Jeani Burns was CEO of a marketing firm when the economy tanked. The company lost 80 percent of its traditional marketing business, and Burns knew she had to think creatively in order to survive the economic downturn.
Burns teamed up with a colleague to respond to a client request: An online volunteer-management program. While Burns was confident the program had potential, she was unfamiliar with promoting and pricing software. A friend referred her to SCORE for guidance.
VoMaSmart (Volunteer Management Social and Smart) launched in 2013, and in its first year saved that client 288 management hours and $10,000. The program allows volunteers to manage themselves online.
Burns teamed up with mentor Harold Rappaport, who advised her in creating a business plan, marketing plan, and even formulating the best business model for VoMaSmart.
"When we met, it was perfect because Harold is a software person and he knew exactly how to advise me. He knew what questions to ask, helped me put a pricing structure together and he helped me learn how to market our product and make sure we don’t hire too many people as we grow. Harold was the leveling force all the way through the process," says Burns.
VoMaSmart has gained a healthy client roster including the Road World Championships, one of bicycling's key international events. Other clients include event planners for marathons, triathlons, wine and beer festivals, art events, concerts and charity efforts.
After its initial success, VoMaSmart was able to debut an upgraded website with increased language capability and a volunteer crowdfunding resource.
"I’ve made so many mistakes in past businesses and I didn’t want to make the same mistakes again. It’s like having a friend who is there to listen to you and advise you. I know if I slip and fall, they’ll be there to pick me up and give me good advice," says Burns.