Two Omaha-based small businesses have been named winners of the 2018 American Small Business Championship by SCORE.
SCORE is the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors. Winners received a paid trip to a training and networking event, SCORE mentoring and publicity throughout the year, and a chance to win one of three $15,000 grand prizes, made possible with the support of Sam’s Club.
“Many of our members own a small business, and we appreciate having the opportunity to help them as they find creative solutions to problems they face on a day to day basis,” said Tracey D. Brown, Senior Vice President of Operations and Chief Experience Officer at Sam’s Club. “The 102 winners […] are excellent examples of how innovation, persistence and knowing your customers can help an entrepreneur overcome obstacles and we congratulate them on their accomplishments.”
Co-founders Holly Baker and Leslie Fischer launched TAGG five years ago when they saw that fundraising needed a refresh and businesses were looking for affordable marketing as well as an easier way to give back.
TAGG is a program that enables people to support local schools, nonprofits and teams. Donors download the TAGG app and can then choose to patronize businesses that appear on category lists inside the app.
“After you do business with the business that’s on TAGG, you take a picture of your receipt through the app, and you choose [which organization or team] you’d like to support,” said Baker. “We collect that donation and make sure it gets to the organization that you wanted to support.”
Over 50 percent of the organizations that receive donations through TAGG are 501(c)(3) organizations, and 35 percent are K-12 schools. For high schools, users can support a specific club, team or sport. TAGG also work with youth sports teams.
Baker said that with TAGG, her and Fischer are able to work with everyone in the community in some capacity.
“Businesses are bombarded with requests for community support, so TAGG allows them a way to give back,” said Baker. “We help people because they want to give back too, but sometimes they don’t have the financial resources for that. Then obviously for nonprofits and schools, we give them a way to gain financial support without asking for direct donations.”
Currently, the TAGG team is small. In addition to the co-founders, they have a business management team member and a marketing and social media intern from UNO.
Baker is hopeful that the support TAGG receives through SCORE will help the business grow and expand its reach moving forward.
“We’re primarily in Omaha and starting to get our feet wet in Lincoln,” said Baker. “We’re trying to utilize that as our test market to further grow outside of Omaha.”
Today, TAGG has 350 businesses participating and has raised over $200,000 for the local community.
“Out of 10 people I ask, about a third or half have heard of TAGG now, which is exciting,” said Baker. “Everyone should be using TAGG. If you have a giving bone in your body, why not? If you have a nonprofit you care about, they need your help.”
Baker said it’s been a challenge at times, but when she takes a step back and sees what TAGG has accomplished so far, she feels positive about the community impact taking place.
“We are so grateful for our wonderful community of businesses, causes and app users for supporting us in the greater good we are doing,” said Baker. “The community support and the momentum we have keeps us going every day.”
Christine McGuigan is the Managing Editor of Silicon Prairie News.