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Weaver Ellard
April 6, 2023

Digital Marketing Ace Capitalizes on Work Experiences and Entrepreneurship at Berry

Working two jobs (or more) is nothing new for Weaver Ellard ’17. He is a partner with Rule 1 Ventures, a venture capital firm that helps tech startups build their brand and drive demand through digital marketing. Along with his brother, Fraser Ellard, he runs Dodeka Digital, a boutique marketing agency founded during the COVID pandemic. They execute websites and marketing campaigns for small businesses with growth potential.

He says, “Though the time management of working a full-time job while trying to build a company can be tough, I feel as though my time as a Gate Scholar at Berry prepared me perfectly for it. All the semesters of having to balance being a full-time student alongside my on-campus jobs helped me learn how to prioritize and stay effective while juggling multiple priorities.”

The merit-based Gate of Opportunity Scholarship is awarded to financially eligible students who fully engage in work experiences at Berry while building a meaningful professional profile. Ellard says working year-round at Berry allowed him to try a variety of jobs, including campus tour guide and resident assistant. He found his calling on stepping into the role of managing marketing for Student Enterprises, an entrepreneurial laboratory for 15 student-run businesses focused in three areas: The Berry Farms, specialty services, and hospitality and retail.

The demands of this position reinforced Ellard’s business approach: “Working in the ‘safe’ environment of Berry allowed me to experiment and try new things without being afraid of failure. This is the same mindset I’ve taken into every role post-graduation.”

NCR, an enterprise technology leader for restaurants, retailers and banks, took notice and offered Ellard an internship. He accepted, encouraged by college mentors. “I knew I wanted to eventually work in the start-up or small business space but was advised on the importance of starting in a larger corporate environment where I could learn from very experienced specialists before going on to start or lead something on my own,” Ellard explains. Accepting a full-time position at NCR, he built and led their first digital marketing team.

Then Rule 1 Ventures came calling. Tapped to lead their marketing team, Ellard discovered that the studio model of investing in early-stage start-ups and providing them with a centralized sales, marketing, accounting and development team reflected the “real world” version of Berry’s Student Enterprises. Ellard drew on the foundational marketing approach he used at Berry. His team services seven portfolio companies funded by Rule 1 Ventures, providing marketing strategy, branding, content, websites and campaigns for growth.

Like other Berry-inspired entrepreneurs, Ellard returns to campus to speak to students taking classes with mentor Paula Englis, Charles A. Dana Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship. “The biggest lesson she taught me is one I’ve repeated to all my teams: ‘Get on someone else’s learning curve.’ As a business creator, you’re never just building something from scratch — you always have at least some sort of idea of what’s worked well for others, and if you’re observant, you can learn from those examples and use pieces of them to enhance your idea.”

Want to see Berry student entrepreneurs competing for cash awards to fund their business start-ups? Finals for the PITCH competition will take place on Friday, April 14, 2023, at 7 p.m. in Spruill Ballroom in the Krannert Center.

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