“You don’t even know it, but I’ve been looking for you,” said marketing guru Bonin Bough to Chamber member and CEO/Founder of TapOnIt, Katie Wilson after the Quad Cities Chamber Annual Meeting last August. Katie has made some big connections over the years, including Bonin, and it was her persistence in using those connections that led her to success. Just last week New Media Investment Group Inc., one of the largest publishers of locally based print and online media in the United States, announced that it has acquired a 20% equity stake in TapOnIt.
Bonin Bough, one of the world’s foremost awarded marketing executives, was the keynote speaker for our Annual Meeting last year. After delivering an exciting keynote to a 1,000 person audience, Bonin generously offered to do a small workshop for member marketing professionals. When it was time for the Q&A portion, Katie stood up and said “I am the owner of a mobile advertising technology company, and I want to know, how can I get fifteen minutes of your time?” Bonin immediately replied, “let’s chat right after this.”
And so it began. The pair walked over to Rebellion Brew Haus and Bonin pushed back his flight to spend extra time learning about the business. Katie walked through the TapOnIt platform that she and her sister Sara Castillo co-founded. “I shared with him everything about our company that made us different; everyone is doing text message marketing but we’ve built this ability to send out nine images in a single thread,” says Wilson. “I shared report examples, redemptions rates and the trackable results, proving that what we offer is unique results that marketers are looking for to help their businesses grow.”
In December, Katie and Sara flew to New York to meet with Bonin, his contacts and other potential investors, including the recently announced partner, New Media Investment Group.
Launched in April 2015, TapOnIt has expanded to three additional Iowa markets – Des Moines, Iowa City and Cedar Rapids – and built a database of over 70,000 registered users. The investment by New Media is expected to help TapOnIt to expand across the country by being added as an available product offered to advertisers at New Media’s publications across its 540 markets.
Katie attributes persistence and utilizing connections to the company’s success. “The one lesson to be learned out of all of this is, persistence is key,” says Katie. “Making connections is fantastic, but you have to be persistent with using those connections. Some advice I would share with new entrepreneurs is, whatever your outlook is, expect that it will cost twice as much and take twice as long. But if things aren't going exactly as planned, don’t give up.”
Congratulations to Katie, Sara, and the rest of the team at TapOnIt!