Once a Geek, you will always be a Geek! Hire a MARCOM or Hook up with other Great Geeks

As a serial entrepreneur, I’ve learned that we can have the most incredible ideas, but if we fail to come up with the right messaging or building the right brand, our startup could end up nowhere. Typically, a startup hires a marketing communications person or even a PR agency to help them with that task . But, what would you do if you don’t have the funding to afford one? Well, do what I recently did 🙂 Hook up with other successful entrepreneurs to learn from their experiences and wisdom.

Since, the beta launch of awesomize.me, we have changed the main message on our homepage many times. None of them was able to convey the message clearly until our most recent posting which has already increased our user registration by 20% since we took it live 24 hours ago. Thanks to the advice of Craig Newmark, the founder of  Craigslist.

I have followed Craig for years, but I finally met him late last year during the FedTalks 2010 event in downtown DC 🙂  I managed to take 10 minutes of his time during the break to yap about awesomize.me and the business model for the company which was scheduled to be launched in about a month. One minute after my yapping, like a good doctor, he gave me the good news and the bad news.

The bad news was that my idea of creating a directory of influential people was not quite original. He told me that there were other sites that have been working on a similar concept, but that they were all doing it using analytical methods. Then he gave me the good news.

The good news was that none of these sites have emerged as a winner in this space, and in fact he had doubts if any of them could survive. He especially liked the fact I was trying to get the user engagement to rate other users as opposed to doing it analytically, as he felt that this model would work if we implement the right rating algorithm.

Then he gave me a dose of reality (more bad news?). He warned me that the major challenge with awesomize.me would be getting users to register on another social media site.

His advice triggered me to use the experience I had gained with my first startup, telezoo.com, and move forward in implementing the awesomize.me model for the enterprise. This way companies would certainly get their clients to register and rate their companiesproducts and services on the platform .

Well, that was back in November of last year.  The decision to allow companies to create their page on awesomize.me attracted a decent number of companies to sign up  – about 400 of them including heavyweights such as AT&T, HP, Dell, Ascom, and The Huffington Post. Back in January of this year, we scaled the platform even further to allow the companies to create a page for their products and services.

My recent blog post entitled “It will be about PeopleRank and Crowdsourcing”, caught Craig’s attention over the weekend. He was patient and kind enough that for two days he exchanged emails back and forth with me, that finally made me realize that after all these years of running various startups; I am still a classic geek.  I did not have the right message on our homepage to tell the new users what our product does. I was so tempted to include the screen shot of my message exchange with Craig here, but I would feel like an idiot now that I have been reading our email thread a few times.

In a nutshell, he kept asking me what awesomize.me does.  I kept going all over the map, but failed to explain in a few simple bullet points what awesomize.me actually does. Anyway, I think we now have the right message on the homepage. You check it out for yourself here and let me know what you think:

Here was the main message on our homepage BEFORE my recent talk with Craig:

Here is our new message on our homepage AFTER my recent talk with Craig:

The new message has already increased our user registration rate by 20%. Now all we need is more coverage, more registrations and more funding to grow the business!

Feel free to connect with me via awesomize.me

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About Elias Shams
I have been a serial entrepreneur in telecom and social media space for past 12 years or so. I hold a M.S. degree in Telecommunication Engineering from the George Washington University and a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland. I’ve lived and worked in many countries and cities including London England, Tehran Iran, Bonn Germany, Paris France, Alicante Spain, Delhi India, and my favorite of all Washington, DC of great US of A. Two of the greatest Washington, DC based companies I worked for and very proud of are Yurie Systems which was sold to Lucent in 1998 for $1.23 B and telezoo.com that I founded in 1999. I am currently the founder and awesomizer @ awesomize.me

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