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July 24, 2015

Chicago Tribune Features Black Box Creative Founder and BIT Panel

Sometimes it doesn’t pay to follow the competition.

It didn’t for Jeffery Beckham, founder of website designer Black Box Creative. When he started out, he set his prices based on what he saw others charging.

“I jumped out and leveraged other Web-development companies,” Beckham said. “I would go online and look at what they were doing and providing and their pricing. I found that was a big error.”

Beckham spoke Wednesday on a Black in Tech panel at Chicago’s 1871 tech hub.

Beckham said he erred in charging the same as competitors because he felt his company offered more expertise and services. Upon tracking the hours spent on projects, Beckham said he figured he was working for minimum wage.

That’s when he turned to mentors and decided to raise his prices.

“They said the same thing: ‘You can always go down. You can never go up,’” he said. “I learned within the first six months, it made a complete difference in the business.”

He now counts Caerus Investment Partners, the Tuskegee University Bioethics Center and actor/musician Common among his clients.

Thomas K.R. Stovall, founder of Chicago-based technology company Candid Cup, said the Black in Tech panel was part his effort to launch a city-wide initiative to help people of color build tech companies. He said he’d like to see the initiative include paid workshops and other forums.

“A marketing workshop here and a funding workshop here and a branding workshop here and a media workshop here is not what people need,” Stovall said. “People need a very clean blueprint to get from in those very early phases and know exactly what they need to do.”…

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