Summer Entrepreneurial Experiences

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Week 8: Letting Go of “Grumble”

Monday, August 26, 2013 3:19 pm

This week Ryan and John have been asking me to weigh in with my opinion on a pretty big topic – rebranding Campus Grumble. Although we’re all attached the the current name of the platform, we’ve come to realize through conversations with many users and clients that the term “grumble” isn’t exactly the most positive spin on the concept of submitting feedback. It connotates a bunch of Negative Nancys typing out long-winded, whiny complaints online. This really does not communicate the purpose or function of Campus Grumble’s platform model. So, decisions are being made to change CG’s brand, most notably its name.

When considering new names for the platform we try to keep a few things in mind:

– How easily readable/pronouncable is our new name?
– Can users roughly infer what our product/service is just by hearing or reading the new name?
– Does the name lend itself to unique and catchy taglines? (e.g. mumble this grumble)
– Does the new name accurately reflect our values and purpose?

After asking ourselves these questions, we did some preliminary brainstorming for names. We came up with a list of about 20 possible new names and compiled them into a spreadsheet. Then I did some research regarding the availability of domain names, trademarks, Facebook usernames, and Twitter handles. A name was removed from the list if any one of these was not available. It’s important for the name of the platform to be consistent across the board. It makes more sense to the user and prevents any accidental misdirection on the web.

Finally the list of 20 was narrowed to a list of 5 potential names. Ryan and John then spent time fleshing out the details of each name like what a mumble or grumble would be called under that name, how the logo would look, and what types of free association does the name lend itself to. So far it has been a really difficult process. Everyone on the Campus Grumble team has their own opinion on the matter and we seemingly all have different favorites.

It won’t be easy letting go of the name Campus Grumble, but I know that rebranding is the right decision for the success of the platform. It will open up our users’ minds to change the way they think about giving feedback on campus issues. As of right now, no decision has been made. Hopefully the perfect name that we all agree on will come to mind soon.

Have suggestions of your own? Comment them on this blog post or email them to shelby@campusgrumble.com!

Shelby A. Taylor

Wake Forest University ’14
Bachelor of Arts in Communication
Minors in Entrepreneurship/Social Enterprise and Italian

Week 9: Getting Real Results

Thursday, August 1, 2013 3:00 pm

It has been a great week for the Campus Grumble team and a really rewarding one for me personally. My time and efforts carefully managing the CG Twitter account and writing targeted blog posts are paying off in huge spikes in page views for the website! The summer is a particularly difficult time to engage students in the platform, so site activity has been at an all time low for the past few months. Many students are away from their respective campuses pursuing exciting internships or going on relaxing vacations and just don’t have much to grumble about.

However, there is one segment of college students with their eyes, ears, and minds lazer-focused on getting to campus–incoming freshmen. Right now is the perfect time to introduce the Class of 2017 to Campus Grumble. Not only are these students super eager to learn about their school and interact with classmates, they are also going to become our newest users in just a few weeks! The better they get to know the site, the more likely they are to post grumbles about their experiences on move-in day, orientation, and other freshmen-only events that have not previously been grumbled about.

In order to grab the attention of these incoming freshmen I’ve been tailoring my blog posts to their curious minds’ needs, discussing topics such as move-in day, the freshman 15, and common campus issues that can be found at any school. With SEO tags like “freshman,” “class of 2017,” and “college” our pageviews are going through the roof! Take a look at the analytics below:

The data point corresponding to July 22nd indicates that the site was viewed approximately 315 times that day. The first spike in page views occurred two days later on July 24th, just a few days after I posted the first blog post targeted specifically to freshmen titled “Top 8 Tips For Surviving College Freshmen Move-in Day 2013.” The post quickly rose to the top of the list of most viewed pages on the site, and on July 24th alone brought in over 4,360 page views! A vast improvement from the measly 300 or so we were getting the week before.

John, Ryan, and I knew that we should keep riding this freshman wave as long as we could. So, my next two blog posts were also first-year focused:Top 6 Most Common Issues College Students Grumble About and7 Tips to Avoid the Freshman 15. The latter of which is the reason for the second page view spike on July 30th totaling at nearly 4,800 views. It feels pretty good to be able to say that my work as an intern contributed to these tangible results for Campus Grumble. That kind of activity during the summer months is a huge accomplishment for the team and I’m proud to be a part of it.

Although I’ve already completed 8 weeks of my internship I plan on staying with CG through the next three weeks to support them through freshmen move-in and orientation. Check back for some exciting news in Week 8’s blog post whose publishing has been delayed until Campus Grumble announces the news for themselves first!

