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Mike Headshot 12-22-11

Founder Friday: Mike Santoro of Walker Sands

This week’s Founder Friday is featuring Mike Santoro of Walker Sands. See what he has to say about growing pains and the importance of PR below.

1)     What is Walker Sands? 

Walker Sands is a public relations and digital marketing agency for large enterprises and growth-stage companies in the tech industry. We help companies grow their business, obtain funding and increase sales by raising awareness and generating new leads.  We are based in Chicago, but work with businesses across the globe, including Cisco, ThreatMetrix, Acquity Group and Empathica.

2)     What has been the most challenging part of running the business?

We’ve grown 270% in the last three years, so managing growth is a big challenge, especially hiring and keeping the right people. We have the processes and structure necessary to always deliver solid results, and an industry reputation that helps us sell more easily to companies that are a good fit for our expertise.

Growth is a good problem to have because it means we are doing things right. But the challenge is maintaining the quality of the business, which depends on the quality of the people. Hiring and keeping the best people is a top priority.

3)     Why is PR so important for startups?

The credibility gained from a placement in an influential publication like the Wall Street Journal or New York Times can help your company explode overnight. We’ve seen relative unknowns gain rapid market traction based on a few solid media features.

4)     Do you have a mentor? If so, who?

I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of great people throughout my career, including Mark Rastovac at Technology Advisors and Ken Gaebler here at Walker Sands.

Much of my learning also comes from the clients I work with. I’ve been lucky to work with smart marketers, entrepreneurs and technologists who share their secrets of business success. Having access to these brilliant people is often the most rewarding part of my job.

5)     What is one piece of advice you’d give to anyone thinking of starting a company?

It’s all about your team. As you grow, you need to make sure you have the right people, both is raw skills and in cultural fit. Your team must have the same passion for the company or product you’re trying to build; this is especially important at the early stages of a company. Be selective and build a team you truly work well with.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to learn more about Mike, his team & Walker Sands here.

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