INDY MOBILE MARKETING
Service: opt-in text-message advertising
Web site: indymm.com
Owner: Steven Dickerson
Owner's background: Dickerson, 40, in December sold a text-message-reminder company that he had just started to Noblesville-based igottoknow.com. He graduated from high school in 1986 and went to Butler University for two years. Dickerson then spent 10 years in human relations recruiting and 10 years in sales.
Why started business: Dickerson realized the potential for mobile advertisements when he saw his daughter texting. Because most people keep their phones with them at all times, it's a strong method of advertising. It's possible to send out a mass text at 9 a.m. and have it reach most consumers before the evening.
"I saw the growth of mobile marketing, text messaging, and I wanted to get out there early. A lot of companies haven't started yet," Dickerson said.
Competitive advantage: Indy Mobile Marketing targets small businesses, a market Dickerson feels has been overlooked. Plans range from 3 cents to 12 cents per message, so the cost will appeal to companies that can't afford to put a lot of money into advertising. The ability to target people who have signed up to receive ads from a specific business also means companies won't waste money sending advertisements to people who aren't interested.
Most of his clients set up ads of their own in their stores and offices, encouraging customers to sign up for the free-to-them service.
The text formats are flexible, and range from reminders to event info to coupons.
"It's tailored specifically to the client," Dickerson said.
Startup cost: $3,000
Funding source: self-funded
Projected first-year revenue: $60,000
Potential problem and contingency plan: Dickerson is now the only employee, so if the company grows too fast he'll have to move quickly to hire more people. He's trying to keep aware of this so he can be ready. Courting larger clients who want lots of services is also a challenge for Dickerson, since he's a one-man shop.
First-year goal: He would like to make his service known to small-business owners and let them know it's not as expensive as they might assume.
Five-year vision: Dickerson hopes Indy Mobile Marketing will have several employees and be working with national companies. He's also working on another mobile phone concept he would like to have launched. Dickerson plans to keep Indy Mobile Marketing, though, just to be sure he's never bored.