Where Are They Now: Verum Media

Q&A with Founder Rob Johnson

Rob Johnson:

Rob Johnson

Hometown: Cedar Rapids, IA

Major & Graduation Year: Journalism & Mass Communication and Entrepreneurial Management Certificate, May 2013

Team: Sarah Bulmer and Eric Bailey

Current Position: Content Manager, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce  and Marketing Consultant, Occasion

About Verum Media:

Verum Media was originally created as an advertising and promotions agency, generating revenue from its self-published magazine. Verum Magazine was student-focused and discussed popular topics such as: music, fashion, politics and sports. After the conclusion of Verum Magazine Rob steered Verum towards business consulting. During this phase the company worked with small businesses and start-ups facilitating marketing and branding needs.

Q: What progress did you make while a BELL participant?

A: The BELL provided the support necessary for me to foster my business from idea, growth and the eventual pivot of the start-up into a different product and service.

Q: What did working on your business do for you when you were a current participant of BELL?

A: The BELL provided an environment that allowed me to grow as an entrepreneur. The mentors, staff and fellow BELL participants were extremely helpful in guiding me through the failure of my first business and its pivot into a model with a stronger value proposition. I was very naive when I first began my business. Without the supportive community surrounding the BELL, I don’t believe I would have had the same trajectory in my career.

Q: If you could take another swing at Verum Media would you? 

A: Absolutely, the experience of starting and running a business through the BELL was invaluable. I felt safe to work out of my comfort zone and try new ideas. Now that I am older, I would run my businesses differently but I would certainly do it again.

Q: How did Verum Media help you get to where you are today?

A: The BELL acted as a springboard to accelerate my growth and development past graduation and into Chicago. I owe my current position with the Chamber of Commerce directly to the relationship I built with JPEC alumni, who offered their mentorship to me when I was a student (specifically Greg Stevens and Jordan Uditsky). The knowledge and skills I learned while creating and operating my businesses through the BELL afforded me the opportunity to successfully circumnavigate a new market.

Q: What do you do for your current position?

A: I facilitate the creation and delivery of all creative materials including photography, video and graphic design [for the Chamber of Commerce].

Q: How did JPEC and BELL help you secure that position?

A: JPEC played a direct role in my hiring at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. When I was a junior, Greg Stevens attended the weekly Friday roundtable discussing the importance of import/export of growing businesses. Greg and I stayed in contact as I finished school and moved to Chicago, and he then took on more of a mentor role. When a position was being created for a Content Manager, I was personally recommended for the job.

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