The man behind our featured company in this week’s interview section is Ben Ng.
Ben Ng is the founder of Available app. Available app is a social employment platform that connects freelancers and employers.
For more details, carry on reading this interview.
Ben was born and raised in Hong Kong but he has been a resident of NYC since 2001.
He started his college education majoring in Computer Science. However in his junior year, he switched to film.
According to Ben, it was a difficult decision to make – because of his unparalleled passion in both Computer Science and Film.
“I know after 9 years of a film career I made the right choice.”
He said in our pre-interview chit chat.
During his career, Ben always goes all out on every project he participated in. He has worked on various projects from smaller projects to larger ones like The Amazing Spider-Man, Noah, Ninja Turtles, and Daredevil (TV Series).
Available app is the embodiment of efficiency, which is also a big part of Ben’s personality. And as Ben Ng put it:
“Efficiency is an important part of my personality but it’s also a large part of what makes my app so useful in the freelancing industry.“
On top of his vast range of experience in the film industry, Ben has proven his efficiency by developing Available App on his own for the past year. Until recently some of his friends came along to help him with coding and marketing of Available app.
Let’s get down to the Interview.
As a start, can you introduce Available App to the readers – what it is and what it does?
Available App is a social employment platform that connects freelancers and employers in real time, making finding jobs and hiring easier.
What’s the main concept behind Available App? What pain points does it solve?
All freelancers know how short most projects can be; the average freelancing job can last a day to a few days to a few months, and before you know it, one job has ended and you’re already back looking for the next one.
The other side of the coin is being the employer constantly looking for manpower – always having to keep track of who is available and when; not to mention having lots of other stuff to handle.
Many people prefer to work with who they are already familiar with and more often than not, that is not the case. So, unfortunately you may not know who you’re actually working with until the day of the job.
Right now there is no efficient and effective system for finding work and hiring freelancers; the whole process simply takes too much time and effort.
So with Available, you streamline the hiring process by finding out who is available with one click. You can also update your schedule anytime and the amazing thing is now everyone on your contact list will know that you are available – no more mass texting and waiting for answer.
How do the users choose their jobs / hire their freelancer? Would it show multiple options and users can decide which one that they want to work with?
The user would have more choices now since you can see all the jobs available among your friends through notification functions.
Just one click and you can even search for jobs outside of your normal network but still within the 6 degrees of separation.
Is there any possibility to cancel the job or event? If yes, is there any ‘penalty’ for users who do so?
Yes, the users can cancel the job they posted at any time.
As we know, freelance work can change at a moment’s notice. That’s why we shouldn’t penalize the user for that.
How long did it take for you and your team to build Available App?
It took us a full year from the initial idea stage to the first version arriving in the App Store.
It is always a work in process; my team is working on improving it as we speak.
How do you differentiate your app from the competitors? What makes Available App stand out from the crowd?
There are traditional websites like Freelancer.com, Upwork, Indeed and the old school Craigslist.
They are all great websites but what they don’t understand is how freelancing employment really works.
At Available App, we think of freelancers first, we march on the front lines with them because we ARE them. We understand that networking is 90% of finding every job; rarely do we go apply for a job post from a stranger. So we connect people through the people we already know and trust.
What is your next plan for Available App?
The app is still new to the market; it is always a work in progress. We are still testing what works and what doesn’t.
We are gathering user feedbacks everyday so we can build a better core of functions for users. It is better for both developers and users. And when we start to build other platforms, we will have a model to follow.
There are about 54 millions in US now, by 2020 there will be 50% of American workforce freelancing. In order to handle the workload, a better employment system is a must.
Ben and his team has been working really hard to develop Available app in order to create the ideal platform which not only connects freelancers and employers, but also increases the range of connections on both sides.
We salute the hard work, and we would to give Available. app a shout out.
That concludes our interview with Ben Ng, the brilliant mind behind Available. app that will bring freelancers and employers into one platform.
If you’re a freelancer looking for a job, or an employer looking to hire freelancers, available app is definitely the app you can count on to find manage, and optimize your work.
Access is a mobile aggregator for equity & debt crowdfunding deals, simplifying the user’s search for the right deals.
In other words, Access gathers crowdfunding platforms and private investment deals in an app.
There haven’t been many investment apps made by other developers. The concept of the stock market in a mobile app itself is still rather unique.
That’s why BreadnBeyond made Access a simple and attractive explainer video so that the concept is easily digested by viewers.
Q: Was this your first time making a video?
A: It was the first time I made a fully animated video. We had used other ‘do it yourself’ platforms for videos in the past.”
I can confirm that there are hundreds of “DIY” animated video tools out there. They’re good and practical, I give you that.
But those tools work only for people who have at least basic knowledge of graphic design and animation.
Even if some people have what it takes to use those tools, the end result might not be as good as desired.
Not to mention that not everyone has the time it takes to make an animated video.
These DIY tools, despite their practicality, are missing some features used by “heavier” softwares such as Adobe Illustrators and Adobe After Effect, which our team use on daily basis.
BreadnBeyond, as a dedicated explainer video company, has a team of illustrators and animators who have been dealing with graphics design not only for a living but also as their passion.
That’s why BreadnBeyond doesn’t take Access’s project (or any project for that matter) for granted. We do it out of love for our drawing tablets and pens, so to speak.
