"And the whole intelligence part becomes so critical at the later stage once we have more data because what you can actually see, is we can predict when the next person will actually buy, by actually doing profiling… And that is so so valuable for anybody, not just big corporates, but specifically small and medium companies. We actually enabled them to have a shot against the big companies, we can help them use technology not just to sell more, but understand why things are sold more and why things are not sold more. Based on that, we will help small and mid-sized companies to significantly grow faster. It's our objective." - Ahmed
Joining us for Episode 32 of 1st Floor Conversations are business co-founders Ahmed Abdulwahab and Robert Brouwer. Ahmed and Robert worked extensively as entrepreneurs and business leaders throughout Europe, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States, among other places, before reconnecting and joining forces to design an emerging technology company. Together with another business partner, Dennis Kruger, Ahmed and Robert became co-founders of WeTagVideos.
In this episode, we discuss Ahmed and Robert's unique thesis on building businesses, how they have used it to grow successful startup companies, how their current company is disrupting the world of video, and how customer engagement is the key to it all.
The Business Thesis
After speaking to Ahmed and Robert for only a short time, it became clear that they had developed a successful thesis on how to conduct business. As it turns out, this thesis is quite a different take on what most business schools teach future entrepreneurs about startups.
Instead of drafting a traditional business plan, which is only a tentative, theoretical strategy for success, Ahmed and Robert, and WeTagVideos, talk directly to the customers. They don't follow a predefined path to a final, perfect product; instead, Ahmed and Robert believe they will never develop the final product, but will continuously improve previous versions of in response to customer feedback.
How Things Started
Ahmed describes the beginning of founding a business as "a wonderful and painful experience." This experience came from their first startup attempt, before founding WeTagVideos. A past professor advised Ahmed to draft a business plan, a "fiction book" as he calls it, and follow it through.
They followed the textbook steps, spent the allotted money on a product they assumed customers would want, and realized it didn't solve a problem and serve the market. They learned that starting a business was a lot different than running an established company.
This first attempt was a painful experience that led the team to their redefined thesis for starting a business, thus doubling as a wonderful experience. From here, the two went from having big mouths and small ears to the more beneficial pairing of smallmouths and big ears. Robert and Ahmed began to ask the customers what they wanted and needed and used that feedback to develop mockups that allowed modification as required.
Building a Team
Both Ahmed and Robert agreed that they were unable to cover the deeper technological side of their business. They needed someone not only to do the coding but also to understand and fix the coding.
They needed Dennis Kruger. Dennis has a deep tech background paired with visionary ideas. Not only was he able to handle the technological demands of the position, but Dennis was able to communicate the customer's needs through to the design and coding of the platform. He is someone who shares their knowledge of business and was, therefore, a logical addition to their team.
What is WeTagVideos? How Does it Work?
WeTagVideos is a video platform that allows you to upload digital files, such as video clips or detailed images, and place them in the video. It creates an immersive experience for the viewer; it engages them, keeps them on the site longer, lets them delve deeper into the product or the company through interactive capabilities.
The idea is to make a brief video and insert several files inside the video that take the viewer in-depth on specific subtopics depending on their interest and engagement.
Take a look at the website to see this process for yourself. You can sign up and begin right away. All you need to do is upload a video, identify locations in the video where you want to add additional content and choose from the options to add a video file or URL.
The uploaded content gets embedded in the video and becomes available as interactive tags. Viewers can explore the tags in the published video at their discretion.
Disrupting the World of Video
WeTagVideos provides users and viewers the opportunity to break away from passive video consumption. Remember all the time you have spent trying to find a specific topic somewhere in an hour-long YouTube video, clicking randomly through the content, hoping you'll hear the answer to your question. We will no longer have to hope a video has the content we are looking for embedded somewhere throughout its duration.
WeTagVideos has eliminated that tiresome process. They have created an immersive experience for viewers—companies can provide consumers with a considerable amount of information in a compact and appealing format.
Two Ears and One Mouth
Ahmed and Robert both pride themselves in helping companies grow their business through the use of this technology. They initially envisioned their business would help companies with advertising - making products more appealing. They were surprised when a business used its platform to cut costs, rather than increase sales. The ability to insert tags into videos lessened the need for customers to reach out to a call center, thus reducing the cost to run the call center significantly.
Here we see their thesis in action: They had an intended plan, drafted from the input of customers, to increase product sales. Another customer used that same plan to meet a different need - to cut costs. Ahmed and Robert heard their customer and continued listening to improve the product and meet their needs.
They are eager to get more people on their platform, more small and midsize businesses, to see how they utilize the product and what kind of exciting experiences they create with it. Their goal for 2020 is to give smaller companies a chance against the more prominent companies.
The Wrap Up
Ahmed, Robert, and Dennis created a successful startup company. They built a culture around feedback and the value of listening to the customer. In the business world, we too often focus on meetings and agendas and product management, become engrossed in the happenings between the four walls around us, and forget to step outside and talk to the people we are aiming to serve.
They have mastered the art of having two ears and one mouth, to listen first, to speak second, and to keep what the customer said in mind to ensure it matters. They have built a strong team, with members who understand the customer feedback and can successfully translate it into positive changes on the product side.
When it comes to consumer attention, efficiencies, and engagement, we have to update how we speak to our customers. And I think that the folks at WeTagVideos are at the forefront of that. As always, in bringing these conversations full circle and back to our guiding thesis here at 1st Floor Conversations; the view at the top is only as good as the foundation which preserves it. And in the world of business, staying as customer-centric as possible, listening intensively, and being open to change is critical to building something valuable that can stand the test of time.