Gen Z in Action

Kelsey Davis found startup success at the Newhouse School

Kelsey Davis had a shot at playing college basketball, but her interest in visual storytelling drew her to the Newhouse School, where she enrolled in the television, radio and film program as a freshman in the fall of 2015.

She already had an impressive list of accomplishments, having founded a nonprofit leadership development organization for public school students in her native Atlanta and participated in the YMCA International Leadership Conference in the Czech Republic, among other notable activities.

At Newhouse, she continued to be active, growing her love of video production from projects for friends to work for professional clients across country. But all her hands-on experience was negatively effecting her grades, and she considered dropping out.

Instead, Davis stayed at Newhouse and co-founded CLLCTVE, a creative agency that connects brands with college students who can create transmedia content. She also produces the “Ask Gen Z” column, hosted by MediaVillage, which explores marketing to the 18-to-24-year-old market.

Davis sat down with us to discuss her Newhouse experience and her plans for the future.

Why did you choose Newhouse?

I grew up watching my father, a vice president at CNN, work hard in the media industry, so I’ve always been around media in an interesting way. In high school, I was recruited by [Division 1] schools, but I knew that video production was my true love, so I made the decision to quit basketball and go to Syracuse University.

Talk about the creation of CLLCTVE.

I was trying to solve the problem of pursuing academic endeavors and professional opportunities simultaneously. I met Sean Branagan [director of the Newhouse Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship], who encouraged me to research how non-traditional students like me can be more successful in an academic environment. I found that there is a large market of entrepreneurial-minded students who are content creators and who need a resource that develops their skills, connects them with jobs and ensures their academic success. I also realized that brands across the country are searching for original content that reaches the Gen Z market.

CLLCTVE was originally founded as a production company; today, it’s an agency that empowers collegiate creatives to develop creative solutions for brands looking to reach the Generation Z consumer market.

What have been some highlights since founding the company?

We hosted the CLLCTVE Conference for 150 creative-minded students at Syracuse University, and we launched a beta platform to give creatives an on-demand, user-generated platform experience. In addition, CLLCTVE won the 2018 Google Pitch Competition hosted by Black Girl Ventures in New York City and the 2018 Hult Prize and Cuse Tank competitions at SU.

What are some of the words you would use to describe Generation Z?

We are innovative, creative, influential and ready to use our creative minds and skills to impact society as soon as possible. Our generation never knew a world without the internet.

What do advertisers and marketers need to know about reaching Gen Z?

By 2021, the content marketing industry will be worth over $400 billion, with 48 percent of content being consumed by Gen Z. The bargaining power has shifted from the agency to the consumer.

This is why CLLCTVE is super important. We built a user-generated content platform by Gen Z and for Gen Z, allowing this market to feed itself. We are able to bridge the gap between Gen Z consumers and brands by growing our own network of creatives and allowing them to produce high quality content for brands they know and love.

What motivates you?

I am motivated by the privilege to create and see my vision all the way through. Enthusiasm really changes the game in every project. I’m very fortunate to be able to do work that I love.

At top: Photo by Laura Oliverio, a photography student at the Newhouse School.