Bizbrag.com is a social platform that extends content through social networks and search engines. It helps you reach new customers, and keep current customers engaged via social networks and search engines. Below you will find a recent Q&A they conducted with The Startup Project.
Editors Note: We are experimenting with a new interview format here at The Startup Project. Our goal is to provide insight to the readers on how other Startups have handled important tactical and strategic decisions…along with a few light-hearted questions just for fun. As we publish more interviews in this format, you will hopefully gain some insight by comparing the responses and seeing how different businesses approach the same issues. Please let us know what you think of the new format if you have a minute!
What is the primary benefit that your product provides to its customers?
We get our customers’ content in front of more targeted potential customers than could be reached by any other means, short of spending heavily on advertising.
Our users create stand alone web pages called “Braggits” that can contain deals, photos and videos, the latest business news, job postings, lead generation, and more. They can then post these pages to all of their social networks and blogs, as well as our built in social network called the “BragForce”.
The BragForce allows businesses to connect with each other and share Braggits to each other’s social networks. The relationship works very well as long as the companies are not competitive and have something in common such as industry or location.
Does your product have a freemium component to it?
Yes, our platform is free to use for all small business owners who only need a single account. Distributed organizations such as franchises and retailers pay a small monthly fee per location. We also offer a managed solution, where our writers and marketers will create your content and manage your social accounts for you, which is ideal for the business owner that simply does not have the time to do their own marketing or the resources to hire in house.
Company Structure and Systems Q&A
What type of legal structure did you choose for your business?
We’re organized as a C Corp. This was largely done because of our original funding and our intentions of raising more capital in the future.
Did you use an attorney or a self-service system like LegalZoom to form your business?
We hired attorneys to organize our business and help us to file our patents.
What system do you use for tracking expenses, revenues and other financial information?
We’re currently using Quickbooks.
What type of email provider do you use? (Exchange, Google Apps, etc.)
We use Google apps both for employee emails and for e-mail from the application itself. Gmail through Google apps has been incredibly easy to set up and use, both from the traditional mailbox perspective as well as programmatically.
Do you use a customer relationship system or similar software to track your potential customers? (Salesforce.com, Highrise, etc.)
What language is your software primarily written in?
We’re big fans of PHP and have used the language for most of our processing. PHP is easy to learn, and can be written quickly. It’s also one of the most popular languages for the web, which ensures access to developers and valuable libraries into the future.
Do you primarily work on a Mac, PC, or Linux computer?
We use all Mac and Linux machines. We pretty much all develop/design/or write on Macs and use Linux for our web servers.
How did you choose your branding and URL for your company?
BizBrag pretty much hit us like a bolt of lightning. After all that’s what you’re doing through our platform, bragging about your business. The rest of our Branding pretty much grew out of that. The web pages you create with your content are called Braggits, and the social network you share them with is your BragForce.
Do you use Google AdWords to advertise your product?
We’ve gone through the free $100 credit that Google offers just to see what came of it. It turns out that our target keywords cost about $10 per click. Considering that our service is free for small business owners, and there are likely more of them searching then people in charge of larger distributed organizations, it just didn’t turn out to be cost effective for us to continue paying. It’s certainly something that we will consider again once we have grown a little.
Do you use Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter to get your message to potential customers?
Absolutely. As a social marketing platform, these social networks are our bread and butter, and are major components of our marketing strategy for both our clients and ourselves. The BizBrag application can post to these and other social networks, and also goes a step further by encouraging your connections on our platform to also share your content. Our hope is to enable both small business owners and larger enterprises to create their own network of interconnected businesses that benefit from each other’s social success.
With Facebook our users are seeing a lot of success with content that either offers an exclusive deal, or content that is funny enough for people to share.
We’re also having a great deal of success with Twitter. It’s extremely easy for our user’s to share each other’s content to Twitter, getting it in front of more potential customers.
So far with LinkedIn it’s been a bit slow going, but we’ve recently introduced a feature that allows our users to post job offers. We’re expecting to see more traction on LinkedIn with these.
Do you primarily sell to end consumers or businesses? (B2B or B2C)
We’re a B2B company, and a big part of what we do is encouraging B2B collaboration between businesses that are complimentary and in the same general location. Using our application a bike shop and an adventures guide could share each other’s content across their social networks. This helps both companies get their content in front of targeted customers, as well as improving engagement with their social accounts.
This also works for larger distributed organizations, like franchises, because it allows the parent organization to send content to all of their franchisees, who can then customize it for their particular business and location and post it to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogs, with just a few clicks.
How did you get your first customer?
We almost certainly got our first customer the same way we get most of our users, through word of mouth. Our first paying customer came via one of our investors.
What is the number one quality you look for when hiring someone?
Beyond abilities, we like to hire employees with varied interests outside of work. We believe that a diverse work environment leads to more open and creative thinking. We like to encourage all of our employees to participate in the larger decisions we make, and debate is never discouraged!
Did you seek outside funding from anyone for your business?
Yes, we started the company with an initial round from angel investors. We are currently seeking a second round of funding to allow us to hire the staff we need to keep up with our current growth.
Did you consider any business incubators or accelerators?
If you could recommend one book for any entrepreneur to read, what would it be?
From our CEO:
Good question… I have a book called ’100 Great Businesses and the Minds Behind Them’ by Emily Ross and Angus Holland that I would recommend. There are plenty of books about strategy, motivation, etc. Rather than reading those, I like to read examples and stories about those who DID IT, how and why they did it, and what they failed at. I like to read more books about ‘stories’ of companies. I believe that’s how an entrepreneur can learn about the real aspects of businesses, rather than what authors with MBA’s THINK about businesses.
Star Trek or Star Wars?
In our office it’s pretty exclusively Star Wars. You’re in for a much more lively debate if you throw out Game of Thrones vs. Lord of The Rings vs. Harry Potter.
Which website or reading material do you turn to when you need to take a break and relax?
We’re all Reddit junkies. We don’t just use Reddit during our breaks though, we hire from Reddit, get help with hard programming problems from there, get inspiration for our design, and more.
If you could have a one hour discussion with another entrepreneur or business leader who would it be?
In keeping with the last question, I would personally have to say Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian, the co-founders of Reddit. Everyone at BizBrag has a great deal of respect not only for what they built, but for how they built and grew the business, and how they’ve stuck to their ideals even when doing so may not be the most profitable route.
What one piece of advice would you give to readers who are thinking about starting their own business?
I would have to say, be prepared to change regularly, and listen to your customers. We have a natural bias when it comes to our own ideas, or things that we have created. Often times though, other people will see other use cases or flaws that you had never considered. Talk to potential clients/customers before you even get started. Once you have, keep talking to them. Find out what they don’t like and change it!
A big thanks to BizBrag for taking the time to speak with us! Check out their website for more details about their company and their product. www.BizBrag.com