Features - Entrepreneurial Alumni

Barbara Sellmeyer

Barbara Sellmeyer

Posted 01 March 2017

London Programme

March 2011 Intake


Barbara, a graduate of Rollins College, set up Kompass Concepts, a new-age strategic consulting service specializing in helping clients revolutionize their marketing and brand development. Barbara founded the company last year and now works as a brand strategist to help entrepreneurs through medium-sized businesses develop customizable and sustainable marketing plans that correlate to their sales strategy. Barbara was hired straight after completing the Programme by a designer based out of NYC, whom she interviewed for her paper. She was able to set to work immediately putting her ideas into action. She carried these experiences through three different marketing focused roles before identifying a need in the marketplace for hands-on guidance for companies branding for the first time or looking to revamp their image to keep up with their goals. She is able to help clients understand marketing from a business perspective as the fundamental piece that determines how a brand will perform in the marketplace. Barbara's aim in starting Kompass was to use this perspective to give brands the power to tell their story in a way that fits within their resources.

How did you get into this line of business?
During my time in London with Mountbatten, I trained with the business development team at Deutsche Bank. In a weird twist of fate, my team was undergoing internal changes, leaving my role largely undefined. My supervisor opened up the opportunity to allow me to construct a role that I thought would benefit the team, which turned out to be developing a marketing program that would raise awareness of their program internally on a global basis to help push their growth goals. This allowed me to be creative with their message while learning how to create a strategy that fitted within their budget and legal constraints. Once I arrived in Thailand and started working on my dissertation, I wanted to look at how marketing strategies for Western brands helped grow their recognition in Asian city centers. During this time I was interviewing a designer based out of NYC for my paper, and he promptly hired me when I graduated to put my ideas into action. I carried these experiences through three different marketing focused roles before identifying a need in the marketplace for hands-on guidance for companies branding for the first time or looking to revamp their image to keep up with their goals. Through my education from Mountbatten, I am able to help clients understand marketing from a business perspective as the fundamental piece that determines how a brand will perform in the marketplace. My aim starting Kompass was to use this perspective to give brands the power to tell their story in a way that fits within their resources.

How did you go about setting it up and getting established?
I always knew I wanted to start my own business but was not sure what it would consist of. Once I realized what I could offer as an independent brand strategist, I reached out to an entrepreneur and asked her if I could assess her business plan and marketing strategy and help bring her idea to market at no cost so I could test out if this was something that would be profitable. I woke up every day before 6 am and worked on her project for a few hours before work, developing her business plan and building the look and feel of her brand. When I came home at night I researched what systems needed to be in place to successfully run a business, from financial management systems to what kind of taxes I would be expected to pay so I could map out my potential income. After a few months, we successfully launched her website and marketing strategy to great reviews. At this point, I knew I wanted to be independent so I could work with passionate people and help bring their dreams to life, so I quit my job. Luckily enough, she recommended me to a friend of hers once our project was complete and I was able to sign my first contract on the last day of my job.

What else is in the pipeline?
I was hired as a full-time contractor with my first (official) client, and following our initial contract they didn’t want me to leave! I was asked to work as their "shared CMO," where I can guide them on executing the strategy we set in place and adjusting it as they grow while continuing to attain new clients. Currently, I have a few proposals out and may look to hire an intern this summer to help with some of the workloads that is required to research new industries and trends to create a custom marketing plan along with support in design.

What has been the proudest moment in your working life thus far?
My client asked me to join them on their annual company conference and present the work I completed as part of re-imaging their 40-year-old company. I was able to teach marketing best practices and walk through the storytelling process of creating a fresh brand and marketing strategy that incorporated their history while showcasing their future goals to a room full of medical professionals who are actively shaping the future of health care. One reason I wanted to be independent was so I could work with inspiring people, and I was very proud of the position I was in to share my ideas and inspire them on the future of their business through storytelling.

What has been your biggest mistake/learning experience?
It's honestly hard to say because every day I’m learning! The biggest learning curve I've faced is learning how to work by myself. When I'm not face to face with a client it can be tough to be self-motivating 24/7. I've had to learn that if I am hitting a rut, get outside and do something else until I’ve cleared my head.

Any words of advice/wisdom would you impart to others thinking of setting up their own business?
First, if you are truly passionate about an idea or service, do it. No one will ever slap your wrist for trying. Secondly, if you are at the point of embarking on your own venture, make sure you have a financial plan in place. If you do not have enough of your own savings then ask family or friends ahead of time if they would be willing to help out. The last thing you want to worry about when trying to build a business is if you will have enough money to survive, it’s a true distraction that could hinder your work. Once you have that in place, just remember that entrepreneurship is a roller coaster, but it is a truly rewarding experience.

Join me on my journey at KompassConcepts.com and on social @KompassConcepts