Jennifer Baum, Woman Entrepreneur, Bullfrog & Baum
Jennifer was introduced to me through one of the women that I have an investment in. Not surprising that we ended up having a variety of common connections and then of course in the few weeks after we met her name came up a few different times. Bullfrog & Baum is a public relations and marketing company focused primarily on the food industry. What I like about Jennifers story is that she knew that she wanted to run her own show all along and how it happened was really because of her entrepreneurial spirit.
Jennifer grew up in Dix Hills, LI. Her father worked in the computer industry way before it was cool. Her Mom stayed at home until Jennifer was in 7th grade and then went back to school to get her masters in Library Science. She then went to work in a library and then off to Met Life in their financial sector and then to Prudential until 9/11. After that she called it quits. Her father went on to sales and marketing focusing on computer software in the dental industry.
After graduated high school, Jennifer went to Union College in Schenectady, NY. She was a french/math major and spent a trimester in Brittany, France. Didn't love it there. Post college, Jennifer went to work in beauty PR. It was a small company led by a woman who had left a large company to start her own shop. She still says in touch with her. Jennifer stayed for three years.
She decided to move to Philadelphia, for a guy, so many of us have been there. In Philadelphia Jennifer went to work in a restaurant. She swears that she used her restaurant experience to get into business school. At a restaurant you do everything from sales, marketing, reading your audience, customer service, managing etc…the ultimate multi-tasker. She applied to NYU, got in and returned to the city.
When Jennifer went to NYU there was an accelerated program you could take that would last six months. In hindsight she thinks the two year program with an internship in the middle makes more sense. I am not even sure they do the accelerated program anymore. After graduation she took a job at the Bank of NY and hated it. It was 1993.
At the end of school she decided to fall back on her restaurant experience and reached out to Danny Meyer to see if he had anything for her, she would do it free or intern. He does not believe in free so he worked there during school just answering phones. Jennifer was offered a job at Gramercy Tavern but took the bank job because of the money…mistake.
She left the bank with in a year and began working for Ark restaurants. They were just opening Bryant Park Grill. She worked for them for about 2 1/2 years before leaving. She started to look through the NY Times for job listings. That is what you did in those days. Jennifer did not know what she wanted to do. Investment Banking? Then she saw an ad to come work for the US Open. She went on the interview and they ultimately hired her to do consulting work beforehand. When the US Open was over she went to work for a chef, Matthew Kenney.
Kenney had a few restaurants when she joined him. She started working on the development of his restaurant in Grand Central doing all the PR and marketing. It was then that she decided to start her own company. Jennifer had continued to move forward doing consulting work for long periods of time but she decided to create a structure around it by launching her company, Bullfrog and Baum. The bullfrog is a homage to her Grandmother who loved everything to do with frogs.
Her first client was a bad client but then the second client was a good one. Lessons learned. That was 12.5 years ago. She now has offices in NYC and Los Angeles and works with over 35 restaurants. Her angle is hospitality for food so anything to do with PR and marketing for chefs and restaurants. It is great owning her own life and business but the hardest part is the constant next job. In many ways her business might be structured by it is essentially an on going freelance business. It is a business about constant customer acquisition.