A Buffalo-based startup is changing the way brands manage their marketing to college students.
Western New York native Olivia Goldstein and partner Shashank Roy launched RepHike last year, providing brand ambassador software to enable companies to grow and manage their campus marketing programs.
“Brands are looking for more authenticity in their messaging and students are looking for word-of-mouth referrals from friends,” Goldstein says.
Word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family continue to be one of the most trusted forms of advertising. In fact, a 2016 survey found that 80 percent of Americans ask for a recommendation before making a purchase of any kind. RepHike’s software makes it easier for businesses to recruit and manage brand ambassadors on college campuses that are helping spread the word.
“We were using a lot of different tools to manage everything,” Goldstein adds. “We were using Slack, Excel, different ways to give brand ambassadors rewards – and we wanted an all-in-one solution so that people that manage campus marketing can do so easier and more effectively.”
Goldstein cited Western New York’s “strong University ecosystem” as a great location for growing RepHike and to research how brands successfully market on campuses. The company currently works with organizations and businesses at SUNY Buffalo, Binghamton, NYU and James Madison University in Virginia. Out west they’re working with UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and Stanford.
“We’re changing the way brands can do advertising,” Goldstein said. “We’re very data driven with a finger on the pulse on what our customers are doing and who they are targeting so over time they can see the trends that are happening.”
RepHike recently announced $25,000 in seed investment funds led by StartFast Venture Accelerator. The financing will be used to build university partnerships with campus organizations and for its proprietary technology platform.