Ronny Sage is CEO of Chicago-based online shopping and fundraising site, ShoppingGives. Alongside managing ShoppingGives’ closely-knit team of 12, he aims to be the catalyst for retailers to maximize their digital impact by converting marketing sales into foundation dollars. By connecting retailers, customers and nonprofits, ShoppingGives’ digital platform enables the exchange of social capital, all through everyday shopping.
Sage’s work involves bringing people together, making connections, and inspiring innovation. Using his 10 years in digital marketing at both the brand and agency levels, specializing in loyalty and direct response marketing, he has focused his knowledge toward social impact. “I loved the work I was doing in my previous position at Rise as a digital strategist working with top brands,” said Sage. “Through adopting the philosophies of data first and exceptional user experience, I have a laser-focused vision of creating a life-changing social impact.”
Sage offers his expertise and insight in the technology area of running a small business.
Know what you don’t know. Some of the biggest mistakes and setbacks come from anticipating an outcome based on an assumption. The development landscape moves fast, and different developers have different POVs. We solved this by having two technical advisors, many times with opposing views, as healthy debate creates healthy outcomes.
Don't be scared to reach out blind. I attribute a large a part of our success to website contact forms. For example, our partnership with Techweek was rooted in a 2 a.m. contact form submission.
Find a mentor, ask for help. Learn from others’ mistakes. It’s a lot cheaper and less painful.
Hire generalists, not specialists. My mentor and advisor Andrew Blickstein drove this point home very early on as we were building our team. Small teams should have generalists who can cover cross-functional roles. As your business matures, hire specialists, but know that they are more expensive.
Stand out to talent. Sixty percent of something is better than 100 percent of nothing. Don’t be scared to use equity in the right way. Phantom equity can be an extremely powerful tool in team acquisition and retention. My approach has always been that 'we’re all in this together,' and equity makes the idea into a reality. Furthermore, with a vested interest in the company, the team has a larger incentive to work together towards success. I’ve published a LinkedIn blog post as a resource to accompany this article, which details the equation I’ve used for phantom equity.
This article was written by Michelle M. Guilbeau for Small Business Pulse