Since 2006, Jim Risner has help stock his company’s client portfolio with leading brands, including:
Ford, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Sears, MTV and Intel.
Votigo has also experienced great success with top-tier agencies like Ogilvy, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, DraftFCB and Arnold Worldwide.
But once upon a time, Jim wasn’t responsible for developing and implementing successful social media marketing solutions. Or strategic vision, sales, account management, marketing and business development.
He wasn’t an esteemed panelist or an acclaimed guest lecturer, either.
It wasn’t that long ago that Jim was just a recent college grad, preparing to enter his first year in the biz.
Let’s start with the years before your first year in the biz. Geography and Cartography at Colorado? That’s awesome. What did you think your career path was going to be when you chose this academic path?
It was awesome. I enjoyed every minute of it. Honestly, I have always had a love for maps and I thought about being a cartographer. Once I got into school and started taking classes, everything was on computers and one of my first classes was Animated Cartography. We used an early version of Flash and that was the beginning of my Internet career. That year I got my first job as a Web Developer and I designed and developed the first website for the University of Colorado Geography Department. I then took more classes on Web Design & Development and also taught myself a lot about web development. As my college career was coming to an end in 1997, I decided that I wanted to move to San Francisco and be part of the Internet boom. I applied for jobs as a Web Master. Yes, Web Master. Great title!
Tell us about your first year in the biz at RandomNoise. What were you doing?
I was hired as the Web Master, which meant that I designed and built the company website. I also answered support questions and created demos of our Java-based WYSIWYG Web Design Software. There wasn’t a better place to be a Web Developer. Ironically, I hand-coded all of our pages because it was more reliable. Our main competitor was Macromedia Dreamweaver. After about a year – and many trade shows – we were acquired by Vignette, a pre-IPO startup out of Austin.
What did you learn most – professionally or otherwise – during your first year? How did it shape you?
I learned a lot about running a tech startup. Our founder/CEO was a serial entrepreneur who had started two successful startups and sold them previously, and after RandomNoise he founded several more. I always wanted to start my own company; my father’s entrepreneurial spirit had a big impact on me, but being at this tech startup really cemented it for me.
In looking back, what are some things that you pull from that first year that informs the work you do today at Votigo?
I truly learned so much in that year – it’s still amazing. I was exposed to everything – Software Development, QA, Sales, Support, Marketing, BD, etc. – and I was very fortunate to be on a small team with very smart people around me. It gave me the experience and the skills to get my next position as Director of Web Development at a boutique web development agency.
What advice would you give to people entering the industry for the first time?
Get your foot in the door. Listen to everyone. Learn as much as you possibly can. Network. Find out where you excel and focus on that. There is so much opportunity in the tech industry; if you stick with it, good things will come.
What are you looking forward to most with your work at Votigo in the future? Why is that?
I’m looking forward to our continued expansion, both on the product side and internationally. We just recently expanded our product offering beyond Social Promotions to include a full Social Marketing Suite that allows brands of all sizes to manage their customer conversation across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Web, and Mobile. It also includes Social CRM to track and analyze influencers. It’s a global economy, and we already have a lot of international clients and clients that use our products to facilitate their Social Marketing across multiple countries in multiple languages. I’m excited to take that to the next level.
Jim – an award-winning Internet marketing executive – is the Co-CEO & Founder of Votigo, a leading social media marketing & promotions company. To learn more about Votigo’s services and success stories, please visit their site or follow Votigo on Twitter. Have questions for Jim about this article or your brand’s social future? Jim is on Twitter, too.