Today we’d like to introduce you to Kimberly M. Starks.
Kimberly, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’m a native Atlantan (southwest Atlanta) who started out as a reporter for various newspapers in the Southeast (the Savannah Morning News, the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the Marietta Daily Journal; and I was a member of The New York Times’ inaugural cohort of the Student Journalism Institute; an internship program for students from HBCUs).
I was a reporter for five years before transitioning to public relations as a spokeswoman for the Georgia Lottery Corp. I served in that role for ten years. As a spokeswoman, I was responsible for handling media relations, including garnering media attention for lottery winners.
After ten years in the industry, I decided to chart my own path in opening a PR firm serving the agribusiness industry (commodities, importing/exporting, supply chain management, agriculture, horticulture, pet health and wellness). I put chickens, cows and pigs on my website, and my first client turned out to be executives from the video gaming industry. They are who made the correlation between lottery gaming and video gaming – gaming of a different kind – so I adopted video gaming as a specific industry that we now serve.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I was faced with a series of consecutive life-altering challenges in starting out on my own. I’m a single-parent mother of a 19-year-old and a 13-year-old; and as soon as I left my full-time job, for one example, I was in an accident that totaled my car. Despite those back-to-back challenges, I forged ahead anyway with the support of my parents. Now, this is what I tell people:
Like a video game, for every level of life, you’ll need new tools. Like business, when you start out in a video game, you start out with the basics. But as you go along, you gain more lives and heftier tools – sometimes a variety of them – to assist you in making it to the next round.
Being an entrepreneur can be fun, but it’s what you make out of it. The controller is in your hands. The road to success is not straight and narrow but full of zig-zags and sometimes U-turns. When you have a vision and the right mentality, which includes maintaining that supportive circle, you can better navigate life.
For those who are in business currently or who are considering becoming an entrepreneur, here are a few tips to make the road smoother:
1. Always consider the cost for customer acquisition before engaging in new business, meaning don’t bite off more than you can chew.
2. Make sure that you have a source of funds set aside to help you on those rainy days (you’re gonna need it).
3. Truly, your network determines your net worth, so make sure you’re surrounded by people who can assist you or who have the right connections to position you for success.
Please tell us about Blue Scorpion Reputation Management and Immense DC.
I own two businesses:
1. Blue Scorpion Reputation Management (d/b/a BSRM) is a specialist communications firm based in Atlanta with national reach, holding accounts specific to the video gaming industry, animal and pet care industry and the agriculture and farming industry, including investor relations to agricultural commodity and product brands. We also provide government and corporate consultancy.
Bolstering reputations while minimizing risk odds through reputation management and crisis communication is how people recognize us. I am an accredited public relations practitioner with a specialization in reputation management and am a principal consultant of the business.
Back story for the business name: Drops of venom from a blue scorpion is anti-inflammatory in the same way that BSRM protects its clients. Poisonous animals have gained notoriety since their venoms (secreted or injected) contain several useful bioactive substances (Torres, Quinet, Havet, at el, 2013). In parts of the Caribbean, blue scorpion’s venom has demonstrated cancer-fighting properties and is being developed as a drug to treat the disease. The venom is known for its healing factors and its potential to save lives.
BSRM was established in 2017.
2. Immense DC (DC stands for digital content) is an eSports consultancy with disciplines in experiential marketing, digital marketing and public relations. We promote the advancement of eSports, bringing experiences to life for legacy brands while serving as the aggregator, leading from behind to add value to eSports enterprises.
For Immense DC, I am the co-founder and CEO. David Gacsko, chief marketing officer; and Geron Coleman, chief technology officer, also are co-founders of the business. Immense DC was established in 2019 as a result of seeing the need for our service offering with the explosion of eSports.
We want to enhance legacy brands’ presence in eSports since it is an important component of the fan experience, and we want to bring those experiences full circle through activation, amplification and brand monetization. We curate entertainment-focused eSports experiences unlike any other.
For example, we’re proud to serve Reebok and Puma (with Foot Locker being the cornerstone) in helping to amplify their brands internationally through eSports. At the tip-off of the basketball season this past fall, Reebok released the Question Mid, a basketball sneaker with two iconic colorways, in celebration of NBA player Allen Iverson. We were a part of “The Crossover” launch with an e-gaming suite that was broadcast internationally on Twitch.
Puma also celebrated the release of the Clyde Hardwood sneaker, and we were a part of the experience. Though the launch was in Atlanta, we received the most coverage online from people watching real-time in Malaysia, Nigeria, Vietnam and the Philippines through Twitch.
Footwear and apparel showcase gamers’ style; Puma and Reebok are driving the culture. We’re excited to work with more brands in finding their perfect path into eSports.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I had a great start as any business owner could have in getting started in business. I surrounded myself with a great network of people who fostered my growth as a business owner. I had the support of my children, my parents and my co-workers before departing to work for myself full-time. I’m fortunate to have had that experience in making my transition as smooth as it could have gone at the time.
Here’s what I tell people who are considering entrepreneurship:
1. Business will make you uncomfortable, but if comfortability is your zone, you don’t need to be in business. It is a faith walk: faith in God and having the self-confidence to set yourself up for success.
2. Save as much money as you possibly can before going into business for yourself. You’re going to need it when you’re establishing yourself in the marketplace.
3. Network as much as possible and get it down to a science. Be assertive, not aggressive; certainly, don’t be timid.
4. Don’t ever forget where you came from so as not to lose sight as to where you’re going. For me, I’m doing what I do to give back to the next generation who look just like me.
- Website: immensedc.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @immense_dc
- Facebook: @immensedc
- Twitter: @immensedc
Brandon Tackett, AXM Media