082: Hajj Flemings (Rebrand Cities)

Hajj Flemings on Innovation City

“We always wait for the perfect time to go do something. There is no perfect time. There is no magical amount of money to have saved in the bank and make sure everything aligns.” — Hajj Flemings

Welcome to Innovation City—powered by Venture Cafe—where Tyler Kelley and Michael Johnson, Co-Founders of SLAM! Agency, interview innovators, creators, and disruptors to discover how business is changing in the modern world.

Created and produced by SLAM! Agency in cooperation with Venture Cafe St. Louis and Venture Cafe Miami, Innovation City gives you an inside look at how rapidly business and culture are changing thanks to increasing diversity and inclusion, heightened creativity, and a stronger and better-connected business community. Venture Cafe is the largest combined gathering of entrepreneurs and innovators anywhere in the world. Events are held every Thursday in St. Louis, Miami, and other leading innovation cities around the globe.

Today’s guest is Hajj Flemings, Founder & CEO of Rebrand Cities. Rebrand Cities is a national civic design and brand project dedicated to helping 10,000 small business get into the digital marketplace. Hajj sits down with the team to discuss his goal of getting 10K small businesses online, the misconception that you have to have everything perfect before becoming an entrepreneur, his challenges in working with so many small businesses, his advice to small businesses for branding, and much more!

They discuss:

  • Launching Brand Camp in 2008 and growing it to be the largest personal branding conference in the Midwest
    • Today, the conference is centered around entrepreneurship, technology, & branding
    • A group of doers, thinkers, entrepreneurs, etc.
  • His partnership with WordPress
  • WordPress powers about 32% of the internet
  • His goal of getting 10K small businesses online
  • There are 28 million small businesses in the US
    • 46% of those businesses don’t have websites
  • 62% of the businesses he helps are owned by women
  • 80% of the businesses he helps are owned by African Americans
  • He wants to help people who have great ideas and have their heads down working on their business
    • Many don’t have the resources or knowledge on how to scale
  • Hajj is a mechanical engineer by trade and worked in the auto industry for 10 years
  • He believes everyone should have a side project
  • In 2010, he met with a group of entrepreneurs at the SXSW Conference and created a startup with them over the weekend
  • The misconception that you have to have everything perfect and aligned before becoming an entrepreneur
  • Understanding that entrepreneurship affects your family as much as it affects you
  • Currently looking at how his business can get to scale
    • Looking to work with more cities and build more partnerships with organizations like Venture Cafe
    • Hosting quarterly events
  • Rebrand Cities helped 300 businesses last year (2018)
  • Some of his challenges in working with so many business:
    • Getting the business owners to give him information and content for their websites
    • Working around the business’ technology issues or lack of technology to maintain a website
  • His advice to small businesses for branding:
    • Get your own domain name
    • Set up social media
    • Make sure your business/brand name is consistent across all platforms
    • Get photography of you/your brand
  • The process for getting a business online is a high-energy 1-day event
  • Rebrand Cities is currently in Detroit and Miami
    • New office opening soon in Los Angeles
  • Hajj had a friend recommend expanding to Miami, which led him to going there after seeing the innovation that was happening
  • Reach out to Rebrand Cities on their website
  • Follow Hajj on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn