Schuyler Mann – Openlink Mobile Business Guy, Explorer, Angler

After graduating with an MBA from the University of Montana (‘09), Schuyler co-founded Openlink Mobile, a company that builds mobile marketing solutions for small business needs. The first product is a simple and affordable text message marketing tool.

Schuyler was born and raised in Southern California until his family moved to Connecticut when he was 13. He is a graduate of Harvard University (’05) with a degree in Sociology and a minor in Spanish. He played (but mostly practiced) minor league baseball for the New York Yankees and amassed a grand 9 at-bats over one season, going 3 for 9. Schuyler is intrigued by the variety of cultures in the US and global community, and appreciates opportunities to experience them. His grandma tells him every Sunday on the phone, “You sure do know how to have fun don’t you?” Schuyler agrees, with the caveat that he also knows how to get his work done beforehand. His interests include exploring Montana, fly fishing, golf, and cooking.

What are you working on right now?

I am currently working on a start up called Openlink Mobile. The business plan that I wrote and presented took first prize in a competition at the University of Montana. After some good buzz and a decent level of interest from outsiders, Colin (my partner) and I are racing to figure out the best application of our product. While our options are many, and the task is daunting, we are excited by the opportunity and the challenge of navigating this constantly changing space.

3 Trends that excite you

Twitter – As a player in the mobile marketing industry, these guys are obviously on our radar. We are very excited to learn how Twitter will transition to a revenue model that has both inflows and outflows.

Mobile Communication Mediums – It is hard to imagine that texting did not exist 10 years ago. This mobile communication has completely changed the way in which people keep in touch. Other forms of social media have done their part as well. I’m excited to see if text is around to stay, or if another mobile communication displaces the current king of convenient communication. Our prediction is that another medium will come. However, we also predict the life of texting to have legs enough for a disruptive (a la Clayton Christensen) marketing service to see success.

Consolidation of the mobile marketing industry seems imminent in an environment that is currently fragmented and growing rapidly. At Openlink Mobile, we see the current opportunity as a race for market share. The idea is to optimally position the business for the time when consolidation occurs.

How do you bring ideas to life?

My source of inspiration and ideas comes from a genuine interest in the passionate pursuits of others. I’m inspired by people who get really excited by ideas, hobbies, entrepreneurship or good old-fashioned positive thinking. It’s inspiring stuff that makes me want to be better at what I like and do.

I also have an appreciation for action, so the only way to bring an idea to life is to get started on working toward the end goal. As a kid, I was pretty shy and didn’t try lots of new things or go out of my way to meet lots of people. I think that I now live by taking more chances, trying new things, and assuming more responsibility in general. A nice result in living this mantra is that ideas surpass the daydreaming stage and actually get put into action.

Where will your business be, and what will you be doing in five years?

I think the mobile marketing industry will likely consolidate over the coming years. Right now lots of little startups like ours are racing to be the first with catchy, useful applications. The end result could be an offer for the business we are now building, or at the very least, a great learning opportunity. In this space, it’s hard or probably impossible, to predict what the business will be doing in five years. I hope to always be working toward shaping my own future, and if I can do it with friends, then power to it!

What job would make you excited to jump out of bed every day?

I’ve become slightly one dimensional in my passion for fishing so a lot of my ideas go back to that. Generally, I’d be very happy with any job that allowed me to feel free. Free to make my own schedule, to set my own goals, and to provide limitless reward relative to the effort put forth. Of equal importance, I’d like to one day build a business that is conducive of strong community and family values. An idea that comes to mind is an urban fishing camp. I have caught carp in Boston and bass in New York City. There seems to be a great opportunity to give urban youths the tools to become ambassadors for the environment while partaking in a positive pastime. Plus, summer camp is awesome.