In the fall of 2016, after I put my startup Authentic Ink Graphs on auto-pilot, I re-enrolled at the University of Delaware. With a newfound amount of free time, I sought out new opportunity. I was introduced to Brendan Griffin, a student at the University of Delaware through a mutual connection, who is the owner of a group of high engagement social media accounts.
After a series of conversations, ideas grew and I decided to propose a brand monetization plan, turning his high engagement Twitter account @FreestyleRaps, with nearly 396,000 followers, into a business. We then spent the next few weeks planning and figuring out how we could appeal to our consumer base. I spoke to other ecommerce experts, high traffic growth experts and others in the field to help devise a carefully calculated plan. We made the decision to sell exclusive artwork prints of rappers. The account hadn’t ever advertised a product before, so we laid out a social media plan to preserve the account’s integrity.
Three weeks after we began the project, we launched www.shopfreestyleraps.com, advertising the products as rare artwork at approximately $30 a print. The first week we did $300 in sales. I was disappointed. My partner even more so.
On Cyber Monday we decided to sell our art prints at at half cost. We did over $2,000 in sales. We realized that the demographic of our following wasn’t into “artwork.” They were into “cool rap posters,” a completely different price point. Over $15,000 in sales and a month later, the store has served customers around the world.
Got a lot of our J Cole Art Prints going out from this weekend. Cop yours while you still can ?? pic.twitter.com/3T8UuBhVIi
— Freestyle Raps (@FreestyIeRaps) December 18, 2016
Although I am proud of my accomplishments, it is very easy to have short term wins disrupt the bigger picture. This project proved to be successful and financially worthwhile, but like many other startups it is an incremental business and therefore another example of incremental success. Every day, more and more incremental businesses emerge. A more convenient way to shop at a grocery store, a new reminder app — I even know an individual who is launching a startup to make a quicker way to launch volleyball nets. A
Just like FreestyleRaps, these are small ideas that are not looking at the big picture. I’ve proven that I can be successful within marketing and ecommerce as I moved from Authentic Ink Graphs to FreestyleRaps, but I have to ask myself, what direction did I move in? How is FreestyleRaps going to make me grow as an individual or lead me to what I want to accomplish at age 25 let alone 35? Is this an investment for now or my future?