Prairie Portrait: Austin Brown of Hurrdat Social Media
Name: Austin Brown
Bio: Professional optimist. Lover of Chipotle. Branding fanatic. Woodworking hobbyist. Avid learner. Wannabe Ironman. Beer enthusiast. Old-school gentleman.
Title: CMO at Hurrdat Social Media
Residence: Kansas City, Mo. and Lincoln, Neb.
Intro music: "Life Is ..." by Middle Map Kids
Silicon Prairie News: What's the latest with Hurrdat's Athlete Engagement Platform, and what about that software excites you most?
Austin Brown: Right now we have some awesome endorsement campaigns running with our athletes that have shown outstanding results. We currently have 85 brands registered on our platform and are excited to gain national recognition among athletes by working with Kris Humphries of the New Jersey Nets. In addition, the platform is continuously improving with new development releases to improve functionality as well as user experience.
SPN: In the span of two years you went from a summer job managing a painting business to a full-time position as CMO of a social media startup. What are some important lessons you took from one gig to the next?
AB: I learned many things from my painting business, but experiencing business ownership lessons through hard work and high stress was invaluable. Owning full responsibility of my company taught me more about toughness, persistence and dedication than most business classes I had taken at KU. Those skills translated into the type of traits needed to make a start-up successful. My young age and little experience made it challenging to compete among other painting businesses, but now, in the social media industry, my age is an advantage. Lastly, I realized that I needed to surround myself with people I could ask for advice when making business decisions, as we at Hurrdat have done with our mentors and business development programs.
SPN: You list developing relationships and expanding your network as a couple of your passions. What are a couple of tried and true techniques you use when working a room of people you've never met before?
AB: I absolutely love networking on a personal level. Here are my five tips for getting to know people on a deeper level:
- Listen to what makes people tick.
- Find common experiences to relate.
- Leave each conversation with a next step.
- Focus on remembering each person’s name.
- Follow up!
SPN: You cite the golden rule — treat others the way you want to be treated — as one of your biggest personal inspirations. But what about at a company level? In what ways can a startup embody that rule?
AB: It has been essential for us to focus on creating a work environment of not only delivering exceptional results for our clients, but also building trusted relationships to fully understand their brands. We have been successful in building lasting relationships with our clients, peers and community by simply respecting others with an open mind for opportunity. This type of environment and mentality must start at the top and filter down to all employees, which I think Hurrdat has executed very well.
SPN: You're a Kansas grad working with a bunch of Nebraska alumni. What's that do to the company dynamic? Is there much trash talk exchanged, or do you just get your bragging in during basketball season and let them do the talking about football?
AB: Rock Chalk! Fortunately I have a fellow Jayhawk, Whitney Wade, with me at Hurrdat, so I’m not alone in this friendly rivalry. We have basically come to terms that Nebraska = football and KU = basketball, and the fact that we don’t compete in the same conference anymore keeps the trash talking to a minimum. I have also been best friends with a former Husker Football player (Blake Lawrence, CEO) since 2007, so my feelings toward the Big Red have never been hostile!
Credits: Photo by Malone & Company.
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