In August 2013, the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center started interviewing Seattle University entrepreneurial alums and currents students. We will stay connected with these and other genuine and successful professionals, and get the insight of their stories. If you want to share your story as well, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
E-Interview: Alum Emily Marshall Carrion, Innovative Marketeer
Emily Marshall Carrion is a marketer, entrepreneur and coach. While getting her MBA at Seattle University in 2010, she caught the entrepreneurial bug and became very active with the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center (and even won two SU Business Plan competitions). Most notably, she worked alongside founders and presented the winning pitch for Point Inside. While at Point Inside, a rapidly-growing mobile start-up, she led teams, managed customer accounts, managed mobile app releases and then led marketing efforts. Now she is the Director of Communications at Mixpo, a video-advertising technology company. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Seattle University Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center, is active in the Seattle Start-up Community (a graduate of Founder Institute and a Start-up Weekend winner) and loves to mentor budding entrepreneurs, travel and play soccer.
Cathy: How did Seattle University prepare you for your entrepreneurial path?
Emily: I didn't even know what an entrepreneur was before I went to Seattle University. Then I met Steve Brilling and he is the one who taught me what it was to be an entrepreneur. Steve matched me up with a group of entrepreneurs at a company called Point Inside., and I got to work with them through the business plan competition. By working with them and the mentors that Seattle U provided, I not only found out what it was to be an entrepreneur but I got to become one.
The business plan competition sparked my interest in entrepreneurship, and then I got to take a bunch of classes to augment the different aspects of entrepreneurship. I got to take the fundamentals course, the finance course, and a marketing course all around how to be an entrepreneur and launch a new business.
Cathy: What did you enjoy most about the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Program?
Emily: What I enjoyed most was the relationships. The Center has fabulous relationships with really prominent entrepreneurs in the community who are a wealth of knowledge. I got to be a sponge and ask my questions to these amazing business leaders, and ask them how to create financial statements, what they thought about my idea, IT and all the different aspects of running a business. They were so generous with their time and so eager to help me with my vision and my company during the business plan competition. Anytime I have a question still, I can call them up and they're more than happy to impart their knowledge. So it's a really cool environment where the community around the center takes care of their students, grows their students and then even when students become alumni, they're still there to help us on our journey.
Cathy: What tips would you give to current Innovation and Entrepreneurship students to shape their entrepreneurial paths?
Emily: I would definitely say to compete in the business plan competition. Even if you don't have your own idea, partner with other entrepreneurs and go through the competition. You learn so much by having to create the business plan, work on a pitch and put your ideas into action.
The first year I was at Seattle U I didn't know about the Center. I wish I would have started sooner so I could have taken more of the classes. One of the best things I did was taking the Community Development and Entrepreneurship Clinic, a Law School/MBA entrepreneurship clinic class. That was amazing because we got to work with actual entrepreneurs and help them bring their companies to life. It really inspired me to do the same: to start my own company because I saw the passion that they had, and I saw that it was doable because they made it happen. Seeing their success was really inspiring.
Cathy: What would you recommend to encourage current Seattle University students to consider the entrepreneurial path?
Emily: I would recommend every student to take the Entrepreneurial Strategies & Growth course, because I think in every profession, you can be entrepreneurial. If you're in a big company, or if you're in a little company, you can still take on really cool projects that seem like a small business within a company. So to have some of those tools and creative thinking abilities that you get from entrepreneurial classes are super valuable. And it could even be for students who aren't even business students. I encouraged some friends of mine that did the Physical Education program to take entrepreneurial classes because they wanted to open their own gym, their own business. To have a background in entrepreneurial skills is really valuable. There are all kinds of ways to be an entrepreneur whether it's your own food stand or a tech company that's going to raise millions of dollars.
Cathy: What is the biggest challenge that most students and entrepreneurs might face, and how have you dealt with it?
Emily: I think the biggest challenge is figuring out how to monetize your idea, to take an idea and generate actual revenue from your idea. I recommend getting to monetization as quickly as possible. Whether that's running a Kickstarter campaign to prove there is demand for the product or selling prototypes, the key is to prove that people will actually pay for what you do or sell. My advice would be to try to prove your revenue stream as soon as possible.
And the second piece of advice would be to pick really good people to work with because you spend a lot of time with your founders. Make sure that they're ethical, hardworking, and people you'd want to spend hours and hours and hours with. I think the vetting process for picking whom you work with is critical.
Cathy: What values do you think are most important to entrepreneurial success?
Emily: I think entrepreneurs have to be very well rounded. So hardworking and creative, they have to be pretty scrappy because you have to do a lot with nothing. You have to be good at creating relationships with people because it's all about creating relationships with your customers, your investors, and your fans. One of the biggest differences I've seen out of entrepreneurs coming out of Seattle U versus some other programs is that they care about people and ethics and values on top of everything else that you have to do to get stuff done.
Cathy: Tell us more about your current business, Mixpo.
Emily: Mixpo is a video advertising technology company. We take commercials and run them online,on tablet and on mobile. Our customers range from local TV stations, to premium publishers like The Discovery Channel and Viacom, to Comcast Spotlight, BrightRoll and Microsoft. We make their video ads run seamlessly and add really cool interactivity. I'm responsible for communications for the company. My job is to build awareness of what we do, create relationships with reporters and find events that are going to be great for us. Recently we've had some great recognition, the Puget Sound Business Journal selected as a one of the 100 fastest growing companies in Washington and Forbes selected Mixpo as one of the most promising companies in America, which is pretty awesome.
Cathy: Is there anything else that we should know?
Emily: I want to stress that real businesses are being formed through Seattle U's Business Plan Competition. The first company that I worked with through the business plan competition, Point Inside, started as an idea -- be the "Google Maps of the indoors." Now the company has over 75 employees in Bellevue, are cash flow positive and working with some of the biggest retailers in the world. Their growth in just four years is very impressive. Seattle U was the launching pad for the company and helped us tool up the business plan and get ready to pitch for investment funding, which we gotthe summer after the competition, and also a few other rounds since then. It's one of the many success stories of what can come out of the business plan competition.
Follow Emily on Twitter @EmilyMarshall10