True leaders and innovators emerge during challenging times. We heard from four area business leaders during our June 17 Sunrise Scrambler who inspired us with their ability to respond to disruption by piloting new social media platforms, updating their product offerings and boldly experimenting with new delivery options for their goods and services.
(Follow this link for the video on YouTube and Facebook.)
Marisa Skiver, partner and Senior Web Developer at Hexcode Designs, was our session moderator. Marisa and her team signed more social media clients in a one-month time frame during the COVID stay-at-home period than they had in the previous year. The demand for social media expertise ramped up considerably this spring as digital communication became a vital lifeline for businesses that needed to share their messages with customers. Marisa's fifteen years of social media expertise helped her guide the communication efforts of her clients and differentiate themselves during the increased messaging and traffic that was taking place on all social media platforms during the pandemic. Marisa has become particularly interested in helping clients use a newer platform, TikTok, since most of the postings are positive and help people connect.
Eddie Sandoval, the Founder and CEO of Pinole Blue, was one of our three panelists. An award-winning entrepreneur and graduate of Wichita State University, Eddie develops innovative and healthy food products that are sold internationally while giving back to this community as well as some residents of Mexico. He provided us with an inside look at how he expanded his e-commerce offerings and bravely dove into a social media platform, TikTok, that his company hadn't tried in the past. The Pinole Blue TikTok account took off and generated new interest in Pinole Blue products from individuals as well as buyers from major store chains who are on the platform looking for new products. The first Pinole Blue video on TikTok generated nearly half a million views and resulted in increased online sales. Meanwhile, Eddie and his team embraced corporate responsibility to help others in need, including providing meals for families of displaced restaurant workers as well as first responders. Eddie's message to the business community is that social media helps you tell your entrepreneurial story and provides a way to communicate the unique benefits of your product.
Our second panelist was Adam Smith, the President and CEO of Exploration Place. Adam brings a worldwide view, international training from Scotland and England plus twenty-five years of experience to his new role leading Exploration Place, which he joined in November 2019. After closing the popular museum to visitors in response to COVID-19 stay-at-home guidelines this spring, his staff immediately regrouped and started delivering their STEM education mission through virtual programming. They quickly moved from minimal virtual offerings to distributing more than 120 free activities and programs during a two-month period. Canceling their summer camp programming to ensure visitor safety, the team also developed a virtual "Camp in a Box" program with hands-on activity kits mailed to participants and their grateful parents around the globe, from rural Kansas to Germany. The experience has given staff a more global view about delivering messages and products. Smith believes that the pandemic situation has required leaders and their teams to jump ahead ten years in their digital innovation.
Our third panelist, Jennifer McDonald is the Founder, CEO and Chief Winemaker of Wichita's first urban winery, Jenny Dawn Cellars. Jennifer brings more than a decade of business leadership skills to her venture as well as a Masters in Agribusiness from Kansas State University. During the stay-at-home period brought on by COVID-19, her winery quickly pivoted to curbside pickup for wine (within 30 minutes of orders being placed), sangria and charcuterie plates. A big win for her business was procuring a special license so that she could ship her products throughout Kansas and to 37 other states. The winery received orders from people residing in California and Florida. And she initiated new online programming, including private Virtual Wineucation wine tasting sessions for groups around the country.
Our remarkable speakers and moderator provided us with new ideas and "lessons learned" that other area business leaders can experiment with and implement. In fact, just working with these panelists inspired us to forge ahead, so you'll now find the Chamber (@ChamberWichita) and the Wichita Flag (@WichitaFlag) on TikTok.
Our thanks to our Presenting Sponsor Golden Plains Credit Union and our Showcase Biz Sponsor, Davis-Moore Auto Group who made it possible to provide this educational programming.
Join us on July 15 for our next Sunrise Scrambler where we will be featuring Together Wichita and their celebration of Wichita's Sesquicentennial. Sign up for eSynergy to know when registration opens.