Student marketing startup finds success

BY Demi Michelle Manglona

A senior and two former students — one from UT and another from Indiana University of Pennsylvania — used their education and entrepreneurial skills to start an online marketing business, It’s More Than Marketing (IMT Marketing, Just a week into their opening, their firm is serving over 10 clients, helping other companies flourish alongside their own. The team is partnered with Tabanero Cigars, Traditions Entertainment and others.

The team includes Christian Maldonado, a senior accounting major; UT alum Anthony Ocasio, ‘17; and Alan Cooper, who dropped out of Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

IMT’s mission statement is to “build, promote and convert.” The firm helps businesses to build an online presence by growing their social media and building platforms for their content.

As the company name states, it digs deeper than basic marketing. According to Maldonado, chief finance officer, what sets their establishment apart from other marketers in Tampa is its method and what IMT offers — management within the business, accounting for financial information, and logistics — whereas its competitors only focus on one aspect: marketing.

“Although they say ‘everyone has a competitor,’ I don’t believe we have a direct competitor because of all the services we offer. It seems like every other business is generic,” Maldonado said. “We are result-driven.”

From 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Cooper calls both existing and potential clients, building rapport with people and companies. Through consultations, the team builds relationships with their customers. “We discuss what [the clients] need, what they think they need, and what they don’t actually need,” said Maldonado.

By managing their clients’ accounts, communicating and showing quantitative results, the team is able to satisfy their patrons consistently.

“What I tell them during a sale is what they expect,” Ocasio said. “You need to build trust with your clients in order to maintain a relationship with them. Trust is the biggest thing atIMT, as it should be in every business.”

Every member of the team reiterated that referrals are a large part of establishing a partnership, which is how they were able to partner with large local companies such as Traditions Entertainment — a promotions group that throws nightlife events in locations clubs like The Outpost Tap House next to UT. IMT gets referrals on a regular basis, but Maldonado said he’s had to personally turn over 10 interested consumers down.

“[The clients] either request too much or too little, and on both ends, there are no growth factors,” Maldonado said.

In a year, the team predicts IMT will be worth a quarter million based off of their monthly revenue and connections. Their goals are to double their client size, open a physical office space and become a major marketing name in Tampa.

Each member of the team began their professions separately. They have been involved with sales and marketing since they started their college education. Combined, the group has over six years of marketing, accounting and sales experience, culminating together and creating. From their individual work, they pushed their buyers together to create a foundation for IMT. According to the members, it wasn’t hard convincing the clients to continue business with IMT as merged into a bigger company.

“They don’t care what happens internally as long as they are still looking good externally,” Maldonado said.

When Ocasio attended UT, he worked several internships to partner with companies. He believes that in order to run a successful business, one must “create the brand, stand behind it, and build it.”

Through academic clubs and networking, he made connections, travelled, and pulled in clients along the way.

“College won’t teach you entrepreneurship,” he said. “You have to [focus on] one job and do it well. Work harder on yourself than at your job, and that will translate.”

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