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Meet someone who sticks to what he hates

Rochester Business Journal
December 28, 2012

Mike Centola has sold hundreds of thousands of stickers with a slogan that would suggest the opposite.
 
Centola, 30, owns and operates I Hate Stickers, a website that sells stickers featuring everything from skating and motorsports logos to funny catchphrases and smiley faces.
 
"There was a tremendous amount of irony to having a sticker company named I Hate Stickers," Centola says. "It makes people think and, more importantly, it makes them remember the name."
 
I Hate Stickers is just one business under the parent company, Technotic Media Inc., which Centola started in 2005. Technotic Media's portfolio includes a firearms manufacturer called Allstar Tactical and a Web hosting company called True Negative.
 
Centola runs all of his businesses from a small office in Webster with five employees. I Hate Stickers is the company's centerpiece.
 
Centola launched I Hate Stickers in 2009. The company in the first year generated revenue of just $9,000. Sales jumped to $116,000 in 2010 and then $240,000 in 2011.
 
Centola says sales have remained steady in 2012, allowing him to launch Stick No Evil, a custom sticker company that has done almost $10,000 in sales in just a few months.
 
Though he has found success in the sticker business, Centola was on a totally different career path 10 years ago. The Brighton native grew up as a bit of a tech geek who spent time as a teenager building computers for his high-school pals.
 
Centola earned his master's degree in information technology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy in 2004. He went to work for IBM Corp. after college.
 
In 2005, in his spare time, Centola started Technotic Media. The company began as a photography and video company. Centola shot footage for car show organizers and then put together DVDs and distributed them.
 
To promote Technotic Media, Centola and his team would hand out stickers at the car shows. Then, one day while bored at the office, Centola and his team started making their own humor-themed stickers. Centola threw some of the stickers online for sale, and the rest is history.
 
"We see a lot of companies pop up as competition in this industry," Centola says. "People see it as such an easy moneymaker. But really it comes down to our focus on the culture. We throw a lot of parties at local venues and go to car shows to promote the business. To our customers, we are the cool company to buy stickers from."
 
And Centola is apparently the cool guy to get business advice from. The fact that he sells stickers and has his fair share of piercings and tattoos makes him a hot commodity at high-school career days. Centola has been a guest speaker four straight years at high schools in Webster.
 
"I think they like the fact that I look like I could be one of them," Centola says. "What I've done seems achievable. It's also proof that you don't have to fit a certain mold to be a successful businessperson."
 
Centola, who balances work with family-wife Erica and sons Jack and Alexander-says Technotic Media soon will have to move into a bigger office. He is excited about the company's growth.
 
"Owning my own company has been a true blessing," Centola says. "It gives you the freedom to be creative. Even though things are going really well, we're always thinking about what we can do next."

12/28/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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