Gulmi Consulting is a vertically integrated marketing, PR, and brand development agency with clients based in Boston, NYC, and SF. They work with incredible companies like the W Hotel Boston and startups like Bevi and Virtual Health Partners. The corporate division focuses on national and international marketing and media relations while the startup practice specializes in achieving early growth and rapid scale. They help executives and entrepreneurs build out new divisions, broker strategic partnerships, sell and developing new revenue stream opportunities, and build informed products with streamlined user experiences. We met Zoey Gulmi, the founder and CEO.
How did you develop the idea for the company? How did you make the decision to take the plunge and start your own company?
I saw a need for big agency results without the big cost where a consultant could offer full service marketing, public relations, and brand development, while giving clients that “hands on” service so many companies want, but often can’t find. The more companies I worked with, the more I saw that they were pulling from a variety of agencies to fulfill one need (all while spending more than they needed to) and thereby getting less impactful results. Ultimately, I believe your brand’s voice needs to be cohesive across all platforms. My client-centric, innovative model defies traditional agency boundaries through a streamlined, adaptive approach. With this approach in mind, the market quickly validated my model and I saw a tremendous amount of organic growth in my client base. I feel lucky to work with incredible companies and entrepreneurs who inspire me daily – and I’m excited for those I’ll meet in the future.
What was your background before starting Gulmi Consulting?
Sounds rather cliche to say, but I think entrepreneurship is in my DNA – many of my family members have started and sustained very successful companies so I embarked on my career with entrepreneurship in mind. After graduating from college with an academic background in business and economics, I worked for Bergdorf Goodman, Conde Nast, and quickly began freelancing for companies and agencies prior to launching Gulmi Consulting.
What is the scrappiest, most startup-y thing you’ve had to do to date?
I’m a firm believer in being scrappy, in fact its something I look for in founders. I thrive in offering creative strategies and solutions to my clients so many things feel ‘startup-y” because it’s often taking the business strategy in a new direction. Whether it’s helping a startup client approach potential enterprise customers for the first time in a unique way to close adeal, or completely remaking a branding strategy, there is always room for thinking outside of the box and getting a little scrappy when necessary. I was fortunate enough to work with an incredible startup out of Harvard lab and I often think back to those days of watching founders ideate in a room for hours and am reminded of how important it is to take the time to bounce ideas off of colleagues. When many sharp minds with divergent areas of expertise work together, there’s no limit to what can be achieved. Something extraordinary happens when you choose to see your work through the lens of possibility, sometimes that possibility is best visible when you have your back up against the wall and need to claw your way out.
How did you fund the business?
In the beginning, I was a freelance publicist and consultant for several companies and was able to roll that into launching Gulmi Consulting. From there, I built my client base largely through referrals.
What is one thing you wish you had known and would have approached differently when starting your company?
There’s a saying that the worst boss you’ll ever have is yourself – and it’s true! For me, I am learning the power of no and taking some time to disconnect. It’s been important for me to give myself permission to work nonstop when I need to and balance that by finding a way to take the occasional day off or an hour off to sneak a longer workout in.
What are you most excited about in the next year (either within the company or industry/technology wide)?
I’m so excited about the Boston startup ecosystem continuing to grow and flourish. I’m very fortunate to live in the same city as so many talented entrepreneurs and be so close to incredible innovators across industries.
If you could give an aspiring entrepreneur one piece of advice, what would it be?
Time management is key to success, so I use a framework called “Prime Time” and “Airplane Mode” to make sure that I have the space to address my personal and professional commitments. For “Prime Time,” it’s the natural time of day that you’re most productive (the concept of a biological prime time has been widely documented – including in one of my favorite books, Sam Carpenter’s “Work the System”). I create a list of high priority tasks to tackle during my “Prime Time” and I’m 1000% more productive.
“Airplane Mode” comes from my observation that I’m ironically very productive during my travel days when I can’t be quite as connected as usual. At the beginning of each week, I carefully look at my schedule and declare one day to be my “Airplane Mode” time. I block it out on my shared calendar and treat it as if I were in the air: working out of the office, disabling my phone, and shutting off network connections on my laptop. The rest of the days are for meetings and so on – but this blocked out time each week is where I disconnect and do a deep dive into my work. It allows me to be ultra productive and efficient without the distractions.