NADIA JAMES, 25, of Fishtown, is founder of Griot Digital. The digital-marketing startup helps clients with content marketing and brand storytelling. James, a graduate of Duke University, formerly worked for LinkedIn in London, running international social-media campaigns for Samsung, American Express and Chanel.
Q: How'd you come up with the idea for Griot Digital?
A: When I left LinkedIn in 2013, people were writing content, but a lot of it wasn't good and you'd see many versions of the same thing. Businesses who really want to compete and excel need to tell a story. It's the only way you can rise above all the fluff on the Internet.
Q: Startup money?
A: It's bootstrapped. I put in $2,000 personal savings.
Q: What's the biz do?
A: We help clients tell their story online. How do they use social media? How do they use a blog? How do they use their website? We see what competitors are doing and devise a plan.
Q: The biz model?
A: It's a retainer that starts at $2,500. That includes all forms of content writing, blogging, newsletters, status updates, white papers and the storyboard. That's where we interview the executive team to figure out what the customer needs and what their challenges are. We figure out who you are, why you exist and tell a story. Our retainers go up to $4,000, and that's the basic package plus more on social media and community engagement.
Q: Your clients?
A: Rutgers University, Practice Unite and SemperCon, a local firm that creates apps.
Q: Who do you compete with and what differentiates you?
A: Ad and marketing agencies, but they're more execution-focused. As a consultancy we're more strategically focused. There are few organizations that manage the whole content-marketing sphere in house like we do.
Q: Biggest challenge?
A: My core audience is smaller businesses and startups. They can't afford to do all the content marketing they need. The biggest challenge has been figuring out who in the small-business/startup world can grow their business where they have enough cash flow to hire us.
Q: How big a biz is this?
A: I had about $40,000 in revenue my first year. I launched on Oct. 31, 2013.
Q: What's next?
A: I wasn't sure I wanted to continue the consultancy or shift and build a software platform. Now, I want to do both. Startups need to tell their story, but they lack storytelling skills. If you're a larger enterprise, you can use technology, outsource what you need to and manage it internally. I see development of a software-as-a-service platform that would allow content marketers to go through that storyboard interface, make that easier and also do research to tell their story.