Traditionally, company objectives typically boiled down to one thing – the bottom line. These days, however, words like “social impact” and “giving back” are being tossed around and becoming a part of many businesses’ core values.
Soulpepper is a digital marketing agency that focuses on helping businesses that are doing good achieve their business objectives by increasing leads and attracting more customers.
Who are you? Tell us about your business and what inspired you to create it.
I am Sean Jimenez, the founder and leader of soulpepper. I am a social impact entrepreneur who crafts and executes digital strategies to help grow other social impact corporations. I believe that the world is in trouble and it needs individuals to step up and lead a movement to sustainability. The way I see being able to make the biggest contribution is by leveraging my experience in eCommerce, sales and business to help others who are up to something good.
What has been the most challenging part about running this business and how have you addressed it?
Finding good people, getting business has not been the issue, finding competent, hardworking individuals who align with our culture in a timely manner has been the issue. We have had to work with contractors across the globe and push people harder than wanted, in order to meet the needs for our clients. You only get one chance at reputation, and we can’t let that die.
How has Vancouver’s rising startup community played a role in the development of Soulpepper?
The overall energy of entrepreneurship is contagious. Hearing other people’s stories, sharing experiences, failures and successes have been really inspirational. Also, being a competitive person, it helps drive me to win and do more for our business.
What core problem is your company specifically solving and/or what’s the main value you provide?
We translate the technical nuances of search marketing and conversion rate optimization to those who are not technical. I feel like we do that better than anyone else. We also have a wide breathe of knowledge in multiple industries with regards to ecommerce, so we can offer executive level experience to companies who may not be able to afford a full time CMO or ecommerce executive.
How did you end up becoming an entrepreneur and what challenges did you personally overcome to succeed?
I started off selling fireworks in my neighborhood when I was 11. I always say that’s how I got my start in entrepreneurship. Then in my early 20s I started managing Canada’s largest martial arts and fitness school. Within a year, I bought in and began running it from A to Z. I learned so much about running a business, managing people, juggling marketing with sales, administration, accounting and all the other things entrepreneurs deals with.
The biggest challenge was realizing I didn’t know everything, and that I could learn a lot from people who had been doing things longer than me. At the end of the day, business is about people. If you can’t deal with them, you die.
What entrepreneur has inspired you the most for running your business and what makes them so special?
On a macro level, Dr. Dre and Jay Z inspired me. They were two rappers/produces who came from nothing to become billionaires. I thought if they could do it, so could I. On a micro level, Farid Dordar was my first mentor and business partner in my martial arts school. He also runs the industry’s largest SaaS company. Seeing what he’s created with his own too hands is very inspirational.
What Vancouver celebrity/influencer would you most be excited to have as a member of the team and why?
Darrell Kopke. He was the Principal at InstituteB and is the acting CEO at Kit and Ace. He inspired me to create a business that focused on the triple bottom line (people, planet and profit). I would love for him to one day want to be involved with what we are doing today.
If you could tell your younger self something what would it be?
Go out on your own earlier! And keep your eye on the prize. Become an expert on managing/leading people.
What are some accessible resources used and winning habits you have developed to learn and grow as an entrepreneur?
I’ve been fortunate to have a relationship with many of the founding members of Lululemon and the Landmark forum. I’ve used the tools for culture building, character development and goal setting like a bible. It has been very helpful. I also meet with two mentors periodically. One always tells me to focus on sales, the other always tells me to focus on service. They are very smart.
I am also a martial artist. The basic philosophy is about self improvement and that life is a continuous journey. I never settle for “that’s just how I am”. I always think I can do better. I always think I can adapt and change. I also feel like I can do anything. Sometimes too much.
What’s your advice for current or future entrepreneurs?
Sell your product first! There are a million amazing products no one has ever heard of, or cares about. Don’t burn up all your funding on development when you have no sales. Follow the lean startup format. Oh yeah, never, ever give up. Fail fast, fail often and keep believing in yourself.
Vancouver Entrepreneurs is a weekly feature on the city’s most notable entrepreneurs and startups that are making a local and even a global impact. If you think your venture deserves to be on the series, send an email to casey(at)vancitybuzz(dot)com to explain why you’re a fit.