Staci Hausch and Leah Bell of UQ Marketing
Meet Staci Hausch and Leah Bell of UQ Marketing
, a peer-to-peer marketing agency that specializes in building brands on college campuses.
What is UQ Marketing?
UQ Marketing is a peer-to-peer marketing agency that specializes in building brands on college campuses. We help clients engage college students in an authentic manner by working with influential students to become brand ambassadors. Fun fact: UQ stands for University Quotient. It’s our knowledge of campus culture and what makes every university different and unique.
How did you come up with the idea?
Leah has always been an entrepreneur, even throughout college. She successfully started two businesses while at Miami University
and hired her peers as brand ambassadors for her companies. That model - finding influential students in different pockets on campus - proved to be the best way to reach students in a genuine way. Staci worked for a marketing agency right out of school, and she and Leah decided to combine past experiences to create UQ.
What was the biggest surprise in starting your business?
The biggest surprise was how supportive our community has been of the business. One of our advisors, Brian Zuercher of VenueSeen
, has been so willing to pass along best practices and mentorship along the way. We’re even sharing office space with his team and some other entrepreneurs. It’s amazing how tight knit the entrepreneurial community is.
Where did you find your first employee?
We found our first employee through working with a client. We had gone to Syracuse University to execute a two-week promotion for a client who was launching an app, and we met a newly graduated college student who was helping with the project. We hit it off with him and brought him on to do some side projects with UQ. Being young ourselves, we love working with young talent.
What does a typical day in your business look like?
Depends on the season! In the summer time, where we’re at now, we’re very much in a planning and recruiting phase. A typical day for Staci is talking with students about what positions we’re hiring for in the fall. She manages the campaigns on a student-facing level. Leah is busy developing business and speaking with clients about our fall plans. We travel quite often in the summer and during the semesters as well to visit clients and complete audits on our students during events. A typical day during the academic school year is planning events and managing current Brand Builders, which are our student ambassadors.
What are some of the advantages to doing business in Columbus?
Starting a business in Columbus, especially a collegiate marketing agency like UQ, has been great. There is a growing community of entrepreneurs that is developing here, and it’s really cool to be a part of something. It’s also quite advantageous to have one the largest and best universities just down the street from us.
What resources or organizations in Columbus did you take advantage of and how did they help?
The best resources we’ve found are the networking opportunities. WakeUp Startup
, an event held at the OSU Office of Technology and Commercialization
, has been a great way to meet other entrepreneurs in town. We presented our business concept there earlier this year. We also recently joined the Columbus Chamber
, which has a lot of resources to tap into.
Can you share a funny or amazing entrepreneurial experience with our readers?
When we started our business, Leah was living in Seattle and Staci in Columbus. Staci flew to Seattle to work with Leah on the business plan, and then they drove across the country back to Columbus, stopping at 10 universities to make videos and talk to students. We have a lot of great stories from that road trip, including placing a QR code on the back of Leah’s car so that people could scan it to see their route. We actually had people tweeting to them along the way because of it. But the best part of the trip was receiving a tweet from Entrepreneur Magazine
letting us know that UQ was being featured in their Independence Day Contest. It was quite an experience to start the business that way.
What inspires you?
Every client presents a completely new challenge, and each day is different. Leah loves living the lifestyle of an entrepreneur and having so much control over what happens. What’s most inspiring for Leah is going up against big agencies and being told by clients that UQ has bigger, brighter ideas. There’s nothing that compares to that feedback.
Staci is inspired by the students that she works with. Generation Y sometimes gets a bad wrap for being “lazy and entitled,” but the students UQ recruits constantly surprise us with their work ethic and amazing ideas. After talking with our students on a weekly, sometimes daily basis for an entire academic year, it’s so inspiring to hear from them how great of an experience they had with UQ and the client they represented. It solidifies that what we’re doing is great.
What founders do you admire and why?
There are quite a few! Working with the VenueSeen team in the same office, it’s so inspiring to see the work they’re doing firsthand. Brian’s business is very different from UQ, being a technology company. It’s admiring to see someone build a product that hasn’t existed previously from the ground up.
A client of ours, Getaround
, is a peer-to-peer car sharing service. We met one of the founders, Jessica Scorpio, at South by Southwest, and we admire Getaround’s mission to take one billion cars off the road. They’ve had to jump through a lot of hoops, including writing a law to allow their business to exist, and that kind of enthusiasm is very admirable.
What’s next for you?
We’re thrilled about this upcoming fall semester. We’re working with amazing clients, and the process of finding our student talent in the summer is getting us excited to get back on campus. In addition, UQ is building an internship program at 50 universities across the country, and we can’t wait to get it off the ground. Look out for our Twitter chat - #universitychat - launching in the fall as well.
Interview by Joe Baur