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Meet Curt Cuscino of HypeLife Brands in Oceanside

Today we’d like to introduce you to Curt Cuscino.

Curt, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
For over 17 years, I’ve managed teams to build companies that are fundable and produce ROI by implementing disciplined capital deployment and strategic, well-tuned, future-forward marketing practices.

I’ve helped everything from B2C startups at the beginning stages to large B2B companies — often serving as a right-hand man, team manager and Project Manager to Startup Founders, CEOs, and VPs of Marketing. I’ve helped them define a new vision and position, or reposition, their companies for long-term growth and ROI, with a focus on helping B2C brands position themselves to harness the power of the Millennial Generation, which is quite literally “The Future of Everything”.

I’m originally from Kansas City, Missouri, and am a bonafide (and proud) child of the 80s. I’m a whole-brain, systems thinker who grew up on the early trajectory of technology, beginning at a very young age toying with single-color monitors and CompuServe (along with my uncle’s Atari and my friends’ Nintendo gaming systems), graduating on to a Sega Genesis while tinkering with AOL, GeoCities, Macromedia Flash, and beyond.

I’ve always had an undying love for the always-moving crossroads of tech, business, art, commerce, and culture…riding it all the way to present-day where the iPhone in my pocket is 1000 times more powerful than the TRS-80’s I started playing with before I was 10 years old.

An entrepreneur myself from my earliest days, my passion has consistently been the ability to see things yet unseen, and take a Vision forward, bringing it to life from little more than a blank page.

Before I was 10, I had a fledgling greeting card business (built from cheesy templates, printed on an early dot-matrix printer, and sold mostly to my grandparents, parents, and family friends). I later started a mowing business, a record label & music promotions company, and a brand development + marketing agency all before graduating college with a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia. As a bonus round, I also later started a profitable custom snowboard design company whose boards landed in an AFLAC commercial for the Winter Olympics.

When I’m not helping build powerful startups alongside visionary entrepreneurs, I’m also a speaker, thought leader, author, DJ, music producer, husband, father, music + film fanatic, and an advisor to startups at Cal State-Fullerton’s Irvine Incubator.

I’m also the producer & host of a weekly radio show called “FutureSound with CUSCINO” which I started over 2 years ago, and continue to this day.

The show is a one-hour long specialty mix show that’s nationally-syndicated — 5 stations currently, 4 of which are on or near college campuses in San Diego, Iowa, West Virgina, Texas, Arkansas and beyond — airing Friday and Saturday nights in a prime slot at ~10p to 11p (and a couple stations re-air the show midweek primetime as well).

The show focuses on illuminating the newest progressive bass music from around the globe (trap / FutureTrap / FutureBass – all 1st cousins of the catch-all genre “EDM”). Each week I curate the newest and best tracks from artists/producers worldwide who are not afraid to explore new sonic ground, challenging sonic boundaries, and creating new movements across the globe.

Learn more about the show at https://www.futuresoundwithcuscino.com/about/ and/or listen to past episodes via Apple Podcasts at https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/futuresound-with-cuscino/id1099487888. Via Apple Podcasts, GooglePlay Podcasts, and Stitcher, the show is downloaded and heard in over 30 countries.

After living and working for 7 years in Los Angeles, and meeting my wife there, we moved with our two little boys 2 years ago to where I live, work, and play now in Southern California’s booming beach city of Oceanside, California.

Has it been a smooth road?
Running your own business, agency or otherwise, is never “always easy” or “smooth.”

Business is a series of experiments, and you have to learn to roll with the punches, always…and never give up along the way. You gotta stay in the ring…if you’re committed to your cause, and you know and understand your own personal Why.

A mentor I worked with years ago taught me an important key to always keep in mind: Your business does not define who you are, and it isn’t the end of you per se.

Rather, it is a VEHICLE that you can use along your own journey to take you to new places, new heights, and help you navigate through the lows too.

When I first launched my business back in 2001 (I was just finishing college then at the University of Missouri-Columbia), I never could’ve imagined having to navigate that through a recession, a housing market crash, multiple tumultuous political cycles, and an erosion of the “middle class” (where many of our entrepreneur and startup-style clients come from).

But I’ve pushed through regardless, even against immense challenges and odds at times — when several of my peers and fellow smaller, boutique agency owners (whom I respect and love to this day) have closed up shop. It has been tough at times, no doubt, but I’ve persevered…and if I hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t have met my wife and best friend, had two beautiful boys, live in beautiful Southern California, and have the exciting opportunities that are on the table today for HypeLife Brands.

