 views in 2 hours. It was super cool to see everyone jump on the train and support us,” Loughrey said.
The two quickly fell in love with making videos, and their peers fell in love with watching them.
“We were doing some really stupid things and I look back now and wonder ‘What were we thinking?’ But it wasn’t what we were making, it was the reason we were making it,” Loughrey said. “Everyone thought that they were hilarious and wanted more of them. The point was to entertain everyone else and it felt really great to see everyone love the stuff that we were making, however dumb it was.”
This newfound passion caused Loughrey to divert from his original plan of becoming an engineer to doing something he loved.
“I told myself: I don’t want to do calculus again, I don’t want to do engineering, I want to do something that I enjoy,” Loughrey said. “I came in as a freshman in 2019, still unsure about everything, so I had film as a minor and was planning on going into graphic design. I very quickly realized that I didn’t want to do graphic design, so I changed my major to film and had graphic design as a minor and never looked back.”
The idea of starting his own business wasn’t thought up until years later when he met one of his Theta Chi fraternity brothers, Rafael Jorge (Rafa). Jorge owns the company Mastro: a local business in Lakeland that helps companies with their digital marketing campaigns. While they lived together in the summer of 2022, Jorge asked Loughrey for help with video work for one of his clients.
“One thing led to another and I ended up working on a client that he had already been working with and so I started doing video stuff for him, like editing YouTube videos, Instagram reels, TikToks, that kind of stuff,” Loughrey said. “It eventually turned into me taking him on as a full-time client of my own, instead of working through Rafa. Then I ended up with a couple more clients and Rafa told me that I should start my own business.” In order to proceed in starting that business, funding like a merchant cash advance may be crucial.
Rafa then introduced Loughrey to the director of FSC’s Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Justin Heacock whom helped him down the path toward conceptualizing the kind of business he wanted to create.
“Growing up, my dad was a creative copywriter, and he worked for a ton of different companies and did a lot of freelance work all under the name of LOUGHREYcreative,” Loughrey said. “Once I jumped into the art world, my plan was that I would work with my dad at LOUGHREYcreative. But once I started looking at the business side of things, I realized that I didn’t want to hinder myself with a name and not be able to sell the company or refocus on what we did.”
This realization caused Loughrey to create his own company in the form of ABL3. Similarly to his father’s company, the name ABL3 comes from his family.
“My mom’s name is Amy, I’m Blake, my brother is Brett, and my dad is Brendan and together we’re ABL3,” Loughrey said. “Able is also a very easy word to create a lot of different word plays with. ‘We’re able to do this,’ ‘We’re able to do that,’ ‘We’re creatable;’ anything with able as a suffix we can use as a play on words for marketing purposes and whatnot.”
The decision to center ABL3 around videography came from Loughrey’s experiences in the film department. Being a part of the first freshman class, there was a lot of trial and error to figure out what worked and what didn’t. Despite the hectic environment, Loughrey appreciated those experiences.
“That was a major part of me wanting to start my own business and stay here in Lakeland,” Loughrey said. “I wanted to be able to offer the support that the program needs from the perspective of someone that went through the early stages of it and to be there for them if they need anything.”
ABL3 has already been able to give back to the film department by taking on three film students as paid interns.
“It serves as a way to still be connected to the school, in some form, and provide paid internships for the students, because that’s not an easy thing to come across in the intern field, especially for film students,” Loughrey said.
ABL3 operates out of Catapult, a community-centered non-profit that gives start-ups and smaller-sized companies the resources, education, community or space they need. Loughrey took advantage of this opportunity on day one, thanks to the Seeds-to-Scales program in the Center of Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship.
“The program has a grant that allows students to become members at Catapult,” Loughrey said. “After I graduated, I decided that the best course of action was to continue being a member and I decided to start paying for it with the company funds, instead of having to rely on Florida Southern.”
Within less than a year since its creation, ABL3 has already accomplished so much.
“A year ago, I was working out of my LHA apartment and that’s where 100% of my work was done,” Loughrey said. “Fast forward not even a year later and we’ve gone from regular membership down in the open workspace to dedicated desks and a full office that will eventually have our name on the door.”
Despite not having a business degree, Loughrey was able to create a successful and thriving business due to his belief in himself and his passion.
“This has proved to me that anyone can do this and you don’t have to have the necessary schooling,” Loughrey said. “As long as you are dedicated to a cause and believe in what you’re doing, you can learn everything else along the way.”
Loughrey has plans for what ABL3 should eventually become, such as expanding the team to 4-5 people full-time, growing into a larger office space and becoming a prominent entrepreneurial force at Catapult.
“Personally, I’d love to not have to ever find a new job,” Loughery said. “If I can make this work and continue to make the money I deem necessary to live a comfortable life, whatever that may be, the goal is to be able to continue doing this business.”