The other platforms were cheaper, but the finished product didn’t come out nearly as nice, and so using these do-it-yourself sites had an adverse effect on our brand.
The next question for Aaron was rather deep and technical. But Aaron sure did know where he was going with his explainer video project when he pitched the project to us.
Q: Did you consider other video styles? If yes, why did you pick the style you did?
A: Since we are talking about investing we had to balance between making our video serious enough to show that we are a credible company, but at the same time didn’t want to make our brand appear stuffy, intimidating, or disconnected.
He knows precisely what an explainer video is all about. Investing and crowdfunding really could sound stuffy and disconnected if you think about it.
Take a look at this sentence I pulled from a website in a similar niche as Access: “…identify and qualify your orders executed outside the National Best Bid or Offer (NBBO) by viewing the Price Improvement information displayed for your orders.”
Quite stuffy and intimidating, don’t you think?
We felt an animated cartoon was ideal for sharing key parts of our value proposition while also showing that our app is approachable and easy to use.
In order to grab people’s attention and to give the impression that Access is really user-friendly, Aaron chose a cartoon video.
There are many variations of animation styles you can choose from when you make an explainer video. These animation styles are highly flexible and adjustable to any concept, really.
But if you want the best results, you have to know which one suits your product/service concept best.
A:The video is prominently listed on the homepage of our website since it explains what we do so well. If a picture is worth a thousand words then a video is worth tens of thousands. We also posted the video on YouTube and social media to make it more discoverable and shareable.
The decision Aaron made was on point and we’d like to give him a thumbs-up for that.
Taking a look at Access’s homepage, my first impression was “Neat!”
Another thumbs-up for the clean and tidy website design of Access. It’s definitely a smart decision to put the explainer video in the middle. I noticed it instantly when I opened up their website.
Q: Do you consider your video a success? If yes, can you elaborate on why it is successful?
A: Yes, it definitely has been a success. A key influencer in our industry said that while people message him all the time asking for advice and to partner together (most of which he ignores), he responded to us and wanted to partner together purely because of how awesome our video is!
We make our videos with skills and quality. We know it’s only a matter of time before one of our clients feel the impact of a well-made animated explainer video.
Getting noticed by a key influencer in a niche is the ultimate goal, or a holy grail if you will, when you are producing an animated explainer video.
Therefore, we are (and have been) trying our best to help our clients to get the holy grail of content marketing. When it does happen we feel accomplished as a B2B company.
Trusting us to produce their explainer video paid off for Access.
Our client’s happiness is our happiness as well. If Access finds the video working out great for them, it’s our pleasure to have the bragging right that BreadnBeyond, in a way, played a part in making that happen.
However, we merely facilitated Aaron’s great initiative to make his company grow more by producing an animated explainer video.
In the right hands, an animated explainer video can work wonders. Aaron was more than good to execute the other steps along the way.
One of the best places to publish video content, whether an animated explainer video or any other form, is social media.
It’s a bit tricky though: if you share it with the wrong audience, the effect could be adverse for your company.
A: We do our best to trace video views to app downloads (customers). So far we have had hundreds of video views, many of whom went to the app store and downloaded our app.
Q: What did you learn throughout the video creation process?
A: I learned how many elements go into making a great video – the script, the voice actors, the music, the characters – and that all of them must integrate well together and focus on the same goal to be effective at amplifying the message of the video and my company.
Making an animated explainer video isn’t the hardest thing in the world though the process can be a little more than complicated.
First of all, we have to make a script that is short and interesting enough to keep the audience hooked, while explaining the product or service clearly. The hardest part is reaching an agreement with clients about the script.
People think differently. Some business people aren’t the best to discuss with, but working with Access was quite an exception.
The voice actor choice can be tricky at times. It’s not easy to find actors with the right voice to match the script AND who have years of experience working on explainer videos instead of radio commercials.
Luckily, we have skilled and talented voice actors who have been working with us for years. That makes our job much easier.
Other technical aspects such as character design, animation rendering, and music embedding are handled skillfully by our team.
Our skills didn’t develop overnight, obviously. How we got to this point is a long story of 7 years and over 2,000 projects of ups and downs.
Q: Do you have plans for creating more videos in the future?
A: Yes, both for Access Invest and future businesses. Videos are a great way to attract new customers, educate prospective buyers, and even pitch to investors.
Videos are indeed a great way to advertise your business. They have become the majority of Internet’s content and they are still rising in numbers.
Instead of making our videos alone, we make sure that our clients are involved, or at the very least, follow up with the process.
We do that to provide opportunities for our clients to improve the video we are making for them, since they are the ones who show us the way to reach their audiences.
Whether it is to attract new customers, educate audience, or pitch concept/idea to investors, the best way to produce an explainer video is to always work alongside clients to make sure their animated explainer video projects work out the way they want it.
Q: Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
A: I was pretty well planned from the beginning (in terms of having a script and idea of what I wanted), but I wish I would have known how many video/animation/voice talent/music options were out there and how detailed I could get about deciding what I wanted. The sheer number of choices can be both overwhelming and exciting at the same time. If I had planned the details a little better I would have had my video out in the market even faster.
Preparation helps explainer video companies, a great deal in terms of time.
