In Conversation with Mollie Kehoe & Lynn Browne of BrandVerge
Describe your business in a few words?
BrandVerge is a marketplace and analytics tool for premium marketing programs.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
We both went to Penn State and majored in Advertising/Communications. After college we ended up on opposite sides of the Media and Advertising industry. Mollie started her career at Meredith in marketing and sales, and Lynn began hers as a planner at Zenith Media. We both fell in love with the industry and how it was changing. From the rise of mobile to the expansion of social and programmatic, we watched brands and media partners continuously evolve as the media ecosystem expanded. As the industry shifted, we both noticed that operationally, the process for buying and selling media stalled. This impacted how effective we were able to be at our jobs, and our colleagues felt the same, so we decided to reinvent how media programs are discovered and planned with BrandVerge.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
Lynn Browne, co-founder of BrandVerge, has over ten years of digital marketing experience across various disciplines and industries. Lynn’s career began at Publicis-owned Zenith Media, during which time the agency’s digital media services ramped up to become a key agency offering. Her passion for digital marketing and the fast-paced nature of retail led Lynn to transition to a client-side role at Macy’s, where she led innovative updates to legacy programs and worked across the marketing organization to develop highly engaging digital-first programs.
Mollie Kehoe, co-founder of BrandVerge, has over ten years of advertising sales and management experience with various publishing and digital organizations such as Meredith Corporation, Sporting News and AdTheorent. Mollie began her career in advertising at Fitness and MORE Magazines, where she discovered her passion for client-facing sales roles. Later she moved to online publisher Sportingnews.com in a new business role. In 2012, Mollie became one of the first employees at AdTheorent, a mobile technology firm, where she got her first taste of “startup life,” helping grow the company from seven to over 150 employees, and successfully leading a large team as Director of the New York Sales Region for three years.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Neither of us started our careers with the intention of starting our own company. But once we realized the problems we were facing were universal, and no one had set out to solve it, we felt like we were the best two people for the job!
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
We like to say one of our favorite things about being entrepreneurs is that your problems are constantly changing, and the mistakes you make are always new. We remember the day we launched our product… we looked at each other and we were worried that nobody was going to ever log on. You learn that, over time, you simply address those challenges as they come and move onto the next. It’s actually common that you’ll never think about that problem again – which certainly was the case with that one.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
We are so proud of our team and everything they do to help us make BrandVerge a great tool for our clients. Our team believes in our mission and is full of amazing ideas. Some of the best ideas and products within our organization have come from our team members. We are so lucky to have them!
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Like many industries, COVID-19 has forced everyone to work from home and connect virtually. The media and advertising industry is historically reliant on in-person deal-making, so this shift in behavior has put our tool front and center. The same way Zoom has become a host for meetings in a completely virtual business world, BrandVerge gives advertisers and media companies the ability to communicate and deal-make digitally.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
Right now we help to facilitate deal-making for digital and audio marketing programs. Over the next few years, we plan to expand our offering to include all media-types. ultimately making us the go-to destination for planning all your premium marketing campaigns.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
Our experience as first time female founders has really taught us to practice what we call the “Kindness Currency.” We try to help people in whatever way we can, whenever we can, whether that be through introductions, helping people with their business plans or general advice. Especially with everything going on in the world, we want to add kindness to it wherever we can.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
Don’t be too hard on yourself when things go badly. It’s ok to make mistakes. You will make them multiple times throughout your career. Acknowledge them, learn from them and move on. We are all doing the best we can and sometimes you’re going to disappoint yourself. It’s ok, it won’t be the end of the world.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
We strongly believe in work/life balance. You can’t do it all and you can’t take on everyone. One thing we learned early on is that delegation is key. We learned to surround ourselves with people who have knowledge in areas we do not and to allow them to show us best practices or generate ideas where their expertise lies. Surrounding ourselves with people who excel in areas outside our areas of expertise has been extremely beneficial to our business and our mental health. We can both close our computers at the end of the day, or take a day-ff, and rest assured that the team has it covered!
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
We were college roommates and met on our on first day freshman year!
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
1. Surround Yourself with Smart People. We’ve surrounded ourselves with people who excel in areas we don’t and in people who we learn from every single day. This continues to make us better leaders.
2. Talk Less, Listen More. It’s your job to pay attention to what other people say, especially those who think their views don’t count. Show you’re listening by acting on what people tell you, and gain their trust by giving them the credit.
3. Give the Team a Sense of Purpose. Your team knows what they do and how to do it, but you can make a big difference by reinforcing their purpose, sharing a strong sense of why they’re doing it and where it’s heading. Help them develop a broad understanding of the team’s purpose, and faith in how their role contributes to the whole
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Being strong, confident and lifting other women up!