Jan 11, 2023 - Business

Des Moines-based Hummingbirds aims to disrupt traditional advertising

Instagram post showcasing a Hummingbirds partnership and event. Screenshot via Hummingbirds

Businesses have more distractions to compete with to grab your attention, but investors are betting big on a local business that believes everyday people are the key to advertising.

Driving the news: Hummingbirds, a Des Moines-based content creation business, announced on Tuesday they received over $1 million in seed funding to expand. Their goal is to launch in 30 new cities this year.

State of play: Hummingbirds was started in 2018 by Emily Steele. Now there are five full-time employees and two contractors.

  • The business name is also what they call a group of everyday, local people that businesses can tap to make social media posts.
  • Des Moines started with 20 "hummingbirds," and has grown to over 700, Steele said. The concept has since been expanded to Omaha, Neb.; Milwaukee and Austin, Texas.
  • Businesses and products have ranged from donuts at Hy-Vee, breakfast bowls at Kum & Go and taste-testing Lola's hot sauces.

Details: Anyone can sign up to become a hummingbird and get access to products and events that businesses are trying to promote.

  • In exchange for a perk from the business, you make a social media post about it.
  • Businesses can also tap specific groups of people, such as moms, if they want to promote a specific service.

Zoom in: Businesses can pay up to $5,000 a year to get 100 people to make unlimited posts about them. But there's also custom pricing for people who want to use the service one time.

The intrigue: It's an untapped market that is the most "authentic" way to get people to talk about local businesses, Steele said. Rather than rely on influencers with tens of thousands of followers, people with any following can become a hummingbird.

  • "We could disrupt the "Yelp's" of the world," Steele said.

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