Aaron came to us prepared: he knew where he was going with his idea and concept of explainer videos.
Among the 5 key components that make up an awesome explainer video, the script is fundamental.
That’s why taking time to discuss the script and plan ahead for the design, voiceover, and animation process is the best way to start off an animated explainer video project.
Planning a DIY explainer video is not easy.
At the very least, it requires you to browse the internet for hours to find the voice actor, music, design, and suitable animation style for your product or service.
That is, if you don’t count how long it takes to come up with a great idea or concept.
On our separate interview section with Aaron, we asked him a few questions regarding the explainer video.
Q: What do you want to achieve with this video? Is it to increase your conversion rate on a specific page?
A: “With this video we wanted to explain what our mobile app was in a simple and straightforward way and get people to visit the app -store to download the app.
Not only did we post the video on YouTube/s/Social mMedia pages, but we also embedded it into our homepage so people would understand our product and download it (increasing conversion of website visits to app store downloads).”
Explainer videos or videos in general are very mobile and shareable across different platforms on the internet.
To optimize this potential, posting an explainer video to different websites is definitely a good idea in addition to embedding your explainer video in a landing page/homepage.
That led us to the next question:
Q: Other than on your website, where else did you use the video? (an exact URL would be nice)
Q: Could you please share some information about your website, mainly pageviews in a period and conversion rates for a specific call-to-action?
A: “Since launching the video, we on average have ~120 unique site visitors each week and 64 click-thrus to our app in the app store (so around 50%), and around 45% of those who visit the appstore actually download the app.”
That means since they launched the video, Access has 53% click-through-rate and 45% download-rate; that’s a 23.8% visitors-to-download conversion rate.
In extreme cases, free apps conversion rate could reach 30%, but noting the fact that Access hasn’t implemented any call-to-action button to their home page, this is an excellent start.
Once the call-to-action button is implemented by the folks at Access, the conversion rate might just jump through the roof.
This is not our work alone. Aaron played a big role in the production process and that definitely resulted in an amazing explainer video.
Aaron and his team has invested a great amount of work in developing Access app. That’s why it is an awesome app on its own.
But we are here to help them climb even higher from where they started.
Once again, we’re very glad that the explainer video we produced works well for our client and of course, we look forward to working with you!
Don’t expect a poorly-made animated explainer video to stand out and be noticed by the biggest influencers in your niche.
What matters most is who you share it with and where you publish it.
When you have a great-looking video, make sure you make it worth its weight in gold by reaching out. Don’t keep it hidden.
Sentoso Budiyanto started out teaching as private tutor at the age of 15. It was his family’s economy that forced him to work for extra money. Soon after he grew passion in teaching, not only that but his skills and knowledge also sharpen over time.
Unlike most people who think math is a monster, he fell in love with it since the second grade of his elementary school. Kids are playful in their nature, and he understand that they should not be forced to learn math on their early age. They should learn by playing and that is one of the values that he believes in.
Chains of events lead to 2007 when he started off Koobits to pursue his passion, which is to make his country a life-long learner.
Although his entry to education world was not exactly what he wanted, he fell in love with that field and now he is the owner of Koobits franchise in Indonesia.
As a start, can you introduce KooBits to the readers – what it is and what it does?
Koobits is digital learning company that started off in 2007. Its first products were digital library and digital journal for kids. With that, kids can compose their own journal/diary with many interesting pictures, music, or narration.
Early 2014, Koobits launched its newest and flagship product, ProblemSums, which emphasize on helping Primary students to excel in Math word problems. ProblemSums is also a digital learning platform, web-based, and has many interactive and social features.
It motivates children by providing 10 daily challenges generated by Koobits system, peer challenges to create competitive atmosphere, and homework that can be assigned by teachers or parents; all three features reward students with points that is constantly and digitally summarized, calculated, and displayed online in the leaderboard where all kids can monitor their ranks.
ProblemSums is designed to create a learning habit by giving off bite-size portion of Math problems, rather than assigning heavy assignment within a tense period of limited time. However, top students should worry of having overly easy Math problems because Koobits has also partnered with APMOPS that provides olympiad level questions – a collection over 19 years of experience in olympic competition.
Can you guide us through the process a little bit?
First of all, Koobits aim to work with schools, even though retail is also available. Why schools? Because competition needs community to work, and school is the best environment to achieve such goal. When a school agrees to invest in Koobits, Koobits will register the names of the school’s students in order to create a personal account for each student.
Koobits will also endorse the Math teachers with teacher accounts which they can use to monitor the students’ activities or to assign homeworks. When all the accounts are activated, then students can start practicing, playing, challenging for 1 year ahead before the accounts requires a renewal for the next level.
Students can log in anywhere, anytime, using any mean of smart gadget with internet connection. ProblemSums replaces the heavy and expensive books by compressing them into a tiny portable gadget in your kid’s hand.
KooBits is originally from Singapore and now expanding to neighboring countries like Malaysia and Philippines, and of course in Indonesia as well. The website stated that 1 in 4 Singapore primary school students are using KooBits ProblemSums to improve their maths. That’s pretty impressive. What do you think is KooBits’ greatest strength?
