Cariana Morales

Welcome to the Atlanta Startup Podcast. I am Cariana Morales, an associate with Valor Ventures, which is an Atlanta based venture capital firm. Atlanta’s global innovation ecosystem is home to one of the highest populations of underrepresented founders in the country. Today, we’re speaking with Chike from Klippit. Welcome, Chike! How are you doing today?

Chike U. Nwoke

I’m doing good. Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to do this podcast.

Cariana Morales

We’re excited to have you on the show. Will you tell us a little bit about what you’re working on with Klippit and a little bit more about Klippit?

Chike U. Nwoke

Klippit is a mobile app for influencers where we are essentially allowing everybody to get rewarded for the content that they upload onto social media whenever they interact with a brand. Essentially, it’s a daily deal app for influencers where merchants will be uploading bills and campaigns that will allow influencers to get compensated and get rebates whenever they are going out to eat or shop at their favorite location or taking trips. What we’re doing is we’re broadening the scope of allowing what influencer marketing is from a merchant standpoint because right now we usually see the type of people that reach out to influencers. It could be clothing, apparel, or fitness brands. Right now, we’re giving every type of merchant the chance to utilize influencers because everybody in a sense, is famous to fifteen people. Whenever you shop somewhere, even if you pump your gas and you tell your friend, “Hey, gas down the street is, you know, this amount as opposed to going to this other location.”  They’re probably going to listen to you because they trust you. So that’s, in a sense, an influencer in my opinion as well. This really puts a real-life spin to what is currently known as influencer marketing.

Cariana Morales

I see. Could you give us a real life example? Let’s say I wanted to sign up on the app, what does that look like? How do I interact with brands? How do I interact with people I’m influencing? What kind of rebates do I get?

Chike U. Nwoke

Yeah, of course. So it’s a little different from what you see with influencer marketing out there right now. Right now what we see is when influencers sign up on a platform, they’re matched with a merchant. They do it based off of the- the merchant will be looking for somebody with a certain amount of likes or followers. We’ve removed that aspect. Essentially, what we do is deals are listed on the app similar to what you would see with a daily build app now like a Groupon or something. You can literally just select the merchant that is closest to you. It could be somewhere that you like to go eat your favorite restaurant or Starbucks where you might get 50% off a latte. So when you purchase it, and you can complete the action that the merchant is asking you to do, which could be [something like] record a video, take a picture of yourself drinking a latte, then you will get compensated for that. You would get the rebate and then you would get incentivized every time somebody used your referral code to purchase that same deal. You can actually earn residual income whenever your friends go back to that same location.

Cariana Morales

I see. I will say I’m definitely interested. Can you tell us what drove you to build this product?

Chike U. Nwoke

Well, I conceptualized the idea. A few years ago, when I was going to school at the University of Maryland – College Park, I used to see a lot of brand ambassadors on campus passing out like energy drinks and stuff like that. I realized that those energy drinks became more popular. It really made me think about how peer to peer marketing is more effective than commercials that we would see. This is also when Facebook was first introducing videos to their platform. This is before Instagram and Twitter and Vine and all that. It was the dominant social network, which is Facebook, and I realized that people were starting to flock towards the video aspect and it made me think how important and how big content is where as far as user-generated content, and utilizing that form of advertising where friends are telling friends about where they’re going to eat, what the hottest nightclub is what the best deal is in town. I just took that old concept and put it into an app after years of refining and pivoting. I came up with what we know as Klippit now.

Cariana Morales

Gotcha, gotcha. A couple months ago, you pitched during Startup Runway and for our listeners that don’t know what Startup Runway is, it’s the largest pitch event for underrepresented founders. Chike was one of the ten finalists which is a great accomplishment. There’s thousands of applicants. So, congratulations to you. Can you talk a little bit about your experience of Startup Runway?

Chike U. Nwoke

Startup Runway was a really good experience. So it was unique because this year it was virtual because of the pandemic that we’re in. We don’t actually have to go in and stand on stage and pitch live in front of the audience. We had to record our pitches, turn it in, and it was scrutinized by the judges which were investors and all the other people that were a part of the competition. The reason why that experience was unique and why I prefer it that way, they took time to come up with the critiques that they had. When we’re in the rooms- the Zoom rooms-  with the investors and our advisors, they had a lot of very good feedback for us. It was tailored to each of the finalists where we’re able to ask questions. We had a sort of a boardroom simulator where they acted as board members and they were telling us what they would expect from us as a company and how we’re going to reach it. It was a really good experience and it was an eye opener. I got a lot of great feedback from the judges from that competition so I’m happy to be a part of that.

Cariana Morales

Yeah. Could you tell us a little bit more about that Zoom room where you interacted with the mentors as if it was a board meeting? What were some great takeaways you took from that?

Chike U. Nwoke

Well, some of the great takeaways I took from the Zoom room with the investors is that traction is really important. Understanding how we are getting traction and how we plan to keep getting more traction in order for us to catch the eyes of future investors that would come in future rounds. Also, being able to understand our user and really being able to understand the mind of the users that we are targeting. This includes coming up with a user or buyer persona, meaning how old is this particular user? Are they a male or female? Where do they work? Where do they go to school? What did they major in? What do they like to eat? How much time do they spend on their phone? How do they make their purchasing decisions? Really understanding the psychology of the people that we’re trying to target was very helpful to help me understand exactly how to try to take things to the next level.

Cariana Morales

Yeah, and I could see how that would be extra important for the business you’re in because you have to understand the demographics and psychology of your micro influencers to understand the many markets that they’re influencing. The businesses are going to want to know that information. Definitely. Well, that’s extremely helpful. I can see how that was a very beneficial experience for you. Did you say that you actually prefer that it was virtual?

