No Designer Needed
Entrepreneur Penny Wing’s latest venture makes creating captivating content simple
There are some people who call themselves serial entrepreneurs, starting a new business every other month or year then abandoning the venture once the novelty wears off. What they leave behind is a string of failed businesses instead of a successful entrepreneurial legacy. Then, there are people like Penny Wing who embody the definition of serial entrepreneur—launching one business and working at it until it becomes profitable, then selling it and starting another successful business. Wing built three successful corporate incentive travel companies, sold each of them for a substantial profit, and now, she is on to her next entrepreneurial endeavor.
Wing’s latest venture isn’t geared to only ensure her success but it’s designed to help other entrepreneurs succeed, as well. Brojure is an innovative software platform that allows businesses to move beyond traditional capabilities presentations and create a visually appealing, interactive media experience.
“Companies can tell their stories, their passions, why they started their companies and why they want to do business with IBM, Microsoft or Oracle rather than have a flat piece of paper that tells what they do,” she says.
The software provides users with a do-it-yourself solution to create “smart brochures that engage, inspire and inform audiences through visual storytelling.” Users have the option of creating their own microsite through the Brojure platform where they are able to highlight their capabilities using several different elements, such as high-resolution images and video to create a captivating and persuasive narrative.
Wing began her career as an engineer but her educational background is in math and business. Her foray into the travel industry was inspired by a life spent living “all over the world”; she moved 36 times throughout the world before the age of 24. When a conversation with a travel executive on an airplane created the opportunity for her to enter the industry, Wing joined his company and spent eight years working in and learning the industry. In 1988, a confident Wing took $30,000 of her savings and formed her own company. The success of that first incentive travel company led to the formation of another and then another one.
“I fell into travel and it was a piece of cake for me. So, I started my first event company in 1988, and then that sold in 1992,” she says. “The second company grew to $120 million in sales in four years. And, I did the same thing in the third company.”
Wing’s initial idea for Brojure came about while she was still running her second business when she realized that potential clients weren’t reading her 50-page proposals. “They wanted to hear about the story or visually understand what the destination had to offer. So, I started creating storyboards that were printed on 30 x 20-inch boards. Our win ratio went to 98 percent,” she says.
When Wing sold her third business, she considered starting an event planning company but her success with the story boarding strategy changed her mind. If traditional paper story boarding led to an increase in sales, the next logical step would be digital story boarding. And, with that, Brojure was developed over two weekends at the Google campus in London.
“You can go in and do these warrior weekends where you go on Friday afternoon, maybe 200 programmers show up. They take a project, each person gets maybe 10 or 12 programmers, and they work for 48 hours straight without sleeping. Then, you come up with a prototype on Sunday afternoon and everybody judges on that prototype. Well, I did two weekends to develop the concept and we won both weekends.”
Brojure is one of three women-owned businesses that are collaborating to create one-of-a kind marketing packages for other diverse businesses. The collaboration is the brainchild of Nino Campos, supplier diversity manager for Oracle, who developed the idea when he noticed that many diverse companies weren’t making a sufficient impression on procurement managers and supplier diversity professionals in match making sessions. Campos figured a better way to engage these decision makers was through something very creative and innovative.
Wing, Summer Sepulveda, a highly regarded supplier diversity and marketing professional, and Alex Alvarez, a supplier diversity professional at Apple recommended creating an online marketplace through the Technology Industry Group (TIG), which is comprised of 30 major technology groups whose goal is to make sure they have diverse suppliers throughout their supply chains.
“We’ve created this Pinterest-like environment of business brochures of all the suppliers. They’re beautiful to look at and interact with. You can book through it, you can call people through it and you can email through it.”
The companies joining Brojure in the collaboration are Diversity Professional and Rep Interactive, an award-winning video marketing and production agency.
Brojure isn’t the only company that Wing currently oversees; she is the founder and CEO of a web-based company called Plan The World that connects incentive and event planners directly to destinations and suppliers. However, it is not a solo endeavor; Wing has brought on Sepulveda as a vice president and co-owner with the objective of advising and mentoring her so that one day she can turn the business over to her.
In the meantime, Wing will continue to grow Brojure not only for her benefit but as a platform for other businesses to showcase their capabilities, products and services so that they succeed, as well.
“This seems to be our year of taking off. We’ve got quite a few interesting customers using our platform, but our biggest goal is designed for TIG.”