Its greatest strength is probably the ability to intrigues children to slowly but surely like Math. It has repackaged Math so nicely and fun that kids begin to learn Math without that negative feelings over it. This way, the overall performance of a school will improve evidently. Schools can not resist this. One by one they start incorporating Koobits as their extra curriculum ad-on.
Of all the things you mentioned, the gamification format is definitely an interesting way to learn Math. Can you give us an example of the games?
Yes, like I mentioned above, kids at that stage or age are very fond of competition and games. They often use their gadgets for non-learning activities, so Koobits intelligently bridges these two gaps. How about learning while playing? So Koobits creates features that provoke competition and a leaderboard to further boost their pride whenever they see their names on it.
Imagine playing online games and competing with your classmates, but somehow this is Math. You can also join special events like Boys vs Girls, School Wizards (school vs school), Hero of the Day, Zodiac Race, etc. All are carefully engineered to cater the kids enthusiasm in competition.
Based on your knowledge, is there a difference between Singapore and Indonesia in terms of the curriculum and syllabus in learning Math?
Definitely. Even the start of academic year is different too. That is why Koobits is committed to solve this issue. However, in term of curriculum, ID and SG are much different. For this time being, partner in ID focus on schools with singaporean curriculum first.
It is indeed segmented, but still very promising. We dream of tweaking the system so that the curriculum and syllabus can also answer to the local/national schools in the near future.
KooBits enables children to be more social with the ability to interact with local and also international users through a series of challenges. Apart from the social interaction and the fun, the challenge can also spark a competition between the children. What do you think the parents need to do to make sure the competition stays healthy for their own kid?
Parents need to understand that score is not everything. Score does not reflect hard work or intelligence. Thus, parents should never agree on spoonfeeding the kids with the final answer, just to get the kids to the top of leaderboard. Also, parents should encourage kids by accompanying them whenever they are playing Koobits.
Not only helping parents, KooBits can also be a part of a school’s curriculum. According to you, what does the interested schools have to prepare before welcoming KooBits to help the children?
Absolutely nothing. Hassle free, no training needed, no preps at all. Schools only need to give us the students’ name who are going to use Koobits. Please note this only works with Singaporean Schools because Koobits is already aligned with Singapore MOE syllabus.
KooBits allows parents and school transparency to keep the kid or student in track while using the software. Can you explain more about this?
Yes, since we are serving on a digital platform, everything is recorded digitally and live. Teachers have the teacher account, all statistics and reports are there. Parents can have their kids’ username and password to login, so they can check their kids’ activeness through the system dashboard or to assign HW manually.
We understand that KooBits use English as the main language. In the future, will it also be available in Indonesian language as well?
Let’s cross our fingers and hope it will happen in not-so-distant future. I want it to happen.
As an addition, other than Math, is there another subject that you think will be less of a headache for the kids in Indonesia with the help of a service like KooBits?
I can not think of anything else but English study and Science. Maybe Geography can also add up.
Arvind Venkataraman met his friend and co-founder Shameel Thawerbhoy during their study at Southern Methodist University. They visited a school in West Dallas and realized how different the school was from the one they attended at Northern Dallas.
Both of them quickly realized they could do something to help.
Arvind hated math because his teacher forced him to remember, while he is more the ‘learning-by-doing’ type of kid. Experienced in being students, Arvind and Shameel came up with the idea of personalized learning as they wanted to help students learn better by personalizing their study method.
It was called Apollo Tutors.
The name Apollo itself was inspired by the Greek God of Light, and they metaphorize knowledge with light. Besides that, Apollo is the name of NASA’s moon expedition and they wanted to associate their company with world’s frontier in space exploration.
As a start, can you introduce Apollo Tutors to the readers – what it is and what it does?
Apollo Tutors is an education social enterprise that provides private tutoring and tech solutions to promote social responsibility in educational outcomes. We provide private tutoring for over 200 subjects for students pre-k through college in 6 cities across Texas by using a personalized learning approach. Our social enterprise model distinguishes us from competitors; every hour we tutor a client, we tutor a child for free in urban school districts- We call it Buy One, Teach One.
In the website (and also just now, if you do mention it), I read that Apollo is a social enterprise, an organization that has a commitment to social responsibility where profit meets purpose. Can you share the ‘Apollo ways’ in living the title?
We promote social responsibility through our Buy One, Teach One Program. We work closely with local schools and nonprofits to provide volunteer opportunities for students and individuals to mentor children in urban school districts.
To date, we’ve provided over 3500 hours of free tutoring to the community. Some of our partners have included helping gifted and talented students print research books, teaching 6th graders pre-algebra concepts, and helping elementary schoolers practice their math and reading.
Shameel and I also volunteer at a school in West Dallas every week. 20% of our free tutoring comes from our current tutors or management, who share our mission of social responsibility.
It’s enlightening, what Apollo had decided to do. Is there a background story that started the mission?
It was almost by accident that we founded Apollo and the Buy One Teach One program. We first started Apollo Tutors as a way to make pocket money, when one of our original co-founders who is no longer with the company came to us with the idea of starting a tutoring company. Growing up in the Dallas metroplex, Shameel and I both went to great schools, but were alarmed when visiting schools in neighboring Dallas ISD where schools didn’t really have an engaging way for students to learn skills that were missed in the classroom. Seeing these conditions first-hand inspired our social mission to use our business as a platform to improve student outcomes.
