Two University of Georgia roommates from Atlanta, who moved to New York and started a company together, made Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list for 2019. Best friends Stephanie Pulido and Erin Abernathy run the new media, micro-influencer marketing company, Out of Office Media.
Pulido grew up at Temple Kol Emeth in Marietta. Abernathy, who is not Jewish, is from Gwinnett.
They are among 600 young innovators, entrepreneurs and risk-takers who are putting a twist on what it means to be a leader for the next generation, according to a Forbes release. More than 15,000 online submissions were received for the contest, so entrants have a 4 percent chance of making it to the final list of “youthful visionaries and disruptors.”
The index “identifies the next generation of entrepreneurs, visionaries, and game-changers throughout the world,” Randall Lane, chief content officer for Forbes and creator of the Forbes Under 30 franchise, said in the release.
Pulido and Abernathy started the company in late 2015 as a collaborative community for up-and-coming bloggers and influencers to meet, share information and make friends.
“It got a very positive response, so we hosted a happy hour, which drew the attention of more bloggers,” Pulido said.
Soon she was answering a call from Dunkin’ Donuts, discussing how the coffee and pastries giant could launch its newest cold-brew product to Pulido’s growing list of influencers.
Out of Office Media now works with lifestyle brands such as the iconic donut maker and fashion and accessory designer Kendra Scott to help them reach a female, millennial audience through social media and blog posts. The company hosts parties for its more than 5,000 micro-influencer network and created a media property, My Life Out of Office, which reaches about 500,000 a month.
Pulido said the parties are for 200 bloggers, typically featuring one product and one hospitality group. In turn, the bloggers write about the experience to generate attention.
Out of Office Media holds smaller events for timely releases, like the new spring line for Scott.
At UGA, Pulido and Abernathy studied public relations and marketing. After graduation in 2013, they started careers in New York. Abernathy worked in entertainment and lifestyle PR and Pulido worked in digital sales at a few large publishers.
Out Of Office Media began as a blog by Pulido and Abernathy, written while they adapted to living in N.Y. and worked at their full-time jobs. Sparked by a desire to meet new people and build community, Pulido arranged a networking brunch for other bloggers.
As Out of Office Media grew organically, Pulido and Abernathy quit their jobs to work together. “Finding a business partner is harder than finding a spouse,” Pulido joked. “People ask us all the time, ‘Aren’t you sick of each other?’ But we’re not.”
Pulido has heard that successful business partners excel in different areas, but she and Abernathy are both relationship-driven. “We like to be out networking, talking to people about what their interests are, making connections,” she said, noting cash flow and bookkeeping are challenges for the co-founders.
Now that Out of Office Media has grown, Pulido is no longer writing. But being stuck behind a desk is not her idea of fun, either.
“We are hoping to step away from being behind the desk and getting more into experiential planning. We want to plan big, fun millennial experiences we know our audience would love, like cruises and award shows. Instagram-able moments,” she said.
One downside of all that time online? “It hurts your neck to always be looking at your phone. So, we treat ourselves to monthly massages.”
Pulido added that she and Abernathy have their heads on straight. They are on social media because it is their job, not for an ego boost. “Social media is a marketing tool and a way to build authentic relationships online,” Pulido said.