Lakeland University Blog

2016 grad shares success story with students

2016 grad shares success story with students


2016 grad shares success story with students

The day that 2016 Lakeland graduate Michael Esiobu lost his 9-to-5 corporate job is the day his career – as they say in the social media world – blew up.

Armed with an always-growing skill set and accomplished track record of marketing and social media success, the 29-year-old entrepreneur has amassed an impressive professional portfolio:

  • He is the founder and CEO of Revine Media, which builds digital advertising campaigns for companies to grow their sales.
  • He helped launch and it still part of Unfinished Legacy, a popular clothing line initially based in Milwaukee that has moved to Los Angeles.
  • He creates content for Google as a freelancer.
  • He is the co-creator of a popular podcast called Crash Dummies with fellow Lakeland graduate Patrick Johnson.

Esiobu took time out of his often-hectic schedule to visit his alma mater recently to speak to Kim Viglietti's marketing principles class. He shared his story, answered students' numerous questions and offered tips for students to get started on their own entrepreneurial journeys.

He reflected on losing his first full-time job after graduation, noting that he saw it coming and felt prepared thanks to the social media marketing work he had already been doing and the networking skills he learned at Lakeland.

Today, he lives in Milwaukee and works remotely, using an app to plan out each day to keep himself on track.

"Losing that first job was one of the best things that's happened to me," Esiobu said. "It gave me the push to start my own business. I like being able to call my own shots. I always loved working with social media, and while I was at Lakeland, I created paid promotions for some artists that helped grow their traffic."

He recalls small talk with someone at the gym while working out one day that led to a job doing social media campaigns for a solar company. That led to additional work for more solar companies as he designed social media campaigns that helped grow followers and increase sales.

Revine Media was born in those days, and Esiobu has put together a team that does the day-to-day creative work that allows him to continue growing his business. He estimates he's generated more than $5 million in sales for his clients through his work.

"There are a lot of great products out there, but they're not always sure how to market them," Esiobu said. "The key to content it's all about the hooks. What can I say in 5 seconds to get you to listen? It's the same with how you communicate with people."

Esiobu's work on guerilla marketing and social media campaigns helped Unfinished Legacy, now in its third year, generate significant sales which were primarily invested back into the company to help it grow.

"We've always focused on investing back into the company," Esiobu said. "When you make your first $2,000, how do you use that to make $4,000 and keep growing?"

He spends a lot of time each week creating new content. The Crash Dummies podcast started in June and currently has 90,000 followers through TikTok and 30,000 listeners a month. "I helped companies do podcasts and felt I could do my own, and Pat was the perfect person to be part of it," Esiobu said.

Born in Nigeria, Esiobu's family moved to Chicago, but he returned to Nigeria for high school. His father sold computers and it gave Michael the business bug. He remembers buying bags of candy and selling individual pieces to people.

He came to Lakeland in 2012 as a football recruit and following a standout football career he had a tryout with the New York Giants and was invited to the San Francisco 49ers preseason camp.

He graduated with a bachelor's degree in business administration and minor in healthcare management. He served an internship with Aurora at their Sheboygan hospital as he constantly focused on networking and getting in front of new people.

"Networking with people is really important," Esiobu said. "But don't go into it just thinking ‘what can I get out of this?' Go in thinking ‘How can we help each other?'"

He told the students to find their unfair advantage – something they do well that others don't.

"Mine is my ability to teach myself and always be learning new things, which I learned at Lakeland," said Esiobu, noting that he taught himself film photography, a dying art in the age of digital images that he's successfully added to his business. "I always listen to a lot of content to find ways to make my content more interesting."

As for his future, Esiobu said his collective experiences marketing other people's products with various size budgets has him planning his own consumer product someday.

He shared several other suggestions with students, including:

  • Don't wait until after graduating to start a business. "You all have more knowledge about social media than I did at your age. Use YouTube and learn to video edit or create a website and look for people who need those skills. A lot of companies have bad websites. Approach them and say, ‘Here's what I can do for you.' It's going to feel weird at first, it's going to feel cringey, but keep doing it and it starts to feel normal. You might think you are busy, but you have a lot of time to work on the things you want to do."
  • "Put a face behind the brand. People buy from people. That's how Unfinished Legacy blew up. We documented everything we were doing and we shared our journey. Put your journey out there and don't be afraid to be vulnerable. People like to see the ins and outs of what you do."
  • "You don't need a million followers. You only need 1,000 super fans."
  • "You should do whatever you're passionate about. It's not that a 9-to-5 job isn't good. Work toward what you're passionate about, and if your employer offers you the chance to do your passion, go all in."