Can you guide briefly guide us through the usual process in Apollo Tutors?
We mainly serve 2 types of customers – parents of K-12 students, and college students so i will guide you through the process for both types of students.
Parents contact us or register a profile on our website, letting us know their student’s school information, the classes they are looking for help with, their schedule, and their learning style.
College students usually register directly and enter their classes and availability to their profile.
Our matching algorithm takes over from here and searches our database of tutors for matches who live near the student, are proficient in the subject, share a similar schedule, and also share a similar learning style.
Once tutors are notified, the first tutor to respond to the opportunity gets connected to the student. We are able to match students in a matter of minutes as for some subjects it can get competitive.
Tutors then communicate with the student to figure out a time to meet, and after meeting with the student the tutor writes a note to reflect on how the session went and any suggestions for improvement. Finally, We’ll send students a survey to get their feedback.
How do you choose the tutors? Is there a standard that each applicant have to pass, and other requirements such as a teaching permit or certification, or do you see above that as well – like their passion for working alongside Apollo’s mission?
We hire tutors who are undergraduates, graduate students, or working professionals. We require a minimum GPA of 3.3 out of 4.0, and for certain math subjects we require a proficiency test. Above the academics we also value having a good fit- some applicants are very bright academically, but lack strong communication skills. We look for candidates that have a genuine passion for learning and working alongside our mission as well. Many of our tutors express an interest in volunteering and they also contribute about 10% of our free tutoring hours. We also have a referral program for tutors and provide referral bonuses to tutors for suggesting potential candidates.
And how did you do the pairing between the students and the tutors?
In our early days, Shameel and I would match students and tutors based off the information they provided in their tutor profiles. As we built our website we developed our matching algorithm to take the system we were using and standardizing it for different locations. Based off of a student’s learning needs we match them with a tutor who 1) is near them or attends the same university, 2) has mastered the subject material, 3) shares a similar scheduled, and 4) shares a similar learning style. The matching is competitive where only the best tutors get matched with students, and as we learn more about the traits that make good tutors we are able to incorporate this into our algorithm as well.
Now that we know more about Apollo Tutors, what do you think sets Apollo apart in the industry?
What sets us apart from our competitors in the industry are our purpose, our variety of services, and our flexible matching system. As a social enterprise, we are focused on not only providing premier service but also to make a difference. We also offer tutoring for a broad range of subjects, whether it is early childhood phonics, high school algebra, or Differential Equations. Unlike other tutoring centers or marketplaces who provide fixed schedules, we also offer flexible scheduling and on-campus tutoring for college students. Our matching system is able to find the right tutor for students fast, and to ensure a good fit between students and tutors.
One of the challenge in school now, other than the obvious ones like Mathematics and Science related subjects, is the foreign language class. Based on your experience, can you share the Apollo way on how students can sharpen their Spanish or French – for example?
Learning Foreign languages requires a lot of immersions to reinforce the language. You have to train yourself to “think in the language” so that you are not translating and are natively practicing the grammar and concepts.
What we’ve found is that practicing conversations is the best way to sharpen a language. Whether this is watching movies in the language, reading the newspaper, or going out to the market and speaking the language, and speaking with a conversation partner help tremendously to focus on the language because you are not only learning from each other but can directly apply the language to your situation.
While a student may not recognize a certain tense or verb when they are in class, if they talk through a scenario, let’s say bargaining with a shopkeeper, they may discover they know more than they think just by thinking on the spot instead of translating. We also love the app DuoLingo- I use this whenever I have a break to practice my pronunciation for Spanish.
What is your next plan for Apollo Tutors?
We plan to scale our private tutoring arms from 6 colleges in 5 cities to 20 colleges in 10 cities over the upcoming year. We are forging partnerships to facilitate volunteers and nonprofits. Next year our platform will track and measure over 100,000 volunteer hours.
We are working on using our matching algorithm to match volunteers with nonprofits that have opportunities and to help schools get insights from their after school programs.
In the long term, we aim to become more than a tutoring company to evolve into an education-technology company by applying technology and data-driven decision making to the education industry and pave a new generation of personalized learning, bringing students together across the nation.
Thank you, Arvind, for sharing with us. Visit www.apollotutors.org to find out more about Apollo Tutors
Vassilena Valchanova’s entry into the digital world probably wasn’t a calculated decision, yet she’s become the person in charge of managing communications and marketing strategy at Innologica.
Some people recognize her as a lady with a big heart and an energetic spirit. Even in high-school she was already determined to pursue her passion in communications, and later joined State Agency for Youth and Sports as an interpreter. While studying public relations at Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski, she also worked with a local advertising agency and volunteered as a PR-coordinator for a student association before she took her Master’s in international communication.
She kept doing PR, event management and marketing work overtime, then finally ended up with a strong bias towards online communications and an interest in tech, which led her to her current path.
How did you end up working on Inoreader / Innologica?
I already used the platform before becoming part of Innologica. Then, finally, in the start of this year the need for a dedicated communications specialist arose and I had the chance to join the team.
How would you describe Inoreader?
