What It's About
Two college students turn cars into moving billboards.
Words of Wisdom
Marketing in one form or another is necessary for any growing business, and Greg has been lucky enough to be in the room with prospective clients as they gear up for big marketing pushes.
His recommendations for creating a strong campaign are: 1) take out your personal bias, 2) keep it simple, 3) create a buzz, 4) tell a story, and 5) the more data, the better.
Greg and Mac named their first company PenguinAds. As you can imagine, nobody could tell what they did. They then changed their name to Carvertise after realizing that it was short, catchy, and could even become a verb in itself.
Notes from Chris
When University of Delaware student Greg Star signed up for an entrepreneurship class, he wasn’t expecting to walk away with a business idea. But when he heard a fellow student, Mac Nagaswami, bring up an idea for mobile advertising, Greg jumped. This was an opportunity he thought was too good to be missed. The idea was simple and can be explained in four words: put ads on cars. Greg and Mac were inspired by how U-haul had managed to build up such great brand recognition even though they did no advertising, except on those trucks that they owned. To them, cars were an overlooked medium of advertising. They were able to get into areas that buses and billboards just couldn’t. Why hadn’t anyone done this before? As they found out, it was a simple idea, but one that was difficult to execute. They even had a name in mind: Carvertise. They started by printing and distributing flyers on campus to see if there were people who were interested in putting ads on their cars for money. The reaction was mixed at first. Cars, like clothing, are usually seen as a reflection of the individual’s style and personality. But Greg and Mac soldiered on and started to get community institutions such as schools and hospitals on board as advertisers. Although this provided initial proof of concept, it was still doubtful if they could turn it into a full-scale business. Their break came later when they received a reply after emailing the Head of Economic Development in Delaware. Greg had made a list of “people to know” by looking at the boards of universities, non-profit organizations, and government officials and sent them notes. This yielded results when the cabinet secretary for economic development put them in touch with the local Shoprite CEO. It was the first big deal that Greg and Mac struck after 1.5 years of hard work and they were elated. But it was also time for them to prove that the advertisers were right to place their trust in the two of them. They’d never run a full-on campaign and were extremely nervous. With hard work and some luck, they managed to pull it off. The next few early deals followed the same pattern. They would reach out to prospects, play the numbers game, and hope to get a favorable response. Although it was exhausting getting rejections and worse, ignored, the strategy yielded enough results to continue. But along the way, something else also happened. Word had gotten out, and soon enough, Greg and Mac were getting referrals. It also helped when the duo switched their recruitment plan from handing out flyers to digital advertising. This significantly increased their reach and allowed them to onboard new drivers for new campaigns. Next, they made a decision that had immediate positive results. Greg noticed that Uber and Lyft drivers were already driving all day, and so it would be especially useful to have rideshare drivers spread the word about their advertisers. When they decided to market to these drivers in 2018, the size of their company tripled. This year, the number of drivers with Carvertise is set to double again, and the company is also set to make $5 million in revenue. As they say, “We’re living in a time now where if you own a car, you can own your company.” They’ve certainly contributed to that statement as they typically pay drivers an additional $100-150/month, and sometimes even up to $500 a month for bigger campaigns. As of now, they’ve paid out over $1.5 million to everyday people for just having an advertisement on a car. From handing out flyers as university students to now having brand names such as EA Sports and 7 Eleven, it’s been quite the ride for Greg and Mac.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Carvertise: Learn more about this "ad-on-the-go" side hustle over on Greg's website!
- Sound Engineer Makes $80,000/Year Handing Out Free Maps: A former sound engineer in Texas maps out a successful career by providing free information guides for hotel guests. The guides are underwritten by advertisers, who pay for their business to get in front of out-of-town guests
- Coupon Code Site Earns Copious Profits: A marketing exec sits on a domain name for 11 years before finally turning it into a profitable coupon finding site
- “Netflix of Restaurants” Side Hustle Earns $50,000/Year: A contest idea turns into a restaurant recommending algorithm, earning its creator an extra $50,000/year
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