Shelby A. Taylor
Wake Forest University ’14
Bachelor of Arts in Communication
Minors in Entrepreneurship/Social Enterprise and Italian

Week 6: Social Media Marketing Made Easy

Thursday, July 25, 2013 9:00 am

Since the 2003 launch of MySpace.com, social media networking sites have been growing as powerful influencers over the public. Gone are the days when Facebook was just for you and your friends. You can now find any of your favorite restaurants, bands, or products on a slew of platforms across the internet. Companies are harnessing social media as tools for marketing and advertising, sometimes ditching traditional methods all-together. The social media craze has even created never-before-existing job positions like those of Social Media Marketing Specialists, Interactive Marketers, and Online Community Managers.

Naturally, an online start-up like Campus Grumble and social media go hand-in-hand. Much of CG’s marketing is done through Facebook and Twitter. It can be difficult to manage all the friends and followers at times, but Ryan and John have discovered a great tool that I’ve had the chance to get to know very well over the past few weeks – ManageFlitter.

ManageFlitter is an all-in-one Twitter management application. I sign in with the CG Twitter credentials and from there I can easily see who we’re following and who is following us.

Here are just a few of my favorite ManageFlitter features:

- Track who has unfollowed CG
– See how many clicks a specific tweet has gotten
– Search for new accounts to follow within our target market
– Quickly follow or unfollow a large number of account holders
– Write tweets and schedule them to post at a specific point in time in the future

However, my all-time favorite (and most useful) feature is PowerPost. PowerPost allows me to see when the majority of Campus Grumble’s Twitter followers are online and active, meaning that’s prime time to post a tweet. This is such helpful information! It keeps Campus Grumble from over posting and blowing up user activity feeds, but also ensures that my posts are getting read by our intended audience. Here’s a screen grab of what a PowerPost in the making looks like:

The top box is where I write out the tweet which always includes a school hashtag and a link to the original grumble. The check box above indicates that I want to be able to see how many people have clicked on this tweet after it’s been posted. The bottom graph is an indicator of when most of Campus Grumble’s followers are on Twitter and the blue button allows me to specify the date and time I want the tweet to go out.

I use PowerPost everyday to feature popular grumbles from any of our schools’ CG pages. They are used to drum up site activity and remind people to keep grumbling over the summer months. Getting to see the analytics on my tweets has been the most rewarding. Some of them have even been retweeted and favorited by a few of our followers!

If you manage multiple Twitter accounts or just want to use your time marketing via social media more effectively, I highly recommend this tool.

Shelby A. Taylor
Wake Forest University ’14
Bachelor of Arts in Communication
Minors in Entrepreneurship/Social Enterprise and Italian

Week 5: Blog-ception

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 1:45 pm

Any company that manages a website will tell you that site traffic is one of the most powerful pieces of data you can track. The more clicks you rack up, the more people you have visiting your site, the more potential users you may gain, meaning more potential sales you might make. In today’s world, people enter websites through two main sources, social media platforms (links from Facebook and Twitter) and from search engines, namely Google.

In order to gain a fair amount of website traffic, you have to make sure your site is SEO, or search engine optimized. Have you ever given thought to why links appear in the order they do when you search something on the internet? The sites with the highest SEO appear at the top. SEO is determined by a combination of factors such as:

– The frequency and location of keywords within the page (relevance)
– How long the web page has existed
– The number of other web pages that link to the page in question

Campus Grumble has been working hard to better their SEO, and thus become a more easily accessible site from search engines. One way I have been contributing is by blogging (go figure)! Writing blog posts that connect Campus Grumble and our target user, the college student, engages visitors, helps raise awareness of the site, and opens the door to becoming a more frequent result in internet searches.

So far I’ve written five posts (and Ryan and John keep the orders coming!). Each new posts has tags to keywords within the text and title that make searching the page easier. After I finish writing all of the content, I forward the post to Ryan and John for them to read, add images, and post on the official site and CG’s social media platforms. The posts have been a success, especially my most recent post titled “Top 8 Tips For Surviving College Freshmen Move-in Day 2013.” We hope that writing blog posts geared toward incoming freshmen will help get the word out about Campus Grumble to the Class of 2017 before they even arrive on campus. This will be our first freshman class to use the site from the start of their college careers!

Needless to say, my blogging skills have improved enormously this summer. If you enjoy reading these posts or know a current or incoming college student, visit my Campus Grumble blog at www.blog.campusgrumble.com to read more!

