How to “Awesomize” Business to Business: Interview with Tech Startup Founder, Elias Shams (Iranian American & Pita-consumer)
“Sweetie, you’re on a long learning curve,” explained the gentleman behind the DC Consumer & Regulatory Affairs corporations counter. Usually, the woman in me would snap at the so-called term of endearment. But the PITAPOLICY in me realized that I had stood in line holding the fifth form to ensure PITAPOLICY Consulting’s small business future, and it might just be better to laugh and reflect. Awesome is when the bureaucracy finishes and the creativity begins. Awesome is not reading the DCRA checklist. Awesome is also when another small business finally gets a chance to connect with another business beyond Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter–which is not on the DCRA or Small Business Administration checklist. Awesomize.me is not a personal self-esteem boost; the site links businesses to businesses like the 21st Century White Pages that actually pings your business back.
Setting up the legal structure, even for a virtual business, is a pain in the neck–even in the United States. I had to stop myself from thinking that I am the only small business going through challenges. Compared to the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region, it takes an average of 20 days, 8 procedures, and 35 percent of personal income to start a business in the MENA region, according to the Doing Business report by the International Finance Corporation. PITAPOLICY needed to stop complaining…even though it’s been TWO weeks, 5 forms, and no interaction with other businesses through organized listings to manage business to business connections.
Since I had just interviewed a dozen tech start-ups in Lebanon from around the pita-consuming region, I realized that I did not need to speak the tech lingo to appreciate the learning curve challenge of small businesses in other industries. (If you’re a tech entrepreneur, or thinking of a start-up, please share your challenges on this survey!)
“Awesomizing”: Investing in Yourself, then Your Business
Awesomizing involves your professional peers to rate you and your business. (PITAPOLICY would love DCRA to register account just to see how its peers would rate them–wait, won’t happen because they don’t care like business and social entrepreneurs do.) Big businesses, like the Huffington Post, have already registered on Awesomize.me. For kicks and giggles, PITAPOLICY Consulting walked through the exercise to create a page. Here’s what PITAPOLICY learned:
- Unlike Facebook, awesomize.me allows PITAPOLICY Consulting to list company products/services and specifically indicate industry focus.
- PITAPOLICY listed all of its other existing social media accounts and looks forward to enlisting its blogs.
- There is a question page that is integrated into a company’s existing social media channels into each page, which will facilitate more business to business connections.
Once registered, a business may expect to receive analytics, like Social Bakers, which provides feedback for businesses looking to gather market intelligence through social media. However, there is an additional benefit by “awesomizing”–or registering on Awesomize.me. “A business is able to leverage the power of objective ratings by existing clients to acquire new ones,” according to Shams.
The learning curve for small businesses owners involves many starts and stops. Elias Shams, CEO and Founder of Awesomize.me, has founded other start-ups in his twenty some years in the technology industry. Shams holds a Masters in Telecommunication Engineering from George Washington University, and Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland. After Shams co-founded Telezoo.com, he realized that “Business to Business” connection was a niche that current social networking sites have not addressed. Although Facebook is widely used, it is not about the number of users.
According to Shams, one of the biggest challenges for any sized business, is to convert viewing audiences from passivity to activity. What Shams describes as “capturing the lead” requires more than pushing content out–or advertising on Facebook. Businesses are constantly thinking about “positioning” against its competitors and “messaging” to both complementary businesses and consumers.
What Can Non-profits Learn from Awesomize Example?
When PITAPOLICY considers the challenge of “capturing the lead”, the learning curve for the business entrepreneur mirrors the position of a small non-profit too. This business to business challenge does not sound that different from the challenge non-profit organizations experience when creating a page on Facebook hoping to win over more advocates, and thereby, financial support.
Non-profits expend many resources by hiring staff to manage social media pages and accounts. What is the return on investment, ROI, in each case? As a result, they end up having to hire the services of another group to track the hits and analyze the connections to improve their positioning and messaging, again. What amount of time investment does this actually lead to actual passive “Likes” on Facebook to actualizing their calls to action? What amount of renewed energy and money are gained for the non-profit in the social media engagement game when most models do not calculate and incorporate the B2B mindset? That’s another post. But in the meantime, explore how your business or non-profit venture may better capitalize on a new social media platform. As Elias told PITAPOLICY “Awesomize yourself.”
Follow Elias Shams on Twitter @eliasshams for more Awesomizing and Tech Start-up tales. Please take this 10-15 minute survey to share your technology entrepreneur challenges. The data will be used for a future piece!