We call Inoreader a “content reader”, as it expands beyond your typical RSS subscription service to give you a range of tools for content discovery, curation and sharing. With Inoreader you can follow your favorite blogs, get the news right when they appear online, monitor brand mentions or topic keywords, follow social profiles, searches and much more.
What’s the main concept behind Inoreader? What pain points does it solve?
We built Inoreader to fight one of the greatest issues people face online – information overload. In a typical day, you probably visit at least a couple of news sites, some influencer blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, Google+ searches, you find the odd link that sounds interesting, but you want to read it later and inevitably forget… It can be really overwhelming! With Inoreader you don’t have to scramble for information and visit all sites one at a time – content comes straight to you the moment it appears, and waits for you in a neat and clean reading environment.
How long did it take for you and your team to build Inoreader?
As most news junkies, we were devastated to hear Google were closing Google Reader. The news of the beloved reader’s demise came in March 2013 and in the beginning of April we already had a running public version – it was largely a solo effort by Yordan Yordanov, our founder. Two and a half years down the line, Inoreader has grown a lot, with one complete redesign and a host of new features – and we still consider it a project in development, constantly trying to make it better and delight new customers. Now everyone in our company has some role to play in developing Inoreader.
I heard Inoreader won 3 Bulgarian Web Awards 2015. Congratulations! Can you tell us the details of each award, and how did Inoreader achieve it?
This was a great accomplishment for us, as it’s the largest web competition on home turf, and it’s also the first competition we took part in. We won 3 awards out of the 3 categories we entered. Our iOS app won the award for Best Mobile App. We got an award for Single Page Application – Inoreader relies on Ajax asynchronous loading, so all the application code is loaded when you first open the page and then we only load the content data. The award I deem most impressive is the Complex Web Project award – there was great competition there, as Bulgaria has some of the best programming talent in Europe, but we still managed to take the prize home.
How do you differentiate yourself from the competitors? What makes Inoreader stand out from the crowd?
I always like to say that the best way to develop and market a product is when you yourself are its target audience – this largely applies to Inoreader. The platform is geared towards those who value efficiency and presents them with a full set of power tools for managing the information flow. There are a lot of services that can serve a decent role for news aggregation, but I think Inoreader stands out when it comes to power users and content curators.
How much user base does Inoreader currently have?
There are hundreds of thousands of registered users, but what personally strikes me the most is the sheer amount of information going through Inoreader – there are already 6 billion articles in our index, with 10 million new items coming in each day.
How do you think the lives of people have changed since they start using Inoreader? How do you think it makes them feel?
We have some very vocal users, which helps us know for sure when our audience is happy or dissatisfied with us. The best kind of compliment we get is that now people can’t imagine their daily information diet without Inoreader. It’s very satisfying to know you empower people to do more and find great content they’re interested in.
What’s the next step for Inoreader?
We’re constantly working on developing the platform further. After all, the Internet doesn’t stay still, so why should we? Currently, we’re focused on extending the mix of options for different use cases – it’s amazing to see how all pieces fit together to make the lives of users better.
Thank you, Vassilena, for sharing your thoughts with us. Visit www.inoreader.com to find out more about the service, and find out more about Vassilena’s practice through her personal website.
Today we have a special guest, and we are lucky to have an opportunity to interview Gábor Margés, Head Officer of MeetJune.
MeetJune bridges the gap between travellers and locals. It allows you to meet passionate people who will offer you a real taste of their home cities via meals, homestays and activities.
Let’s find out more about this new travel platform!
Andre: Hi Gábor! It’s great to have you here. Can you please introduce yourself so that our readers know who you are, and what you do?
Gábor: My name is Gábor Margés and I`am the Head Officer and Co-founder of MeetJune. I have roots in Asia and the Middle East. I travelled the world, from crossing the South American continent, to an Everest Base Camp trek, from camping with nomadic people in Tibet to visiting the largest salt plain in the world. I`am a successful creative travel entrepreneur for over 5 years and a passionate advocate of the many benefits of the sharing economy.
Andre: How would you describe MeetJune?
Gábor: MeetJune is a global travel platform where we connect travellers and local hosts from around the world. The experiences our local hosts offer fall into 3 categories: meals – homestays – activities. MeetJune is about connecting real people. It’s about experiencing the most genuine and amazing highlights of a city with an insider to experience a city to the fullest.
Andre: What inspired you to create MeetJune, is it based on personal experience?
Gábor: The idea for MeetJune emerged during a journey through Brazil, where I was welcomed into the home of a local and broke bread with his family. The intimate experience left us both as friends and greatly impacted me. Hence, MeetJune was born out of passion for travel and the belief that local sharing holds the future of travel.
MeetJune wants to bridge the gap between travellers and locals and by doing so, empower passionate people from all over the world to become micro entrepreneurs and earn a sustainable income. MeetJune is about connecting real people. It’s about experiencing the most genuine and amazing highlights of a city with an insider to experience a city to the fullest.
Andre: I see that MeetJune’s business concept is unique and new, can you tell me who is MeetJune’s target market? And how do you reach them?
Gábor: We identified a specific target group that would be receptive to the experiences of MeetJune, the “Global Experience Seekers”. Global Experience Seekers can be anybody above the age of 16. The group is defined by their focus on unique, involving and personal travel experiences. They are more informed, interested and curious about potential destinations and don’t want to follow the beaten path. They are mainly based in Europe, North America, Asia and Oceania and are less affected by traditional barriers to travel such as distance and time.
