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How Entrepreneur Sara Koonar is Influencing Corporate Equality

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In the days leading up to her 30th birthday, Sara Koonar made the decision to launch her own business. The symbolism of these two monumental chapters beginning simultaneously isn’t lost on her, but for Koonar, the decision wasn’t a whim or one sparked by post-birthday existentialism. Rather, it was what her entire career to that point had led her towards. Today, the company, Platform Media & Management, uses marketing strategies to garner partnerships with different content creators and influencers. Since its launch, Platform has grown both a diverse staff and talent pool, making it one of the most established influencer management firms in the country. And although Koonar held years of professional communications experience before embarking on the business, her entrepreneurial journey wasn’t without its fair share of challenges.

“I’m from a family of entrepreneurs. As the youngest, I got to watch every person make their mistakes, and I got to learn from that and listen in on conversations,” says Koonar. But despite growing up with an entrepreneurial background, success in the field is never guaranteed. “[Because of what my family experienced], I knew I was going to face hardships and have to fight hard, and I was ready.” 

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When she first got her start, Koonar can recall going into bank meetings, her palms sweaty and her shoulders tense. “My family didn’t contribute a dollar to the company; I’ve done everything by myself,” she says. “I remember walking down Portland [St.] with tears streaming down my face because the bank would continuously refuse to give me a loan. […] There were just a lot of microaggressions [towards me] that gave me really tough skin.”  

As a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry, Koonar knew she would have to work hard to prove herself. “The advice I got was to have my accountant, a man in his 50s, go into my meetings to [represent] me. I refused— I wanted them to see me and the name I’ve created for myself.”

When asked what advice she might give to young, female entrepreneurs, Koonar admits that growing up, having confidence in what she was doing was extremely important. “Your ideas matter and they’re good ideas,” she says. “Don’t let someone else’s opinion be the factor of whether you do it or not.”

While Koonar is now thriving on her business venture, she makes it very clear that there are still roadblocks. “I feel like it’s really unfair for that one segment of the population that it’s just so easy for,” Koonar says, on the different variations of success. “And then everyone else is grinding.” She mentions that it’s about having your “ducks in a row,” by having the right people, tools, and perspectives to shape your future intentions.

To fuel the success of her startup, Koonar heavily relies on her team of 11 people, who’ve been working tirelessly from home since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. “To run the show, we use Microsoft Teams, PowerPoint, and Excel,” says Koonar, when asked how she managed to maintain the company’s growth throughout a challenging year. “The advertising industry is all about PowerPoint presentations— PowerPoint is the standard in our industry.” As the proud owner of a Microsoft Surface Laptop, Koonar attests that Microsoft products are easy-to-use and work well to safely store large quantities of photo and video assets. “The value of storage you get for the price point [is something] you really can’t get anywhere else.”

Her loyalty to the tech company stemmed from the way they care about small businesses. As Platform Media & Management works to navigate the perils of being a small business, they find that Microsoft is more streamlined with the tools and software that work best for the jobs they’re doing, like housing campaigns and video footage. “It works for all of us to stay at home and be connected, [the technology] is so much more seamless,” she gushes. “As a small business owner, the support, the ease of use, and the variety of tools make [Microsoft] my top choice.”

As for Koonar’s business acumen and the potential of Platform Media & Management, she’s just getting started. Armed with the tools to work efficiently, the right team supporting her, and the drive to overcome obstacles put in front of women in business, Koonar is helping to change the landscape of what a marketing executive can look like. Over time, she hopes she might inspire the next generation of young women to walk out of the bank with their heads held high.