Week 3: A Conversation with Guest Speakers Dan Portnoy and Babette Pepaj

Alex Arciniega

Alex Arciniega

By UCLA X425 Student Alex Arciniega

Last week we met two speakers who were able to describe the process of achieving their dream of launching their own business.

We heard from Babette Pepaj (@BakeSpace) of BakeSpace.com, a social media networking site for those with culinary inclinations. The concept of using a social media platform to share recipes seems obvious – it’s a place to trade recipes with friends. Her approach to launching her business was very direct and straight forward, wanting to launch a product because she had a creative idea that no one else had realized at the time – she fulfilled a need.

Babette Pepaj

Babette Pepaj

Babette spoke in detail about monetizing her ideas and bringing in new clients. Her ability to pair brands with recipes makes her a natural. She enjoyed pairing television shows and recipes, and spoke about pursuing Desperate Housewives as a partner and the steps it took to get there. Her innovation and desire to develop products and work with brands keeps her site dynamic.

Our second speaker, Dan Portnoy (@DanPortnoy), was very lively, animated and excited about developing a narrative for non-profits and brands. He shared content that he created for clients such as ArcLight Cinemas, which he gave a very personal touch to make the brand more approachable.

Dan discussed how he’s also responsible for pairing United Way and Jay Z for the Workplace Hero campaign. While we’ve had speakers who shied away from providing information regarding the ROI for social media, Portnoy was able to quantify how the strategy, content and tactics provided a return for these brands.

Can Portnoy

Can Portno

Portnoy’s approach was simple; even with bigger budget campaigns he was able to keep the story simple. The key takeaway is that branded content must do more than just promote a brand – it must be relatable to the viewer.

Thematically, pairing these two speakers made total sense. They have a very entrepreneurial approach to doing things – they don’t overthink, they use their knowledge and gut in pairing brands with content.

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