Welcome to Part 2 of my interview with Evan McGowan-Watson, co-founder and CMO of BrandYourself.com. In this section we discuss a bit of Evan McGowan-Waton’s background, BrandYourself’s recent growth and the challenges that come with that, and the BrandYourself philosophy on customer acquisition. (If you missed part 1, check it out now.)
I obviously know your background and I have to admit, I’ve never been totally clear about what exactly drew you to this company, considering you came from an artist family in Vermont. What is it about this tech product that sparked your interest enough to basically give up a good part of your life for a couple years?
The main thing initially was that you could tell that it was a problem that can effect so many people. The idea had legs.
We’re entering an era where the way people find information about each other and the way people develop perceptions about one another has just flipped on it’s head. Out of nowhere people are sharing more than ever and relying on the internet to develop perceptions about one another. That means a tool like BrandYourself is the type of thing that can touch nearly every individual. That’s exciting to me.
We have customers on BrandYourself from CEOs of huge companies right down to your buddy next door. It’s really cool to be able to work on something and develop something that touches and helps that many people. That was what I saw in this idea from the get-go.
So we had to put off this interview for more than a week because you guys totally blew up last week. Can you tell me what happened?
We went from 25,000 users to nearly 100,000 users in 3 days and we’re now at well over 100,000. At first glance it looks like things just took off out of nowhere but, as usual with these types of things, that was really the culmination of about 1.5 years of work. During that time we listened to our users, iterated, and improved until our product was dead simple, intuitive and effective.
What we came up with was two things:
1. The “who googled you” feature
2. The sharing functionality.
The “who googled you feature” gives people more information about the people who find their BrandYourself profile in search engines. Stuff like where they’re located, what they searched for and what company they work for. Showing what companies are searching for you is very unique, and it caught the attention of some great press like Mashable, TechCrunch and Huffington Post right out of gate.
From there, our sharing features encouraged people to share the actions they take within the system, which amplified the great buzz we were getting.
Not to oversimplify it, but basically it worked out like this:
1. Create a unique, intuitive product that addresses a real need.
2. Get people to try the product through marketing and press.
3. Make sure people have a really great and unique experience with the product.
4. Make it dead simple for those happy customers to share their experiences.
That, in a nutshell, is what has enabled us to hit this 100,000 user mark before we even thought we could: just a month and half out.
Could you talk a little about the biggest challenge that came with nearly quadrupling your user base in 3 days?
Well, a core value we have is being extremely accessible. A lot of software companies won’t just put their phone numbers right on the website for customers to call them, but we think it’s really important to talk to each individual customer if they need help with the product.
That’s obviously tough to do when you go from 25,000 to 100,000 users pretty much overnight, so over the past couple of weeks I’ve been taking a lot of phone calls from customers to help relieve the load a bit.
Thats good to do, though; I think everyone in your company—from management down—should talk to customers once in a while so you stay in touch with who you’re doing all this for.
Plus, customers get really jazzed when they realize they’re talking to a co-founder and the happier the customers are, the more they spread the messages. It’s a nice little ecosystem where everyone wins in the end.
Do you have any regrets?
Any regrets? You know, I don’t think I have any.
Things I would do differently in hindsight? Things I will do differently next time? Absolutely, absolutely. But regrets? No, no regrets. Not yet.
I mean, you give up certain things to go somewhere like this when you’re young and that can be difficult sometimes. Your social life goes to shit pretty quickly.
All the experiences, good and bad, provided some of the most important lessons of my life and you don’t learn those important lessons, those sometimes hard lessons, without taking a few faltering steps along the way.
(If you missed part 1 of this interview with BrandYourself co-founder Evan McGowan-Watson, check it out now.)
Photo and Video Credits
BrandYourself.com | Evan McGowan-Watson