Shelby A. Taylor
Wake Forest University ’14
Bachelor of Arts in Communication
Minors in Entrepreneurship/Social Enterprise and Italian

Week 4: Getting the Lay of the Land

Monday, July 8, 2013 8:02 pm

After conducting last week’s competitive analysis and writing up an executive summary of my findings, Ryan decided that it would be a good idea for me to create a visual way for investors and clients to digest all that data. He suggested creating a competitive landscape, which is an easy-to-read portrait of where a company is positioned within its market. I’ve had experience reading and creating these types of graphs in my entrepreneurship classes at Wake, so it made putting one together pretty easy.

The first thing Ryan and I determined was what the axis were to be labeled. Based on our users’ behaviors and what Campus Grumble does as a platform, we decided it would be best to showcase one landscape contrasting how targeted our competitors are on institutions of higher education and how interactive their feedback platform is. Based on these two factors, Campus Grumble is positioned well in its market, making it appear distinct and a leader among its competitors. Take a look at the landscape below… The farther right a competitor’s logo, the more that platform is tailored for institutions of higher education. The farther up the logo, the more interactive the feedback platform (think commenting, upvoting, “liking,” etc…)

Doing this landscape gave me a great lesson in positioning. In order for a product or service to survive out there, it have to operate in a unique space in the market and do so well. Hopefully now, with this graphic, potential schools and investors will be able to see that Campus Grumble is trying to fill a void in the online feedback platform market and that their service is one of the best and most interactive one can find.

Shelby A. Taylor
Wake Forest University ’14
Bachelor of Arts in Communication
Minors in Entrepreneurship/Social Enterprise and Italian

Week 3: A Day in the Life + The Crunch

Tuesday, June 18, 2013 2:45 am

If you’ve been following along with my blog posts, you know that I’m working for an internet start-up that targets colleges and universities all over the country. You might be wondering where it is I actually work. For you Curious Georges out there here is a break down of my morning:

I wake up around 8:00 AM, roll out of bed, and head down to the Taylor Hall lounge to make some coffee. I’m living in a residence hall on Wake Forest’s campus this summer so I’m constantly being reminded that my bosses John and Ryan were students right here just a little over a year ago. I’ll usually take my coffee upstairs where I open my ThinkPad and get on Skype. Because Ryan lives in Raleigh and John lives in Charlotte, we are constantly using Skype chat and video calls to communicate. Around 9:00 AM I get a Skype call from Ryan and John. We catch up on what’s happened since we last talked and what our agenda for the day is. Campus Grumble uses a system called Asana to help organize tasks. Being an obsessive list-maker, I love it. It’s a super easy way to communicate what needs to get done and it feels pretty darn good when I get to click the check mark next to a task once I’ve completed it. For the rest of the day I’m pretty much on my own. Ryan and John give me a lot of creative license in the work they ask me to do. We will chat back and forth throughout the day until it’s time to call it quits. I may enjoy the luxury of working from my bed in my pajamas some days, but Ryan, John, and I are all still working 9 to 5 days.

That’s what a typical day at Campus Grumble looks like for me. Now for what I worked on this week:

After data mining over 500 student government websites last week, I finally had the opportunity to crunch the numbers all of us at Campus Grumble have been waiting to see. I compiled the data from my various spreadsheets and notes to calculate some percentages related to how other colleges and universities connect with their students. Some of the numbers were surprising, for example only 4% of the schools I researched use a direct competitor platform. At first this number seemed a little disappointing. In my head I imagined finding more “exciting” numbers, but I quickly realized that I had! By far the most utilized feedback tool I came across was social media. Over 90% of the schools I surveyed had one or more social media profiles, mainly Facebook and Twitter. This is great news for Campus Grumble, which we affectionately describe as “An online student suggestion box on social media steroids.” CG is harnessing the power and popularity of social media in the way it works. With a new, more interactive interface set to launch in August, the site is going to become even more addicting to surf. What brings people together on Facebook is the same thing that brings people together on Campus Grumble – they share something in common, whether it’s their hometown, some family members, or their college campus, people like to connect with each other. What better way to connect than realizing you’ve been grumbling about the same things?

Shelby A. Taylor
Wake Forest University ’14
Bachelor of Arts in Communication
Minors in Entrepreneurship/Social Enterprise and Italian

Week 2: The Not-So-Glamorous Life of a Young Entrepreneur

Monday, June 10, 2013 3:11 am

Everyone has their own idea of what an entrepreneur is. Most would describe an entrepreneur as a young, new-business-owning, inventor of some new and fascinating product. Some might picture a person who drives a sports car and works whenever he/she feel like it, but he truth is…those are just myths. Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes. Young or old, rich or poor, educated or uneducated; The one thing that all entrepreneurs have in common is an insane passion for their venture and the guts to take some serious(ly calculated) risks.

