By Phil Yacuboski
For 32 year-old Bryan Hunsinger, the Wilkes-Barre Innovation Center has been the birthplace of yet another start-up. Along with Rocco Ciavarella, the pair co-founded Mobiniti, a text message marketing company that gives businesses a different platform to expand sales and reach more customers.
“We’ve used text messaging for our other e-commerce businesses in the past for other start-ups,” said Hunsinger. “Our customers have all seemed to like it, so we’ve built out another platform for other businesses to use as well.”
Hunsinger said Mobiniti is all about allowing businesses to offer their customers ways to use their smartphones to stay in the loop about great deals and special offers. “Businesses will often have you text a five-digit number to offer you incentives,” said Hunsinger. “For example, if you text ‘steak’ to 1-2-3-4-5, you might get a free appetizer or something like that.”
In this era of big data, a good app allows companies to target market special promotions or offers to customers based upon their likes and profile. Hunsinger said the Mobiniti platform allows businesses to set up their own words and passwords and allows them to collect information from their customers.
“The goal is to get your customers coming back to you and spending more money,” he said. The best thing about Mobiniti? “It’s self-serve,” he said. “You can sign up and use it yourself.”
Hunsinger and Ciavarella started the company about eight months ago, first marketing to local businesses — people he and his business partner either already knew or to whom they had — but in the long run, they hope to expand to include regional and national businesses.
Both Hunsinger and Ciavarella have been in e-commerce for years, but this is their first big venture. “To us, the new aspect is the sales end,” he said. “It’s been a bit of a learning curve to get to businesses, speak to the right people and basically start marketing to consumers in 2015 instead of 2007.” He said they firm has recently been hiring more sales and marketing employees, adding to the four already on staff. “There’s a lot of talent here,” he said, adding that part of the firm’s strategy has been reaching out to the colleges and universities for prospective employees and interns. “You never know what you’ll get until you talk to people.”
He said a lot of businesses Mobiniti currently targets use radio and newspaper advertising, so Hunsinger said part of their pitch is to have a good mix of advertising, especially when it comes to digital marketing plans that focus on young people. “Many of these younger people are spending a lot of time on their phones,” he said.
So far, Hunsinger is happy with the pace of growth. “Things are going well,” he said, adding that it took about six months to build out the product and the website. “We’re continually adding new features and getting feedback from our customers.” He said soon, the he’ll begin to look for office space for Mobiniti, but for now he is thankful for the incubator space, which has kept costs down and allowed the company to grow.