We talked to Lingbin Kong on how he developed his new platform to help ecommerce sellers and crowdfunders gain the ability to monetize influencers as easily and affordably as the big brands.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Lingbin Kong : It’s a challenging time, as I have two young children that had to transition to remote learning. So I’ve had to add at-home educator to my job description, all while launching my new start-up. Luckily, we’ve stayed healthy, and my family and friends in China have been fortunate as well.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded your company.
Lingbin Kong : After graduating from Georgia Institute of Technology with a Master of Electrical Engineering, I worked at Motorola and then Alpha Comm Enterprises, where I led their product development, manufacturing, and global supply chain initiatives for clients such as T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint and Best Buy.
I founded 2PM Solutions in 2017 to help creators and ecommerce sellers in the United States convert their concepts and designs into products, build their own supply chain, and enter new markets. The desire to help them be successful in a global market was what motivated me to create the new venture. Meanwhile, in our collaboration with influencers and marketing agencies, I found the need for a platform that bridges the parties with trust and efficiency. All of these led me to create RockitBoost.
How does RockitBoost innovate?
Lingbin Kong : A key component of our strategy is to continually listen to our users: the influencers, the product owners, and marketing agencies. What are their pain points, what are their needs, how can we make their lives easier, how can we help them grow? We created the platform and update it regularly based on their feedback. Our ideology is as our users succeed, we will succeed.
Our platform itself is innovative because it makes it easy and affordable for users around the world to collaborate and create their own customized influencer programs. We truly embrace the global ecommerce environment in that our platform is multilingual. We open the influencer marketing game to global online sellers who may not have access to the social platforms to find and connect with influencers. We are constantly improving and updating our platform to ensure it has the latest analytics and AI, as well as being easy to navigate and understand for the users. And it doesn’t matter how great a platform is if your business can’t afford it, so we’ve positioned our platform as one of the least expensive on the market today at less than $20 per month.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Lingbin Kong : We switched to a partial-remote schedule when the pandemic began, but are fortunate to be in an office with strict COVID protocols, so our team feels safe even when they come into the office. We have definitely embraced remote tools like Zoom, but we miss being together in the office. On the other hand, the business for our influencers and online sellers has benefited greatly from the pandemic.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Lingbin Kong : It is challenging with a start-up because there are never enough resources, including time, funding, human resources, and more for everything you want to accomplish. It was even more difficult during the pandemic. As a former perfectionist in product development, I learned to give up some details for a lean prototype, and put aside some opinions by focusing on the majority of our customers’ needs. I made several calls when we had technical or budgeting challenges to implement some minor features and prioritize our efforts on the most important functions.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are helping you navigate the crisis?
Lingbin Kong : Our startup has benefited greatly from a successful internship program. We bring on recent grads looking to learn and gain actual hands-on experience and in return, we benefit from their insight, creativity and hard work.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Lingbin Kong : I always try to stay very organized and break projects down into weekly action points. Start-ups can be very stressful, but you can’t let that anxiety and stress paralyze you. I try not to be afraid of making decisions or of failing. You learn far more from failure than from success.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Lingbin Kong : There isn’t another company that does exactly what we do, but there are many companies that do something similar. By offering free use of our platform to marketing agencies and influencers, we win half the battle because that’s unprecedented. We also really look out for influencers: making sure they get paid, showing them commissions up front, eliminating any negotiations, and letting them have control of their content. They really appreciate that level of respect and appreciation, as it is quite rare in their industry. For product owners, such as e-commerce sellers and crowdfunders, we work hand-in-hand with them to make sure we are giving them an unsurpassed solution to promote their projects, boost their sales and traffic, and manage their influencer campaigns. In short, we give them exactly what they want and need at a price they can afford. When we do that, everything else falls in place.