Alum looking to make his mark by combining social media and banking

By Kevin Graham

Former Oakland University graduate student Kasey Kaplan is looking to make his mark in a new venture that combines social media and banking.

Kaplan graduated in May 2010 from Albion College with bachelor’s degrees in both economics and management and communication studies.

He went on to complete his masters in training and development with a concentration in instructional design and technology, graduating from OU in April last year.

Diverse interests

Kaplan branched out early in his college career, knowing he wanted to be involved in business.

“I knew that regardless of what I chose, taking economics and business courses would give me a solid foundation,” Kaplan said. “Because of how my degree program was structured, I had the ability to pick up a double major, so I chose communications.”

One of Kaplan’s professors at Albion introduced him to the prospect of social media as a career.

“I instantly became obsessed and literally read about social media for business, new technologies, smartphones and tablets, and anything else related to the subjects for hours each day,” Kaplan said.

Becoming a Grizzly

After struggling to find the right fit in the job market, Kaplan decided to look at masters programs. He was drawn to OU by its design and technology program.

During his time at OU, he worked as a graduate assistant focusing on social media marketing for the housing department.

One of Kaplan’s supervisors, Kelly Garnett, assistant director of housing enrollment and marketing, said his passion for social media was apparent and he was always willing to push harder.

“Kasey approached his work with a tremendous amount of energy. He was always eager to learn and do more, and diligently researched and kept up with cutting-edge technologies,” Garnett said. “He was kind enough to share his wide range of social media knowledge with others, and presented on Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare to a large audience of university employees right before he graduated.”

Amanda Fylan, alumni engagement and marketing manager, supervised Kaplan during his first year in the housing department. She said he oversaw a YouTube contest, supervised Facebook polls and was in charge of social media messaging for the department.

A new startup

Kaplan said during his time at OU, he was able to learn about students’ concerns, something he said helps him in his new role as chief marketing officer at Waspit, a new service bringing social media to the checking account.

“Some people give things a low rating while others give a high rating,” Kaplan said. “That is not very helpful for a consumer. Who are you to believe? By introducing social (media), you can see what your friends are saying about venues and if you have questions you can communicate with them.”

By checking in when they make purchases, an opt-in process enabled via a tag on the consumer’s phone or their debit card, shoppers can tell their friends where they get the products they use.

The service only shares location and not specific purchases. Consumers earn points toward gift cards for their actions within the service. He also said Facebook friends can send each other money through the service.

Building a brand

When it comes to building up a presence for their brand, Kaplan said it’s important for perspective entrepreneurs to be unique.

“Your brand needs to stand for something and needs to somehow differentiate itself from everything else out there,” he said. “It is hard work to establish a brand and requires a lot of time and effort. If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, chances are you will fail.”

He had some advice for those wishing to stand out.

“Don’t go through the motions someone else has told you to, do what you think is right because you are the one that has to live with the consequences,” he said.