“Start Kicking” Assignment

For our “Start Kicking” assignment we were instructed to peruse the website www.kickstarter.com. I began the perusal process by scoping out the “Discover” section where I was lead to 15 “diverse categories” including: arts, comics, crafts, dance, design, fashion, film & video, food, games, journalism, music, photography, publishing, technology and theater.

KickStarter category page

If you knew me, you would know I am not a left brain person, so many of the artistic and musical categories were not of interest to me. However, I love FOOD…so I dug a little deeper into the 649 “live projects” (at the time of search) that were categorized as “food.”

It didn’t take long for me to find a project I was passionate about: The Chocolate Conspiracy Expansion is intended to expand a raw artisan chocolate company out of Salt Lake City, Utah. Included in the project details is a video about the business that starts with a still image of a delectable looking chocolate bar (shown below).  Also included in the project details is an extensive list of items needed to grow their business, including the prices of the equipment needed. The concept is built on the organic, local food movement and uses local honey to sweeten their chocolate.

KickStarter - The Chocolate Consp. Expansion

Gainesville Co-Op

In sticking with the same theme (food), I decided to search some local projects in Gainesville, Florida. I recognized the image and name of a local Citizen Co-Op, which claims to want to “build a community through a local food marketplace that offers fresh creative alternatives to how we connect with our food.” I was pleased to discover they were already “Successfully funded” and I look forward to scoping it out next time I’m on that side of town. 

 

Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 12.12.08 PMWhen I returned to the Kickstarter website for a third time to gather my thoughts, I stumbled upon Zubits Magnetic Shoe Closure, which I couldn’t resist writing about. At the time I saw the Zubits project it was 646% funded! Zubits is the perfect example of a “Shark Tank” type invention. It’s been said that successful inventions are those that solve a common problem or make a current task easier. Although there are of course sneakers with velcro; however, they are far less fashionable, Zubits provides a revolutionary way to fasten your sneakers. While it seems elementary, over 4,000 individuals have backed the project and $187,216 has been pledged thus far.

Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 12.16.30 PMAs previously confessed,  I am not a left brain person and my level of creativity is bleak to say the least. While I don’t personally have a concept or project I would want funded, I know plenty of other individuals (far more creative than myself) that may be interested in this concept, and I appreciate being made aware of this financial crowdsourcing platform.

University of Florida Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI), Master of Science in Entrepreneurship (MSE)

Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) at the University of Florida

Master of Science in Entrepreneurship (MSE)

The Master of Science in Entrepreneurship (MSE) program through the University of Florida is one of the nation’s premier graduate entrepreneurship experiences. The program is not parallel to typical business programs. The stimulating, experiential curriculum is designed with the entrepreneur in mind, and is intended to inspire, fund and launch the students’ ventures. The program is designed to be completed in one year, and consists of 36-credits. As of Spring of 2015, there will be an online option available, and according to Program Director, Laura Johnson, the timeline for completion is capable of being made flexible.

Target Audience: This integrated marketing campaign is intended to recruit applicants for the Spring 2016 semester. The target audience for the program includes undergraduate majors “from Finance to Fine Arts”. While no work experience is required, it is of the belief that having more seasoned individuals with a 2-5 year professional background may be most beneficial to the program as a whole and the peers within it. While the MSE program is launching an online component for the Spring 2015 semester that does not require students to step foot on campus, it is my personal belief as a Gainesville resident, and after performing further research, that our city provides a unique environment to facilitate the success of entrepreneurial ideas/ventures. For this reason, as well as others that will be covered in more detail throughout the following sections, I have chosen to market to young professional, college graduates in the local (Gainesville) market.

Strengths: The MSE program was awarded #1 National Model Graduate Entrepreneurship program in 2013 by the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship. In 2012,  the program was awarded the Excellence in Specialty Entrepreneurship Education by the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers. In addition to the programs accreditations, the Academic Director of the Entrepreneurship Program, Dr. Michael Morris, is a leader within the entrepreneurial education industry and has been an asset to the program since joining in August of 2013.

Opportunities: The support from the Gainesville community to facilitate growth of the entrepreneurial movement within the university and the city as a whole is exceptionally optimistic, and provides positive opportunities for program growth and success.


 

Why use an IMC strategy?

Grooveshark,  Feathr, MonkeyWish…all are startup companies that incubated right here in Gainesville. What’s one thing all these companies have in common? They’re all tech related, in fact many entrepreneurial concepts involve technological advancements of some form. Entrepreneurial candidates for the MSE program can be found on social media, which is why an IMC plan including platforms such as Facebook and Twitter is essential to the program’s growth.

Integrated marketing and social media use is about building relationships. Not only can these platforms be used to find candidates, but also maintain relationships with alumni and build online relationships that enhance search engine optimization. As these companies grow to become more successful and increase their presence on the internet, the MSE program should leverage these relationships by including features about these Gainesville entrepreneurial success stories congratulating them on social media.

According to an Entrepreneur.com article written by Toren, “a solid marketing plan is key for any successful entrepreneur’s product.” Toren expands upon various social media marketing tools, within his article such as Hootsuite, $99Social (“created by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs”) and Hubspot.

Even the greatest entrepreneurial ideas require marketing of some form. Many of which rely on social media. In a sense, the MSE program as a whole is rather innovative itself. What better way to market than on the same platform your potential candidates, program graduates, and target market of entrepreneurs are located.

While IMC plans can incorporate more traditional forms of marketing, the approach for the MSE program will primarily entail social media and internet, simply because of the target market’s use of these platforms. The messaging is to remain consistent across across all platforms. The goals for the IMC campaign are as follows:

  • Build a larger online presence through connections with successful Gainesville startup companies that have a significant social following.
  • Engage with local entrepreneurial geared programs and community organizations.
  • Strengthen recruitment, and thus increase enrollment, by creating a buzz about the program locally and online.

Seeing as the opportunity for the program is geared toward the city of Gainesville and its supportive environment, social engagement with local organizations is essential for building relationships online and within the community.


 

Conclusion

While I understand there is a limited amount of financial resources and staff to maintain the various social media accounts for the MSE program, I would recommend exploring social media management platforms, such as Hootsuite, that allow you to post on multiple platforms and schedule posts in advance. This would make repurposing Facebook content for Twitter easier, and would make posting to the two additional recommended platforms, Google+ and LinkedIn, easier as well.

In addition to creating Google+ and LinkedIn profiles, I would also recommend using email marketing, not only as a follow-up for the career showcase event, but for a more regular means of communication with potential program candidates, current students and alumni. All email campaigns should be mobile responsive, as all platforms should be (i.e. website, blog, etc.).

The CEI/MSE blog could improve drastically from an SEO standpoint. Tags and categories should be utilized and content should include entrepreneurial tips, success stories about Gainesville startups (as shown scrolling on the bottom of the MSE website), appropriate guest blogs, Gainesville news relevant to city’s support of innovation. In fact I would recommend setting up Google alerts for Gainesville start-up companies, in addition to following them online to receive the most up to date information.

Increasing engagement begins with listing. Below are some Gainesville organizations I would recommend finding on social media, following, engaging and sharing content. This relationship will likely become reciprocal, and they too will also share your content and help create a buzz about the MSE program.


 

Resource

Toren, A. (April 18, 2014). “3 Social Media Marketing Plans for Every Startup Budget.” Retrieved from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/232798