Meet Eli Stone, a recent CU Boulder graduate, and Founder of Bouta! Bouta is a Gen-Z consulting firm that specializes in marketing and advertising. Bouta exists to bridge the gap between Gen-Z and the current business generation.
Eli grew up in Centennial, Colorado, where his entrepreneurial journey started at a young age. When he was 15 years old, Eli began making custom wood baseball bats. At age 17, he started an e-commerce business selling wholesale goods. His true passion for entrepreneurship came at age 18 after assisting his dad launch a new business. Once Eli discovered that he had the ability to create and pursue anything he put his mind to, he decided to fully pursue a career in entrepreneurship!
While at CU Boulder, Eli studied Business Management with a dual emphasis in Strategy & Entrepreneurship and Leadership. In 2019, Eli and students, Nicholas Atkins and Jesse Alardin Rivera started a digital marketing firm which eventually became Bouta!
Bouta is a Gen-Z Consulting firm with a focus on marketing and advertising. Their clients range from large corporations to startups working on projects such as social media campaigns and experiential marketing strategies! They also educate business professionals on the inner workings of Gen-Z. Bouta exists to bridge the gap between Gen-Z and the current business generation.
The Bouta team is comprised of Gen-Z marketers, strategists, and social media influencers with following bases that range from 10K+ to 1M+ across TikTok, Instagram, Youtube, and other social media platforms.
In 2019, Eli and students, Nicholas Atkins and Jesse Alardin Rivera started a digital marketing firm named Hapa Solutions. Hapa focused on producing content for local businesses. While working on this venture, the team realized many companies were hiring them specifically to reach the Gen-Z population. These companies essentially used Hapa solutions as a way to educate themselves on Generation Z. At this same time, Eli was competing with a friend to get the most followers on TikTok and noticed how brands were slowly integrating themselves on TikTok. Eli realized how short-form content would change the digital marketing industry as a whole in the coming years. He sat on the idea for a few months until Brad Werner, the professor for Eli’s senior New Venture Creation course, encouraged him to act upon it.
Eli pitched his idea for a Gen-Z-oriented consulting firm in his capstone course. His idea took off and he ended up winning the class competition!
The Covid-19 pandemic had a tremendous impact on the marketing industry because many businesses were closed and consumers had less income to spend on products. As the world began to reopen, Bouta seized the opportunity to launch and capitalize on the state of the economy.
Eli elaborated on their current momentum,
“Right now, there is a monumental shift in how corporations are marketing their services and products. This reaches beyond Gen-Z’s expectations for transparency and authenticity. Social giants such as Clubhouse and TikTok are changing what modern digital marketing looks like and the industry has been slow to the curve which has left many companies trying to figure out new platforms and shift to video and audio. This is reminiscent of how disruptive Facebook and Instagram marketing were in their beginning.”
Aside from the pandemic, the Bouta team has faced challenges regarding pricing for services. Eli details the challenge of establishing rates for his business,
“I've made the mistake too many times of undercutting the price of our services due to my lack of confidence and age. At the end of the day, you’ll always doubt your worth. You can’t and shouldn’t try to ‘solve’ a lack of confidence, but rather focus on understanding the triggers for your lack of confidence. My biggest saving grace has been through my mentor, Dor Sela, who is an industry expert that I met through CU. Having someone who you are not afraid to express your vulnerabilities is by far the greatest blessing that you can have as a young entrepreneur.”
Bouta’s current focus is working with corporations in their Gen-Z marketing strategies and activation methods. His team recently helped a disruptive brand with a large-scale retail launch through their social strategy. They are currently working on helping fortune 500 companies develop social media campaigns and educating c-suite executives on Gen-Z. Their clientele is comprised of startups and large corporations in tech, consumer goods, and food/beverage categories.
“My current favorite project is working to develop and innovate a new brand ambassador model for a Gen-Z-centric company. Ambassador models that exist today are rather boring. So we're creating something relevant for our generation that we ourselves would want to partake in.”
Advice for Current Students
Eli provides the following advice for current students,
“I was never the standout student, the one who submitted assignments on time or the student that confidently raised their hand during class, or even visited office hours regularly. All too often we find ourselves molding our definition of success after those who just function differently than us at our core. No one thinks of themselves as the people mentally impacted by competition, societal pressure, and the toxicity of social media – yet most of us are. Breaking the stigma of mental health at school is a responsibility that each of you have, and my professors, mentors, and therapist at CU all did everything that they could to help me. They want to do the same for you as well.”
Eli would like to give a huge thank you to the late Mark Meanie for giving him the confidence to run a business authentically and responsibly. He would also like to thank Dor Sela for doing so much for him and Brad Werner for truly caring about his students.