Helping Local Businesses? App-solutely: Influence Group, LLC
The Influence Group, LLC
Miles Taylor, co-founder/CEO and Sean Mackey, co-founder/COO
Kansas City, Missouri
The number of black-owned businesses grew well above the national average from 2007 to 2012. This Black History Month, we are excited to introduce you to black entrepreneurs working tirelessly to keep this momentum going right here in Kansas City.
Meet Miles Taylor and Sean Mackey, co-founders of Influence Group. They help local business find unique and innovative way to reach consumers on social media. To that end, they're creating a mobile app that will reward consumers when they engage with local companies on social media platforms. Their goal is to drive more traffic (and cash) to local businesses, educate consumers on local businesses and track consumer behavior in a fun way.
Below, we chat with Miles and Sean to get to know more about their entrepreneurial journey, the experts they tapped along the way (including KCSourceLink Resource Partners Betablox, UMKC Entrepreneurship Scholars (E-Scholars) and Digital Sandbox) and the challenges they're already overcome.
Share a defining moment from your entrepreneurial journey in Kansas City.
It hasn’t been an easy journey at all. We suffer from entrepreneurial emotional swings: everything is going great one day, and the next day you wonder if you can even run a business.
One defining moment was getting accepted into Betablox, a program for high impact entrepreneurs that starts as an accelerator, turns into an incubator and ends as an advisor. We went into Betablox with just an idea. With the resources and networks Betablox has provided, we are almost finished with the prototype of our application.
We have also been invited to pitch in front of Digital Sandbox and are currently students in the UMKC E-Scholar program. Taking advantage of all the resources Kansas City has for entrepreneurs makes this roller coaster ride extremely fun.
Describe a challenge you overcame (and how you did it) as an entrepreneur.
The biggest challenge we have overcome thus far is getting companies interested in an app that isn’t complete yet. We have come up with some creative ways to do things manually that the app will do once it’s complete. Another challenge we have faced, which we think every entrepreneur faces, is time constraints. There aren’t enough hours in the day for an entrepreneur, so sleep doesn’t come very often.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking about starting their own business?
If we could give any advice to someone who wants to start a venture it would be to never give up, even as cliché as that sounds.
Also, don’t wait to start a company either. Instead, think of the most creative way you can solve a problem, test it and then tweak it. Don’t worry about if you have enough money or not, just do it. Take advantage of all the business resources you can and read as much as you can. There are so many companies and organizations that support small businesses here locally.
What does success mean to you as an entrepreneur?
We use to define success by just having a lot of money. (Don’t get us wrong we do want to have a lot of money, who doesn’t!) But we would say that success is being able to create something that will help out the community. We feel like once we have made a difference in the community then we are successful.
Who do you turn to for inspiration as a business owner?
We turn to our mentors (including Weston Bergmann and Kevin Oldham,) consultants and our families and peers who have overcome different obstacles to get where they are today. We also draw inspiration from some of the business greats—Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffet to name a few.
What’s your big dream for your Kansas City business?
We want our app to be recognized as one of the leading loyalty and rewards apps that helps local businesses. We want to do this not only in the metro, but nationally. When they mention big names like Foursquare, Belly Rewards, and Shopkick, we want our rewards app to be in that same category.
Most importantly, we want to make a difference in the community and help others achieve their dreams.
Be sure to visit The Influence Group website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
Inspired? Here are your next steps.
You can join Miles and Sean in Kansas City’s Betablox, they’re accepting applications right now!
If that’s not quite the right fit for your business, send us a little info here and we will be in touch ASAP with your personalized action plan.