“At LevelUp, we believe that perfect can be the enemy of great. I keep this mantra so that I can be confident in making a decision, even if I don’t have all the information at my disposal and quickly taking the steps to course correct if something is not working. Speed and flexibility are two things that make us successful on the sales side,” Christina Dorobek, Chief Sales Officer of LevelUp, explained.
Growing up in Los Angeles, California, Christina took a big leap when she moved across the country to attend Wellesley College.
“I ended up falling in love with the seasons and the ability to walk everywhere, which is not a reality in Los Angeles,” Christina laughed. “I was an American Studies major and English minor—as liberal arts as it can get. In addition to the excellent education, Wellesley was also great for friendships and its alumni support network.“
After Wellesley, Christina took her first post-grad position at the Center for Women & Enterprise as a Marketing Executive Coordinator.
“CWE is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help women become economically self-sufficient through entrepreneurship. I was connected to the organization through a Wellesley alumni who graduated a few years ahead of me and was working at CWE at the time.”
While there, Christina was responsible for program promotion, class enrollment and corporate and individual giving.
Through CWE’s programming, Christina fell in love with early-stage startups. “We got to work with phenomenal women-owned businesses and I was excited to see companies built from the ground up.”
Inspired by her experiences at CWE, Christina decided her next step should be joining the startup world.
“When I left CWE, I was exclusively looking at startups that had 15 or fewer employees so I could have that experience at coming in at the ground level. Given the success I’d seen in fundraising and enrollment, I also looked for an opportunity to start a sales career.”
Christina’s search led her to a job at SCVNGR as the Sales Director of the university team. Before SCVNGR became LevelUp, they were a player in the location-based gaming space.
“On the university team, we worked with campus activities to provide mobile scavenger hunts and admissions to enable self-guided mobile campus tours. Within the year, we were working with north of 400 campuses. In 2010, SCVNGR had its start with the restaurant industry working with Buffalo Wild Wings to drive customer engagement through mobile gaming”
Working together, the SCVNGR team created different challenges so customers could check into a Buffalo Wild Wings location, answer questions and earn points. They saw impressive results in player engagement and social impressions. However, Buffalo Wild Wings was more impressed with the increase they saw in same-store sales during that time period.
“That’s when we drew a correlation between player engagement and increased spending. But since we didn’t have access to any of the transactional data, we couldn’t prove it without Buffalo Wild Wings sharing information with us. That was the light bulb moment that led us to launch LevelUp, where we took all of our expertise in mobile technology and gaming and tied that to mobile payment.”
When they launched LevelUp in 2011, Christina led their product launch in Boston and then moved out west for a year to get feet on the street in a couple of west coast cities—San Francisco, San Diego and Seattle.
In the beginning, LevelUp didn’t have a core industry focus. As a VP of Local Sales, Christina targeted all types of small and medium businesses. However, she soon found that restaurants were performing better than any of the other retail or service oriented businesses.
“I’m a shoe addict and even I don’t necessarily buy shoes on a monthly basis, however I do eat three times a day (if not more!) We realized there was a huge benefit to working with businesses that are habitual which was one of the main reasons we started focusing on the restaurant industry from there.”
At the time, LevelUp offered a non-integrated payment experience that aggregated all restaurants into the LevelUp app. When LevelUp began targeting larger regional brands like Boloco and sweetgreen, they had two requirements:
Payment and loyalty needed to integrate into their existing technology stack, like their point of sale and ordering systems.
They wanted the ability to have their own app rather than utilizing a third party app for their loyalty program.
From there, LevelUp decided to begin integration into point of sale systems and online ordering providers. Christina came back to Boston and stepped into a VP of Strategic Partnerships role.
“By developing these partnerships, we’re able to track customer behavior and rewards and provide seamless offer redemption no matter how a customer is ordering or paying,” said Christina.
“We built our first branded app for sweetgreen and that was the start of our Agency business line that I now run for LevelUp. I lead our sales organization as a whole and we are essentially targeting restaurant chains to power their mobile apps and loyalty programs along with payment, ordering and all sorts of things that are incorporated into that branded app.”
Rapid Fire Questions
BS: How do you manage stress?
CD: Honestly, working out is a big one for me. We’re spoiled at our office because we have a gym right below us and we have Bar Method across the street. So I can usually fit in a workout before I come into work, after work or at lunch. I think working out every day is a way for me to get negative energy out through physical activity but it’s also a way I can dedicate 45 minutes to an hour to myself. That’s a big way I cope with stress.
BS: How many cups of coffee do you drink a day?
CD: That’s a great question. I try to limit it to one. So I have a cup of coffee every morning. I really try to get through the day without a second cup but I would say at least once a week, around 3 or 4pm, I need another cup of coffee.
BS: What do you do in your free time?
CD: I’m an avid reader and either read or listen to podcasts on my commute to work. I travel a lot for work as well as for pleasure.
BS: Where is your favorite spot in Boston?
CD: I have three! We have a common roof deck at our apartment and when the weather’s nice it’s the best place to be. We have a great view of the city. My favorite restaurant is definitely Neptune Oyster. The lobster roll (hot with buttah) is the best in the city. For a culture place, I’d say the Museum of Fine Arts. My husband and I are members, so we try to check out the museum fairly frequently.
BS: Ten years ago, is this where you would have seen yourself?
CD: Yeah, some version of this. Not in an identical situation but I think I would have envisioned myself being a part of a company that I believed in and in a leadership role with an ability to make an impact on the business. Those are the things that I would have wished for ten years ago. I would not have imagined that I would be in Boston and I don’t know if I would have pictured my field being sales related so those are the inconsistencies.
BS: What one piece of advice would you give to a recent college graduate?
CD: For a college graduate (or anyone) who is looking for a job, my advice is to buy as many people as you can a cup of coffee and listen and learn. You never know who you’re going to be able to connect with or who knows somebody who knows somebody who's looking to hire. These conversations will help to build your network and give you insight into what different career paths look like.
Another piece of advice would be, buy a book on personal finance and learn to budget at as young of an age as you possibly can. There’s a really good book called On My Own Two Feet. It’s co-written by a Wellesley alumni that went to HBS. It’s a good easy book to understand how much you should be spending on rent, how much you should put through to your 401K, etc. It’s important to get a handle on your finances as quickly as you can.