For those of you who may not know, the company I am working for, Campus Grumble, is a start-up created by two 2012 Wake Forest Graduates, John Kirkpatrick and Ryan Edwards. They, like myself, studied entrepreneurship at Wake, and saw it taking their futures in an exciting direction. In fact, the very idea of Campus Grumble actually was born in one of their e-ship classes!

Despite being business owners in their early twenties, John and Ryan work just as hard (if not harder) than anyone else I know. Their company is much more than a job for them, it’s a lifestyle. They live, eat, and breathe Campus Grumble every day. In my opinion, all their hard work is paying off. With the site having been launched just six months ago, Campus Grumble is already changing the way the world of higher education functions. I’ve been a personal witness to their success on WFU’s campus. The platform has allowed students to voice their opinions and concerns in a way that connects them directly to the people who can help solve them, such as administrators and department heads. Have you been enjoying the grilled chicken now served every day at the Pit’s grille? You can thank Campus Grumble for that.

Luckily, in my last e-ship class, Foundations of Entrepreneurship with John Ceneviva, I learned that living the life of an entrepreneur isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Having those myths debunked definitely prepared me for the work I’ve be doing this week. For the last 5 days I’ve been visiting college, after colleges’ student government websites checking to see if their school uses any competitor platforms, such as UserVoice or IdeaScale. I typed and clicked all day long; back and forth between my browser and a Google spreadsheet. After about the 300th site, I could feel the carpal tunnel setting in. However, I knew that as tedious as my first assignment was, it was important to the success of Campus Grumble.

I’m excited to see what next week and the rest of my internship have in store for me!

Shelby A. Taylor
Wake Forest University ’14
Bachelor of Arts in Communication
Minors in Entrepreneurship/Social Enterprise and Italian

Week 1: New Kid on the Block

Tuesday, June 4, 2013 2:31 pm

It was the first day of classes after a long summer vacation at home. I looked down at my schedule to see what building my next class was in and was confused to find Winston listed.

“An entrepreneurship class in the biology building?”

Despite my unsettling doubt, I made my way to class only to find out my schedule was in fact, correct. The class was Creativity & Innovation with Jan Detter. It was my very first entrepreneurship course, but would certainly not be my last. If you had asked me that day if I saw myself interning with a start-up, I would have told you no way. The risky, unpredictable life of an entrepreneur directly contradicted my Type A, planner personality. Luckily, a lot has changed since that day almost a year ago.

A little about myself:

My name is Shelby Taylor and I’m a rising senior majoring in Communication with a double minor in Entrepreneurship & Social Enterprise and Italian. I grew up in a small, rural town on a horse farm located in Southern Maryland, and graduated from the same middle and high school as many of my family members a generation before me did. From an early age I had way too many interests (I was that kid that LOVED going to school). Content to be able to continue learning about any subject I wanted, I came to Wake Forest without a specific major or career field in mind. Two years, and many exciting classes later, the day I had been dreading since graduation was upon me: major declaration day. In my mind, declaring a major was like chiseling my life path in stone (don’t worry, I later realized that this kind of thinking is so wrong).

That first entrepreneurship class fundamentally changed the way I thought about my future. As I progressed through the E-ship minor I found myself more and more intrigued by the thought of working for myself. By the time summer rolled around, I was convinced that I wanted to intern with a start-up. Working for a start-up isn’t exactly the picture of job stability, but I knew that if I wanted to be successful on my own in the future, I needed to get my hands dirty now.

The Internship:

This past spring I was in yet another life-changing entrepreneurship class; Design Thinking and High Performance Teams with Evelyn Williams. While this was probably one of the most time consuming 3 credit hour courses I’ve ever taken (or will take in the future), it was by far the best. Professor Williams and the Office of Academic Advising challenged us to redesign the accepted student experience (the time between getting your letter and the first day of class). My group, Team Synergy, came up with one solution modeled after the website Campus Grumble, an online platform for voicing and solving issues that affect your college campus. I knew about the site from the plethora of posters advertising it in buildings all over campus and found reading all of the “grumbles” to be incredibly addicting.

When it came time for me to find a summer internship I picked up the phone and gave Campus Grumble a call. I had heard that the 3-month-old company was the brainchild of two recent WFU alums, and thought my chances of scoring a job with them were pretty good. A few emails and one phone conversation later, I happily accepted a Brand Ambassador internship with them.

I can’t say for sure what it is I will be doing for them this summer (hey, that’s the life of an entrepreneur!), but I already know this will be an experience I really grow from.

Shelby A. Taylor
Wake Forest University ’14
Bachelor of Arts in Communication
Minors in Entrepreneurship/Social Enterprise and Italian
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