Published October 21, 2014
Volume 22, Number 10

Entrepreneur Chases Dreams and Comes Out On Top

By Zoe Francis

Brian Goodell has dabbled in all sorts of exciting professions.
The Pleasanton native has been an actor, an inventor and even tried out for professional football teams. While all those experiences were thrilling, Goodell knew deep down that his true passion was marketing.
Brian Goodell“I always thought that I would be in sales and marketing,” he said. “I followed my mom’s direction. She was a performer and singer who had a dance studio. She did what she loved, but she was even better at selling herself.”
His mom, Donna Goodell, also helped organize the popular pasta and hops festivals that drew tens of thousands of people to the valley.
“My mom basically got people to come to businesses or events,” he recalled. “She’s a very dynamic lady.”
There was a brief period of time when Goodell worked alongside his mom at the Volunteer Center in Pleasanton.
“I did everything she told me to do – event planning, setup, ticket sales, marketing, advertising,” he said.
It was a long and circuitous route that led Goodell to ultimately establish his current marketing firm with the intriguing moniker of the University of Social Commerce.
The serial entrepreneur was born and raised in Pleasanton, attending Donlon Elementary, Pleasanton Middle School and Foothill High School, where he played basketball and football. He played receiver and defensive back at Foothill during two championship seasons.
“I love basketball,” he said. “I played football because all the cool kids were supposed to be doing it. My parents couldn’t afford college, so I probably wouldn’t be going (to college) unless I could get a full scholarship. I used football as far as I could as a platform.”
Football landed Goodell at Texas Tech, but he stayed for just a few months before the offer of a full football scholarship lured him to Idaho State University. He even took part in the NFL combine, trying out in Southern California for various professional teams. He did not make the cut, so he continued to play college football before leaving the sport behind in favor of a promising job in San Francisco real estate.
“I started making money that most 24-years-olds don’t make, and I decided I didn’t want to go back to school,” he recalled, referring to his job as a leasing agent for real estate mogul Frank Lembi.
The Lembi family is “well known in San Francisco and basically have a monopoly,” Goodell said. “If you wanted to find a place to rent or lease in San Francisco, you’d contact me and we’d find you a place to live. That was my first big-kid job. I learned a lot and bought a lot of real estate myself. I really enjoyed it.”
Goodell enjoyed the real estate market for two solid years, but ultimately left for a brief stint managing a band and acting on the Discovery Channel before he and a buddy invented an ingenious device called DipTops. The snap-on lid creates a spill-proof spittoon out of any empty can.
“You could knock it over in your car and it wouldn’t spill,” he said. “You could play catch with it and it wouldn’t spill. We sold it in about 33,000 stores. We sold our product to (smokeless tobacco companies) and then they would package it with their products.”
Goodell rode the wave of the DipTops popularity for five years, but his desire to be in marketing compelled him to start a company called NKD Production & Entertainment. The company specialized in marketing fashion designers online and by linking products with celebrities.
While he enjoyed rubbing elbows with famous stars, he realized the wave would not last forever because celebrity popularity is fleeting. That is when he turned his attention to marketing products through online daily deal websites like Groupon.
“We started out as brand educators,” he said. “I was actually (called) Dr. Daily Deal. I started teaching everybody how to (market products online).”
He played off the educational aspect of his Dr. Daily Deal career when searching for a name for his new company. Thus, the University of Social Commerce was launched in early 2010.
“There are many flash sale or daily deal companies out there, hundreds of them,” he explained. “You may be terrible at getting people to your door, but I’m great at it. I can get people to enjoy your products and brands.”
Goodell scans the market for promising new products, then buys them in bulk to sell online through daily deal websites.
“The biggest problem we face today is there are a lot of great inventors and great brands, but they lack the sales space and database to get to the buyer in real time,” he said. “I have over 95 percent buyer data info. We plug (your product) into our buyer software and hit send, then we can find out who wants that product. We’re going business-to-business.”
The newest aspect of the company is flat-rate product fulfillment. The company that makes the product provides the packaging and postage, but Goodell’s company ships it at a rate that is about half the industry average. Rates start at 99 cents with no hidden fees.
"We see our future as being the web-based hub to connect buyer to sellers in real time and being able to fulfill those orders with a flat rate," he said. "If I can connect buyers to inventors, sellers and major brands and have that marriage, the value to the buyer and seller is he doesn't have to go out and fly from trade show to trade show spending tons of money. They can do what most wish to do which is get to a buyer just by sitting on their smart device."
The University of Social Commerce has five employees and could blossom to 15 employees by year’s end. While the company is flourishing, so is Goodell’s private life. He and his fiancée, Lindsey, are raising their two young children, Tatum and Bryson, at their home in Danville.
Goodell is comfortably settled at the company’s headquarters in Hacienda.
“From a career standpoint, I don’t really want to hop around,” he said. “I want my company to be something that’s unique and different. I want it to be interesting and be able to help people. If you have something that’s different and has value, then you can beat everybody else.”
Learn more about the University of Social Commerce at socomone.com and flat-rate product fulfillment at flatratefulfillment.com.


Also in this issue...