What is innovation to you?

Welcome to BLK Innovators. A platform for conversations with the most innovative minds in the black community!

Everette Taylor, Chief Marketing Officer, SKURT

Everette Taylor, Chief Marketing Officer, SKURT

Terrence Nelson: Can you explain what SKURT is and what SKURT does?

Everette Taylor: SKURT is a car whenever you need it. SKURT is an app that allows you to order a car or rent a car and we deliver that car to you, then pick it up once you're done.  So it's creating access to mobility being able to get a car whenever you need it at an affordable price. We’re pretty much disrupting the rental car industry as we see it. There is no going to a storefront or going to the airport standing in line or doing a bunch of paperwork and having a bunch of random fees with a lack of transparency. We’re 21 and up we don't require anyone to have credit cards you can use a debit card if you want to we don't have crazy gas surcharge fees.

Nelson: What are some of the challenges when marketing a start up?

Taylor: Everyday in a start up is crucial. In corporate America, if the marketing guy takes a day off at Microsoft it’s still a billion dollar company. There isn’t really an affect but every day is so crucial at a startup you can’t just take days off. There is no slacking everything matters, you’re always on a timeline, you have venture capital money and there is always a possibility of money running out.

The main difference is there is so much money at a corporate company they’ll say let’s spend a  million dollars on this marketing campaign like it's nothing and that doesn’t even affect them. With a startup you have to be very nimble you have to be very financially conscious and frugal and  figure out ways to get the most on your return on investment. SKURT for instance, they see us working with all a lot of big influencers but they don’t realize we aren’t paying these influencers a dollar. They just love the service so anything they do is on a cost per acquisition deal meaning if you’re actually moving the needle then we’ll give you something. If not then we won’t, it's all about being smart about how you spend money and use time.

Nelson: What marketing innovation that doesn’t exist now that will be greatly beneficial in the future?

Taylor: It would be great to have software that told you how to optimize around social media channels and their algorithms. Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter are constantly changing their algorithms, so there is actually a period of time where you take a hit on your marketing trying to figure out the new algorithms on these platforms. It takes time to figure out the most beneficial way to attack each during that period. So to have software that revealed what you need to do to optimize on each individual platform would be amazing.

Nelson: That’s a billion dollar idea (laughs)

Taylor: It is a billion dollar idea (laughs). If you had a bot or something that could tell you whether you are on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Google, Apple or Apple Store Ads how to best optimize your advertising or content on these platforms to benefit from their content that would be amazing. I’ve learned for example, on Instagram if you get a comment on a picture or video that’s 4 words or more it helps you get to the discover page faster. Also, if you post video it's easier to have a video go viral faster on Instagram than a picture because advertisers latch on to video faster. Most people don’t know these things and it takes a lot of testing to discover these little quirks. So if you had something that updated you on this stuff daily that would be a billion dollar company.

Nelson: What do you believe is the relationship between diversity and innovation?

Taylor: In Silicon Valley there is a “type of person” you see.  Typically a Stanford grad, white guy coming from a middle to upper income household, they’re almost clones. Sometimes I’m at an event and it's like, dude I just met 3 different Jareds, it's just the way it is.  The problem with that is if you have so many people that come from similar backgrounds and similar experiences how are you going to create products and services for the masses. Where a lot of Silicon Valley startups fail is they make products for the people that are like them and think about the world in one way. A lot of times there are startups that get hot in San Francisco but when they try to move it out of San Francisco they fail. The lesson in that is, the importance of having diversity in your company, people that come from different backgrounds that see things differently. That way you understand how to build and market products for different types of people.

A prime example of a lack of diversity having an adverse effect is when Snapchat did the Bob Marley filter on 420. That filter came off as disrespectful to a lot of people because Bob Marley was about much more than smoking marijuana. A lot of people got upset with Snapchat because they were offended so let's say that cost them 20,000 followers. That doesn't really hurt Snapchat but if you're a startup in the building phase of your business losing 20,000 users is going to hurt you. If Evan Spiegel (Snapchat CEO) had a black guy next to him say, “nah dude don't do that” Snapchat wouldn't have had that issue. From a pure business standpoint diversity is just smart.

Nelson: What does innovation mean to you?

Taylor: Innovation to me is changing the lives of others. You are a true innovator if you can creatively change the lives of others in a positive way.  One of the things I look at is what are people doing that is going to help the next person.  

Terrence Nelson is a content producer and editor-in-chief of BLK Innovators.  

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Shanel Lindsay, CEO, Founder, Ardent

Shanel Lindsay, CEO, Founder, Ardent