Wombat Podcast #10: Sean Glass and Chris LaConte

by Marianne Richmond on February 2, 2006

Sean Glass and Chris LaConte of Higher One talk about how they have used Word-of-Mouth to build their on campus financial services business on a podcast at the Wombat Blog .It is fascinating!

Sean and Chris talk about how when they started the business their first encounter with the influence of word-of-mouth was through negative word-of-mouth generated through misinformation about their on-line bill pay product. They astutely realized the importance of getting the right message to the right people by joining the conversation.

They began working with students to identify the physical locations, the venues, on campus where the conversations were happening and began providing students with the tools to facilitate the spread of information about their products. They gave students copy and content that they could then personalize and pass along to their friends and classmates. They identified students who believed in their products and were willing to talk about them and made them Agents.

The Agents were required to provide written reports of their activities and to encourage students to submit  high quality reports, they were given points based upon the quality of their reports. The reports provided Higher One with immediate feedback, both negative and positive, that was then used to make changes, improvements, or otherwise build their business. The Agents functioned as the marketing department as well as the market research department. Impressive!

Sean and Chris say that word-of -mouth can be an entrepreneurs best friend….it is important to give early adopters the tools to amplify word of mouth…this includes finding the venue, providing information to share, and motivating the evangelists. Advertising they said can build awareness and create demand…word-of-mouth drives the decision to buy.

I mentioned Sean in a post in  November about Word-of-Mouth Marketing on college campuses and he emailed to thank me and to tell me that he had started blogging. I am sure he will have a lot to say!

Besides Higher One, which is projecting sales of over $18 million in 2006, the 26 year old has among many other accomplishments, co founded the Yale Entrepreneurial Society a non-profit that promotes entrepreneurship in the greater Yale community and ThreadKill.com which I suggest you read his explanation for, and is an investor in Axon Labs, a sleep research labortory that is developing products to enable peak performance based upon research in neuroscience. The Axon web site links to an American Medical Association study that officially declares waking up the worst part of the day. Just visit our house any school day morning to confirm that.
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