SocialPro AI — TikTok Growth To A Science
Welcome to our Founder Spotlight series, where we showcase the brilliant minds behind the startups in the Black Valley accelerator programme.
In this blog, find out about Junior Makame, Founder of SocialPro — An AI tool helping businesses and influencers skyrocket their growth on TikTok through automation.
Tell us about yourself and your startup.
Junior: I began my professional journey rooted in music, wearing the hat of a musician at an early age. My passion for music soon intertwined with an entrepreneurial spirit that sparked within me when I was just 14. I founded my own record label, taking under my wing over two dozen talented musicians. Together, we celebrated considerable success, amassing over 4 million streams on Spotify alone. This accomplishment, whilst notable, was just a prelude to my larger aspirations.
At 16, I initiated my first startup, RAPVILLE, a platform that connected musicians to global radio stations. Fast forward to now, RAPVILLE is a trusted choice for over 2,700 musicians worldwide. Yet, it wasn’t all smooth sailing.
What led you to where you are today?
Junior: During RAPVILLE's early days, with financial constraints looming overhead, I had to think out of the box. It's here that TikTok, a platform synonymous with virality, caught my attention. I dove headfirst into it, creating content, engaging with the audience, and, within a year, had built an impressive following of over 30,000 and achieved more than 1.5 million views.
This surge in online presence played a pivotal role in cementing RAPVILLE's position in the industry. However, as is the case with every rose, TikTok had its thorns. I grappled with understanding its algorithm, and it felt like I was navigating through a maze blindfolded, guessing which content might resonate and which might falter.
My eureka moment came in January 2023, inspired by the rise of ChatGPT. A glaring gap in the market became evident: there were no AI tools that could generate gripping social media content tailored for platforms like TikTok. The generic "Hey guys, my name is..." beginnings wouldn't cut it; TikTok thrived on hooks, not introductions.
Recognising the potential solution to a widespread challenge, I floated a waitlist signup link. The astounding response - 1,100 signups in merely a week - was the validation I needed. It confirmed a universal struggle among creators, and more importantly, an opportunity to revolutionise the way businesses grow on social media.
What has been the biggest highlight of your Founder’s journey so far?
Junior: The founder's journey, much like a rollercoaster, is filled with highs, lows, and unpredictable twists. Reflecting upon my own voyage, there have been several standout moments that have deeply influenced my growth and the trajectory of SocialPro. One such instance was the overwhelming response to SocialPro's waitlist, amassing a staggering 10,000 signups.
This not only validated the concept but also showcased the pressing need for a solution like ours in the market. Adding another feather to my cap was the incredible privilege of being mentored by the head of marketing at Apple. The guidance and insights I've gained from such an industry titan have been invaluable in shaping my approach and vision.
Furthermore, the creation of a formidable team comprising seven gifted software developers has been instrumental in bringing my vision for SocialPro to life. Their dedication and expertise form the very backbone of our operations.
On a more personal front, I've had the honour of speaking at prominent events such as the Birmingham Black Business Show and the UK Black Business Show. Engaging with the community and sharing my experiences, learnings, and aspirations is always an exhilarating experience.
However, the journey hasn't been without its challenges. There have been months fraught with financial constraints. Yet, my commitment to the mission and unwavering tenacity, especially at my age, have enabled me to persevere and adapt.
This resilience also played a significant role in one of the most defining moments in my journey – being accepted into the Black Valley Accelerator cohort, and emerging as a selected few from over 400 applications.
In summation, while the milestones are numerous, the real highlight lies in the amalgamation of these experiences, each contributing to the continuous evolution of both SocialPro and myself as a founder.
Q: What lessons have you learned that you would like to pass on?
1. Scratch Your Own Itch: Start with a problem that torments you. Why? Because startups birthed from personal pains aren’t just businesses; they're missions. When you're the victim of the very problem you're solving, you don’t just understand the pain – you feel it. You know the nuisances, the gaps, and most importantly, you won't rest until you've nailed the solution. Because, hey, who knows your problems better than you?
2. Lone Wolf Doesn’t Always Win: Look, being the Jack of all trades sounds cool in a party chat, but in the startup world? Not so much. Assembling a dream team isn’t just about multiplying hands; it's about adding brains. The sooner you surround yourself with mavens who make you think, "Damn, they're good!", the better. It's a team sport – play it that way.
Understood. Let's look at point 3, integrating those actionable steps you mentioned:
3. Talk Before You Build: Dive deep. Before you even dream of coding a line or sketching a
design, get intimate with your target audience. Don’t just ask, probe: - "Do you face this problem?"
- "How frequently does it irritate you?"
- "What's your current solution and why is it falling short?"
- "How much time and/or money are you currently losing because of this problem?"
Once the pain's glaringly evident, tease them with your idea. Show off those wireframes. Flaunt your vision. Get them salivating for your solution and ask, "Want in on the waitlist?"
By the time you've had this chat with at least 30 potential users and they're screaming for your solution, you'll have not just validation, but a raving crowd ready for your launch. Remember: in the startup game, it’s 'conversations first, coding second'.
4. Waitlists are Gold: Here’s some straight talk – if you’re building in silence and launching with a big bang, you're setting yourself up for potential crickets. Instead, build suspense. Grow an audience that's biting their nails in anticipation. A waitlist isn’t just a list; it's real-time feedback, a pulse check, a community waiting to cheer for you. Or better, to pay you!
5. Zip It and Listen: It's simple. Let the users take centre stage. Their feedback isn't just words; it's the compass guiding your ship. They're not just using your product; they're living the problem you're solving. So, instead of singing praises of your creation, lend an ear. Absorb. Implement. And let their voices shape your masterpiece.
Q: If you could invite anyone to join the Black Valley community, who and why?
1. Boundless Ambition: Aspiring members should have enormous goals. If your aspirations aren't soaring towards at least a $50 million exit, then you may need to dream bigger to fit this cohort.
2. Expansive Market Vision: Your startup's target market should show tremendous growth potential. If the addressable market isn't vast and escalating, the ceiling for your startup might be too low.
3. Receptive to Feedback: It's crucial to be receptive. If you're not open to criticism or hard truths, Black Valley might not be the right fit. The community regularly ropes in leading minds from the startup domain who offer invaluable insights from their vast reservoir of knowledge.
4. Initiative and Confidence: You have to be proactive, with a knack for sparking conversations and posing the right questions. Building connections and deepening your understanding in Black Valley often requires stepping up and initiating dialogues.
5. Drive to Excel: Black Valley is the booster rocket for startups that are primed for the next big leap. If you've got the foundation and the drive, and all you need now is strategic direction, you're in the right place. Be prepared to delve into crucial topics, from the power of partnerships and raising over $1M in seed funding to understanding the intricate workings of a VC's mind.
In essence, Black Valley is more than just a community—it's a crucible of intense learning, networking, and growth. If you tick these boxes, welcome aboard!
Meet Junior, SocialPro and the rest of our Founders at Demo Day '23 on November 17.
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