There are plenty of social platforms to share your favorite meme, cute kitty photo and what you’re cooking for dinner, but what about when you want to find a great deal on things to buy all in one place. Enter Bizspeaking, the site that’s taking its cue from Pinterest and giving us a platform to share and discover deals online. We caught up with founder Jerri Ji to talk startup inspiration, challenges, and what makes Bizspeaking so killer.
Tell us a little more about what inspired Bizspeaking
Do you notice something strange in our everyday life? When we look for something new and something fun to read, we go Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc. Why? Because there our friends, whom we follow, or even people we don’t know are creating, curating, and promoting the news we love.
However, when we look for something cheap and something good to buy we search Google, Amazon, eBay, etc, alone. Why? What is so special about deals that they deserve to be left out of the social space? The answer is: Nothing! Deals should have been shared and promoted as much as any cute kitten photo on the Internet. Can you imagine how much better the world can be if people all over the world start helping each other find the best deals? We are not doing that already simply because there wasn’t an effective platform available.
Not anymore, welcome to Bizspeaking.com, an easy, social, and real-time web platform designed to connect the buyers around the world. Join thousands of our users to share and promote great deals, e.g., checkout some seriously cool Halloween deals here.
What’s a typical day look like?
The first thing I do waking up every morning is customer service. Since the Bizspeaking user base spans across the globe from US to UK to Australia, I want to respond to the users not in my timezone as soon as possible. With Bizspeaking becoming more stable and complete, this task is shrinking to under 30 minutes and often involves me pointing the user to our FAQ page.
After processing the rest of my new emails from media, startup networks, peer entrepreneurs, etc, I will dive into the second major task of the day: Marketing. I’ve tested various marketing channels including SEO (Search Engine Optimization), social media, and direct email. SEO can offer great ROI to online niche sellers targeting a clear set of keywords, but for a social network like Bizspeaking that does not focus on any particular keyword, SEO can be prohibitively expensive.
Social media is good at sending quick burst traffic and is better used strategically. The most effective method to attract sellers is email marketing. Sending emails is easy, the difficult part is how to find our target users. To achieve this, I spend a lot of time thinking like our users and hanging out in the communities they visit. Marketing now consumes the bulk of my time that I often have to consciously remind myself to leave some time for another important task.
And that’s development. Since I designed and developed Bizspeaking myself, there is no friction in communication, meeting, or finger pointing. The flip side is that with other tasks competing for my time, it’s not possible to devote 8 hours daily in development.
Nevertheless, I take pride in continuous release and never let two days pass without pushing something new into the production.
Between juggling tasks, I follow the GTD (Get Things Done) principle and respond to requests that take less than 3 minutes to complete, and save the rest for the end of the day. I always try not to leave any task to the next day.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
Building a startup is like running a marathon, and bootstrapping a lean startup is like running a marathon alone, with no coach to guide you, no volunteer to hand you water, and no emergency team to give you CPR when you suffer from a heatstroke. I’m not discouraging anyone from bootstrapping here, I’m just trying to shine more light on the part of the reality that’s often overlooked.
The view from the top of the mountain is no doubt marvelous, but jump straight in with no proper gears and no planning for blizzard and avalanche is going to get yourself hurt. Few startups can break even within a few months, so the first tip is make sure you have access to sufficient fund for at least six months of runway, or better one year. Then stay focused on building a profitable business and cut loose anything that does not help your business grow.
What would you do with $500,000 and a year off?
Geez, this is the hardest question of all, because it forces me into taking something at the expense of giving up another that I love so much. Can I just take the money and work part-time on Bizspeaking? I really enjoy helping our users and seeing the Bizspeaking community grow everyday.
OK, if I have to take a year off and not work for Bizspeaking in anyway, I’d travel around the world to meet other entrepreneurs, learning from and sharing with them everything about technology, business, and life.
Biggest startup challenge?
The biggest startup challenge has always been to create something from nothing. While it’s obvious for development, not everybody realizes that it’s also true for marketing and business development.
Customer development implementation to build a social network is slightly different from the customer development process to sell enterprise software. The former rests more on creating a self-fulfilling prophecy, e.g., there’s more incentive for me to join Pinterest when there are 1 million users than when there are 100 users, even though the underlying core “problem” it tries to solve remains the same. And to keep bending reality into the desired shape, a good entrepreneur must both have a grand vision of what the company should be in 5 years and have a clear idea of what everybody should do next week.
Web App or site you couldn’t live without and why
Google docs is handy for sharing and collaboratively editing of text and spreadsheet. At Bizspeaking, we also use Amazon AWS such as S3 for online storage, CloudFront for web caching, and SES (Simple Email Service) for sending tons of emails on the dime.
What’s your music-streaming site of choice, and what’s currently playing?
I am still in the process of developing the habit of listening to music while working. Spotify seems pretty sweet.
What’s the greatest thing about Bizspeaking?
The greatest thing about Bizspeaking is it’s THE platform designed to make sharing deals simple and fun. With Bizspeaking, you don’t have to search the web again when our community can find you anything better and cheaper.
Imagine in the near future when we release our mobile app, you can get real-time updates on the nice deals available near you. Or when you bought something cool anywhere in the world, simply snap a photo and share it with the world.
Where can our readers reach out to you?
Thanks, Jerry! If you’re an online deal-chaser, make sure you check out Bizspeaking and start sharing and finding the best deals on the web.