Connect Magazine Technology Fall 2016 - Page 12

MEET ELLIOT BOHM With a master’s degree in education, Bohm always enjoyed making a difference in people’s lives. Yet while being a teacher and professor was interesting and exciting, he sensed there was more opportunity to be found in starting a business—especially one like Having always considered himself an entrepreneur, Bohm felt passionate about finding ways for people to save money. At only 25 years old, he and Ackerman built and became focused and passionate about turning it into a sustainable company offering discounts, providing a positive shopping experience, and supporting an internal team that always works toward success and progress. 12 | SNB.COM // CONNECT TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 Imagining an online marketplace where consumers could immediately sell unwanted gift cards and buy others at a discounted rate, Ackerman and Bohm believed that this untapped market—in 2014, for instance, close to $1 billion in gift cards went unused—could be an industry with a lot of potential. It turns out that they were right. Before diving headfirst into this new venture, they ensured they were working to solve a problem that actually existed by spending time exploring every vertical. To make the dream a reality, they would need capital, an e-commerce website, and fraud protection. With an initial personal investment of only $2,000, they enlisted the help of a freelance developer to create a basic, e-commerce website. Once launched, they focused on generating media coverage for exposure. Without making any investments on marketing efforts, handled more than $1 million in gift card transactions its first year. From these humble beginnings as a basement startup to the current state as one of Forbes’ 100 Most Promising Companies, has experienced significant growth—both internally and externally. Industry Pioneers Blazing the Trail to Success According to co-founder and CEO Bohm, effective growth is grounded in your execution. “It’s really about being on top of your game and being sure that, whatever you do, you execute properly. If you don’t grow 100% year to year, that’s fine. If you don’t execute properly, that’s not fine,” says Bohm. experienced this firsthand when competitors began cropping up around the country. One of those, a Silicon Valley startup named Plastic Jungle, raised more than $30 million in venture capital funding while garnering plenty of attention about their business. By focusing on creating buzz more than developing their core product and service offering, Bohm says the company quickly burned through their capital. moved in to acquire them in 2014. “You have to build a company slowly and you have to build a company smartly. Ultimately, [Plastic Jungle] was an eye-opener that we can’t get distracted. We can’t start looking at what other people are doing,” Bohm says. In fact, Bohm often reminds himself and his team to not direct their attention toward new, rising com