Categorized | Shoestring Startup

Rock Your Block: Creating Tomorrow’s Business Rockstars

Name of your company?

Rock Your Block. Tagline: “Creating Tomorrow’s Business Rockstars”

www.rockyourblock.com

Ever since I was a little kid, I have always had entrepreneurial tendencies. When I was a teenager, I worked just about any odd job and part-time job you can name: from dog walking to babysitting to lawn care, I had done it all. But it was never really easy to find these “clients” that would pay me to scoop the litter box and bring in the mail. My best marketing strategies were word-of-mouth, door-to-door “selling,” and hanging fliers and handing out business cards.

As I grew up through the evolution of the Internet, I started wondering why there was no way for other overly-ambitious kids and teens to find these odd jobs and promote their services online. As web-services evolved, and giants like LinkedIn and Monster.com appeared on the scene for adults and professionals, it became even more clear to me how I could capture this untapped market of teenagers that love to make money.

Date started?

Thus, the vision for Rock Your Block came to life just this past September 2010 at Startup Weekend Twin Cities, where I pitched the idea for the very first time. Throughout the weekend, I assembled a team of developers, designers, and business strategists to build as much as we could in three days. I was fortunate enough to come through as one of the winners, which provided a tremendous jump-start to my business.

What is your product or service?

Rock Your Block is a safe and secure application for teens to connect with adults in their neighborhood, school, and community. Leveraging parents’ and teens’ existing networks within Facebook, the Rock Your Block application allows teens to filter posts by what types of jobs they are interested in completing in their area. As teens gain work experience, their Rock Your Block profile grows, showing jobs completed, achievements and certifications earned, and recommendations from neighbors.

How was it financed?

Right now, the company is self-funded, but we have just begun be actively seeking our first round of investment.

What free online or offline tools do you use?

To manage my internal team, I use a variety of free web-based services: Google apps for our email, DropBox for file-sharing, MailChimp for newsletters, and Expensify for tracking expenses. Of course, we also utilize a variety of social media (and social media management tools) for helping generate awareness and buzz about Rock Your Block: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, TweetDeck, HootSuite, Blogger

How many people are currently working, including employees (freelancers or independent contractors for specific projects)?

I currently have 5 team members—including me–working on development, design, marketing, and business development/strategy.

What is the best advice you never got?

I’m not sure… I haven’t gotten it yet. J

What almost killed your business in the start?

After going through the experience of Startup Weekend, it was difficult to organize the original team of 6 into a solid team that wanted and were able to move forward with the business beyond the competition. Everyone was very busy with their own startups and companies, and several found that they were unable to commit time to this new venture. Determining who was going to move forward with the venture and who would be responsible for certain aspects of the business were pretty big decisions for us.

What is the one thing that you did right?

I am never afraid to ask for help. I utilize all the mentors and resources I have within my network, and ask a LOT of questions. This was all new to me a few months ago, and I found the amount of support and advice that successful entrepreneurs, lawyers, and mentors were able to offer was tremendous. Had I tried to build my business without the help and guidance of these generous people, I wouldn’t have made it very far.

What was the biggest transition you had to make (i.e. new skill set, habits, abilities, focus)?

My biggest adjustment has been figuring out how to balance my time between working 2-3 different part-time jobs at a time to support myself and my startup. This definitely takes a toll on my ability to focus.

Are you currently in the black or red?

Red

What would make your business more “Successful”?

For Short-Term Success:

Rock Your Block’s strategy for creating organic growth requires a high level of in-person engagement with schools and community organizations in the region. We will be utilizing a variety of channels for generating users. Some examples of these channels include: high school and middle school classes and groups, (PTAs) Parent Teacher Associations, guidance and career counselors, business courses, and school administration.

Building community engagement is critical for supplying the jobs for which teens will be searching and applying. Rock Your Block will reach the job posters through church congregations, youth groups, community engagement organizations, neighborhood councils, Chamber of Commerce groups, neighborhood engagement and watch groups, and other (e.g. Rotary, Lions Clubs, Ladies Leagues, etc.). It will be vital to find advocates and evangelists to assist the elderly demographic in posting jobs on Rock Your Block.

Longer Term Keys to Success

To accomplish long-term success, Rock Your Block must focus on:

  • Establishing a resonating brand
  • Marketing through traditional channels: promotional materials, radio advertising
  • Marketing through non-traditional channels: Email marketing, social media, Facebook ads
  • Establishing strategic alliances and partnerships with organizations that focus on youth and teen development and entrepreneurship
  • Finding local spokespeople and national youth groups to champion the cause, e.g. Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, youth groups

Would you want to be acquired by a bigger company, run it yourself or sell in a couple of years?

I would be open to any of those possibilities. I could definitely see us as an acquisition target for Facebook, especially if we are driving non-gaming dollars through our application. Other acquisition targets may be companies that offer budgeting software applications or family financial management tools.

Contact: Sarah Young, Founding BlockStar and CEO, sarah.young [at] rockyourblock.com, 262.339.3954

Be Sociable, Share!

2 Responses to “Rock Your Block: Creating Tomorrow’s Business Rockstars”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] Interview with Rock Your Block was featured on Shoestring Venture! Click here to see the original article: Rock Your Block: Creating Tomorrow’s Business Rockstars. [...]

  2. [...] RYB is Featured in Shoestring Venture: The Startup Bible Blog Apr 2, 2011   //   by Rock Your Block   //   Block Blog  //  No Comments TweetInterview with Rock Your Block was featured on Shoestring Venture! Click here to see the original article: Rock Your Block: Creating Tomorrow’s Business Rockstars. [...]


Leave a Reply

Shoestring Book Reviews

Shoestring Venture Reviews
Richard Hooker on Jim Blasingame

Shoestring Fans and Followers


Categories

Archives

Business Book: How to Start a Business

Shoestring Book

Shoestring Venture in iTunes Store

Shoestring Venture - Steve Monas & Richard Hooker

Shoestring Kindle Version # 1 for e-Commerce, # 1 for Small Business, # 1 for Startup 99 cents

Business Book – Shoestring Venture: The Startup Bible

Shoestring Book Reviews

Shoestring Venture Reviews

Invesp landing page optimization
Powered By Invesp
Wikio - Top Blogs - Business