For many students, Sunday night is typically characterized by catching up on schoolwork. But for members of the Wesleyan Entrepreneurship Society (WES2), it’s a time to encourage interested students to get ahead of the professional curve by hosting presentations about entrepreneurship. The first installation of this series was on Sunday, Oct. 27 and focused on aggressive marketing.
WES2 is a student-run organization that brings together students interested in entrepreneurial initiatives. The group meets twice weekly to discuss and generate ideas for members’ individual projects as well as startup business-related current events in the outside world. Since the group’s creation, many members have formed their own startup companies.
“At the beginning, when I started, no one had a start-up,” said founder Katya Sapozhnina ’16. “By now, most people do. When you’re part of a community constantly brainstorming ideas, it’s very easy [to become encouraged to start a project]. The point of the society is to talk to each other.”
The group requires that its members participate in biweekly discussions; this involves signing a non-disclosure agreement about other members’ ideas. However, WES2 welcomes all students to attend its speaker series to generate student interest both in entrepreneurship and in joining the society.
“The speakers are people in the society who have been consistently showing up,” Sapozhnina said. “I try very hard to have a clear picture of what some people are really good at, to make sure people are confident in that.”
WesKaraoke Founder Victor Goh ’16 delivered the presentation at Sunday’s event. Goh wanted to recreate a karaoke environment outside a typical karaoke bar venue to provide students with an alternative way to let loose and have fun.
“In Singapore, we have a very big karaoke culture,” Goh said. “People are paying a lot of money to sing songs in a [certain] kind of environment. I thought about how I could import that system into this school.”
Goh has since recouped his initial capital investment in karaoke equipment, collaborated with the Usdan University Center to host the monthly Usdan Late Night Karaoke, and will be hosting a campus-wide karaoke competition beginning next week. Goh attributed his success to his knowledge of marketing tactics.
“If you’re [marketing] more aggressively, there will be a higher chance of people taking up the product,” Goh said.
In his presentation, Goh argued that the innovative nature of an idea, the reputation of the company, and the generation of good publicity are the three key factors in aggressive marketing. According to Goh, a unique idea is an aggressive idea and one that will pique consumer interest.
“If you’re the second one [to follow a unique idea], people will have already fulfilled their curiosity with the original,” Goh said. “It may not be successful.”
He also emphasized the importance of presentation for a company to uphold its reputation.
“There’s this thing called the herd mentality,” he said. “If you can portray your company as a big company, people think you have gone through a period of expansion because you have demand. Your product or service will seem more valuable.”
On the subject of publicity, Goh suggested that people take advantage of social media networks. Goh stressed that advertising would be most effective when concentrated in niche blogs and websites.
“What you do is to find what kind of service you’re producing, [and] what sort of niche your product is in,” Goh said. “You want to target that niche sector, to tap into that base.”
Goh noted, however, that aggressive marketing may be a controversial method. He provided examples of companies that put fake positive testimonials to lure potential customers and purposefully ignore some customer service requests, so that they appear to be busy with a larger consumer base. Goh stated that he does not condone this behavior but believes that knowledge of unethical aggressive tactics is useful and informative.
“If your product is not established to the point where customers are satisfied by it, even if you do all this aggressive marketing, people will realize it’s not great,” Goh added. “The timing of employing this aggressive marketing is crucial.”
Lecture attendee and member of WES2 Agbon Edomwonyi ’16 responded positively to the presentation and his experience with the group.
“[WES2 is] a good starting platform and also a great community as a way of getting ideas for startups, seeing what people are doing,” he said. “The more people we get, the more intellectual capital we can build on. This being the first presentation is a really great start. Hopefully there will be more.”