By: Stephanie Scott
Photos by: Deniece Griffin
The co-founders Tamara Jones (CEO), a Managerial Science major expected to graduate in 2019, and Doreen Kincaid, a Post Bachelor in Business Administration, of Charity Market Place LLC, along with their marketing intern, Tanobla Dongoh, a CIS major expected to graduate also in 2019, call themselves “The Humanitarians”. They are combining their passion for social good with entrepreneurship to sow the seeds of a thriving philanthropic startup.
“When you’re an entrepreneur, you have to think outside the box and reach beyond where you’re comfortable.”
What is Charity Market Place?
Tamara: We are a privately-owned company which provides a web-based community for nonprofits who are seeking donor connections, volunteers, accounting and marketing support. We seek to streamline the growth of new nonprofits, allowing them to maintain the look and feel of a nonprofit while we provide the stability and tools needed to run as a successful business model, within a “one stop shop”.
What do each of you bring to Charity Market Place?
Tamara: I am currently the founder of a nonprofit organization, which aligns to the target audience of Charity Market Place. What I bring to the table is the vision and first-hand experience, considering that I’m familiar with the struggles nonprofits face.
Doreen: I’m more “hands on” and focus on the individual pieces of it. I’m more in the background supporting the team.
Tanobla: Well, I’m a new member and took an Entrepreneurship class last semester. I saw this group and simply loved the idea of working with nonprofits. The first student organization I joined since entering Georgia State was the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. So, I lend experience working and volunteering for nonprofits, and in the future I wish to bring my data analysis skills to such an organization.
How did you and the other co-founders come up with the idea for Charity Market Place?
Tamara: Our idea was born during a brainstorming session during our ENI 3101 class here at Georgia State. Our group formulated around the common interests that each of us expressed as entrepreneurs looking to connect social causes with problem solutions, hence our group name “The Humanitarians”.
What is your business model?
Tamara: So, we are not a nonprofit. We support our primary customers who are nonprofits, but we are a for-profit business. Our business model is business-to-business (B2B), so we seek out nonprofits, specifically new nonprofits. The early adopters that just received their approval as a nonprofit. Those are the organizations we want to offer our services to. We support them to be a better business, especially since so many exclusively focus on their cause versus considering the business side of a nonprofit. A lot of nonprofits fail simply because they don’t have access to business tools.
What insight or advice can you offer to fellow students that are considering forming their own LLC?
Tamara: Oh, that is a great question! We were just discussing about it right before we came here. Forming an LLC is all about knowing where you sit. With Charity Market Place, we have a ton of arms into it. We do a little marketing, a little consultation, a little bit of auctioning. Those are all separate categories when you go to apply for your LLC. You have to know what your primary business is, so we had to take a step back because of the LLC application and see what is in the forefront of our services.
Has Charity Market Place already launched?
Tamara: We are still considered to be “pre-launched,” simply because our business totally depends on the structure of our website. Our website is a full-blown project right now with three phases. We are currently in Phase 1 of our website, where we are projecting for winter of 2019 to debut it. But because our website is how we make our revenue and is essentially the lifeline to the nonprofits, we have to make sure that it is built with a strong foundation. Not only built with a strong foundation for nonprofits, we have to make sure that our marketing is built into our site. The things we’re looking for are really customized expertise from designers. It’s very specific and therefore a slow-going process, but we’re ready to take it as slow as we need to in order to debut a product that the nonprofits will fall in love with!
What have you learned from taking ENI courses that has helped you with Charity Market Place?
Tamara: ENI was more than a course on how to formulate a business plan. It was a mix of inspiring innovation, large-scale problem solving and mentorship not only by our professor, Dr. Geoffrey M. Graybeal, but the support of an entire division of Entrepreneurial staff, guest speakers and life coaches. Each assignment was a building block onto the last under a very tight timeline which taught us serious time management skills. The most amazing experiences was that of team building and leadership cultivation. We created bonds with our teammates for a lifetime.
What are some words you would use to describe what it takes to be an entrepreneur?
Tamara: Energy. Resourcefulness. Motivation. Those are key characteristics a person should have. You have to already be someone who’s self-motivated. You have to be someone who’s full of energy. You have to be someone who’s resourceful and willing to learn. For example, to figure out coding. If you don’t know how to code, it’s the willingness to go on YouTube and learn from coding tutorials.
Tanobla: Flexible. I think another trait is to be flexible. One thing that you thought was going to work, might not work. You have to be flexible and able to change as well as learn from your mistakes. Don’t give up just because you experience failure. You have to learn and not give up and be persistent.
Doreen: Persistence. Persistence is major. You can’t give up after one failure. You’re going to fail a lot. So, you can’t give up!
What advice would you give to young black aspiring entrepreneurs?
Tamara: Specifically, with young, black entrepreneurs, whether they are a woman or a man, you have to get outside your comfort zone. We tend to only like what likes us. Or only connect to what we are already connected with. When you get into business, there are no boundaries. When you’re an entrepreneur, you have to think outside the box and reach beyond where you’re comfortable.
Where do you see Charity Market Place going? In your wildest dreams, what would it take to make you go “Wow, we are successful, we’ve made it”?
Tamara: We want to franchise, so what we want to see is Charity Market Place all over the world. Meaning that we will have “Charity Market Place Africa,” “Charity Market Place Europe,” and other markets. We want this business model to be so strong that we have brand recognition with nonprofits all over the world.
What does Entrepreneurship mean to you?
Tamara: Entrepreneurship simply equals energy towards solving an existing problem. There are very few entrepreneurial minded individuals in the world because it calls for an innate ability to be self-motivated, resourceful and unyielding persistence. You could have the best solution in the world but without a recipe for success it’s just another good idea that will die on a vine.