Pilon School of Business
Year of graduation: 2009
High Flyer: How Seth Stover went from car salesman to vice president of Flipp in a decade
On any given day, there’s a good chance that Advanced Marketing graduate Seth Stover is up in the air. He estimates that he averages 200 flights per year, travelling in pursuit of new business for Flipp, a company that provides a mobile marketplace for 35 million users across North America to compare prices and get digital access to more than 1,000 flyers.
Growing up in Kincardine, Ontario, Stover led a very different life than the one he has now. “I was not interested in technology at all as a child — in fact, I grew up on a small farm, so tech and business weren’t even on my radar,” he says. It wasn’t until he moved out to Manitoba two years after high school that Stover fell into the sales and marketing arena by chance. Originally planning to go into construction, he went to test drive a car one day and ended up with a job. “The salesperson said, ‘you should go home and put on a shirt and tie, because you’d be good at selling cars’,” he laughs. “I enjoyed talking to people, helping them solve problems and the intensity of it.”
Wanting to pursue sales and marketing as a career, Stover returned to Ontario and, in 2006, he enrolled in Sheridan’s three-year Advanced Marketing Diploma program. He remembers Professor Mary Kanko as a key force in his education at Sheridan. “She prepared me for the reality of business in the very real way she provided feedback,” he says. “It stung at first, but I’m very thankful for it now. Sheridan was quite practical in what they taught us.”
After graduation, with the help of the Sheridan career fair, Stover began his career in an account management role by working at electronics company Ricoh. “It was a very good experience in terms of learning about the fundamentals of business development. Because the company is so large and the industry is commoditized, the training programs are hard but very solid and well organized because the companies that win are the ones that can train (employees) the fastest and best,” he says.
Stover then moved to Wishabi in 2010, after meeting the founder and CEO at his church. “I joined because I was excited about the people and the vision that they had, and the experience of being part of something that was high risk but had the potential to be high growth,” he says.
As Wishabi transitioned its model from helping retailers get their e-commerce products into comparison shopping properties to its new incarnation as Flipp, Stover’s role also transformed in scope. For five years, he led the business development team as managing director, as the company gradually expanded from its original 10 people to 390. Now, as a vice president, he focuses on a team that works with the largest of the company’s retailers, including Walmart and Macy’s.Although Stover has worked for companies large and small, he clearly loves the entrepreneurial aspects of a startup. “The appeal of working with a small company is that you get to touch everything. Your holistic, comprehensive understanding of business is 10 times, if not more, than it’s going to be in any big company — you’re not only exposed to all elements of the business, but you’re forced to reinvent, as far as your skills and your competencies, quickly,” he says. “You’re doing things that you never thought you would do or could do, which is great for your development and your confidence. You start to show yourself your true potential and that then becomes the standard.”