MAC NAGASWAMI + GREG STAR = CARVERTISE
Mac Nagaswami and Greg Star may have conceived and birthed Carvertise on campus at the University of Delaware, but they raised their fledgling young company on Market, until it grew so big that it had to find its own place and move out on its own. Yet you still feel Carvertise’s presence every day on Market, every time you find yourself standing on a street corner and suddenly engaging with one of the 15-or-so campaigns that Carvertise currently has running in Delaware. So we asked Mac, every time we see a wrapped car … are they all Carvertising?:
“If you see a wrapped car here in Wilmington, there's probably a 75 to 80 percent chance it's one of ours.”
“We are what the name suggests. We are car advertising, and we create fleets of mobile geo-targeted billboards in areas where our clients need exposure. Today, we have 15 employees and we're running campaigns in 30 states across the country, including Hawaii and North Dakota, and we're working with everyone from EA Sports to NASCAR to Buffalo Wild Wings to a lot of regional health care and higher education and state agencies.”
Hawaii and North Dakota, those sound like two very different markets.
“But there are cars driving around, there are people who want to get paid to put ads on their cars and there are brands that want to hit those markets. So that’s the common denominator. “
Tell us more about recent gigs, like the one working with the Delaware Tourism Office at the New York Times Travel Show.
“So for awhile now, our clients have been asking, hey, can you can you wrap Uber and Lyft cars at this conference, at this convention, at this event? We tried it and it worked out really well. Now, we’re going a step further and incentivizing drivers to only accept trips that are going to and from the convention center. It essentially becomes a branded taxi service for the event.”
The business bounced around Market as it grew, didn’t it?
“Well, the idea was conceived at the Horn Program when Greg and I were students at the University of Delaware. We moved to Start It Up Delaware at the CoIN Loft right after graduating, and then to the Hercules Building, and that’s over the course of three years, right? But as of October, we’ve moved into this space at the edge of Browntown and the Riverfront. And we're just thrilled. We have all functions of the company under one roof now, so we can all see what's happening.”
How useful was that downtown scene as you were starting up?
“Look, we were students. We were naive enough to think that we could do it without any experience, without any capital, without any knowledge of how to run a business. If we started doing this in Pennsylvania, Florida, New Jersey, I really don't think we would have been able to connect with the community as closely as we did in Delaware, and that played an integral role in kick-starting the business. That would not have been possible in New York or California. We would have had to play the game in a different way.”
So what’s next?
“What typically happens with start ups you get this burst of hype and PR initially, you get a lot of coverage for a cool idea, you get some traction you get some funding, and then the novelty wears off and you're no longer the cool kid on the block and now your business has to stand on its own two feet without the hype.”
“So you keep your head down, you focus on growing the business. We're not getting too far ahead of ourselves here. We don't have our head in the clouds. Growing the business, that's our main priority. I think when you demonstrate staying power and you put out a quality service that your clients love, good things naturally occur. So we're just plugging away, man.”