Our core group within the Global Experience Seekers are the “Millennial’s” which form the next rising wave of consumers. They are formed by both genders and are in between the age of 16 and 34. They share 3 key characteristics:
– Explorers, never tourists – Customization is key – Technology enables communication and more
In order to reach our target audience, we will implement a two-part marketing strategy on multiple, self-reinforcing channels. Three of the most important non-organic paid channels at the start will be SEM (Search Engine Marketing), Media Bannering on Third party sites and SMM (Social Media Marketing).
Andre: Interesting, and since I’d say that this is a new concept from the usual BNB, do you see any competition for MeetJune?
Gábor: Though we don’t have like-for-like competitors, we do have competitors for our individual offerings of meals, homestays, and activities. Most of these companies are experience focused, rather than people-focused. This presents an opportunity to further define ourselves against the travel sharing industry by focusing on the people/hosts and intimate interactions with travellers.
Andre: What makes MeetJune different from them?
Gábor:- MeetJune is a highly scalable, global company. There are no constraints
– MeetJune is a highly scalable, global company. There are no constraints for geographic expansion, as all transactions happen in English and online. The expectation is to see exponential growth driven by the snow-ball effect;
– We are one of the first global travel platforms to directly connect travellers and passionate local hosts; and the first one to offer 3 services (meals, homestays and activities);
– We are people-focused instead of experience-focused. Our concept is all about heart and authenticity.
Andre: You hired us to produce an explainer video for MeetJune. What made you interested in creating an explainer video in the first place and what kind of benefit do you see from having one?
Gábor: An explainer video is in my opinion the best tool to inform people about what it is that MeetJune offers. We are better able to clarify the objective of our product and thus increase web traffic.
Andre: What do you want to achieve with MeetJune this year?
Gábor: Our goal is to create a deep-rooted foundation to support our business growth and make sure we constantly deliver best-in-class services to our hosts, travellers and partners.
Our first 3 launch cities are Amsterdam, Buenos Aires and Istanbul. 6 months after we launched those 3 cities, we will expand with 3 new cities every 3 months, closing the year with 9 host cities. Asia is high on our list and we would be thrilled if we can find passionate local hosts on Bali, in Bangkok, Hong Kong among other cities who would like to offer meals, homestays and activities.
Andre: Gábor, many thanks for your time and we appreciate your willingness in taking part in this interview. I wish you great success for MeetJune, and I’m looking forward to use it on my next adventure!
The founder of Bread n’ Beyond, Andre Oentoro is an entrepreneur committed to creating simple, elegant products that endure. Price of Business’ host, Kevin Price is an award winning broadcast journalist and a syndicated columnist, business and technology writer for Huffington Post and some other media.
The Price of Business is the longest running show of its kind which air on Bloomberg’s Home in Houston, Business Talk 1110 AM KTEK. For the show, Kevin interviewed Andre about an often stressful issue in the startup world: pitching to the CEOs. Here Andre tells how he embrace success by using entirely different approaches to the open-ended challenge of starting (and maintaining) a business.
Entrepreneurship can be a rocky path, and it certainly doesn’t come with a handbook. In the interview Andre asked to address the topic of “Creative Values.” Why do we do what we do? How do we fight for our work? How do we get our voices heard? What does it actually mean to push things forward, to create entirely new communities and markets?
– You don’t need to live in North America to make an impact. Andre suggested that each part of the world needs entrepreneurs and creatives. Bread n’ Beyond is based in Indonesia, but around 70% of their clients are North American company.
– Be different. It’s hard to make an impact on the world while falling in line with everyone around you. It’s easy to categorize others, and it’s even easier to seek categorization ourselves. Andre try not to fall in these traps, he said, “Most of our competitor just like to work with big clients. We like to work with startups, because I can really connect (with them)”.
– Optimize for relationships first. Think about how, why, and what kind of relationships you are hoping to engender. When reaching out for help or trade from others, don’t start out with what you’ve done for them in the past or what they owe you: just help them out. The favors will come back around in turn. Andre also added, “When I connect (to them), they can refer me to their friends easily so it’s not hard for me to get new clients”.
You can listen to the interview and find more information at
Price Of Business also wrote an article about this. Find it here.
Transcribe of the interview
Welcome back to Price Of Business, I am your host Kevin Price. Talking about you and your business, Andre Oentoro. He participated in our series of interviews at priceofbusiness.com. This one’s on businesses who have to pitch to CEOs. His company is called breadnbeyond, that’s bread ‘N’ beyond dot com. Andre, welcome to the program.
Hi Kevin! Its an honor to be here. Thanks for having me.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and your company.
Well, I founded Breadnbeyond in 2008. Breadnbeyond currently focuses on explainer video creation. If you don’t know what is an explainer video, it’s a short animation that easily explains a hard to grasp concept or idea. We are located in Indonesia, precisely Surabaya. Currently there are 24 people in our office, and almost all of our clients are not from Indonesia, 60% to 70% of them are North American companies. Our clients mostly are startups (by startups, I mean less than 5 million valuation), but we work with some of the big brands, as well as Fortune 500 companies.
