Whitman Voices


Featured Alumni Entrepreneur: Jason Robbins ’90

Featured Alumni Entrepreneur: Jason Robbins ’90

jason-headshot%5b1%5dAfter graduating from Syracuse University in 1990, Jason Robbins wanted a job in real estate. It was a challenging time for real estate, and he soon accepted a position at Goldman, Sachs & Company in the J. Aron Commodities division.

It was an exciting time to be involved in oil trading during the Gulf War. Most importantly, Robbins learned how to use technology to improve processes. Having a job that required many rote tasks, such as matching up trade confirmations, Robbins snuck back to work with the company’s computer programmers to create new custom computer applications that drastically decreased the time it took to do the job and lowered the risk of errors. A one cent mistake meant $5,000 when you are dealing with a 500,000-barrels contract. His day went from 12 hours of work to eight hours per day, enabling him to take on more work and impress his boss.

Robbins went on to attend Columbia Business School and received an MBA in new media and marketing. Having taken statistics and other classes at SU for his finance degree, he was able to pass out of a few classes and spend time on electives exploring a new thing surfacing at the time called the “Internet.” It was 1993.

After graduation, Robbins was referred to a headhunter, who was also an SU graduate, and was placed at J. Crew. Robbins, again, had to teach himself basic computer programming, which would turn an 8-hour task into 20 minutes for himself and four other staff members. But his real interest was figuring out how to get J. Crew to start a website in 1994. At the time, it was too early and the company did not want to invest in the technology.

A number of different jobs later, including a year trying to be successful as a commercial shopping center real estate broker, Robbins started a company with his brother-in-law. The company, called Jetline, was a supplier of promotional items. Jetline’s specialty was printing business logos on spring things, essentially slinky toys.

After one year, Robbins left that business to start ePromos. Rather than be the supplier to the middleman, he wanted to get back to the vision of doing something early on in the Internet boom. Having experience in the promo business on the supplier side was perfect for starting ePromos. With virtually all his savings ($30,000), Robbins found some developers to help build his vision.

Almost 20 years later, ePromos.com is headquartered in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and has 135 plus employees across eight states and more than 20,000 customers. ePromos provides the ability to customize and purchase online or work with an experienced brand consultant. ePromos is an extension of Robbins’ passion to help companies look great in a highly competitive world. Having a great logo and great branding is part of the foundation of business today. Employees want to be proud of the company they work for and wear logo’d t-shirts and jackets. In addition, customers love getting great merchandise they can use, such as cellphone wallets and power banks. Having your logo on merchandise that is used daily is perhaps the best way to break through all the digital clutter and standout above the competition. Robbins calls it “tangible advertising.”

In addition to numerous Inc. 5000 and Promotional Products Association International Best Website awards, ePromos was recently recognized as the #31 largest promo distributor by sales revenue in the United States, and Robbins was named to the 2016 Advertising Specialty Institute Power 50 list of the most influential people in the promo business.

Anybody wishing to learn more about ePromos can visit www.epromos.com (or @epromos on Twitter) or contact Robbins directly.  He is happy to spend time coaching entrepreneurs and to give startups discounts on merchandise they need to establish themselves.

Jason Robbins
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