Hello ! Who are you and what are you working on?
I am Usama Ejaz. I initially started about more than a year ago and am still working on SocialBu. SocialBu is a social media management and automation platform.
What motivated you to get started with? How did you come up with the idea?
First, when Facebook Groups were newly launched and were getting popular. I saw a Facebook group publishing tool that was too buggy but it still worked. I got an idea to make a better tool which also included scheduling. I built that and shared it for free. It gained many users but later I had to close it down because I didn’t have enough time to maintain it.
Sometime later, I used to manage multiple social media profiles and it was tiring to manage them all and I had very little time. I came across some social media management tools but they were either not according to my requirements or were too expensive.
I already had experience with social media marketing and their APIs and knew how it worked. I also knew that people will be interested in something like this. That’s how I started working on SocialBu.
Can you tell us the story of your business from idea to where you are now?
At first, I started developing the MVP during my free time. It was very simple and only had posts scheduling. I integrated Facebook and Twitter initially and later worked on the platform to add more features and integrations.
We launched publicly on Feb'2019. Since then, we have been adding new features every day and improving SocialBu.
What has been your biggest failure or struggle?
The biggest struggle was to find the initial set of users. We launched the initial version but It was simple. I didn’t have any mailing list or audience to share the website with. It has hard to gain initial traction. Luckily, we got some users who were willing to test it out and also give feedback.
And what has been your biggest achievement or success?
The biggest achievement was when our customers reached out to us and gave positive feedback. It felt really great when I saw that our customers are loving what we built. That gave me more energy and motivation to further improve it and delight the customers even more.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
At launch, I submitted the site to BetaList. It was featured on BetaList and we gained some initial users. We also participated in micro-communities on Quora, Facebook groups, Reddit, and some forums. It was very helpful in getting the initial users.
Describe the process of launching the business.
First, we started building the MVP. Meanwhile, we got our company incorporated, applied for the payment gateway account, applied for review for social media APIs, and so on. When we got everything ready, we launched and opened SocialBu for the public.
Did you use Betalist or PH or other Startup Launching Platform for Launching ? How was that experience ?
We used BetaList and got featured on that. It was very helpful to get some initial users. We also submitted our website on other “startup directories”. We still have to launch on PH soon :)
What’s your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?
Our business model is subscription-based. We have monthly and yearly subscriptions. We are mainly focusing on organic ways to acquire customers.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and obstacles you’ve overcome? What are your goals for the future?
Starting a company is not that easy. You only get to experience it when you do it. Managing everything was a challenge: team, marketing, growth; but I am glad I learned and have been able to do that. Currently, I am trying to get about 1000 agency users for SocialBu. My goal for the future is to make SocialBu enterprise-ready and boost our growth.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We are doing good today. I will say we are still in our "starting" phase. The future will be our actual "growth" phase. We are slowly catching up and reaching the speed that we want to go with. The future looks bright but to get there, we have to be patient.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
It’s very hard and tricky to manage people. Your company is the representation of your people. Your customer support (and the personal touch in it) is VERY IMPORTANT; it is what can turn your users into your fans.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
- PHP, Laravel
- ActiveCampaign for email lists
- Woodpecker for cold mailing
- Helpscout for customer support
- Google Apps for email hosting
- Mailgun for transactional emails
- DigitalOcean for servers
- Trello for tasks tracking
- Discord for team communication
- Stripe for payments
- and of-course, SocialBu for social media :)
Who’s your most inspirational CEO or founder?
I don’t have one name for this answer. These are the names I would like to mention here:
Matt Mullenweg of WordPress, Joel Gascoigne of Buffer, Guillermo Rauch of ZEIT, Scott Farquhar of Atlassian, Jack Ma, Elon Musk, and Sundar Pichai.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
The Lean Startup, Backlinko blog (best for SEO), IndieHackers (the people there are very helpful), Reddit, and Google of-course :)
What’s your advice for fellow aspiring entrepreneur who are just starting out?
Make sure you validate your idea before working on your MVP. After the product-market fit, try to have some audience BEFORE your initial launch. This is important so you can have some users right at the launch testing/using your product.