Editor’s note: Startland News selected 10 Kansas City firms to spotlight for its annual Startups to Watch list. The following is one of 2021’s companies. Click here to view the full, ranked list of Startups to Watch — presented by sponsors Husch Blackwell and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
You don’t live through a year like 2020 and start a new one without determination to do and be better, Jannae Gammage said, teasing a second year for The Market Base that’s expected to kick the tech platform into high gear.
Elevator pitch: The Market Base is a marketing software that eliminates the hiring process and high cost of working with an expert marketing team. In less than 10 minutes a business owner can build a team and start a full marketing campaign for less than $18 a day.
• Founders: Jannae Gammage and Milad Ghasempour
• Founding year: Late 2019
• Amount raised to date: Bootstrapped
• Noteworthy investors: None
• Programs completed: Digital Sandbox KC
• Current employee count: 5 employees, 13 contractors
“We literally launched the day George Floyd’s murder was released publicly. We got a pandemic a couple months before that. When you look up and you look back — it’s like, ‘Wow, look at everything we did last year,’ and we were just starting out,” Gammage, co-founder and CEO, said of what it took to realize her vision for the on-demand marketing platform during such intense times for Kansas City and the nation.
Through it all, Gammage and co-founder Milad Ghasempour found ways to push the young company — and themselves — to the limit, growing a lengthy customer waitlist and cementing connections that have poised the company to hit the ground running with plans to take on funding and finalize high-dollar partnerships with noteworthy local clients in 2021.
Click here to read more about The Market Base and why it brought Gammage to Kansas City.
“In the eight weeks following the pandemic, e-commerce did [as much revenue as it] had in 10 years. Our entire framework changed — who we were helping and how we were helping them obviously changed because now brick-and-mortars have to go online,” Ghasempour said, detailing the startup’s pivots and ways it plans to concentrate its efforts to reach and assist main street businesses in 2021.
“It made us stronger. We’re not perfect, but we’re coming out pretty good.”
As the pair looks upon the latest incarnation of Kansas City’s entrepreneurial sector, they’re met with hope that anything is possible, they said — leaning heavily on resources that include Digital Sandbox KC and such mentors as Donald Hawkins, founder of Griffin Technologies and co-founder of the KC Collective entrepreneurship support organization.
“Donald called me and it was this Black guy who was just talking, talking, talking,” Gammage laughed, noting the two came into contact through the help of Jessica Powell, former executive director of KC Collective and a key resource for The Market Base as it navigated the sudden loss of social connectivity among local entrepreneurs.
“The next thing you know, he’s our advisor. He was on our team immediately and he’s put us in the right places.”
The duo plans to pursue accelerators and other support programs to round out their entrepreneurial toolkit in the year ahead, committing to doing whatever it takes to help other entrepreneurs and small business owners navigate the often complicated world of marketing, Gammage explained.
“We need money to hit milestones with the software, but really we need that mentorship and network and someone to bounce ideas off of that we can truly trust and that is just as committed as we are,” she said of what the startup needs to achieve most in 2021 if they’re to fulfill their goals.
“We’re just focused on our first 1,000 subscribers and how we can help them.”
The Kansas City Startups Watch in 2021 list is made possible by presenting sponsors Husch Blackwell, a value-driven law firm with offices in Kansas City, and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, though independently produced by Startland News.
Startups to Watch is now in its sixth year, thanks to ongoing support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.