CARLSBAD — Increasingly a larger number of small- to medium-sized businesses are being squeezed by tech behemoths.
But one Carlsbad company is aiming to change the market for those being charged higher rates by combining lower pricing and merging social media, influencers, brands, resellers and manufacturers.
iAmLife, a tech startup off Palomar Airport Road, is a social selling app connecting “emerging designers” with influencers, resellers and manufacturers, according to Dana Howng, director of business development.
“They’re looking for some avenue in which to generate more sales,” she said. “They may have brick and mortar or doing a simple online business.”
Howng said there has been a purge of smaller businesses from Amazon and other big tech companies, which are passed to smaller entities and their customers. For example, Etsy, a popular e-commerce site, recently mandated free shipping to its client base. Those who don’t offer free shipping will be hurt be lower search engine optimization (SEO) and other metrics, Howng explained.
As for iAmLife, she said it’s free to register and their customers pay 10% of a transaction, which includes the Stripe, a payment processing application.
“We want to make this process so much easier,” she added. “It’s so much less expensive than other platforms.”
Founded by James Conlin in 2018, the company just launched this year with beta testing rolling out over the summer. Now, the company is rapidly growing and has more than 4,500 users, according to Nikki Ostrem, the chief operating officer.
Most of the company’s users, she said, are influencers, but now they are pivoting to target more brands. As for the businesses, the company’s presence is mostly in Southern California, although iAmLife will be rolling out a more robust national push in the coming months.
“We really did a push to create user accounts first to get people on and using the system,” Ostrem said. “And then really pushing the brands and e-commerce side of the businesses to make those connections.”
She said they analyzed the market and found a void to give sellers or micro-influencers, those with fewer than 10,000 followers, an avenue to conduct business. The company allows its users to engage through five social media channels — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit and LinkedIn.
“We’re creating a space for brands and influencers to come together to promote their brand or products,” Ostrem said.
Another feature, she said, is the sellers can customize their page and become authorized resellers quickly. For example, Ostrem said a user can promote one or many products, sell their own goods and link back to the site through the social media platforms.
As they push forward, and are still raising capital, Ostrem said the company is scaling and connecting influencers and the brands. Howng said they are also trying tie those pieces of the company together and ensure their users have a robust marketplace to meet their own goals.
Eventually, Ostrem said the goal is for brands and influencers to find each other so they don’t have to make the introduction.
“That would be a hard business to scale,” she added. “The way people work is much different than it used to be. Lots of people don’t have a traditional 9-5 job anymore. I think we’ve transitioned to a different kind of workforce.”
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.