After interning at the public relations firm Beckerman in the fall of 2011, senior Billy Marchant was struck by an idea: he wanted to start his own company, in which he would work with social media. By December, Marchant was running with the idea, and shortly after he had started Digital Marketing Strategies, managing social media sites for non-profit companies.
Marchant, who hails from the Boston suburb of Norwood, got the idea for his company when he was offered the job of handling the social media website for The Diamond Club, a non-profit organization that supports baseball in Norwood, which Marchant’s father is the treasurer of.
“I was thinking about doing it (starting my own business), but never had everything together,” Marchant said. “So, once I got asked to do (The Diamond Club’s) Facebook and Twitter, I was like oh yeah, you know I’ll start, because I had all the experience in the world.”
Previously, Marchant worked as an intern at Futures Collegiate Baseball League and Beckerman handling social media. “I learned the ins and outs of everything and I was like you know what? I can do this on my own,” he said.
“I think Billy is a good example for students,” said Dr. Kathleen Rennie, a professor of public relations at Seton Hall. “What I always tell students is, you don’t have to know what you want to do in life necessarily, but really think about what you’re good at and what’s going to make you happy everyday doing something that you love to do. Billy is a great example for all students at the university in terms of identifying what he was good at and what he liked to do and then he went for it.”
Marchant said he wants to eventually expand the business to different clientele, but for now, he loves working with non-profit organizations and is trying to get involved with more non-profit companies.
“I love giving back. When I was younger, growing up I wanted to be a fire fighter or police officer, because I love helping people when someone needs something,” he said. “This world’s money-hungry right now. I love giving back.”
Although Digital Marketing Strategies is small right now and Marchant does all the work himself, he has big plans for his company after he graduates in May. He said he wants to hire people to join him on his endeavor toward growing the business.
“I have a couple people interested-one of my roommates, a couple of marketing students who are top of the class at Stillman, and I want to make it like a Seton Hall thing and hire a lot of Seton Hall kids,” Marchant said. “I want it to grow. I want this to work, but we have to find something unique about the company and why people would want to come to us.”
Marchant’s company has already given him quite a bit of experience. He has written a political pitch, worked with real estate, consumer, health care, sports, and is currently working on a cancer walk for Fenway Park. He said the biggest benefit to starting his business is getting this kind of experience.
“The more experience, the better. It’s not so easy running your own business, but I would rather start now, shake off everything and then be on a roll when I get out of college,” Marchant said. “Because a lot of companies don’t have social media teams, they have to go out and hire. Social media is blown up right now. It’s the hottest thing out there, might as well start right now.”
Career Center advisor Sandra Maloney said there are benefits to Marchant starting his company now.
“Employers want to see initiative and drive from today’s students,” she explained. “For Billy to build his own business and market himself as an expert in this field can boost his ‘brand’ and show employers that he can be an asset to their organization. Even if this does not become his only job, he is networking and building a niche in his field.”
Marchant said his professors have helped him accomplish the basics in his company. He cites Dr. Rennie as especially helpful, as she was there to answer his questions. He said he started his blog in Professor Kenneth Hoffman’s class, and Professor Bridget Burt helped him design his logo and work on a newsletter for his company. Marchant stressed that students can benefit from working with professors.
“My advice would be just to take in everything Seton Hall has to offer and use it to the best of your ability. Absorb everything you learn in class and translate it to the new world,” he said. For future entrepreneurs, he reasons, “We are young and we have nothing to lose.”
Marchant said he loves seeing new things succeed. “I’m just going after what I want.”
To “like” Marchant Digital Strategies visit www.facebook.com/Marchant DigitalStrategies, read his blog at socialmediarightnow.wordpress.com or follow his Twitter @mdigistrat.
Patrice Kubik can be reached at patrice. email@example.com.