Shaun Sheikh Vaulted From College Grad to Agency Co-founder

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Shaun Sheikh’s advertising career began as a precocious college student.

As a college sophomore at the University of Rochester working as a content writer, he was getting a lot of requests for SEO optimization. It led him down a rabbit hole and he developed a consuming passion for the then-budding digital advertising space.

After learning how to execute marketing campaigns on his own and develop creative assets, Sheikh said he was able to generate 30% ROI and $500 in gross profits a day as an individual marketer. By the summer between his junior and senior years, Sheikh said, “That’s all I was doing.”

That success allowed him to expand into the then-emerging platform of online video.

After graduating, he moved to New York, where his obsession led him to co-found Jump 450 Media. He created it “with the thesis that media buyers in organizations were undervalued but drove a lot of revenue.”

Sheikh explained that Jump 450 was founded around three pillars: The first is revenue sharing with employees managing different brand accounts, something he believes creates a “culture of entrepreneurship” and a “triangle of incentives” contributing to the average media buyer at the agency earning six to seven times as much as at most shops.

“That structure was a game changer for us,” Sheikh said. “It allowed us to recruit some of the best marketing talent in the world.”

The second pillar involves shoring up creative resources, which he said is becoming increasingly important. And the third pillar is business intelligence, including heavy investments in building a tech stack across multiple channels. He wants to influence the entire customer journey.

“Our approach overall is holistic,” Sheikh said.

Since its launch, Jump 450 Media has grown to an internal team of 30 people, its success leading Sheikh to be named to Forbes 30 Under 30 list along the way.

Pro Tip

Develop an intimate understanding of Robert Cialdini’s six principles of influence: reciprocity, consistency, authority, social proof, commitment and liking.

Big Mistake

Not fully appreciating the importance of managerial leverage.

Lesson Learned

The importance of placing your trust in others and creating a culture of excellence to further advance your company’s mission.

How He Got the Gig

He got his start in 2011 to parlay his content-writing skills to execute Facebook media buys for a variety of different lead-generation companies. As he gained more experience in the digital advertising sphere and established a strong network, he realized that creating a team of the best marketers and media buyers was the path he wanted to take. He met his three other partners shortly after college and decided to create Jump 450 Media and actualize this vision.

This story first appeared in the April 13, 2020, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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