It’s all part of The Journey…something none of us should ever forget.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with HypeLife Brands – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Founded in 2001, HypeLife Brands is a leading brand development + precision marketing agency dedicated to helping business-to-consumer (B2C) brands engage the Millennial generation.

We serve a select, focused roster of clients across the U.S. with a concentration of disruptive lifestyle brands and startups. We’ve worked with companies in verticals including surf & action sports, apparel/fashion, entertainment/film, nutrition & active lifestyle, modern office + cowork, insurance, world-changers and beyond.

Over the past 16 years, we’ve worked with everything from startups in their earliest stages of conception, to larger legacy B2B and B2C brands, and Fortune 500 companies.

Could you call us the “Voltron of Agencies”? Perhaps. We’re uniquely designed to scale account teams up and down as needed, which enables us to work easily with smaller clients just starting out, all the way up to large organizations needing a highly-specialized, out-of-house marketing and/or brand management team for a fraction of the price of hiring one internally…without the headaches of trying to find a great team of senior, ninja-level talent.

And yes, we can also turn on a dime.

Aside from our specialization in understanding the Millennial generation, we can work across an entire brand’s lifecycle — not just a few pieces like social media marketing or creative — from Day 1 brand & marketing strategy development, audience definition, messaging, and so on, to creative and brand identity development, to small to large-scale, custom digital platform & website buildouts, marketing ramp-up, and ongoing daily marketing and advertising management (social media, email, community management, PPC/SEO/Paid Social, influencer marketing, website maintenance & enhancements, etc. etc.).

All of that culminates towards a heavy focus on customer traction growth once a brand has launched, which is critical for those startups looking to eventually gain the attention of investors and raise funding.

Alternatively, if a company is established and not looking for investor funding, they find our services just as valuable, if not even more so.

For example, we’re talking with a 50-year-old franchise owner here in North County San Diego. Their problem to solve is not seeing any growth for a couple years now, and they see the value of adjusting and expanding their marketing approach to begin attracting an entirely new generation of Millennials who would be very interested in their products and services, if they knew the brand existed, and how it could enhance their lifestyle.

I’m most proud of HypeLife’s longevity and evolution, our ability to maneuver tight turns over the years, and our ability to adapt and expand with new technology, Millennial culture, and everything that comes our way. This keen, constant eye on the bleeding edge is part of my agency’s DNA by design.

When I first started the agency, there was no social media on our radar whatsoever, and we built everything on the digital side of things custom, utilizing a LAMP stack and Flash when it made sense.

Today, social media is a huge part of our marketing mixes, and we’ve since adapted from LAMP to RAILs to now React as the “next big thing” on our horizon when it comes to building responsive, flexible web/digital platforms that can easily pivot out to a mobile app.

Managing the evolution is everything.

I’m proud of the results we’ve been able to achieve for our clients too, especially in the past couple years — we created 96% ROI for one client, another B2B company sold for $635M 3-4 years after our rebranding and ongoing marketing work, and another startup client has turned a $230k investment into a valuation hovering around $2M and is in acquisition talks.

We are obsessed with data, and growth, for our clients, not just powerful creative/design (though we love that too) …because it HAS to work, and so we launch, test, iterate, and adapt to get the results for our clients they’re aiming at, but often have no idea how to reach.

There is so much nowadays on the landscape of brand and a marketing…it’s complex terrain no doubt, and our clients find that having a senior team to manage and navigate that with them absolutely invaluable.

Blasting into the blue sky with each of them is exciting for us, and we love the unique challenges and problems we solve for our clients every day.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love many things about San Diego, but to name a few: I love all the amazing creativity going on with food and drink, Downtown San Diego is amazing, and all the many coastal areas with their own unique flavor. North Park is rad, and up our way here in Oceanside, there’s a ton of new spots popping up and lots of exciting redevelopment and revitalization happening in Oceanside alone, along with an arts district that’s coming into shape too where our office is in Downtown Oceanside near the beach. We even have a new comics-meets-coffee shop just up the street from our office called Panels Coffee that serves some of my favorite coffee from Birdrock! (I’m a self-professed coffee lover/snob).

Of course, the weather, and the views, are amazing no matter what part of San Diego you hit heading down the 5.

My least favorite things — and I have few complaints — are the painful, constant gridlock on the 5 heading into Downtown from Oceanside here, and lack of a more frequent train system…but that’s about my only complaints. 🙂

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Daniel Gomez
HypeLife Brands

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