Chike U. Nwoke

Oh, yeah, I did personally because I didn’t know that I was actually going to participate until like two days before. At first, I was super excited. Then, I was also super nervous. I was like, “Man, I have to make sure that everything is perfect. I have to make sure that I don’t stumble over this word.” I know I’m going to be getting questions from left to right which is okay because startup founders that’s something you have to be prepared for. It was just a little bit more calming on the nerves to know that I could come up with a pitch video, they would scrutinize it, they can have time to look at our website, and get a better idea of what we’re doing and not make a decision on the spot. When we did receive the feedback, I know that they thought it through. It was very helpful to kind of look into what they told me themselves and make sure that I try to incorporate a lot of the stuff that I learned moving forward.

Cariana Morales

Yeah, definitely. Um, have you pitched virtually before or could you give some advice to our listeners about pitching virtually and what that experience was like and how you can leverage that with investors?

Chike U. Nwoke

Oh, yeah. I have not pitched virtually before it’s usually in person but the advice that I would give and the thing that I liked about it is it’s being able to do some research on the investors and see what they’ve invested in before, what they might be looking for, and do a little bit of research. Tailor the pitches to the investors and to the people that we’re targeting in order for us to capture their attention. It just allowed me to do more takes. I probably recorded the same sentence like fifty times, so I just kept doing it till it was perfect.

Cariana Morales

Yeah, definitely. Since it’s been a couple months since Startup Runway, are there any other impacts that you’ve seen since? Have you been more confident interacting with investors or have any connections that you got throughout or anything else that you felt was really great and had a lot of momentum for you going forward with Klippit?

Chike U. Nwoke

A lot of positive things have been happening. We got our first seed investor. We got accepted into an accelerator, which is huge for us, which was about a month after Startup Runway. People have been reaching out and trying to get more information on what we’re doing and how things are going, and how progress is going. It’s definitely been moving up in the right direction. I’m super happy about that.

Cariana Morales

Wow, congratulations! Seed investors and accelerators are incredible pieces of momentum going forward. So, congratulations to you. 

Chike U. Nwoke

Thank you. 

Cariana Morales

For the listeners, could you tell us a little bit more about what that ideal customer looks like for you? So if we have any listeners that are really interested and want to get involved, then, you know, this is the way.

Chike U. Nwoke

So, it’s twofold. We have merchants. These are people who are trying to grow their business, using social media or just online in general. For these types of people, what we’re basically helping them do is to get a better return on investment for their marketing campaigns and for their influencer marketing campaigns in particular. Right now what we’re seeing is, you might have somebody with like 100,000 followers or something like that, and maybe you negotiate or you pay them $10,000 or $20,000 for a particular campaign. It’s kind of a guessing game. You have to base off of how many likes with whatever content they post or how much traffic that they drive but it’s kind of hard to tell if in fact they are driving that traffic. Klippit is different because you only pay for what you get. It’s easier to tell the return on investment because basically, the merchant will be paying for the service at the point of sale. They’re not going to pay a big fee in order to use the platform. It’s basically every time people are purchasing their product that’s when they’re paying a transaction fee. That’s the main thing, they get a greater return on investment. It helps them actually track the influencers and how effective the influencers are because when they bring the referrals that’s also tracked in our API for users. This basically gives everybody the chance to be compensated for their content. A lot of people do nowadays, hold up their phones or record their meals when the waiter brings it out, which is free marketing for the brand, and you’re not getting nothing in return at the moment. This is just giving people the opportunity to be compensated for doing stuff that they do anyway, which is post and record videos with their friends when they’re out at a bar when they’re eating when they’re on the plane, when they’re on vacation at a resort or when they’re getting a haircut, you know, things like that.

Cariana Morales

I love that this platform is mutually beneficial. The businesses are getting better ROI and it’s super easy for consumers to sign on and be those micro influencers. So, I think it’s awesome. Is there anything else that you would like our listeners to know or any other pieces of advice for early stage founders?

Chike U. Nwoke

The only piece of advice is to keep on moving forward. Traction is king. Traction is super important. Make pivots whenever necessary. Don’t hold on too tightly to any idea within the idea and be ready to make a change. As far as people who are more interested in learning about Klippit, we have an app in App store which is a waitlist version of our app because our full version of the app is coming out in a couple of months or you can download Klippit right now as the user and just be on the waitlist. We have around like 10,000 people who are already on the waitlist so you can find this in the App Store and the Play Store. Klippit with the K-L-I-P-P-I-T waitlist. If anybody wants to reach me, you get my email address it’s chike@klippitapp.com

Cariana Morales

Gotcha. Sounds good. So if anyone’s interested in reaching out to Chike, you have this information now. Well, thank you so much and it was great speaking to you and best of luck with your ventures forward.

Chike U. Nwoke

Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Hopefully we get to talk again soon.

Cariana Morales

Awesome. Our upcoming Startup Runway competition will be held virtually on September 9. You can apply or find more information at startuprunway.co.

Lisa

The Atlanta Startup Podcast is produced by Valor Ventures as a service to the startup and investor community. We couldn’t do it without the support of our sponsors–Atlanta Tech Park, the global innovation center, and Write2Market, Atlanta’s favorite tech, and healthcare marketing firm. If you’d like to get your information on the Atlanta Startup Podcast, our share a message with our listeners, visit us online and check out our affordable rate card. All advertisements here are tax-deductible donations to the Startup Runway Foundation, a nonprofit whose mission is connecting underrepresented founders to their first investor.