In anticipation of the final round of the 2018 Pitch Dingman Competition, the Dingman Center is interviewing each of the five startup finalists about their progress and upcoming challenges as they prepare to compete for the $15,000 Grand Prize on March 6 in the Grand Ballroom of Stamp Student Union. Learn more and register to attend the competition here.
Sydney Parker, Founder & CEO
Senior communications major Sydney Parker is the founder, CEO and “Empress” of Emprology, an empowering influencer marketing consultancy that seeks to educate black female bloggers, vloggers, and podcasters on how to monetize their content. Sydney, who built her social media credentials through multiple Facebook internships, started Emprology as a service that provided her customers with one-on-one consultations, marketing plans and creative assets to enhance their brand presence. With some concerns about overtaxing her own bandwidth, she recently launched a school for aspiring influencers called #BrandBoss Academy. As part of this school model, established macro-influencers teach classes and provide mentorship to aspiring influencers, who pay an appropriate fee for the privilege. Sydney has been developing Emprology since spring 2017, when she first entered the Dingman Center’s Fearless Founders Accelerator. Through grit and determination, Sydney has built Emprology into a one-stop-shop for black women who want to learn how to make a living off of their passions.
DC: Have there been some key decisions or milestones along the way that have led you from an idea to now pitching for $15K?
Sydney: Definitely the Dingman Center had a lot to do with it. In December 2016 I went to my line sister Veronica and I was like I have this idea but I don’t even know where to go with it. She was like just go to Dingman Fridays—it’s 30 minutes, you can just bounce ideas off of them. As soon as I did I started getting these great emails and started hearing about all these opportunities I had never heard about before. One of them was Idea Shell, which has changed into Dingman Jumpstart now, but that program helped me week by week develop the early stages of this idea. After that I pitched it in class and won $500! I continued all throughout last summer and had a couple success stories, my first success story being Modestly Mini. She started out on this WordPress blog and we were able to give her 33 creative assets and a strategic plan of how she posts and what platforms she runs on. Now she’s doing so well in that realm, and has been reached out to by businesses to wear their products and be an influencer for them. Her brand has launched her into the fashion buying business, so that’s the best result that I could hope for.
DC: What have you learned from the semifinals that will help you better prepare for Finals?
Sydney: One of the biggest things that stuck out to me from the judges questions was just how to make this scalable. And that’s been on my mind because I’ve been thinking about Emprology like “What can I do, what’s my bandwith.” Me, Sydney Parker as a solopreneur. I wasn’t thinking bigger with it in terms of what can Emprology do for the problem and the solution. I’ve really started to think bigger and take myself out of it and where this could go.
DC: What has Emprology been working on since Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinals?
Sydney: I’m kind of going through a rebrand stage. I’m building #BrandBoss Academy for influencers so they come and leave learning how to be an influencers. I’m trying to prove traction for this idea and make that funnel of “here’s the free content”, but also showing them there’s another option for paying to go to school for all this information.
DC: What are some goals you are looking to reach before Finals?
Sydney: I’m trying to launch different landing pages that will collect the students who want to apply. I’m recruiting the coaches who will be the teachers for the school and also recruiting the creatives—photographers, videographers and graphic designers who will actually make the creative assets. They won’t be on the Emprology team, but they will still get a cut of the pay. I want to get the ecosystem ready so that when the school has its first session we’ll be ready to go.
DC: If you win Pitch Dingman Competition, what will you do with the $15,000?
Sydney: It would be mainly for legal advice to prioritize the contracts for hiring people. Also for making the assets that would be needed to host #BrandBoss Academy . I’m going to need a webinar hosting platform, a stronger back-end for my website to host this amount of people. Also advertising to gain leads on who would want to be a part of this school.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.