Andrew Krebs-Smith negotiated his first deal when he was just 12.
His 8-year-old brother wanted to invite a friend over for a sleepover, but their parents nixed that idea. So Krebs-Smith put on a suit jacket, wrote out a contract for them to sign, and went downstairs to negotiate a deal.
The future founder of Social Fulcrum, an agency that “brings more science into the marketing world,” never lost that entrepreneurial edge. By the time the Maryland native was attending Baltimore’s Loyola University, he had co-founded a company called Slacker Hero. “Nothing ever happened with it,” he says. “We never had a client.”
But because it was based on a series of books that were being made into a movie, he did get contacted by Universal Pictures. Good thing he honed his negotiating skills years before in his parents’ living room.
“The whole experience cost me less than a college class,” says Krebs-Smith, “and I learned so much more as a life experience.”
He founded two other companies before he hit pay dirt with Social Fulcrum. His current venture, which was “profitable since day one,” helps companies acquire new customers by rigorously analyzing data about the market.
“We looked very different back then than we do now,” he says. “We used to try to do too many things. We really found our niche, and we dove in headfirst.”
His first office was in a New York coworking space called Green Desk, founded by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey.
Realizing that he wanted to know more about the nuts and bolts of running his own company, Krebs-Smith enrolled in Babson College’s Graduate School of Business. For those two years, he worked hard to earn his MBA and run Social Fulcrum at the same time.
Boston proved to be a good fit for Krebs-Smith, so he moved his company into Neumann and McKelvey’s next coworking space: WeWork.
“I didn’t even realize that the founders were the same until we had been here for a year or two,” he says.
Social Fulcrum acquired a company where his current co-founder was working. Their partnership turned out to be a good fit, since Krebs-Smith knew marketing and advertising and his partner was well versed in analyzing data.
“That put us in a good place to take advantage of all new tools that were available,” he says.
Social Fulcrum is growing by leaps and bounds. A four-person team moved into WeWork Fort Point in 2014, doubling in size before the end of the year. They’ve continued to expand and now have a staff of 22.
Krebs-Smith looks back in awe at his early startups, acknowledging how important they were in his development as a business leader.
“I learned a lot from those companies,” he says. “Without that experience, I don’t think I’d be where I am now.”
Photos: Pretty Instant