On Wednesday morning, community business leaders were invited by Borough President, Marty Markowitz, to discuss the importance of digital initiatives for the development of improved Brooklyn commerce.
The panel was moderated by Robert Walsh, commissioner for the New York City Department of Small Business Services, and panelists included: Jay Lee of Smallknot, JB Osborne of Red Antler, Jason Richelson, of the Greene Grape and ShopKeep POS, and Derek Webster of LocalBonus.
Opening remarks included an enthusiastic welcome from Markowitz, proclaiming: “Forget Silicon Valley, Brooklyn is the digital epicenter for innovation! Everyone should follow Red Antler’s lead and move to Brooklyn!”
Thanks for making us blush, Marty, with such an incredible shout out. We agree Brooklyn is at the forefront of creative energy and excitement, and are proud to call it home. Taking a look around the room, a number of talented entrepreneurs, district Bids, and members of the tech community had come together to share resources and drive inspiration.
Daniel Stedman of Brooklyn Magazine graciously sponsored the event with a sampling of excellent local eateries: delicious Dumbo-based One Girl Cookies & Red Hook staple Baked, Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Kurent Events (Chef Johnathon Garvey’s “Brussel Sprout Egg Scramble” is a must try!), and organic coffee from Brooklyn Roasting Co. (Red Antler’s daily fuel).
Warm welcomes continued from Joe Chan of Empire State Development, Carlo A. Scissura of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, and Rachel Haot of NYC Digital.
Haot recommended key measures to support Brooklyn’s Digital Initiative:
1. Create access to technology.
2. Educate the public to use new technologies to succeed personally, academically and professionally.
3. Open up government to utilize technology and build sustainable lifestyles.
(for example: reinvent the use of city pay phone kiosks)
4. Empower industry (especially small businesses) to get online & improve efficiency.
5. Encourage digital and tech companies to reach out to areas of Brooklyn’s underserved, the young and senior demographics.
With this strategy in mind, the panel discussion offered a wealth of expertise in fundraising, strategic branding and design, experiential commerce, and how to build loyalty in a competitive business climate. To help businesses stay current and maximize efficiency in today’s digital market, panelists advised owners to holistically consider their connection to consumers through all aspects of experience. Beginning with brand identity and strategy, consider your message, what you stand for, how you communicate through language and design, and use technology.
If you aim to grow your business or start something new, platforms such as SmallKnot may help locally source the necessary funding. Technology can also bridge other gaps, such as the trust between merchants and consumers by increasing engagement and offering loyalty rewards with LocalBonus or “mayor” discounts through FourSquare. To ease the purchasing process and eliminate costs and margin of error, ShopKeep POS updates the traditional register to an iPad equipped for monetary exchange, collecting vital consumer data.
Taking advantage of these resources and others like them further increases the return for communities by empowering consumers with the choice to shop and re-invest locally. Finally, while the benefits of such digital tools, email lists, and social media may increase visibility and profitability for your business, the basics of good customer service and a sincere word-of-mouth recommendation will never go out of style.
For more information on how you may participate in the Brooklyn Digital Initiative, please visit: