On the third floor of a nondescript building next to the Atlanta Medical Center, Robinson College of Business students and alumni are building a marketing firm to cater to people like them – digital natives who grew up with the Internet.
The company, Lyfe Marketing, occupies a small office space. But in a span of a few years, brothers Sherman and Sean Standberry, with longtime friend Keran Smith, have applied that understanding to effectively grow their business.
They’ve built a firm that pushed a simple ticket giveaway for the Atlanta Hawks to the top of Twitter as a trending topic. They boosted the brand of a new bleach tablet to reach well over 2 million people, and they marketed a local entrepreneur networking event tied to the ABC-TV program Shark Tank, attracting hundreds of people in the show’s fifth season.
They’re unceasing in their work to give businesses an edge in the crowded space of digital conversation.
“I think it’s about priorities, and what we care about the most,” said Sean Standberry, chief executive officer of Lyfe Marketing, who graduated in 2013 with a degree in accounting. “You probably won’t catch us at a party on the weekend. You’ll probably catch us up all night working on a website, or working to construct our business in the best way possible.”
The Standberry brothers and Smith first met in high school in Stone Mountain, Ga. After they moved on to Georgia State, the trio started Lyfe Marketing – Lyfe standing for “live young forever” – in 2011.
Entrepreneurial spirit is in the Standberry brothers’ DNA. Their father is an accountant, running his own practice and letting his children know he expected them to become entrepreneurs themselves.
Without much training in marketing, they started as a promotions company, said Sherman Standberry, a senior in accounting and vice president for operations at Lyfe.
“We saw a lot of people who were trying to brand themselves, but they really didn’t know how,” he recalled. “We came up with this concept where you could really do anything you want at a young age. You don’t have to follow the tracks that society has laid out.”
Working with other small businesses near the Georgia State campus, the young men became more knowledgeable at the trade of marketing themselves, evolving into a full-service marketing firm.
They’ve even gotten a taste of the rough-and-tumble world of a political campaign, directing social media efforts for John Barge, who lost in his bid to become the Republican nominee for Georgia governor.
And Lyfe has grown to the point where they’ve hired other Georgia State students as interns.
Despite their successes, the trio is keeping their eyes on the future and pushing themselves forward.
“I still feel a little, if I’m being truthful, unsatisfied,” said Smith, director of digital strategy for Lyfe and a junior in marketing at Georgia State. “There are still a lot more things I want to accomplish with this company.”
Sean Standberry sees it two ways, from the perspective of a college student and from the angle of a businessman aiming for even higher growth.
“Any college student would be happy to have a business that’s growing,” he said. “But as a business owner, you’re trying to make your first million dollars.”