Meet Innovator & Entrepreneur Sean Callahan
A serial entrepreneur, Sean Callahan '04 isn't afraid to take risks and work hard — in fact, you could say that he thrives on it. He started his first businesses, Obey Clothing and Self Skateboards, just out of high school, worked through community college and his time at Cal State San Marcos, and then went on to start several successful internet-based businesses during and after graduate school.
He says he inherited his entrepreneurial spirit and work ethic from his parents, both entrepreneurs. Callahan credits his parents for helping him start entrepreneurial endeavors at an early age. While most parents teach their children the basics of business by opening a lemonade stand, Callahan's parents taught him the art of creating desirable products and services and selling them to local merchants and people in his community at a young age. He learned early on what it takes to succeed when starting and running a small business.
CSUSM Business Professor Ben Cherry says that he noticed something special about Callahan while he mentored him as part of Senior Experience, the College's signature capstone project that matches teams of students with projects submitted by regional businesses.
"I identified him early on as a student that wasn't comfortable with the status quo," he commented. "He challenged his classmates and questioned why things were the way they were. He's the type of guy that looks for opportunities everywhere — his eyes are wide open."
After graduating from CSUSM, Callahan went on to get a MBA at London Metropolitan University. While working on his dissertation and exploring how online businesses generate revenue, he founded TweetPhoto, a real-time photo-sharing platform for use with Twitter and other social media websites, with his partner, Rodney Rumford. The company started with only 5,000 beta users. But when A-list celebrities, including Justin Bieber and Britney Spears, began using the site to connect with their fans and upload their photos, things really took off and they secured $2.6 million from venture capitalists including San Diego's Qualcomm Ventures. Within 18 months of starting the photo-sharing platform Lockerz, a Seattle-based social commerce company, acquired TweetPhoto just five months after the service changed its name to Plixi.
Today Callahan puts his CSUSM degree to use by applying his passion for technology and business through product management and business development. He enjoys helping Internet-based startups develop new products and identify ways to scale them through building strategic partnerships.
"In a startup you can't waste time, you have to launch products quickly, get feedback and incrementally improve your offering based on how customers use and interact with it," he explained.
"Sean proves that you don't have to be 40 to start a company," said Cherry, who has invited Callahan into his classroom frequently over the years to share his experiences with students in his Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship course.
"I like to tell students that if they have an idea to just try it — just do it," commented Callahan. "Get out there and see if it works because you won't know unless you give it a shot."
So what does the future hold for Callahan? He's not sure but thinks mobile technology is the future.
"The next big idea is just on the horizon," he says, and he'll certainly be a part of it.
Callahan just incorporated a company called appmob.com, inc. and plans to experiment with mobile technologies.
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