Starkville-based company Rocketing Systems, with its popular online marketing product, Buzzbassador, has received a $100,000 investment to expand its team and marketing strategies.
Chief Marketing Officer and one of the Rocketing Systems founders, Shelby Baldwin, said Rocketing Systems contracts with retail businesses to automate influencer marketing, and the company has steadily grown over the past year despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The investment comes from Innovate Mississippi, a nonprofit geared toward cultivating innovative technology and entrepreneurship.
Baldwin said the Rocketing Systems has primarily targeted small to medium-sized businesses, but with this $100,000 Seed Fund contribution, it can reach out to larger businesses such as corporations and enterprise-level companies. She said the company also plans on expanding the team of developers in software engineering.
Baldwin, along with classmates Calvin Waddy, chief executive officer, and Brandon Johns, chief operations officer, created the idea for Rocketing Systems at Mississippi State University Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach in late 2019. Their original concept began as an online clothing store but eventually grew into the retailer automation software it is today.
Buzzbassador works as a customer relationship management platform for companies to supervise their influencers, or brand ambassadors, who market products in exchange for benefits or stipends in return. For example, a business using the software can autogenerate business analytics and sales, while also managing the company influencers’ commissions and work schedules in one centralized location. Rocketing Systems administers Buzzbassador through a website and mobile app, Baldwin said, and officially launched through the e-commerce company, Shopify, at the end of 2020.
“We discovered that small to medium-sized businesses that use influencer marketing can find it hard to manage this particular kind of marketing,” Baldwin said. “You’re managing so many people, trying to keep track of what sales are generating and how campaigns are performing and recruiting the right type of influencers while managing communication with them. It’s like this whole other business inside of your business.”
While Rocketing Systems struggled to acquire new investors for their company over the last year, Buzzbassador still saw constant advancement and new customers throughout COVID-19 due to the development of many new businesses during the pandemic.
“Because our business is software and everything is online, we were lucky enough to still have consistent growth throughout the pandemic,” Baldwin said. “When people were at home and quarantined, we saw a lot of new businesses being started, and those businesses needed to use our platform to manage their marketing.”
Innovate Mississippi Investment Manager Lindsey Benefield said that the Seed Fund is not a grant necessarily, but a convertible note. At the end of five years, Rocketing Systems will decide if it wants to turn this loan into equity through Innovate Mississippi or pay the money back.
Benefield also said she and her organization have enjoyed working with Rocketing Systems since their partnership began in 2019. She said the diverse team and “go-getter attitudes” are what have made the young startup so successful.
“They are fantastic to work with,” Benefield said. “I think Buzzbassadors is an inspiration to all young adults looking to start their own businesses. They came together as three college students with one idea and then pivoted to a completely different direction, and now they are having huge success and getting investor attention.”
Baldwin said Buzzbassador has thousands of app users and worldwide paying customers, but with the help of the Seed Fund, anticipates even more users and larger business partners. Baldwin said the company plans to keep its center of operations in Starkville as this is where Rocketing Systems first began.
“We never really left Starkville after we graduated from MSU,” Baldwin said. “This is where we plan to stay for the foreseeable future.”