This article was written by Yoav Farbey, computer science graduate and analyst for Hailo Network, which matches passengers and licensed taxi drivers using mobile technologies. He is also founder of mobile marketing agency Fibixio. Fibixio uses a wide range of mobile marketing technologies, including SMS marketing and mobile applications, to generate profits for its clients.
Q: What was your first business venture and when did you start-up?
A: My first business venture was Fibixio Ltd, a mobile marketing agency, which I started in late 2009.
Q: Has running your own business always been part of your plans?
A: It has always been an ambition of mine. I have always wanted to create a product that delivers value and to build a business around that product, and this is still one of my greatest aspirations.
Q: What were the biggest challenges you faced as a student entrepreneur?
A: The biggest challenge was managing work/life balance. For me, it was clear to prioritise my university work over my business work, and my business work over going out with my friends. So it was finding the balance of completing tasks I needed to do with their deadline, and making sure I had time to see friends.
Q: Throughout your education, do you feel that you were taught enough about entrepreneurship and business to get you started or did you have to teach yourself?
A: I felt I was taught a fair amount. Is there ever ‘enough’ to be taught? At university I studied computer science and every year there I had a unit to do with career development or entrepreneurship. I feel I was lucky to get that, I know other courses at the university do not get such a luxury.
Q: Do you think that a person has to have certain characteristics to be an entrepreneur?
A: To be a successful entrepreneur you need to have a determination about your business idea and the drive to keep it going. You need to be good at networking; this was a characteristic that I had to develop, so I just went out there and practised.
Q: You have developed a couple of businesses in mobile technology and marketing. Why did you choose to go in to this industry?
A: At the time the mobile industry seemed fresh, new space for technology to go. When I was doing my research, the market space was very competitive, but there was room for a niche business to grow in this industry.
Q: Do you plan on exploring any other industries in the future? Have you got any other business ventures lined up?
A: At the moment I am still working in the mobile industry. I don’t have any new ventures lined up, so I can’t tell. However, I have found that many businesses are turning to mobile, to create new ways for clients to interact with business. So I will be surprised if my next venture won’t involve mobile technology.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for your businesses Fibixio and Appiversary?
A: Fibixio started from an idea developed by me and my business partner, the idea was for small retailers to have a mobile application for their store. To keep our finance and business going we started to take on other mobile development and that formed our agency. Appiversary was started at Fibixio. The idea came from experimenting with O2, BlueVia APIs, and building a business idea around sending text messages.
Q: When and how did you know that your idea was ready to become a business?
A: At Bristol University, where I studied, there is a student committee called Basecamp. Their role was to advise and support student business at the university. When they approved of our business plan for funding I believed the idea was ready to become a business.
Q: What is the best thing about being young entrepreneur?
A: Working with an awesome team. The people that worked with me were, and still are, great. As an entrepreneur you can decide who is in your team, but that doesn’t always mean that they’ll get on and deliver the work you need from them. I managed to put together a really great, hardworking team and I am really grateful to everyone I worked with.
Q: What is the worst thing about being an entrepreneur?
A: There is not a lot time to relax, especially before business or product launches. Being a business owner meant that I was always thinking about the business, what needed to be done, what needed to be improved, worrying about the market and the competition. So I always had something I needed to be doing, without much of a break.
Q: Do you feel starting up a business whilst you were a student restricted you from enjoying yourself as much as the other students?
A: As I mentioned before, starting a business and finding a balance between socialising and work was a challenge. However, I did enjoy starting and running a business as a student, so I don’t think it took away enjoyment at university. My experiences were different to other students, but I feel I made the most out of my time and of the support networks available to me as a student.
Q: What advice would you give to businesses that may be struggling in the recession?
A: Stay focused on your core business, take the extra time to make sure the business decisions you make are right for your business and the market, and take the economic climate into consideration. It’s easy to lose track of your core business and you need to be careful not to do so. I’d say make a business plan and try to work with it, developing and extending it when necessary, but ultimately let it be your business’s guideline.
Q: Has there ever been a time when you have regretted becoming an entrepreneur? What motivates you to continue when times get tough?
A: I never regretted starting a business; I have learned many things that are heavily documented in my personal blog. The things that I experienced opened up many opportunities for me and have helped me develop as a person and as a businessman.
Q: If you could give future young entrepreneurs three pieces of advice what would they be?
A: The biggest lesson I have learned from my experiences was the value of research before you start a business. I would advise to spend time researching the market segment you are going into. I would also advise building a good profile on your competitors, and to use research tools to find valuable information about the market and your competitors.