I had the pleasure of interviewing Kofi Frimpong, Co-Founder of Getsocianado.com. Getsocianado uses an algorithm to match vetted social media strategists & managers to brands that need help establishing a presence on social media and consistently creating content. Kofi has shown an interest in startups & entrepreneurship since graduating from college winning over $100k in business pitch competitions for a business he launched prior to Socianado.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I grew up in New Jersey, the son of two Ghanaian immigrants. I always thought I was going to go to medical school and even ended up studying Biology while at Princeton University. My junior year at Princeton I saw a flyer on campus for a business pitch competition to win $1000 and thought I should give it a shot. I always had different business ideas but never really pursued them. I ended up pitching and got in second place. The thrill of pitching my business in front of investors, answering questions about the business model, scalability, etc. was enough for me. I decided that startups and entrepreneurship was really what I was passionate about.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
When we started acquiring customers for Getsocianado.com we pitched to a variety of businesses the importance of having a skilled social media strategist & manager creating content for the brand and establishing a social media presence. We believe that almost any brand (company or personal) could benefit from our platform. There was a CPA that was interested in having her own social media strategist and she was the first CPA our platform ever matched with a Socianado. The strategist & social media manager, she was matched to, did an incredible job creating and posting content about taxes on Instagram. She received a significantly increased amount of business from her followers on social media to handle their taxes around tax season.
What do you think makes your company stand out?
In 2018 your social media presence matters. No matter what industry you are in. Whether you are a lawyer, doctor, CPA, small business owner, financial advisor, etc. there are ways you can leverage a social media brand to garner more opportunities. We use an algorithm to match you with the most qualified Socianados (social media strategists & managers) on our platform based on your responses to our questionnaire. Our team on-boards the best and most qualified social media strategists (we currently have hundreds) through a rigorous process. In addition to this, all of our Socianados are required to have built personal brands on social media of their own to show that they are serious about social media. We want brands to take social media seriously because
we know the power of building a brand online. Brands aren’t going to see the benefits of social media by having an office assistant or intern managing its social media.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?
Right now, we are working on launching our YouTube channel which will feature content on how to build a social media brand across various verticals. We’re really excited about all the content that will be released to help company and personal brands learn everything they can about social media.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
CEOs and founders have to be in constant communication with their employees. Oftentimes there’s a separation between management and employees which is understandable. However, employees are the lifeline of your company and you need honest feedback about the company, its culture and everything occurring on a day to day basis. I would suggest one on one monthly meetings with each employee to have an “unfiltered” chat about how the employee can thrive and grow at the company.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
I’m especially grateful towards my mother, Theresa. Entrepreneurship is tough. It’s a grind. It’s a roller coaster. My mom did not always support this path. She would have much rather preferred a more secure job and lifestyle. Nonetheless she has always been my support system. She takes the time to listen to issues I have and provide suggestions on how to handle tense situations. Entrepreneurs have to remember that they are in fact separate from their own businesses. You have to be able to take care of yourself and have people you can vent to.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
When I was in college, my pre-entrepreneur era, I spent a week in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to support local organizations in helping to rebuild the community. That was one of the most gratifying experiences in my life and I always knew that I wanted to be a man who gave back to his community and assisted others in any way I could. Fast forward years later and I have my own company enjoying the entrepreneurial journey. At the time Flint, Michigan was in the news consistently and I thought it was disgraceful that a community in the United States (predominantly black) couldn’t even have access to clean water. I couldn’t just sit back and do nothing. I worked with a local Meijer store in Flint Michigan to donate 10,000 bottles of water. I even flew out to Flint, Michigan and stayed a few days to not only oversee the donation but talk to local residents. I love helping and inspiring others.
Can you share the top five lessons that you have learned from your experience as a “Black Man In Tech”.
1. Fight For What You Deserve
I consider myself a pretty confident individual but when I first started launching companies as a black man in tech there were certain times I would second guess myself. I’ll never forget when I started fundraising for a venture and mentor of mine was astonished at the amount I was raising. I told him that I felt I needed to raise more for the business but was concerned that maybe I didn’t deserve to ask for a particular amount. However, he made it clear to me that not only based on the metrics of my company did I deserve to ask for more but that I would be doing a disservice to myself and the company. I realized that my counterparts of differing ethnicities wouldn’t think twice about raising more money and I had to act the same way despite the statistics on fundraising for minorities.
2. Your Unique Background is An Advantage
I really learned to embrace being a black entrepreneur in tech and realize that it was actually an advantage. Working at startups and interacting with so many people I’m able to see things from a perspective that other entrepreneurs of stereotypical tech backgrounds may not see. This has helped with hiring (especially for culture fit), partnerships, sales, etc. Being different and from a non-stereotypical background is a good thing. It has helped me to stand out and take advantage in numerous ways.
3. Read Between the Lines
I’ve noticed that sometimes individuals in the startup world are too afraid to say exactly what they want to say, in particular to black men in tech, for fear of possibly being offensive. It’s understandable but at the same time we want to receive honest and valuable feedback. I think it’s important to watch body language and signs in general from investors, partners and others. Don’t let people string you along and try to get as definitive of an answer as you can get from anyone you communicate with about your business. Sometimes you may have to decipher what people are really trying to tell you as they may try to sugarcoat it for you.
4. Celebrate Even the Small Wins
Remember that the entrepreneurial grind is also about the journey. Don’t always get caught up in celebrating the big partnership or investment. Take time to enjoy and celebrate even the so called “small wins”. Typically, the accumulation of the small wins daily is what’s driving your business forward.
5. Leverage Your Network Intelligently
I learned early on that when you are working on an interesting business or a business with a lot of potential people in your network actually want to help you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people in your network for help or connections. It benefits people in your network to make valuable connections and introductions. Don’t take too much advantage of people’s networks as those are valuable contacts they have built up over several years. Make sure you do enough research on who you would like to reach and why it would be valuable for them to be connected to you. Think first about how you can help or service them.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” I can’t tell you how much this quote has helped me the past few years. Being in tech you are going to hear a lot of “no’s”. No from investors. No from potential partners. No from a lot of people. You have to keep pushing along and you can’t be deterred. It’s the people who keep going on, past the no’s, that end up successful.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this :-)
Without question I would love to have a sit down with Shawn Carter, known to the world as Jay-Z. I’ve always admired Jay-Z’s ability to communicate his story to the masses and how he has been able to transition from being an artist to a businessman. His background and ability to connect with a variety of people has led to his success with his firm Rocnation and I have no doubt that his venture capital fund will be successful as well. I would love to have him as an advisor.