Jennifer Taylor knows how to work the business–building resources in Kansas City. A quick scroll down this post will show you just how she’s leveraged small business development centers, funding mechanisims and training to position her very unique business for success.
But I won’t put too many words in her mouth. Here is the story of the Swapping Company’s entrepreneurial journey.w to work the business–building resources in Kansas City. A quick scroll down this post will show you just how she’s leveraged small business development centers, funding mechanisims and training to position her very unique business for success.
What you do:
The Swapping Company is an online aggregator for consignment stores and shoppers that utilizes each store’s customers to create a marketplace specific for experienced consignment shoppers. Think of it as a one-stop shop for stores to push their inventory and sell it the quickest.
Our Tumbler system posts their items out to social media sites, eBay, Amazon, Craigslist, and other swapping sites like Snobswap and Threadflip. We also have an app for consumers to do the same and shop each other’s closets. We have added gamification with our virtual swap parties to put a call to action versus window shopping
Your big news in 2013/4:
We’re releasing our app in September to our stores, and our website will be live.
How easy was it for you to find informal or formal mentors or advisors?
Easy. I just called KCSourceLink and found the best mentor in the world and the key to keeping my business alive and thriving.
Which Resource Partners have you worked with?
How easy was it for you to find funding (to start or grow)?
It has been a slow race, but as I iterate in the business the funding we are about to receive is perfect in its timing. Denise Fields was key to my business at setting me up with funding and the steps to take from the Digital Sandbox KC to MTC to angel investors.
Is your company outside or self-funded?
Self-funded currently and loan from Justine PETERSEN and Startup KC.
How often do you mentor/advise up-and-comers?
Seems like all the time! I should charge for all the networking and tips I give to other companies because I would be rich for all the resources I give to others -- and be able to fund my company fully without investors if I charged a consultation fee.
What immediate challenges face KC companies?
We are stuck in the Midwest where it takes investors 10,000 years to make a decision and find out what is trending. They are behind the times and market.
What challenges are headed your way?
Funding and access to a larger city and changing and making KC a fashion conscious city where it is the standard to dress up and be fashionable, but at consignment store prices. KC women seem to want to wear yoga pants and UGGS and Lululemon, perhaps because they are scared to take a fashion risk and because they do not have access to the west and east coast fashions or discount prices.
What program or events helped you start or grow your company?
We started our company doing swap parties for charities, and this helped folks to understand the dynamics of our swap parties.
How would you rate KC's business scene?
Everyone wants to help, but there is little funding or access to funding or access to investors. If you don’t make an impression to any investor in KC, then you kind of ruined your chance as all the investors and funding groups and players all know each other and work together.
It would be great if there was a funding program for entrepreneurs that entrepreneurs started to help each other out. There was a company called backly.com that did something to this effect, but maybe an association of some sort that entrepreneurs could start to help each other fund projects or get access to programmers, marketing and social media gurus or freelancers.
In the past year or so, what program/event/resource/initiative/person/company do you feel has put KC on the map?
Denise Fields and everyone at KCSourceLink and the Digital Sandbox with Jeff Shackelford.