Kathy (Keeler) Seid Class of 1980
Bound and Determined
Kathy (Keeler) Seid ’80 can’t pop into a dry cleaner’s, step onto a golf course or set foot in a doctor’s office without sensing untapped potential.
“There’s just not any place I go that I don’t see an opportunity,” she says.
Seid is enthusiastic about a new product that she and her husband, David, created out of their printing business: the MiniBük. The pocket-sized books are proving popular as a tangible and clever way for businesses and individuals to market themselves. Customers are using the format to create compact how-to guides, industry primers and product explainers.
“It’s little and cute, but people are intrigued by how much focused information you can get in a small package,” says Seid, who has printed 200,000 MiniBüks since starting the venture in 2010.
Drawing on skills she learned majoring in marketing at the USC Marshall School of Business, Seid doesn’t miss a chance to spread the word. She has engaged potential customers in elevators, on airplanes and at museums.
“When I took our dog to the vet,” she says, “I sold her on the value of doing a MiniBük about the importance of dental health for pets.”
Hailing from a family of entrepreneurs and Trojans (“I was indoctrinated very early,” she jokes), Seid entered USC as an accounting major but switched to marketing after a life-changing class taught by the late Ralph Carson. In 1947, Carson co-founded the Carson/Roberts agency, which grew into Los Angeles’ largest advertising firm until it merged with Ogilvy & Mather in 1971. He later founded USC’s Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.
“I don’t think there was a person in the class who wasn’t inspired by him,” Seid recalls. “His passion about business, marketing and advertising was infectious, and he made you feel you could be successful at whatever your passion is.”
She and David launched their printing business in 1985, publishing mainly software manuals until a customer made a special request: He wanted to print a very small book. David, the engineer of the operation, made it happen, and they soon began offering the minibook to other clients. It took off.
Customers have ordered MiniBüks on topics ranging from social media to event planning to emergency preparedness. They’ve used the books as table favors at fundraising events and as ski-trip guides, complete with maps and roommate assignments. The IT company Oracle recently used MiniBük as part of a nationwide direct-mail campaign, and a trio of authors hired by Facebook wrote a miniguide on using Facebook for teaching and learning.
And Seid convinced USC alumnus John McKinney ’74 - co-founder of the USC Hiking Club and author of several books about hiking - that MiniBük was the perfect size for his new trail guides, starting with Hiking 101: Great Trails and Beach Walks Surprisingly Close to USC.
Entrepreneurship, Seid says, “is not for the timid or shy. You must wear many hats and network all the time. You need to be a multitasker and have a team of competent people behind you.”
Even 30-some-odd years later, the enthusiasm modeled by Carson still fuels her. “He had fun with being an entrepreneur,” she says. “And that’s what I’m having.”