COO, IZEA, Milford
Employees: 50 Funding: $36M Education: Michigan State University
The mainstream media have always made their money mixing sizzle with spice. Still, the business side of the industry has changed dramatically, which means the revenue model isn’t like it was 20 years ago, or even five years ago. Enter Ryan Schram, the Milford-based COO of Winter Park, Fla.-based IZEA. The company deals in sponsored social marketing, which might involve a public figure with several million Facebook fans or Twitter followers posting or tweeting about a client and getting paid for doing so. Schram began to recognize the power of the idea thanks to Ted Murphy, a friend in Florida who founded IZEA and became his boss. “Basically, I remember the day in 2006 when Ted told me, ‘I believe that social is to the point now where every single one of us can be as powerful as a publisher, especially when you understand how that works at scale, and there needs to be a marketplace that exists to bring these influencers together with these brands, and I’m gonna do it.’ ” Five years after Murphy launched the company, he persuaded Schram to leave his job with Pleasant Ridge-based ePrize (since renamed Hello World Inc.) and join IZEA, initially as marketing director. “A couple months into the role, we quickly realized that not only did I bring marketing expertise, we really needed operational excellence, as well,” Schram recalls. A year later, he was promoted to COO. “It’s been a great ride,” he says.