José Duarte is the Head of Marketing at Boro, a Chicago-based fintech startup dedicated to helping College Students build their credit history through educational resources and access to fair, simple, and smart financing products.
Before Boro, he helped grow millennial media brands like OMGFacts and Dose to a peak of over 100m unique monthly visitors. He then helped the company productize the viral creative process, and worked with clients like Lionsgate, CBS, and Infiniti to improve their social media performance.
Q: What would you like to see your team accomplish in 2019?
We’re gearing up to launch our mobile app in the first half of September. We’ve spent the summer preparing a big Back to School campaign to promote the app with our Campus Ambassadors. I’m excited to get the app in front of students and help them on their way to financial wellness.
Q: Who is your role model or hero?
My great uncle, José Napoleón Duarte, was president of El Salvador during the country’s bloody civil war. He wasn’t perfect, but he was a very thoughtful man who wanted democracy for his people and had to make a lot of hard choices along the way.
Q: What is your favorite book?
“Blue Ocean Strategy” was key in my formative years. I worked as a junior management consultant in between summers in high school back in El Salvador, and one of my tasks was translating the original HBR article for people in the office to read. The article, and later the book ignited my interest in business strategy and how to systematize innovation.
“Made to Stick” is what helped turn me from an economist/accountant (my college majors) into a marketer. It’s such a concise masterclass in communication that I re-read it recently after a few years, and I was surprised to see how much of the book I had internalized.
Q: Do you use any specific method or system to run daily operations?
We use Agile Marketing to run our daily operations. On top of constant iterations on campaigns, and messaging, we use 2-week sprints to sandbox our work, reflect and learn from what we’ve done.
Underneath Agile, we have a more traditional marketing strategy framework, which helps us center our sprint-work, and ensure all our marketing activities align with our end goal or strategy.
Q: Why did you choose your present industry at this time?
Finance runs in my family – my grandfather was a founding member of the Salvadoran stock exchange, and my first job was at 12 shredding paper at his brokerage firm. And it was hard to say no to Boro: the company started by serving international students (like I was), has a great product that customers love, and it’s in a new growth curve.
Q: What is the best/worst moment you can remember in your career?
The first startup I worked at – Dose – lived and died by the Facebook Algorithm. We were in the right place and time to take advantage of the enormous growth that Newsfeed drove in 2011 – 2012 for a bunch of media companies… and then we saw traffic collapse almost overnight as Facebook kept tweaking its algorithm.
Q: Looking back – if you could advise a younger version of yourself to do something different – what would it be?
Part of me wants to say – don’t study accounting! But I think one of the things that help me most in my position is knowing a little bit about how every part of the business works. It helps me make better marketing decisions by knowing what constraints we have as we plan and execute our strategy.
Follow on Twitter: @etoduarte