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Meet Ben Carcio of Promoboxx

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ben Carcio.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Ben. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
When I was in high school, my parents noticed a shuttered building in the middle of town and decided to purchase it and create a business. My parents were not born shopkeepers; my father is a lawyer and my mother is a college professor. They bought a dilapidated building because they wanted to give back to the community. Being entrepreneurial, my parents decided to reopen the store as Cold River Package, an independent seller of beer, wine and liquor.

With no experience in retail, they turned to the brands they’d be selling for help, and the response was incredible. From neon signs to in-store displays, cooler planograms to local marketing plans, our little store had everything it needed to succeed. This symbiotic relationship would serve as the inspiration for Promoboxx, the only retail marketing platform powered by brands I created alongside my fellow co-founders.

Has it been a smooth road?
Like the independent retailers we support, Promoboxx has always been the underdog. At the time of our founding in 2010, many investors sought companies focused on gig economy startups, mobile apps and the Internet of Things. We showed up talking about helping mom and pop shops because we believe in them and we know that local stores are here for the long haul.

Once we landed a major brand (Chevrolet), investors perked up and it became much easier to raise funding. And in true underdog fashion, we were selected as a last-minute, 11th hour choice by TechStars, where we had the fortune to present Promoboxx to a roomful of investors.

Along the way, we received many “no’s” around this business. A lot of people didn’t believe in us because they ultimately didn’t believe in the value of independent stores. The market is coming towards independent retail (and therefore Promoboxx) now. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Monthly Retail Sales Report, in November 2017 trade sales were up 4.7 percent from November 2016. And that is the biggest hurdle we’ve overcome.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Promoboxx is the only retail marketing platform, powered by brands, that helps independent businesses increase awareness, foot traffic and sales near every local storefront. The way brands supported my family business formed the philosophical basis for Promoboxx: As pillars in their communities, retailers should be supported, not dismissed. A brand’s in-store success depends almost exclusively on successful partnerships with local retailers in joint marketing campaigns. Promoboxx helps household brands — like Chevrolet, GE Appliances, The North Face and New Balance — connect and align with their retail network to promote their national campaigns locally, and therefore sell more product.

While my parents’ package store story is small, the story behind big brands supporting independent retailers is currently being told by leading national brands across thousands of local independent retailers through Promoboxx.

What were you like growing up? Personality wise, interest wise, etc.
I have always been an entrepreneur. Like every other kid, I ran a lemonade stand and being a part of my parents’ store opening felt very entrepreneurial. In college, I ran my own painting business with College Pro Painting, which is a franchise model. Our most famous alumnus, Elon Musk, started at College Pro, working for his brother Kimbal.

People ask, “Is running a startup stressful?” and I say, “No, imagine having 30 college kids up on ladders, painting people’s most precious asset, their home.” That’s by far the most stressful thing I’ve ever done. From a success standpoint, I was awarded Rookie Franchise Manager of the Year. I took a part of the business that hadn’t been developed and turned it into a $120,000 business in one summer.

When it comes to entrepreneurship, my only advice is to find an idea you can’t walk away from. Whether it was my parents’ store, the painting business in college or any of the other startups I was part of, I hadn’t found an idea that was so good I couldn’t walk away from – until Promoboxx. We’ve been doing it now for seven years and there’ve been many occasions where other people would have walked away. Me and my co-founders didn’t, and that’s critical, because if the idea is weak, then you’d be smart to let it go, and not letting go of a weak idea is a big reason why a lot of startups fail.

But if the idea is so good, so compelling that you simply can’t afford to ignore it, then you know you’ve found value.

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