Featured on Jan 09, 2013
"A major key to success in building your business is always partnerships!"
Sean started his career as an investment banker at Citigroup. From there he moved to the buy-side where he invested capital in numerous distressed companies across multiple industries. After investing in a number of technology and digital media companies, he decided to branch off to develop and build his own companies. His first was an online trading and information platform for hedge funds in the leveraged loan space. From there he launched UPlanMe, with his cofounder. UPlanMe, is a technology platform for brands and business to seamlessly manage and promote their events, specials and updates across the digital universe.
- Title: Co-Founder, UPlanMe
- Age: 30
- Location: SoHo
- Contact: @SeanBarkulis
Your quote mentions that the key to success is always partnerships. Do you have any advice for new startup founders on how to secure partnerships?
Partnerships are a great way to gain additional distribution for your product and to grow your customer base. I’ve found that the best ways to go about forming partnerships are through the following: 1) Identify which companies would be ideal partners. Notice that ‘partnership’ implies a two-way streak. Your start-up should be able to provide some strategic benefit in order for the more established company to work with you. 2) Identify the right person in the organization to reach out to. Always be networking and see if you can identify a mutual linked-in contact to make an intro. Response rates are much higher that way. 3) TAKE EVERY MEETING! It doesn’t matter how removed an individual may be from your company, you never know who they know and how they can help. I say this to seasoned entrepreneurs and executives, as well. Find time to meet with people who reach out, even if you think they are “beneath you”. We’ve had many great partnerships come about from random meetings.
On your Twitter profile you mention that you're knowledgable in all things B2B, tech, and small business. What would you say you're knowledgable about that isn't work related?
As I’ve spent the past few years focusing on a platform that helps brands and businesses navigate online marketing, I’ve learned a ton about the space. Before that, however, I started my career in finance where I focused on investing in distressed companies. Finance and math have always been a huge interest of mine, so I continue to watch the market and analyze potential debt and equity investments. While my capital is clearly tied up in my start-up, I still pay active attention to the market and create sample portfolio investments just for the fun of it!
Where did the idea for UPlanMe come from? What's the plan for UPlanMe in 2013?
UPlanMe originally started as a consumer-facing app attempting to tackle the crowded “event space”. We quickly realized that this was a daunting task. In the process of building our app, though, we found that both brands and businesses were having an extremely difficult time navigating the hyper-local marketing space. We saw that as an opportunity to pivot our product and focus on building out technology for both Small-Medium-Businesses (“SMBs”) and national brands to manage and promote their events, specials, sales and updates across the digital universe, all without leaving UPlanMe. This is where partnerships have come in handy. We’ve built out technology to simplify how our customers manage and promote their advertising efforts to grow their customers. Through distribution partnerships, this technology will soon be in front of 28.0 million local businesses. We’ve also secured partnerships to place our paying business customers’ content in front of 4.5 million consumers (and growing). 2013 is exciting year for us as we have begun charging customers and growing revenue and profitability. We will continue to focus on building out our product and growing our customer base.