Yeah. So you works with businesses of all sizes but it looks like small businesses or probably–well actually not really, I mean you’re all over the place: everything from small businesses up to a company as big as The World Bank!
Well that’s nice. That’s incredible. Your company located where?
Corporately I am located in Indonesia.
Indonesia. You have offices in North America? I see that most of your clients are in North America.
Yes, that’s correct, but I haven’t have any office in North America.
Okay, interesting. So tell us a little bit about what you do and how it’s different from your competition.
Okay. So we are doing explainer videos, but mostly we are doing videos with startups. Most of them are internet technologies startups because I think in one week there can be about fifty startups in US. We are different from our competitors because most of our competitors like to work with big clients. We like to work with startups, because I can really connect to the C-level executives. They can refer me to their friends easily, so it’s not really hard for me to get new clients because of the referral.
Very good. Tell us about how you are able to penetrate and reach to C-level clients.
I think because they see our portfolio, they like what we do, and mostly because we are located in Indonesia, we can offer less expensive prices but great stuff.
Yeah, Andre thanks for being with us. Checkout his website: breadnbeyond, just like bread and beyond, but it’s bread “N” (the letter N) beyond dot com. To learn more about us, also you can read my interview with him over at priceofbusiness.com Thanks so much for being with us.
Alright, when we come back with much more for you, we do want to remind you the best content here shows up over there at USdailyreview.com. While there, like it on facebook, follow it on twitter.
This week we had a great opportunity to interview Martyn Feller, the founder of Attractive Nomad. We found that Attractive Nomad is an interesting start-up and we want to share a bit on the history behind Attractive Nomad. As far as we know, Attractive Nomad is a web service that connects models with agents in an easy way. If you are curious more about Attractive Nomad, let’s read the detail on the interview below. Continue reading →
Choosing the right voice actor is a key to success in explainer video production. An experienced voice actor will be able to add more value in a video and encourage buyers to buy the advertised product. In this opportunity, we did an interview with one of our voice actor Marc Scott. He explained what he did to prepare himself before working on a project and some key points in explainer video. Continue reading →
If you are an app marketer and need to boost their rank in app store, here is a good news for you! Now you can optimize your app position within the search result in the app store just in few easy steps with MobileDevHQ. Their CEO, Ian Sefferman described what is MobileDevHQ and how they think about the future trends of mobile app on the interview below. Continue reading →
Extremely satisfied with the service quality produced by Andre & his team.
I am one of the people who wont get satisfied in first mockup.
If you work with Bread n' Beyond, you will see that they are always ready to go an extra mile.
I came with a limited budget to BreadnBeyond for a small logo design project - but in the end I found so much scope for expansion with them that I couldn't help but re-hire them to produce a higher quality output, each time.
The designs are impeccable & they pay very minute attention to the details. This is the most important thing for me & I am glad that I found this team.
Looking to re-hire them for all the future design projects.
A++++ Service, highly recommended!
I wish I could have checked ALL of the 'attributes' boxes for describing Andre. He's done several graphic design and Flash jobs for me in the last couple of years, and each time has been a joy. Andre is talented, fast, dedicated and his follow-up is exemplary. His communication is faultless, and his on-time performance leaves nothing to be desired. All in all, I'm VERY impressed with Andre, and hope to keep working with him for years to come.
Kevin D. Murphy
The team was super to work with. Very professional and high quality results. They exceeded our expectations. I would highly recommend their work and not hesitate to hire them again.
I would like to say that it has been a great pleasure working with you! The result of this project is outstanding and I am impressed with the quality of your work and your professionalism.
I would unreservedly recommend you in the future to anyone looking to produce a similar explainer video.
If you guys fancy those fancy animation videos done fast and cost effectively, then look no further! Andre and the crew from Bread n' Beyond will help bring your ideas n characters to life in quick time! Professional, responsive, reasonable and sensibly priced service... the folks at BnB are friendly too which makes it all a breeze and great joy to work with em. Strongly recommend anyone looking for animation or design services and such to get in touch with Andre and co. Will definitely be working with them again... in fact we're already onto our next gig! Nuff said :) These guys rock out!!!
Shariff, Tee Daily
Andre is great - his skill in Flash really came to the fore as he dealt with some stringent technical requirements we placed on him. I'd highly recommend him and his team for flash work, including proper Flash development with complex technical requirements. We'll be working together again.
Paul Walsh, Promodity
Andre's professionalism and level of understanding surrounding IT projects is second to none. I've dealt with Andre on a number of projects throughout the years and he has consistently delivered projects on time and has always exceeded expectations.
We have asked Bread'n Beyond to create animations for a smart phone game we are developing. They have provided us with competitive price, great customer service and have delivered a superb product. More importantly, when, at one point is seemed that their chosen animator did not have the appropriate style, they changed the animator on our account to better suit what we needed before we even asked. I would HIGHLY recomend them and plan to work with them on other projects to come.
Working with Andre and the BnB team really was a great experience. Communication is professional and proactive, their design and animation skills are very high standard. Our end product turned out to be FANTASTIC and totally delivered within schedule. I'm sure we'll work together again on a short term. Thanks guys!
Produced great result within very short time frame! I was very pleased with your work, and appreciate the effort.