Small For-Profit CEO of the Year – Mac Macleod, Carvertise CEO
Mac Macleod had his leadership abilities tested even before his business was completely off the ground.
As CEO and co-founder of Wilmington-based Carvertise, the nation’s largest rideshare advertising company, Macleod faced an early existential challenge – the COVID pandemic. His business model was to have drivers use their vehicles as rolling advertisements for his clients at public events attended by lots of people. The pandemic almost stopped both activities.
“As I discovered, one of the most difficult business challenges was navigating the down periods, especially during COVID when no one was going outside,” Macleod recalled. “Morale was low for employees, and so were finances. I had to be a morale coach, assuring everyone, even when I didn’t know what was going to happen. It was difficult not knowing what parts of the business were going to rebound when.”
After having navigated the pandemic, Macleod has grown the company to where it now has more than 50 employees and is expanding into new markets. Last year, sales grew 56% year-over-year by employing Lyft and Uber drivers to sport the brand logos of companies such as Netflix, Draft Kings, WaWa and EA Sports as they drive about.
Fortunately, Macleod, having started his company while still a student at the University of Delaware, is able to laugh at his naivety as a young businessman.
“Did I have Business surprises? Big time! You don’t know what you don’t know,” he said. “I didn’t know what an invoice was until the second year, because we didn’t have any customers until then. I didn’t really know how to make a sales presentation. I had to learn every piece of the business, one step at a time.”
Today, Macleod is making the transition from being a start-up to being an established business, having recently moved into new headquarters in Wilmington’s Riverfront.
“Being a generalist will only get you so far,” he said. “So for the first time, we’ve put together a real executive team this year, including a new CFO.”
As further signs that his start-up days are over, Macleod today serves on the boards of the state chamber, the Delaware Business Roundtable and the Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation.