Interview with the CEO
Following Digital Thrive's recognition in the 2020 Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies, we wanted to share the entrepreneurial journeys, successes, and aspirations of our team members. In this two-part series, our cofounder and CEO, Jen Mansfield, explains her journey with entrepreneurship, how she discovered her love for marketing and advertising, and her previous work experience that eventually led her to founding Digital Thrive.
How did your journey with entrepreneurship begin?
That’s a funny story actually. When I was 9 and my brother was 6, our great-grandma moved to Florida from NYC and she had an adult tricycle with an oversized basket on the back. She used it carry things like groceries back from the store. I had an idea to charge our friends for a bike ride in the basket, and had my brother do the pedaling. I charged a quarter for the ride, and paid him a dime for every ride he did. Unfortunately, my mom found out that I was charging for the rides and made me pay everyone back, but let my brother keep the money I paid him, so it was actually a losing venture for me.
Later on, you attended the University of Florida and received a Bachelor of Science in Advertising. How did your academic background translate into the work you pursued as a young professional?
I was looking for a creative elective class, and Intro to Advertising worked well with my schedule, so I took it on a whim. I fell in love with the power that advertising has to influence a person’s purchasing behavior. I decided to take a few more classes within the college of Journalism and Communications, and every Advertising class I took installed my love for marketing and advertising even more. Once of the last classes we had to take was an Advertising Sales class, and that came like second nature to me. I recall my professor telling me that if I didn't go into sales I was missing my calling. Funny, I can't remember her name, but she definitely influenced my career path.
Prior to launching Digital Thrive in 2011, you worked at NYC publishing sites, and even launched your own consulting business. Given your previous work experience, what inspired you to start your own digital marketing agency?
After graduating college, I was working at a publishing company in Florida and I knew that I wasnt going to reach the growth goals I had set for myself there, so I took out a small loan and moved to NYC. I got a job in an inside sales position for a fast growing digital media agency and I fell in love with the excitement, fast pace and excelled growth in the digital space. I was working in NYC on 9/11/01 and after experiencing that, it became harder for me to take the subway in from Brooklyn each day and head to the office. I tried for a few months, but I finally confided to a client how I was feeling at the time, and he encouraged me to follow my dreams and go out on my own. He told me that the was working with our company because of me - that it was me he trusted in and invested in. He offered to give me his account if I went on my own, so I took the leap of faith and in 2002 I setup a consulting firm. I’m grateful to him for believing in me at such a young age, and helping pave the way for me to follow my dreams of owning my own company.