Carla Smith, Eller Entrepreneurship ’09
Vice President of Marketing, VidCast Media, LLC
By Liz Warren-Pederson
Carla Smith had her heart set on entrepreneurship from the beginning. Finishing high school in Austin, Texas, she considered her college options. “At the time, the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program was ranked third in the country,” she said. “I didn’t even apply anywhere else.”
When she first arrived at the UA, she went to talk to McGuire Center mentor-in-residence Jim Jindrick. “I asked him what I needed to do to get into the entrepreneurship program,” she said, “and he told me, ‘Don’t worry, you’re going to do fine.’”
It was advice that she came to appreciate down the line: “I realized that it’s not something you learn, it’s something you have – that intensity,” she said. “Someone saw that in me, and I didn’t know myself that I had it.”
She credits a part of it with her upbringing. “Both of my parents are teachers,” she said. “My dad taught math, and my mom taught French.” She characterizes her mother as a free spirit, who impressed upon her that she could do anything, and her father as the type of person who would sit down to analyze everything. “So I’m kind of a dreamer who also likes to get in and solve problems,” she said.
After completing the program, Smith began looking for opportunities. “The fact that entrepreneurship was on my resume seemed to spark a lot of curiosity,” she said. “Recruiters seemed to want to know more about that, and then they would find that I was highly qualified.” Her post-Eller career has been exclusively in the startup space. “I’ve established a unique career where people hire me to help open businesses,” she explained.
Smith is currently vice president of marketing for VidCast Media in Austin. “In this role, I get to be a key decision maker on everything from hiring a branding company to conducting market research, and lots of business strategy,” she said. “Austin is a great place for entrepreneurs; it’s just a mindset that you see everywhere, whether you work in a company or not.”
Looking ahead, Smith said she’d like to own her own business. “I think a lot of people who are interested in entrepreneurship think that you have to take a company to millions of dollars in revenue, or become the next Facebook. But my goal is to open more of a lifestyle business and excel in a community-rich business. I don’t want to be a CEO stuck in an office who doesn’t know all her employees’ names. Until the time that I own my own business, though, I’m more than happy to learn from the companies I work for.”
She pointed out that it’s impossible to learn some things until you get out and try them yourself. “At the McGuire orientation, I asked some past students to tell me one thing that they didn’t foresee about launching,” she said. “They said that you just can’t account for people. And that’s so true!”