If no one has ever told you, there are perks that come with being a trusted and established blogger—especially one who does reviews or is generally known for influencing consumer’s decision-making. In this day and age, retail businesses are increasingly drawn to bloggers because their words, pictures, video and experiences translate into exposure, consumer traffic and dollars. While this is great for us bloggers, and fulfills a need for both readers and retail businesses, there’s still a void that exists on the consumer—aka YOU, our readers—end. Case in point:
Let’s say a blogger partners with a retail company to do a post about a stylish new accessory with a link to the product on the company’s site. For every purchase that is made by a reader who clicked on that link, the blogger will receive a percentage of the sale. The blogger makes a little money and essentially provides a service to their audience; the retail company gets new business and more exposure; and the reader gets their product and learns about a new resource through a trusted voice. Now naturally—at least in 2014—that reader posts about the product on their social media accounts, telling everyone how much they love the product.
Who pays the reader/consumer for their word of mouth work? No one.
Whether you—the consumer—post about a product on social media as a result of a blogger you follow, a new purchase from one of your favorite stores or something that you have your eye on: NO ONE PAYS YOU FOR THAT.
At least not until now, thanks to the designers behind a developing app called COSIGN. After learning about what it is and how it essentially works, I loved the name even more. In short: COSIGN is a FREE mobile app and web application that allows user to “tag” items within the images or videos uploaded to their social media profiles. If the user’s followers purchase the items tagged, they receive a monetary reward.
Simple enough right? To top it off, the app has made a buzz already gaining the attention of media outlets like Huffington Post and BET.com, the support of Russell Simmons and the interest of potential private investors. I mean hell, I’m ready to download it now and give it a go.
Enter the COSIGN co-founders Brooklyn, NY native, Esosa Ighodaro (28); Tennessee transplant, Abiodun Johnson (28); and their $40,000 Kickstarter campaign (of which they have a little over 50% raised). The pair met randomly on a subway platform in New York. They began to chat and, after exchanging numbers, realized that while they had very different backgrounds (she’s a Temple University graduate with a background in banking and he’s a Dartmouth graduate with a background in engineering) they both had a general interest in technology. They also realized a void (which they saw from two very different perspectives): how to connect people with the brands they love in a fluid and convenient manner. Esosa’s perspective was very personal—one of which many of us can probably relate—in that she simply wanted an easier way to purchase the things that she saw in magazines. Abiodun, on the other hand, saw things from a more technical perspective through a random occurrence.
I recently chatted with Esosa about that occurrence and how it led to the conception of COSIGN; the business and planning process of their idea; and their Kickstarter campaign that ends in just 3 DAYS.
Sincerely Syreeta: First, tell us who you are and a little about yourself.
Esosa Ighodaro: I am a cofounder of COSIGN and lover of shopping, food and travel, in that order. I have a banking background and a love for lifestyle and fashion. I am 4th out of 7 in my family and love spending time exploring and learning new things.
SS: My kind of girl! Ok now, let’s dig in to the good stuff! How was the concept for COSIGN conceived?
EI: My cofounder AJ was watching a Nissan Juke commercial and wanted a pair of red dress shoes he saw. So, he did what we all do: search google. [He] found everything but what he was looking for: where to buy the red shoes (This is no knock to google – they’re great). One thing he noticed was that there was a stream of comments [on social media] that asked the same question “where did you get those red shoes?”
SS: So how long have you all been working on the planning and development?
EI: We have been working on this concept for about 1 year and 3 months. We did market research on everything from a name to the colors and finding the right development team to help problem. Once the developers were in place, [we] started the development of the IOS & Andriod Apps. Lastly, [we] put up a website that gave more education around what we are building and saw how people interacted with it.
SS: If there’s one thing I know is that it’s not always easy to bring an idea to life. What was that process—and the journey thus far in general–like for you?
EI: It was a great new chapter in my life that was exciting; at times, I felt like I was living on the edge. When times were trying, I set my mind on the goal…it pulls me through.
SS: What have you had to sacrifice to make your COSIGN dream a reality?
EI: I quit my corporate job at Citigroup to pursue this business full-time. I have also sacrificed going out with friends and dinning out to keep costs low. I think it was even scarier for my African parents who were happy with my “secure job” and high income, but I knew my calling was greater. It was time for me to grow and challenge myself.
Click here to watch the COSIGN video.
SS: Speaking of challenges, you’ve essentially gone from an employee to a CEO. What has the transition been like for you as a full-fledged business woman?
EI: It was probably one of the biggest decisions I had to make–to leave my job. One of the best opportunities: I love that I get to build a team around my vision and see my business grow.
SS: Now speaking of growth, you all are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to fuel the business’ growth. Why did you all see it necessary or beneficial to access the crowd-funding market for financial support?
EI: Crowdfunding allows you to share your vision and have the community participate. So, we thought that it would be a perfect opportunity to meet the people, get their feedback and share in the vision with us.
SS: I love crowd-funding and how personal it lets you get with your audience and potential consumer base. What went into your crowd-funding campaign strategy?
EI: Lots of research and planning! We shot a how-to video and a separate video about our journey, created [graphics] to demonstrate the end product. We spent about 5- 6 months preparing for the launch.
SS: Pending a successful campaign, when would the app launch, where would it be available and how much will it cost to download?
EI: The app will be free and available on IOS and Google play soon. We have plans to build Windows next year.
SS: So what kind of business model are you all using and how many retailers are currently on board?
EI: [An] affiliate model where brands pay you a commission when products are sold. We have over 1200 retailers and brands currently. Some of the brands include Nordstrom’s, Macy’s, Mark & Spencer and Wayfair.com.
SS: How exactly does the COSIGN user get paid—who exactly is paying them?
EI: Brands provide the commission when items are sold and we split it with the cosign user.
SS: Gotcha. How are users able to track their referrals and ensure that they receive proper compensation? You know people don’t play about their money. [laughs]
EI: We give all the tracking and data right in the app on the bank page. We show you all your likes, clicks, views, and earnings.
SS: Great! Lastly, how does COSIGN differ from others like it in the market?
EI: We are very unique in the way we allow you to get compensated and buy direct from social media. You can tag and share or see and shop in a snap. It’s a real game changer in social shopping space.
A game changer indeed. If you like what you’ve learned about COSIGN and want to see or help bring it to fruition, click here to head to the Kickstarter campaign. There’s only a short amount of time left to donate and help them reach their goal!
– Sincerely Syreeta