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Springfield, MO

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Michelle West, left, and Melissa Miller Young, Wobizzle.com
Photo provided by Wobizzle.com
Michelle West, left, and Melissa Miller Young, Wobizzle.com

Startup Corner: Michelle West, Wobizzle.com

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Minimally viable product …
A website that offers information, inspiration and community for women who own or aspire to own their own businesses. My partner on the project is Melissa Miller Young.

Problem solving …
Our target audience is the female bootstrapper or ‘solopreneur.’ She’s wearing a lot of hats. She may be doing a lot of her business marketing on her own, and she needs practical, affordable help to move her business forward. … With Wobizzle.com, we are building an online resource to provide that help.

Seed money …
None. We’re bootstrappers too! We are self-funding every step of the way.

Next phase …
We just launched our free #MoveForwardMonday marketing tip series, and our biweekly podcast debuts this month on the StudioDNA network. It’s called “The Wobizzle Podcast,” and it will be available on iTunes, SoundCloud, GooglePlay, etc. We are launching our monetization phase in second quarter. We’ll have some training products available and a tool in development for small-business owners who struggle with social media marketing.

Pivot …
Wobizzle.com originally launched in 2011. It was a passion project for me, essentially an overgrown hobby. I really didn’t have plans to monetize it. I was just doing it for fun, and I got a kick out of sharing the stories of women who were carving out their own forms of success. It had a nice growth spurt until late 2012. I was getting website traffic from all over the country and actually had an opportunity to interview Barbara Corcoran of “Shark Tank” for an article on the site. In late 2012, inspired by so many of the women I know who own businesses, I decided to strike out on my own to start Chamber Speak. I couldn’t keep Wobizzle going as a hobby, so I pulled it offline. It’s been tugging on me ever since. Last year, with the help of Melissa, I was able to relaunch the site. The real pivot is that we’re changing the way we think about client service. We’re still going to be working with clients from our other businesses, but Wobizzle.com gives us an opportunity to expand our bandwidth.

Biggest mistake …
If I had a redo, I would have never taken Wobizzle.com offline. At the time, it seemed like a practical idea. Now, we are basically rebuilding an audience from scratch.

Worst advice …
“Make sure you have something to fall back on.” I know it is well-meaning, but I feel like acknowledging that you have or need a safety net gives doubt a foot in the door. You have to forge forward believing that you have no other choice but to be successful.

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