In business, your reputation and the reputation of others drives the connections you make and the network you build. In our Smarter Connections content series, we talk with some of the most prominent influencers in our community to learn more about their network, their recommendations, and who & what helps them in business.
We spoke with Chris Ziomek, the director of sales for Promoboxx and expert on all things startup & sales. Chris is a graduate of UMass Amherst – Isenberg School of Management, part of the founding team at (now acquired) CampusLIVE, a leader on the sales team currently at Promoboxx and is a player/coach on a Sunday night men’s soccer team, which he noted is arguably the most thankless job in Boston.
Use 140 characters to sum up your startup experience to-date:
Learned from listening, reading and doing. Made mistakes, replicated successes, stayed interested and confident. Keep a strong network!
Name 2-3 people who got you to where you are today & how:
I am going to deviate from this a little bit. There are plenty of people; business partners, investors, mentors, current colleagues and even close clients who I owe a lot of my growth and success to. Because of this I think the message is to talk to as many people with experience as possible and keep one or two mentors around. A lot of times people at startups know the right decision to make, or understand how to solve certain problems, but without the processes that come with working for larger companies it’s easy to doubt your methods at times. So having a mentor can be a crucial sanity check. Most of the time your gut is right and having someone who has succeeded in a similar scenario tell you your gut is right helps you recreate success so many times over.
Name 2-3 people who you recommend that every professional talk to when finding a startup job in Boston & why.
It’s tough to pick out three people because again my advice is to have as many conversation as possible, but if I had to inflate some ego’s I would go with: a friend and former business partner, Ryan Durkin, head of product at Drizly, Brent Grinna, CEO at Evertrue, and a shameless plug, one of our three founders here at Promoboxx; Ben, Dan, or Sonciary (can’t go wrong with any of them).
- Ryan Durkin pushed the entire CampusLIVE team back in 2009/2010 to spend time networking when not working on the business. Great advice that has opened a lot of doors and also (thankfully) a fairly inexpensive activity since we were sleeping in our office making about $60/week at the time. He is a great connector.
- I’ve known Brent Grinna since Evertrue was an army of one, hoteling around Boston sometimes in the CampusLIVE office. Brent exudes passion for the space him and his team have created within higher-ed and that confidence is contagious.
- Lastly the Promoboxx founders. When I first stepped into the office three years ago – a shared office space with big business amenities such as a bean bag chair and fully stocked bar – I was taken off guard by how well the company was doing. These three have instilled a be-humble, be-a-leader mentality that has allowed this company to compound success in a few years by staying lean and focusing on the things that matter.
Name 2-3 businesses that you love to work/partner with & why:
We love all of our brands here at Promoboxx, but one stand out would be New Balance and not just because of home field advantage! They are open to innovation, new ideas and working out of their comfort zone. We learn as much, if not more from them as I hope they learn from us.
Since you’re running Promoboxx’s sales organization, can you share a tip on growing startup sales:
I carry the most experience on the team and help with much of the day-to-day, but we leave it up to our CRO, Daniel Stevenson to get the job done and run the team from an executive position (also a great person to know when getting involved with startups). Don’t ignore culture, hire talent based on ability to learn and willingness to adjust rather than rolodex. Smart team players go a long way.
More questions for Chris? You can chat with him directly on his VentureApp profile.