Black Millennials are among the fastest growing group of new entrepreneurs, but statistics show that Black-owned companies have higher failure rates than others.
Danielle McGee, a Chicago native and tech entrepreneur, is working to change this narrative.
Inspired by the popular discount site Groupon, McGee’s startup Black Business Boom allows Black-owned business owners to list discounts for their products or services. Users can then digitally clip the coupon from Black Business Boom and redeem it at the business.
“I really discovered I had a passion for helping entrepreneurs and also discovered there was really a need for a marketing platform for Black-owned businesses because, being a small business, people in the class were struggling to get their name out,” said McGee in a recent interview.
Black Business Boom is currently serving 20 markets across the United States and is looking to enter other markets. We recently caught up with McGee and learned more about her journey into tech and entrepreneurship and how she is making a difference with her new startup.
What were you doing before Black Business Boom?
I’m originally from the south side of Chicago, Illinois and I received my undergraduate degree at Central State University. After finishing my MBA in healthcare at St. Xavier University, I began a career in managed healthcare in Chicago, then I later transferred to Nashville, TN in 2016.
I opened my first business, a personal chef service, while in my Master’s program and have had several other business ventures over the last 7 years, all leading to my current business Black Business Boom.
What exactly is Black Business Boom?
Black Business Boom is a mobile marketing platform for Black-owned businesses offering coupons, loyalty programs, and other mobile marketing solutions to keep Black dollars in the Black community.
I was inspired by working with budding entrepreneurs here in Nashville while facilitating a class for new entrepreneurs with a local non-profit, Corner to Corner. Working so closely with Black entrepreneurs ignited a passion within me to help them succeed. As I laid in bed one night, I decided that I had to find another way to help and Black Business Boom was born.
How is Black Business Boom helping Black-owned business?
Black Business Boom is helping new and existing businesses for free by offering coupons to drive them new customers. The goal is to offer a cost-effective alternative to more expensive marketing channels.
68% of consumers base their purchasing decisions on whether there is an offer available. So we have focused on offering coupons to influence consumer purchasing decisions.
With the launch of our app, Boomin’, we’ve added a lot of additional premium features including loyalty programs and automated customer service surveys. Loyalty programs are another great driver for customer acquisition and retention. We not only want to bring new customers to Black-owned businesses, but we also want to help them retain customers.
One of the complaints we hear constantly about Black-owned businesses is that customer service is lacking. Our app will bridge the gap between businesses and their customers by allowing customers to easily submit feedback to the business owner or manager.
What are the 3 challenges that you dealt with in the early stages?
The three biggest challenges I experienced when launching Black Business Boom were access to capital, limited knowledge about building a technology platform, and self-doubt.
I overcame the challenge with accessing capital by making changes in my lifestyle that allowed me to bootstrap to pay to get the platform built. I overcame the challenge in not having a tech background by completing several hours of research and networking with individuals within the technology sector to get their feedback. I overcame self-doubt through prayer. The spirit of self-doubt and fear still finds me but I am more aware of it and able to control it better.