June 13, 2014
What does it take to become a successful Chief Operations Officer – or more so a leader, and someone that young entrepreneurs can emulate? Everyone’s answers to this question will vary, but I think we could agree on a few qualities: motivation, the ability to self-start, managing a team, knowledge of the industry and where it’s going…. the list goes on and on.
When I asked the same question to Jay Clouse, a young entrepreneur, author of the Startup Guide, and COO of a company called Tixers, he strayed away from the typical “descriptive adjectives” and instead gave me a different answer. He says you have to be comfortable with ambiguity, have the ability to make decisions quickly and care about your business – essentially “live and breathe” your startup 100 percent everyday.
Despite his title of COO, he wears “multiple hats” and is responsible for high level partnerships, day-to-day operations, managing the team and essentially helping get Tixers to the next level.
From BBC President to COO: Clouse’s Story
When Clouse was a senior at Ohio State University, he began to weigh his options for his post-graduate plans.
“It was pretty evident to me and everyone else around me that my passion is really entrepreneurship and working with a startup or small company,” says Clouse who also interviewed at a few large corporations and consulting firms.
Clouse was the President of the Business Builders Club, the Entrepreneurship organization at OSU, and is very well connected in the Columbus startup community. It was no surprise that Alex Burkhart, the CEO of Tixers, reached out to Clouse.
“He was trying to find someone that was a good fit and I met with him to see if there was anyone that I could connect him to,” says Clouse. “We started talking and you know I said I think I am kind of interested in this.”
An informal meeting quickly turned into a job, but Clouse is no stranger to the ticket industry. As a junior, he created a business called MarketOSU, which is an exclusive Craigslist for OSU students.
” I had a lot of experience with Ohio State students and selling tickets through that so it was a lot of overlap,” says Clouse who founded Boosted Brands and was an organizer for Columbus Startup Weekend.
What is Tixers?
Tixers is “changing the way tickets are exchanged,” according to their site. Tixers is different from other ticketing companies like Stub Hub because they take a more customer service approach. Here’s how Tixers works:
- Buyers can put in a request for any ticket or game: “They can just put in their request for any concert or game they are looking for, they can tell us how many tickets they want, what they are willing to pay and where in general they like to sit. Once we have that request in our system it looks at whether or not we can fulfill that through inventory,” says Clouse.
- Helping you make it less complicated: Tixers is very consumer oriented. They reach out to buyers and walk them through the process, which means customers don’t have to dig through seating charts and stadium maps.
- They have a different approach for secondary markets: Buyers can transfer tickets they aren’t going to use to Tixers and credit for the ticket up to face value:”If you have a Reds ticket that is going to waste you can just send it to us, we give you credit for it and use it for a Bengals game or something,” says Clouse.
Lessons Learned and Creating Value
Clouse’s advice for young entrepreneurs is to take any opportunity to expand your network.
“I look back on my path and there are all these moments that led me here that at the time I had no idea were leading me here,” says Clouse. “It’s cool to go back and trace your path and say I can’t believe that chance meeting I had with person x led to event y, which got me to job z.”
He also has some interesting advice on his blog about “being selfish with your time” and making the transition to a leadership role at a company.
Similar to most entrepreneurs Clouse doesn’t have a “5 year plan.” At the end of the day, Clouse’s number one priority is to make an impact.
“I want to be able to create value and create value for the world,” says Clouse. “Sometimes it’s working for another company, maybe it could be starting my own company someday.”
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