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Startup Corner: Todd Kennedy / Blue Line Business Network LLC

Springfield’s startup community is here. Take the pulse.

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Minimally viable product …
A network of businesses that offer discounts to law enforcement officers, whether in uniform or not. I was approached by a few local businesses that wanted to make sure officers knew they would be supported.
 
Problem solving …
Having worked on multiple fundraisers being connected with the Springfield Police Officers Association, and later as business manager for SPOA, a lot of officers would comment that they didn’t realize that so-and-so business was “cop friendly.” After seeing that they had donated a gift card or service as a door prize or raffle item, a lot of the officers wanted to give back to that business as well, as opposed to the big-box stores. The business pays a small annual membership fee to offset our overhead and website maintenance.
 
Seed money …
This project has been funded out of my pocket, and I have been very fortunate to have had some generous support and some favorable pricing for web development, printing, etc., due to the nature of the site.

Hurdles overcome …
Getting a mobile-friendly version of the website combined with a simple platform and page that makes searching for a participating business by category easy for the officers to find.

Next phase …
We are focused on southwest Missouri, but have been contacted by both businesses and police officers in other states. We want to start more aggressively spreading out our geographical area in Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and all of Missouri very soon, and eventually go nationwide. So if an officer is in another area ... we want to be the go-to site for them to find discounts.

Pivot …
Looking into branching out with several virtual offices that can promote the site on a local level in other areas of the country.

Biggest mistake …
Probably needed to dedicate more time and effort to social media/web promotion. Because this is a secondary project, the fact that I have a full-time job, I was not able to promote it like I thought. Being more aggressive with an online presence may have helped speed things along – like pay per clicks, sponsored Facebook posts, etc.
 
Greatest need …
More web traffic and business members. Although we are increasing hits and members each month, we really want this to go viral to benefit both parties, the officers who deserve whatever help and appreciation they can get, and the small businesses to bring more customers to their doors.

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