ApexDrop Continues to Grow

Published: 09-Mar-2019

One of the rapidly growing sectors of the digital economy is influence marketing.  If this sounds like the kind of business you’d find in one of the big coastal cities, you’re right, but you’ll also find ApexDrop, an innovative influence marketing agency headquartered in Gannon University’s Center for Business Ingenuity (CBI).

ApexDrop’s rapid rise from concept to multi-million-dollar success story is an illustration of how to make the most of the opportunities presented by new technologies, but it’s also a story of how a startup company made the most of the resources in the community, including those at the CBI, which brings together the Dahlkemper School of Business, Erie Technology Incubator (ETI), Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and Gannon’s  Beehive Network to provide synergistic resources for students, entrepreneurs and small businesses.

ApexDrop was launched in 2014 by entrepreneur Zakary Stahlsmith. Using its proprietary social media growth strategy and a focus on micro-influencers, ApexDrop connects customers to businesses through social media.  The company’s client list includes Swiss Gear, Starbucks and Ulta Beauty.

Zakary and his company have come a long way since the entrepreneur attended Gannon University’s Small Business Development Center’s First Step seminar.  ““Without Gannon’s First Step seminar, ApexDrop, the multi-million dollar ad agency making waves across the country and dozens of jobs in Erie, literally wouldn’t exist .This was the jump start I needed to realize that starting a business in Erie was possible,” Zakary said.

As an ETI resident company, ApexDrop receives the benefit of having a mentor team that meets with Zakary on a regular basis.  His team is an embodiment of the collaborative and synergistic entities that share the CBI with ApexDrop and other ETI clients, and includes Gannon University Vice President of Academic Affairs, Walter Iwanenko, who was himself an entrepreneur, and SBDC Director, Maggie Horne.

Consulting provided by SBDC helped Zakary start start his new business and is now working with him to expand a successful and growing enterprise.  The Dahlkemper School of Business serves as a source for student projects, consulting, interns and employees while ETI incubates and mentors entrepreneurial businesses.

“I think what has made Zakary so extraordinarily successful is that he realized early on that nobody can build a successful business on their own,” said Maggie Horne.  “He very astutely looked for the kind of resources that could help him very quickly scale a successful business in a very dynamic market, and he found those resources here at CBI.”

ApexDrop has now become a linchpin of downtown Erie’s nascent technology community.  The company’s growing client list means a growing staff at ApexDrop. Currently 25 people work at its CBI offices and more hires are planned. In preparation, the company has hired its first human resource manager.  

It’s a sign of success, the kind of success that can happen when a brilliant idea meets the kind of resources that can turn it into a thriving company with a bright future.