Tony Rodono’s business started with a gift — the personalized maps Tony created as Christmas gifts for his family three years ago. Everyone loved these brightly colored works of art, which captured his family’s favorite places around the world. They told Tony he should start a business.
But the road to starting City Prints wasn’t so straightforward. As a child, Tony had a talent for drawing, and in college his interests led him to switch majors from business to visual communication. After graduation, Tony began his career doing traffic studies—including drafting simple maps of intersections—first for his Uncle’s firm, and then as the owner of his own traffic counting company. Later, Tony moved to Atlanta, where he led a design agency. When he created the gifts for his family, Tony was reminded of his love of drawing and the pleasure he got from sketching maps in his first job. Ready for a change, Tony and his wife Katie founded City Prints in Atlanta, but soon after, they decided to move their growing family to Charlotte.
“People’s identities are steeped in the places they’ve been and the places they love”
Tony had no doubts about returning to North Carolina to raise children, but as a business owner, he wasn’t so sure. City Prints requires a specific type of printer and fulfillment company in order to complete customer orders. Tony was surprised by how easy it was to find Charlotte companies to support his business, which in turn enables City Prints to offer a large number of prints without the cost of inventory. Now, City Prints averages between 10-20 custom orders a week, with a feature on Fab.com netting the company over 700 new orders in one weekend.
Going forward Tony is focused on increasing orders, beating industry competitors, and offering new, unique works of art, and he’s using local resources to help him along the way. At Charlotte SCORE, Tony received mentorship from local volunteers. A winning presentation at the Chamber Power Up Challenge also created new opportunities for growth and helped Tony to make his mark on the local business community. And running City Prints in Charlotte means that Tony can work without missing out on life.
Tony loves telling stories, and part of the appeal of City Prints is the ability to tell stories through maps. Likewise, Tony encourages other entrepreneurs to get out, meet people, and share their stories. It’s okay to make mistakes, and if you do stray from the path, Charlotte can help point you in the right direction.