This is the first of many blog entries regarding the some of the projects I’m working on.
After moving to Atlanta I’ve decided to restart my efforts to launch SpendWith (formerly referred to as Spend With In). Initially, I started the platform as a way for Black merchants to sell products. Consequently, anyone who wanted to patronize a black merchant could do so through the site. This version of the site involved an e-commerce marketplace similar to Amazon or eBay. But Brian Williams with PurchaseBlack.com was doing something similar. So after researching more into the market, I began to realize a social buying platform could be created. Therefore I pivoted the platform to a Pinterest-style platform where users could add products, share and communicate. It would also facilitate the payments through the system for an item sold. I also realized that cultural buying isn’t limited to Black people and Black businesses, Latinos, Chinese, Vietnamese, Africans, Jews, Muslims and more all patronize one another within their respective cultural groups. There should be a way to facilitate purchasing for all of these groups.
Well after two years of treating this project like a stepchild, I’m back to restart the idea by leveraging the business development contacts here in Atlanta. I also realized that there are platforms like LetGo, OfferUp, and 5mile that don’t even accept payments. As long as I can build a platform that connects cultural buyers and sellers, even though the payment happens offline, then there are investors that will fund the growth of the platform. Why am I so sure of this? Because LetGo, OfferUp, and 5Mile have raised over half a billion dollars in investor funding over the course 5 years. But how do these companies make money? They don’t and they don’t need to. Look at Instagram, they were able to raise millions of dollars and were bought for over a billion dollars without a revenue model. Why? Users! Connecting users creates data metrics that are invaluable to acquiring companies. Sometimes it’s not about how much revenue you can generate from users, it’s how many NEW data points can you generate from a segment of users.
The new SpendWith site is nearly ready, starting with SpendWith: Black and SpendWith: Latino. As soon as the apps are ready, we’ll start “importing” users. SpendWith, Buy or sell with a local culture & community.
Jibril Sulaiman is a former founder of a 2016 INC 500 company and business/startup consultant. You can schedule time to talk with him at http://jibrilsulaiman.com