The Business of Helping Other Businesses

Thursday, April 1, 2010

For Tony Black and Andrew Rowe, helping Twin Cities firms market themselves is the cornerstone of DealStork.com, their web-based company. DealStork.com gives businesses such as restaurants, retailers, and service providers the opportunity to post “deals.” Consumers need to purchase a set number of deals before they are “activated.” If the number of purchases is not met, the business does not pay a fee for running the promotion. If it is met, the business receives a portion of the amount collected, and the deals are honored for the customers.

Coming up with the idea was based primarily on personal experience. “We have had experience with family and friends who own businesses and have struggled to find an effective marketing solution with little or no upfront costs,” Black says. “In Minnesota, there were few options that provided a trackable, low-cost solution for business owners.”

While they did find some similar programs around the country, none had yet penetrated the Minneapolis market. Sensing an opportunity, they launched DealStork.com in December 2009, and have been working diligently to build their customer base.

Black and Rowe met each other at the Carlson School through the Alpha Kappa Psi coed business fraternity. Black was vice president of finance for the 2002-2003 school year and president in 2003-2004. Rowe served as vice president of finance in 2005-2006. Since graduation, Black has been working for Securian Financial Group as a retirement consultant, and Rowe was a financial analyst for Best Buy before moving to Chicago with his wife. He is now a financial analyst for the Follett Higher Education Group.

One of the best features of the Carlson School is how well you are trained and prepared for the business world.

Andrew Rowe

Despite having full-time jobs of their own and being separated by 700 miles, they’ve kept Dealstork.com going. “The Carlson School provided all of the necessary building blocks to be able to successfully run a business,” Rowe says. “We both majored in entrepreneurial management, which provided a great foundation for analyzing the validity of this venture.”

Black adds that the numerous team projects and presentations they worked on in college also have helped. “The skills that we gained from team projects and being comfortable delivering presentations has been a huge benefit for us,” he says. “One of the best features of the Carlson School is how well you are trained and prepared for the business world,” Rowe says, noting that the emphasis on creating a resume, interview practice, extracurricular activities, mentorship programs, networking, and internships sets up students to be leading candidates for the jobs and careers they want to pursue. “We feel the Carlson School fully prepared us to build a business from the ground up.”

From Bootstraps to Billions

Bootstrap to Billions: Proven Rules from Entrepreneurs who Built Great Companies from Scratch

by Dileep Rao, senior lecturer, Department of Strategic Management and Organization

What’s the secret to successful entrepreneurship? The Carlson School’s Dileep Rao went right to the source for answers. From the stories of entrepreneurs who have built some of the world’s great companies, this book shows entrepreneurs how they can control and build a business from scratch. Featuring an in-depth look at 28 entrepreneurs (most of whom didn’t receive venture capital), the book details how each bootstrapped and used alternate financing options to grow. They instead relied on the fundamentals: finding the right market, designing a sound strategy, and developing the organizational culture and leadership with capital-efficient strategies.