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Toledo, OH

Brandy Wimberly of Buyvite

Meet Brandy Wimberly, founder of Buyvite, a social payment platform.

What is Buyvite?

Buyvite is a social payment platform that allows people to pay each other or get paid back for a purchase from a Buyvite enabled ecommerce site. We've also created a social media button that can embed on any product page of any website that allows people to split the cost of whatever the item is. It works well for vacation rentals, event tickets, gifts, donations, sports team costs, or even parties and restaurant checks. People can create a Buyvite, then invite friends through Facebook, Twitter, email and mobile alert to pay them back. Then the organizer can send the funds to their bank account.

How did you come up with the idea?

I work in digital marketing and ecommerce, and was looking for a solution that ultimately does what Buyvite does. I didn't find one, so we ended up creating one. I always got burned on buying concert tickets for friends, too.

What was the biggest surprise in starting your business?

How awesome and supportive everyone has been about the product and our vision. Our original
product has been changed to focus more on what our potential customers really want out of a social commerce product. We launched with our MVP, got market validation, and feedback and made changes accordingly. This process really works and we feel version 1.5 of Buyvite is a very solid platform for our partners.

Where did you find your first employee?

From an investor, of course! We’ve also had a lot of involvement from our advisory board.

What does a typical day in your business look like?

Anyone who has a typical day at a startup is probably not doing it right! Building a startup is a process more than a typical 9-5 style job. A lot of times startup founders also have full-time jobs, and for a while, I did as well. So there is really not a typical day ever.

What are some of the advantages to doing business in Toledo?

I think launching a startup in the Midwest means two things: you're a member of a small group and you must travel extensively. But that doesn't mean it hasn't been awesome launching in Ohio. There is a lot of support here from the community and investors. You also need to work extra hard for recognition, and make a point to go to relevant events
outside the area, too.

What resources or organizations in Toledo did you take advantage of and how did they help?

Rocket Ventures has been amazing and our developers are also affiliated with the University of Toledo and helped us get up and running with a MVP in a short amount of time. 
Can you share a funny or amazing entrepreneurial experience with our readers?

Being at SXSW last March as an Ohio Startup" was interesting. The prevailing attitude by a lot of California tech people is that if you launch in Ohio, you might as well launch on Mars. But I have to say, I used to live in San Francisco and I have friends out there, and I'm the envy of my California friends. There is not as much competition here and that is huge when it comes to raising money. I also used to live in a crappy apartment in the Marina that I paid as much for as my house in Ohio. It's all relative. I can get to a meeting in San Francisco in four hours.

What inspires you?

If you only do this for money, you're not going to be successful. Being able to hopefully build a kickass product that makes people's lives easier is what you need to do it for. Creating a consumer facing tech product is a monumental challenge. Don't get into thinking it will be easy.

What founders do you admire and why?

The founders of Gilt, Instagram, Words With Friends, Pandora and 37 Signals. I'm big into useful products versus fads. I'm enjoy things I actually use. We’ve all seen a lot of products out there that get a ton of attention, but nobody uses them. The point should not be to create a startup, but to create a useful company or product.

What’s next for you?

We're going to launch our version 1.5 in the next week, and announce some cool stuff. (What cool stuff?) Also, my experience launching a startup here in Ohio has inspired me to start a media source called SiliconRustBelt.com, which covers the tech startup scene in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. We'll be launching in the coming weeks.

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