NFTE has helped nearly 1 million young people globally. Kemol Taylor founded World Group Clothing through NFTE's support, and now is engaging a global enterprise with QWASI. Through entrepreneurship, we can change the world. Just look how Kemol changed his.
With the initial support of NFTE and its network, Kemol was able to launch his first business and has since thrived by growing small startups into successful corporations.
Taylor was born in Jamaica and moved to the US with his family at age two. In 1995 Kemol, joined NFTE, performing top of his group. Soon after he won NFTE's Entrepreneurial Spirit Award and launched his brand, World Group. Seeing the true value of relationships, Kemol became more involved with NFTE's networking initiatives, cultivating new partnerships that are partially responsible for some of NFTE's success today.
The next big break came at NFTE's gala in 1997, when he met QVC star, Kathleen Kirkwood. They bonded over a mutual love of fashion, and Kemol helped Kathleen launch her famed QVC brand Cookie Kami. Kemol has worked with Kathleen to manage the global production of her on-air wearables for over fifteen years. Meanwhile, Kemol became acquainted with Jimmy McNeal of BDG Industries. The two traveled to London in order to garner financial support and excitement for NFTE's growth abroad, and the development of programs in the UK.
In London, Kemol befriended one of NFTE UK's sponsors, Leon Samuel, CEO of QWASI Technology. After years of friendship, Kemol decided to join Leon at QWASI, and assist this US mobile messaging company go global. Leon said:
Within two years we have grown the office from Pennsylvania to New York City, Silicon Valley, London, and right now we are working on opening offices in Beijing and Africa.
Steve Mariotti: What does QWASI do?
Kemol Taylor: QWASI is a SaaS company with a platform that allows enterprises to engage with customers globally. So, if your credit card is swiped in London, but your phone is in NYC, we provide the geofencing that can recognize the potential for fraud and allow the brand to contact the customer.
SM: How did you get the funding to do it?
Leon Samuel: QWASI was grown organically, and we chose to commercialize the technology by making it enterprise-grade and working with top retail and banking customers for our first five years. Then in 2013, as we wanted to capture the international opportunity, we decided to do a Series A.
SM: Who are your major competitors?
LS: Our would-be competitors are the Exact Targets of the world, but while they produce very narrow products for the US market, we focus on working with enterprises who looking for very custom global solutions.
SM: What is QWASI's competitive advantage?
LS: We help brands unlock their legacy systems with new contemporary mobile engagement methodologies. Our technology has a scalable, flexible architecture that allows us to add new channels of engagement (like WeChat) and custom solutions quickly and efficiently. We have an experienced team, robust APIs and an AGILE development process that allows a faster more cost effective speed to market than our competition.
DISCOVERY--Includes a clear understanding of current positioning, perception, audience, trends, compliance/regulations, goals, aims, returns, and segmentation.
DEMONSTRATION--Engagement planning, estimating key performance indicators, design, micro deployment, and testing the customer experience (an important step often missed).
DEPLOYMENT--Activating global engagement, optimizing the process, measurement of the interactions for real time analysis and feedback.
DECISIONS--Evaluating key performance indicators, amend existing deployments, process for improvement, and scope of future deployments and roll out of new engagements.
SM: Kemol, what is your background? What inspired you to enter the world of tech and entrepreneurship?
KT: From a very young age I wanted to be in business. My father was a mechanic and owned body shops, and my mom worked her way through nursing school as a nanny. That knowledge pushed me towards entrepreneurship when I was very young!
Six Tips for Aspiring Entrepreneurs from Kemol:
- Always show up! I would like to believe that 99% of business is showing up
- Be adaptable! Being fluid helps in the ever changing landscape we call business.
- Ask questions! My whole life I have asked questions to get a better view of things.
- Team Work! Having a solid team, will help you with the bumps along the way.
- Be a leader. You don't have to have the corner office to be a boss. I got great at all the things nobody else wanted to do and made a career out of figuring stuff out.
- Always be a student. Never feel like you know it all. If you're humble, people will go above and beyond to help you along the way.
Special thanks to Lauren Bailey and Maya Horgan for assistance on this article. All photographs courtesy of Natalie Carillo of QWASI.