Jay Samit: Spend Other People’s Money to Make Your Own

other people's money jay samit

A Disruptive Source of Funding

If you’re looking to invest in the growth of your business, don’t limit your choices to debt, equity, personal savings, or crowd funding. Consider another option: Other people’s money (OPM).

(And no that doesn’t mean marry a rich spouse or rob a bank.)

Spending Other People’s Money, Example #1

Jay Samit was a VP at Universal Studios in 1998 (six years before Facebook) and had an idea. He thought to leverage this up-and-coming thing called the “internet” to create a community of the company’s most sought-after market: college students. Just one problem: Universal refused to fund the project. So what’d Samit do?

He used OPM.

Knowing that Universal wasn’t the only company hoping to build a relationship with students, he assembled a group of other companies with the same desire. These included Microsoft, Hyundai, and Pepsi. In exchange for the opportunity to have access to the community Samit’s site would create, they agreed to finance the project.

It worked! In short order, over one million students had joined the site, animalhouse.com. Variety claimed it to be “the leading community for online students.” Everyone won, and Samit didn’t need to spend a dime of his own money.

Spending Other People’s Money, Example #2

Six years later, Samit was General Manager at Sony and faced the challenge of growing their new iTunes alternative, Sony Connect. And once again he was given no money to do it.

So, once again, he used OPM.

This time, the “other people” was McDonald’s. McDonald’s was reeling from negative publicity from the movie Super Size Me, in which a documentarian eats only McDonald’s for thirty days and nearly kills himself as a result. The burger giant was desperate for some positive PR. Samit offered them a solution.

Samit proposed the idea of “Big Mac Meal Tracks,”  in which everyone who bought a Big Mac would get a free song from Sony Connect. McDonald’s bit on the idea and publicized it heavily. It was a great success. Same store sales increased by 9%.

And Sony Connect joined along on the ride to success, benefitting from the enormous publicity created by OPM.

How To Spend Other People’s Money

Want to spend OPM instead of your own? Here’s how:

  1. Identify your target market
  2. Pick another company whose product does not compete with yours, but targets the same market.
  3. Find a problem that company has that you can solve in a way that also solves your own problem.
  4. Contact that company’s ad agency or creative team to pitch the idea. It’s important to contact them instead of the company’s leadership directly. The ad agency or creative team will be much more inclined to push through your idea if they can take credit for it instead of you. Give them the credit. Take the money instead.
  5. Deliver the project, spending OPM instead of your own money.

Dig Deeper

disrupt you by jay samit coverTo read more on how to spend OPM an learn from tons of other inspiring and creative stories of disruption, check out Jay Samit’s book, “Disrupt You”. For a quicker taste, listen to his interview with Tom Bilyeu on the Impact Theory podcast.

And if you’re looking for other great books, blogs, and podcasts to achieve more, smile more, or sell more, don’t miss out on the Shortcuts to Awesome Best Ofs lists.

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