Resource Night Recap: Marketing Gurus Hold Court

Marketing Gurus Hold Court during BPC Practicum Class

Panel of marketing experts: John O’Rourke (Indix), Betsy Sperry (One Degree Brand Chemistry), Zach Hunnting (Crown Social Agency), and BreeAnna Marchitto (Dry Soda)

Each week you can read a recap of the previous session. This week, the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship’s Amy Sallin recaps a class featuring a panel of marketing experts from the Seattle startup ecosystem. If you have questions about the lecture series, or any of the Buerk Center’s student competitions, email Amy at [email protected].

Thursday afternoon was full of insights from former students in the BPC to entrepreneurial marketing gurus.

The afternoon started with a BPC Past Participants panel. Ryan Ahearn (JikoPower), Adam Greenberg (Pure Blue Technologies) and Brian Mogen (MultiModal Health) shared their experiences as students taking part in the BPC (as well as the HIC and EIC). Topics included the value of the networking opportunity, getting extensive advice from mentors, getting past the awkwardness of public speaking, and more. While they acknowledged the time commitment entering a competition requires, they all agreed it was worth it. Adam advised students to talk to their professors in advance about their involvement in the competition to help balance the demand between class and the extracurricular BPC work. In addition, (completely unprompted by me) Brian talked about the invaluable assistance he received from the Foster School librarians on a daily basis for help with the research on his business plan (and yes, I tell every student to use the incredible resources in the business library!). The panel finished with these final words of wisdom:

  • Hustle—be passionate about what you’re working on.
  • Articulate your idea clearly when pitching to the judges. Don’t get too technical, and make sure that you’re able to explain your idea to people who are smart, but don’t necessarily have your same level of tech skills.
  • And finally, don’t be intimidated by the process—believe in yourself and what you’re doing.

Not able to attend the panel in person? Check out the video to learn from the three BPC veterans.

Following the panel, Resource Nights class (watch the video here) launched into the Pitch section of the quarter with “Formulating the Case for Your Business.” Instructor John Zagula—a marketing guru himself—talked about positioning and shared his positioning formula: the XYZs. X=the only solution; that solves the problem (Y); in a unique way (Z).

Zagula stressed that “positioning” is not “marketing.” And because he believes in the power of threes, he discussed the 123s of messaging.

  • Rule of 1: 1 promise, 1 offer, 1 call to action
  • 2 in 1 (Rule of Paradox): tastes great, less filling (we all know that one!)
  • Rule of 3: 3 feature sets, 3 benefits, 3 proof points—translating to “awesome, awesome, not screwed up.”

John’s final “rule” is P>B>F, which is that Proof (compelling evidence) is a more powerful message than the Benefits of the product, which is more powerful than the Features of the product (which is what most early-stage entrepreneurs tend to promote).

To drive home these lessons, the class broke into teams and worked on their own positioning and messaging, receiving feedback from a panel of marketing experts: John O’Rourke (Indix), Betsy Sperry (One Degree Brand Chemistry), Zach Hunnting (Crown Social Agency), and BreeAnna Marchitto (Dry Soda). It was a fun and informative session, and these incredible experts left the class with some parting advice:

  • O’Rourke: Be different—outliers get noticed.
  • Marchitto: Love what you create—you spend all your time with it!
  • Sperry: Differentiation is crucial.
  • Hunnting: Be unique, and do what it takes to stay unique.


6:00 pm in Paccar Hall, Shansby Auditorium (room 192)

On Thursday, March 2, students will hold a pitch competition in class—this should be fun!


Read why students call the competition experience “the best thing they did in college” on the Buerk Center blog.

Twenty student teams will present in the Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge on March 1 at the Hub Lyceum. Be sure to follow us with the hastag #HIC2017 on Twitter @UWBuerk, Facebook @UWBuerk and @UWHealthInnovationChallenge, and UWBuerkCenter on Instagram for updates on competition day.

The Business Plan Competition is just around the corner:

  • March 13: Team registration to participate in the BPC begins! (link to registration page coming soon)
  • April 3: Deadline to submit 5–7 page executive summary to enter the BPC
  • Check out past entries online or stop by the Buerk Center office to view more. Make sure you’re aware of the Judging Criteria that the Screening Round judges will use to evaluate all the entries, and use the Submission Checklist to make sure your work is on track.


  • Our MentorConnect site is a great way to connect with a professional via email—including attorneys and people who specialize in IP issues—for advice, questions, and feedback. Connect with professionals in a variety of industries: Business Development, Cleantech, Consumer Product / Service / Retail, Energy/Environment, Finance, Intellectual Property, IT/Software/Online/Internet, Legal, Life Sciences, Marketing, Non-Profit, Operations, Production/Manufacturing, Research and Development, Sales, Venture Investing, and Engineering. These people all volunteer their time to help students, so don’t hesitate to reach out! Please do read the “Guidelines” section before contacting a mentor. FYI, the site requires a UW login, so if you’re a student from another college or university contact me for a guest login. Please note this resource is for students only!
  • View past executive summaries online from EIC participants (Resources tab, scroll down to Other Resources); and BPC participants (scroll down to the Learn by Example section).
  • Stop by the Buerk Center in Dempsey 227 to look at a wide variety of executive summaries entered into the EIC and BPC.
  • Review the Judging Criteria for the BPC Screening Round as you work on your 5–7 page executive summaries. Helpful hint: Use the Submission Checklist to help guide you through the judging criteria.
  • Check out our Startup Resources webpage.
  • Aren’t sure how to protect your IP? Curious about patents, trademarks, and copyrights? The UW Entrepreneurial Law Clinic is looking for new clients to apply for free legal advice for the upcoming Spring quarter. Questions? Email [email protected] or call (206) 616-5854.

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