On Tuesday, November 15, the Saint Mary’s Chapter of the American Marketing Association (SMCAMA) hosted its second annual Start-Up Business Marketing Event. Many members of the Saint Mary’s community gathered in Hagerty Lounge to listen to guest speaker Jake Gasaway, MBA '10, co-founder of local start-up business Stitch Labs, a software company that helps small businesses manage inventory, invoices, orders and more.
He talked about how to make the most of the position that you are in, the importance of leadership roles, and transitioning from a large corporation to a small start-up.
As a former Western Michigan University college football player, Jake passed up a chance to try out for the NFL when realizing his “talent” could land him in a different direction, one in which he could make an impact in the business world. In his junior year of college, Jake was able to land an internship at Kraft Foods. As his first real job experience, Kraft Foods gave Jake the tools he needed to transition to Phillip Morris after graduation. At Phillip Morris, one of the biggest tobacco brands in the world, he worked hard to develop sales and leadership skills. Jake stressed to the audience of millennials, “Get as good as you can at the job that you’re in, because if you do that opportunities will open up for you [instead of looking for your next move].” Smiling he added, “Oh, and if you tell someone in an interview you're willing to move anywhere, you better mean it.” After two years as a sales representative in the Grand Rapids area, Jake was relocated to South Dakota and promoted to unit manager, in charge of a team of five. He highlighted that the benefit of working for Phillip Morris, a large corporation, was that it allowed him to get into a management role quickly. After fifteen months as a unit manager, Jake moved to San Francisco to further his personal life, and took an analyst role at another industry leading company, Campbell Soup Inc.
Once Jake got a feel for the “real business world,” he decided to return to school to earn his MBA. In most undergraduate settings the focus is on grades, but in graduate school the focus is on learning and bettering your skills. He offered wise words to the audience of undergraduate students when he said that an MBA is much more valuable after having worked in the business industry. With an enhanced skill set, an MBA and desire to make a larger impact in a smaller company, Jake teamed up with a friend and started Stitch Labs.
As the presentation came to an end, Jake reminded listeners to not be afraid to veer off the beaten path. Enjoy the ride, he said, for we only have one life to live!
By: Ally Short
SMCAMA Vice President/ VP of External Relations and PR