Blue Soda Promo offers one stop solution for all your needs, right from apparels, bags, gifts and giveaways to journals and office stationeries, among others. Since its inception, the company has grown leaps and bounds and attained an unrivaled position in the global market.

speaks to Tej Shah about his company and the work they are involved in.

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Q: Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.

A: Blue Soda Promo is a leading promotional product company. Out of the 24,000 companies in our industry, we are ranked in the Top 50. We provide promotional items and custom printed products for both large and small businesses, schools and non-profit organizations. From embroidered polo shirts for employee apparel, to custom printed stress balls for a trade show to engraved executive pens for a corporate gift, Blue Soda Promo has an option for all.

Blue Soda Promo is headquartered in Chicago, IL. We are not a typical promotional products company – we make your brand POP! High quality products, competitive prices and unmatched customer service is what helps us edge over others.

Q: Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).

A: Fresh out of college, I co-founded a web-based company, WeRemember.org that was featured in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, TIME and The New York Times. In 2009, I was nominated by BusinessWeek as one of the Top 25 Entrepreneurs Under 25.

After the company was acquired, I moved on to consult with businesses of all sizes, from start-ups to billion dollar companies, to develop and fine-tune their marketing strategies. Working with organizations such as Bank of America, ServiceMaster and SharkZoo as a consultant, I created company specific marketing strategies to help these organizations to continue to expand. Currently I am the VP of Marketing & E-Commerce at Blue Soda Promo.

Q: How important have good employees been to your success?

A: Hiring the right talent is crucial to our business. We don’t look for people who are just looking for a job, rather we look for people who really want to be a part of a growing company and are passionate about working here. Happy employees create happy clients.

Q: What three pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become entrepreneurs?

A: Create a business plan. This is the most overlooked part for most entrepreneurs. It is easy to think that you have all the ideas in your head, but it is essential to jot down ideas in black and white and plan out effective marketing strategies worth implementing for a successful business.

Only get funding if you absolutely need it. If you can afford to bootstrap your operation, do it. Investors bring in additional capital, but then you are giving up some of your decision making power.

It is not about the money. Start a business because you are passionate about it, not because you want to get richer in a short span. The passion is going to get you through the rough patches and help you make the right decisions for your company.

Q: If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?

A: Nothing, I am very happy with where I am right now and take pride in the success of our company.

Q: What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

A:

  • Passion
  • Hard Work Ethic
  • Problem Solver

Q: How do you define success?

A: Happiness.

Q: How do you build a successful customer base?

A: We provide high quality products, competitive prices and cost effective services. This secret formula has efficiently worked for us so far.

Q: How did you decide on the location for your business?

A: We wanted a central location that was close to a major city.

Q: What book has inspired you the most? (OR What is your favorite book?)

A: Delivering Happiness, by Tony Hsieh

Q: Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?

A: Zappos and Google. They have great company culture, which I think is very important.

Q: Where you see yourself and your business in 10 years? 20 years?

A: Running Blue Soda Promo, with the only difference being that Blue Soda Promo will be significantly larger than it is today!