Hello everyone! Welcome back to another interview and this time we have Omri Bitan, Co-founder and CEO of Bartr Brand. Omri Bitan is a current generation Israel based entrepreneur and has been working behind the idea of Influencer marketing to utilize trusted & influenced profiles for brand promotions with product rewards. Earlier to become an entrepreneur, Omri has been working with some of the recognized organizations as Software Engineer.

Omri shares his experiences as an entrepreneur including the transition from job to entrepreneurship. He also shares how he and his co-founders took it to a successful stage and gives some good piece of advices for aspiring entrepreneurs.

I know you must have heard this question a lot and may hear even many more times – but I wish it never gets old for you. Now – how the idea of Bartr Brand came into your mind? Please include if any personal experiences where you saw the need for such a platform.

I was talking to a friend of mine who has a company for influencer analytics. When I asked him about his potential customers he started name dropping all these big international brands like ‘Coca Cola’ and ‘Adidas’. I Innocently asked him “What about smaller brands?”. He seemed a little surprised by the question. After a few seconds he replied: “We do not address the smaller brands”. That inspired me to do a research in the SMB space and I started questioning small businesses and freelancers. Pretty quickly it began to be clear that they have a real problem when it comes to marketing. Most of them don’t have the experience or the tools to build their online presence – that is what inspired Bartr Brand.

Bartr Brand allows influencers to get good products in exchange of promoting a brand over social media. I am in my infancy when we consider experience in social media and so does many people like me. Can you help us understand how much effective this strategy is and how we can ensure that an influencer is making positive branding for you?

Influencer marketing has proven to be the fastest growing online customer acquisition method to date. Influencers has 3X the ROI over traditional marketing channels and micro-influencers (with up to 100K followers) in particular has over 6X the ROI. The reason for that is simple – people much rather listen to a recommendation from someone they know and trust rather than a paid commercial or ad. The trust works both ways, as the most important thing for influencers is their audience. That is why they’ll never recommend something they don’t believe in or thinks positively of. Giving influencers the complete control over which products they want to promote instead of relying on agencies, creates a reliable and genuine promotion. Influencers promote products they really care about and the brand gets authentic positive review. It’s a win-win situation.

Currently the technology space is lauded with words like Big Data, IoT and AI (artificial intelligence) and these technologies considered to be adding value to your business. What is your point of view on these technologies and have you adopted to any such technologies to improve your customer experience?

I strongly believe in the added value of these technologies. While our main asset is the truly unique approach we bring into the influencer marketing space, we also harnessed AI technologies to analyze and rate influencers as well as track the progress of their gigs. I don’t believe in applying things because they are trendy or sound cool. I believe the product should harness the technology and not the other way around. The biggest hurdle in influencer marketing today is measuring the impact of a campaign, and that is where these technologies have the biggest value.

“I miss those good old days” is a quite popular saying in the West. You have been in the field of technology for the last 10 years and with some good companies/organizations as a Software Engineer. Being a founder of a company, you won’t be able to take out time for programming or technical problem solving. Do you miss those days?

Definitely. I love coding. The ability to solve problems using few lines of code is amazing to me. When I was released from the army after 6 years as lead programmer and a team leader, I was offered multiple positions as a team-leader. I turned them all down to go and be a developer again. Today I try to dedicate at least 20% of my time to coding. So far, I’ve been lucky but I’m sure as we grow as a company this privilege will vanish.

How were the initial days of starting a business, what were the most basic hurdles you face – personally and professionally? What changes you see now? People often give up, so what will be your advice to keep on going.

Building a startup is an emotional and a professional roller coaster. There are days you feel like you are on your way to build a billion-dollar company, and there are days when you are sure you are just wasting your time and money. The secret is to understand it and not let it scare you. I also constantly shared my ideas with all my friends and family – which supported me and gave me fuel to keep going. My advice for any entrepreneur would be to talk to as many people as you can and share your ideas. I don’t believe in the “non-disclosure” way. An idea is practically nothing until you execute it. Don’t fear people will steal your idea. On the contrary – the more you tell people about it the more you will strengthen the feeling that you have something worth executing.

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I have been following Bartr Brand to know and understand its digital presence and I must say Bartr Brand has garnered a quite good place for itself. How would you advise other entrepreneurs to boost their digital branding and what is the importance of it?

In today’s world, if you don’t exist on social media you simply don’t exist. Moreover, social media is a great tool to validate an idea or a product even before it exists. With a nice mockup and a simple post, you can find out whether people have an interest in your product even before it exists – that is an amazing ability every entrepreneur should utilize in my opinion. Treat and budget your social media like you would any aspect of your business – it can make it or break it.

Do you have co-founders? How challenging it is to build your dream team and what’s your strategy to build a growth-centric team for Bartr Brand?

I have two co-founders  – Itay and Patricia. I spent roughly 6 months trying to find the right people to build this company with before I met them. Finding the right co-founder is not less challenging than finding an investment – if anything – it’s harder. You are basically asking someone to invest his future in your dream. It was very important to me to build a team where everyone has their individual strong suit and where we all complete each other. While we all discuss and share any issue that arises with each other – it is very clear what the area of authority of each one is. If the issue at question is in his/hers area – it is clear they will have the final say.

Which route are you preferring to grow – funding or build organically? What are the upsides and downsides you see in both the cases?

I do believe in growing organically. I think it is the best way to validate your product. We’ve built our company so it can be self-sustained and generate revenue fast. With that said, you cannot always do that from your own pocket. It is viable to raise the necessary funds to get you going.

Staying organized makes your life simpler. How do you keep yourself organized? Any tools you want to refer to our readers?

We use Trello to keep track of all our tasks. It’s nice and super easy-to-use. You wouldn’t believe how much a board and a couple of lists and cards can simplify your life – It might not sound like much – but sometimes it’s all you need.

Now, this is one of the most common questions. Let’s say you get the power to time-travel and you travelled back to your graduation day. Will you allow yourself to tweak something then?

I’d probably push myself out of my comfort zone more. The most amazing stuff that happened to me happened when I was out of my comfort zone. It took me a lot of time to realize and embrace that. Looking back now, I would definitely challenge myself more.

Last words:

Starting a venture is easy, but surviving is difficult. Will request a generic answer from you, for all those people who are planning to start something new – on “how to hang in there and make it a success?”

Make yourself immune to “no” – You’ll hear a lot of it and you can’t let it break you. Just like our immune system, the only way to get immune to something is to expose yourself to it. Don’t share your ideas only with people you know are on your side – push yourself to hear negative feedback as well. You can even record yourself or someone close to you giving you negative feedback and play it to yourself occasionally. I’m not even kidding, you’ll be surprised of what I’ll do to you.

For more information about Omri Bitan and Bartr Brand, follow these links:

Omri Bitan Linkedin profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/omri-bitan
Bartr Brand website: http://bartrbrand.com/