On Wednesday, November 16, 2022, the School of Business sponsored the third and final Entrepreneur Lecture of the Fall 2022 semester with alumna Mariya Palanjian. Mariya, who is the Founder & CEO of Globafly and Roma Leaf, received her Bachelor of Science in Business and Management from the School of Business in 2001 and then went on to receive her MBA from the School of Business in 2004. During her lecture, Mariya explained how Globafly and Roma Leaf came to be, shared her philosophy for starting a new business, and provided students with advice.
Mariya encourages all aspiring entrepreneurs to look for problems that need solving and find solutions to those problems. While working for the New York Times in 2017, Mariya was spearheading a large influencer campaign when the client asked if it was possible to get data to see if the campaign was working. Mariya knew that, if the campaigns were done at the city level, it would be easier to see the data and results. This was how she acquired the idea for the city takeover.
Mariya was also aware that she wanted to start her own business, so she went on to launch the marketing agency Globafly, and was proud to find that her previous employer became one of her clients! Globafly focuses on “smart city takeovers.” Instead of paying larger influencers to promote products for larger brands, these takeovers pay members of communities and small businesses to use and share their experience with products. By doing this, not only is a brand able to bring attention to its products, but it also helps to positively impact communities by generating revenue for the individuals and small businesses that promote the products on behalf of the brands.
Similarly, in the spirit of finding solutions to problems, Mariya started a second business with her husband, Roma Leaf, an organic hemp CBD brand. She shared her experience with debilitating migraine headaches. After struggling to find a prescription medication that adequately met her needs, Mariya decided to search for CBD products to alleviate her condition. Mariya wanted a natural product that was free of THC but failed to find one on the market that consistently worked for her. From this problem, Mariya decided to create her own solution by launching a brand that met her own needs. Having originally started in pharmacies and chiropractic offices, Mariya launched her brand online at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and eventually opened a flagship store.
Mariya encourages young entrepreneurs who want to start a business of their own to study their competition to see what they are working on and then find ways to do it better. She also encourages young entrepreneurs to invest in themselves and get an education. In addition, she encourages entrepreneurs to use the resources that are available to them such as free mentorship programs through the Small Business Administration.
To wrap up her presentation, Mariya selflessly shared some valuable insights and cautioned about common pitfalls budding entrepreneurs encounter. Among her tips for starting entrepreneurs were:
1) Develop a business canvas: make sure you define what problem you are tackling and examine all angles you can think of.
2) Find mentors: Make sure you maintain a network with professionals and experts in the field of your interest, who you can talk to.
3) Develop a business plan and a marketing plan: Too many budding entrepreneurs lost a lot of money because they did not assess their expenses, risks, and opportunities, and failed to analyze the competition.
4) Hire slow and fire fast: Make sure you know the persons you want to hire and get the opportunity to find out whether there is a good mutual fit because firing is always a difficult thing. You may consider beginning with interns to say if things work out before making a formal job offer.
5) Believe in yourself: It is so easy to doubt yourself, especially when things go sour, but the worst you can do is to utter negative inner talk, as that only weakens your passion to continue to the next ventures.
6) Focus on fulfilling your passion rather than the idea of just making money: Examine your sense of enthusiasm about a new project. Don’t begin if all you see in it is an opportunity to make money. You first have to like it before starting with it, because in the long run, it’s your passion that will get you through difficult times.
7) Prioritize your financials: Learn to do a cost analysis. Don’t ignore the numbers. You need to keep track of your profitability.
8) Work on your social media presence: Make sure other professionals can find you so that you don’t miss out on opportunities. You cannot isolate yourself if you aspire to grow your business and your brand.
Last Updated on December 8, 2022.