And welcome to Wheels Up Collective. We’re a group of seasoned marketers who are hell-bent on world domination via growth marketing. Or something like that.
If you haven’t heard our story, here’s the <tl/dr>: we all worked together in the 2010’s at software startup Socrata. When the company was acquired in 2018 we all went our separate ways and reconvened in the Covid Spring of 2020 to build a new kind of strategic marketing agency for tech startups, hyper focused on pragmatic growth. If you want the whole story, pull up a chair and grab some popcorn. Or better yet, wine. It’s no secret that some of the world’s best ideas were fueled by wine and who are we to argue with history?
I guess I’ll start by introducing myself - I’m the virtual ringleader for this group. Virtual because we’re scattered across the country - which is increasingly inconsequential thanks to slack, zoom, and google hangouts. And ringleader because, well, someone has to be in charge. In the words of one Wheels Up’er who will remain nameless, “Amy, we’re so excited to have you bossing us around again!”
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial itch. When I was 12 years old I started my own horse grooming business which ultimately funded a big chunk of college. But being a responsible adult always won out over any hair-brained idea I had, and I’ve spent the past two decades (mostly happily) punching the clock for someone else.
There’s nothing like a global pandemic to make you reevaluate how you’re spending your life. In January 2020 I happened to be taking a planned, short sabbatical. And then Covid-19 hit and everything went sideways. When it was time to go back to work, I had trouble getting excited about any of the opportunities that I was finding. So I made “The List.” The List of things that would make me jump out of bed every morning excited to get to work only had two things on it: work with inspiring, creative, smart people; and build something, the kind of endeavor that catches lightning in a bottle. Fast forward through a few wine-infused Zoom calls catching up with my good friends from Socrata, and Wheels Up was born. (See? Wine.)
To be frank, the reason I’d never followed my entrepreneurial instincts before was that I hadn’t had an idea that I thought was good enough to build a company around. But when I made The List this winter, I realized that it’s the growth part that really gets me excited. Once you have an idea for a better mousetrap, how do you go to market and catch the most mice? That’s the part that keeps me awake at night, the lightning in the bottle for me. The great thing about Wheels Up Collective is that’s what we get to help companies do all day long.
People always ask me where the name Wheels Up came from. It refers to when a plane has taken off and the landing gear (wheels) are retracted (up) to make the plane more aerodynamic for the main part of the flight. It’s something my Dad, a pilot of 30 years, used to say when he was trying to organize all of us around one of his plans. But it kind of fits with what we’re trying to do here, too - help small businesses and startups get their own proverbial “wheels up” and their company off the ground. My Dad always thought I needed to start something of my own. Probably because he knew that I generally liked my ideas more than everyone else’s. But maybe because our family comes from a long history of farmers, where each day you do the hard work, and there’s tremendous pride from providing for others. Maybe he thought that was in my blood, too. He passed away suddenly in a plane crash in 2018, so it seemed fitting to make sure there was a nod to Dad when our little marketing agency took shape.
Covid-19 has buried even the most established brands in uncertainty. Every one of our discovery calls starts with the questions: what keeps you up at night? What are the business problems and opportunities that are standing between you and market domination? Marketing happens to be the tool kit that we use, but those are the problems we try to help our clients solve every day. The swim lanes are gone. We all need to focus on solving business problems, not producing impressive vanity metrics and posting pretty pictures on Instagram to make ourselves feel like we can check the marketing box. At Wheels Up, we’re excited to work with companies who feel the same way. And we’re hoping that we can add a little tailwind for your team’s success in an uncertain 2021. Reach out to me anytime - firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear about your lightning in the bottle aspirations.