VentureFuel, Inc. accelerates the growth of emerging media and new ad technologies by representing their offerings to Fortune 500 advertisers and agencies. VentureFuel curates the best new media platforms and disruptive technologies, then forges strategic partnerships with advertisers in order to fuel the growth of the new ventures.
BusinessInterviews.com: What inspired you to launch your business?
Fred Schonenberg: For 10 years advertisers asked me what was next, and told me to think outside the box, and to deliver what had never been done before. It took me a decade before I had an epiphany: that they really wanted what was next, that’s what inspired me to start VentureFuel.
BusinessInterviews.com: Do you have any recent success stories that you’d like to share with our readers?
Fred Schonenberg: We have closed over 50 unique advertising deals with startups in the past 6 months, so it’s hard to pick specifics. Southwest Airlines sponsoring Recess, a nationwide college business pitch competition, was beautiful because Southwest was founded on the back of a napkin, so it was fun to help them give back to the next generation of startups. We did a great program with Verizon go90 where we had street artists do hand painted murals with Snapchat codes, leading users to follow Verizon on the platform. We helped Old Bay create a spicy popcorn distributed by food trucks with hot startup Be The Machine. The beauty of our job is that we get to innovate with the best brands and the coolest startups to build unique success stories for each.
BusinessInterviews.com: What issue does your core product help solve and how so?
Fred Schonenberg: There is a tsunami of new startups and tech innovations launching every day, making it impossible for advertisers and agencies to find the true gems. There’s also the issue of startups not having the bandwidth, relationships, or experience to get in front of the right advertisers at the right time. Yet, both parties yearn for each other. VentureFuel gets to match these two alien groups to create a marriage of awesomeness and build ground-breaking partnerships.
BusinessInterviews.com: What has been your biggest challenge as a business owner and how have you met that challenge?
Fred Schonenberg: The biggest challenge has been the process of evolving from “pitch candy” to an essential phone call from advertisers. Out of the gate everyone loved us because we showed them new and cool ideas. They would take these recommendations to their bosses or clients, but we wouldn’t see any revenue. We were the futuristic car being used to sell the present year’s model. Then all of a sudden the innovators started to take the leap…USA network, 20th Century Fox Films, and the xBox’s of the world. It was then that everyone took notice. People started realizing we were delivering true solutions that ALSO made them look “cool” to their bosses. Now our inbox is full with real opportunities from even the most risk-adverse brands.
BusinessInterviews.com: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you/your Company?
Fred Schonenberg: We are rolling out some amazing new startups in the next month. From the best VR experience I have ever seen, to emotional podcasts, to a digital out-of-home network which is growing at an astronomical speed. We are launching an exclusive community of advertising visionaries that are reshaping the entire media landscape. And we are excited to announce “The Venturefuel Launchpad” which will showcase earlier stage companies on their way up.
BusinessInterviews.com: Where do you envision your company in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
Fred Schonenberg: A lot of advertising is morphing into big data and programmatic buying. I understand why, and love the targeting, ROI, and cost savings, but what I love is the advertising wow-factor – the never-been-done-before award winning partnerships and ideas that are so very, very human. I hope 5 years from now VentureFuel’s stamp is all over the Cannes International Festival of Creativity. Though I don’t want VentureFuel to win per se, I do want us to help other brands and agencies snag those Lions. In 10 years, I hope we are the launchpad for the next Snapchat, Facebook and Netflix. I hope they start with us and we can propel them to awesome heights, and they keep growing from there.
BusinessInterviews.com: Have you had any mentors or role models that have influenced you? Describe the impact.
Fred Schonenberg: Yes, too many to name. I feel like I’ve always been exposed to great people from whom I could learn a great deal, including my mom, my high school basketball coach, and Michael Jordan. But Dennis Roche of Zoom Media, who was also my boss for about a decade, taught me about the intensity of purpose and understanding why you go to work each day. He also taught me how to squeeze the marrow out of every opportunity. He was Gary Vaynerchuck before Gary Vee knew what social media was. He was the type of person that sweated intensity and passion with each breath. He was the most intense boss I ever had but he was loyal and supportive too. Every decision he made was inspired by his belief in the team. I hope I inspire people on my team the same way.
BusinessInterviews.com: Do you consider yourself successful and by what means do you measure success?
Fred Schonenberg: I do feel successful because I love, love, love what I do. I get to see the pilots of new shows before they come out and am asked how I would market them. In my toolbox is every top startup in the country. It’s like getting to grill when you have the best equipment and the best meat – it’s kind of hard to mess it up. It was hard to walk away from a great job to start something completely uncertain and to take that risk financially, but success isn’t money, success is waking up each day and being excited for what is ahead. So yes, I succeed each and every morning.
BusinessInterviews.com: How do your competitors view you?
Fred Schonenberg: I don’t stay still long enough for them to catch a glimpse.
BusinessInterviews.com: What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs and business owners? What do you wish someone told you?
Fred Schonenberg: Find one great client and just crush it for them. Don’t worry about your logo, your website, your positioning. Take what you want to do, find one paying customer that believes in your idea and just blow it out of the water for them. Then do it again and again. If you bring your clients/customers success and happiness, success and happiness will find you. Everything else is just noise. Focus.
BusinessInterviews.com: What’s the biggest risk that you’ve ever taken and how did it turn out?
Fred Schonenberg: Cage diving with great white sharks. I’m still here so it worked out, but that seems like something better done via virtual reality.
BusinessInterviews.com: Anything else you’d like to comment on while we have you?
Fred Schonenberg: Be yourself. Stop trying to fit your business into the boxes people tell you to. Build what inspires you, build a place you want to work, then go find the people that want to be a part of it and throw yourself into the endeavor with all of your might.
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