Eman Talei - CEO & Co-Founder at Jeebster.com

[quote style=”boxed”] Amazing things that you least expect can transpire when you meet others.[/quote]

Eman Talei immigrated with his family to the US at the age of 10 and was the first to attend a university in his extended family. Growing up, he dreamed of becoming a pediatrician with the thoughts of helping the children around the world. After attending UCLA, where he studied Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, he soon realized his passion for business when he landed his first non-science related job as an Executive Recruiter with an industry leader. He would soon discover his savvy business development and management abilities and the lack of love for large corporation structures and ventured off to become the youngest recruiting franchise owner of a major company in the recruiting industry. With the success of his recruiting firm, he started o several other businesses which eventually led him to what he is doing today.

Having been part of several small business startups, Eman Talei experienced first hand the pain that each business owner endures in the upbringing of a small business. With all that he has learned from past experiences and with the realization that the backbone of the US economy is truly the small businesses, he pledged to both himself and his fellow business owners that he would make a positive impact in the realm of small business ownership. His pledge to help businesses and drive for success gave rise to Jeebster.com.

What are you working on right now?

Aside from my first priority in raising a family, I am working on Jeebster.com, an organization solely dedicated to assisting local, independently-owned businesses in acquiring new customers and building a repeat business model that rewards customer loyalty and encourages repeat shopping.

Jeebster provides an innovative way to attract and retain customers for local small businesses. Through our online tools, merchants communicate business information, announcements, upcoming events, discounts and special offers to their Jeebster followers. Our goal is to provide our merchants with key customer introduction, loyalty, and retention strategies that increase sales. Our model is unique in that we want our merchants to have an ongoing versus deal-based relationship with customers. This way, our merchants can continue to grow their business while consumers remain loyal to their favorite local businesses.

Where did the idea for Jeebster.com come from?

Jeebster is the accidental outcome of having had a bad experience in working with a major Daily Deal site and the prodigy of two failed family-owned retail businesses. After that experience, I realized how expensive it is to acquire new customers, and even more so expensive and difficult in bringing those customers back. We spent so much money and time on having the daily site deliver over 400 customers, yet we had about 2-3 that actually returned-and it wasn’t because of bad service or product(Yelp rating of 4.5 stars). I realized then that there was something wrong with the daily deal formula and model for small business owners.

What does your typical day look like?

I get up around 6:45 every morning, first get the kids up and running by tickling them until they wake up and then take my son to school. Our office happens to be just a mile away from my home, you know, typical nice LA-Style commute! At the office, my focus has changed most recently as I tend to be more involved with improving our business model, networking and marketing strategies. Before, it was all sell…sell..sell… but now, I’ve learned from my mistakes of the last 6 months of selling door-to-door. Now, I am discovering ways to make our business development process more efficient by forming channel partnerships. When you got a family, the day can’t stretch out too far beyond 6 PM. That’s when I get home and start my second job of taking care of them and attending to my other true passion, food and cooking. I read somewhere that you can’t mix family and business but I disagree with that, because once the kids are in bed, the 2nd half of my working day begins as I work throughout the night.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I dream about my idea, then it comes to life! I have a wild imagination-in a good way – and most ideas, food recipes or things I write about have all been part of a dream at night or as I day dream. People always talk about their big dream but every dream starts out small and then grows over time. And that’s how it works for me, one piece at a time; An idea of mine may have been part of a dream several years ago and somehow, someway, it comes back to me again years later and I pick up exactly where I left off and complete the dream and my idea. How it actually comes to life is by extensive research, networking and absolute dedication to my dream of making it real.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Is it safe to say “Technology.” It’s not really trendy because it’s been around for so long but given the speed of how it evolves, it should be considered a trend today and gone by tomorrow. I was never into technology prior to about 5 years ago, until I discovered how technology influences everything in our lives.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

There shouldn’t be such thing as “the worst job.” I consider the worst jobs to be the greatest learning experiences where I pick up at least one good skill or two. But if I had to pick one just to satisfy the reader here, I would have to say my experience working as a Pharmacy clerk, right after I graduated from UCLA. First of all, you can never sit as a clerk or a pharmacist. Secondly, it was horrifically routine work. I was there for 6 months and the best thing I learned from it was that I didn’t want to become a pharmacist. On the last day of that job, I came home and threw away about 20 completed Pharmacy school applications!

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

As it relates to my personal life, I probably say that I would have liked to gone to graduate school and major in business. I think the education would have helped jump-start things a bit more quickly in my previous ventures. As it relates to Jeebster.com, I would have liked to have a more comprehensive marketing plan and a more cost-effective method of business development.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Meet with as many people as possible within and outside of your industry. I can’t stress enough on this point and the importance of talking to people to simply explore opportunities. Amazing things that you least expect can transpire when you meet others. Don’t underestimate anyone’s potential and don’t dismiss the opportunity that may come about with a person’s thought process, network and abilities.

What is one problem you encountered as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Balancing family life with business. Overcoming this problem was extremely difficult until I made it easy for myself; I considered what is priority, family, and everything else was scheduled around it. You would be amazed of how one can keep family time on top of the list but then come up with some crazy hours to make up for the lost time in business. As I mentioned earlier, the second part of my day begins when kids are asleep and well through the night.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Help charities with collecting their monies through available technology versus those cans or piggy banks they leave at retail stores or, by using the door to door collection model. I came across this idea when I safeguarded two cans full of money from a children’s charity for over a year before I had to personally hand-deliver the can to the organization which happens to be far away. Actually, I think I still have one of them at home since I am still filling it up myself!

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?

I have vivid and terrifying childhood memories of the days and nights I lived through a war for a few years. I still don’t get the concept of guns and bombs used against other human beings, simply over a disagreement. I would love to start a movement to work with governments and leaders to disarm every country. Instead I would promote peace through the process of educating families about core values and mediation through capable leaders to overcome disputes.

Tell us a secret.

Sometimes I think I am crazy; I wake up in the middle of the night and write poetry. No further details…

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

Google Personal and Business Tools: I am convinced that Google will take over the world. They keep coming up with everything that a business could possibly need.

LinkedIn. I’ve been part of the network for many years but never paid so much attention to it as much as I have in the past 6 months. It’s a tremendous source of referrals and networking opportunities. I also love reading the industry-specific articles every single night before I go to bed, hence, why I can’t sleep with all the ideas going through my head.

The other tool…Did I mention Google?

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Professional Chef! Sorry, my passion is food and cooking and my attention span is extremely short, limited to reading an article on LinkedIn Mobile App, Forbes, or a good recipe.

Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?

I don’t do Twitter other than for marketing and promoting Jeebster, but if I had to recommend a few to readers here they would be:

@jeebsterusa, because good things are about to happen for Jeebster.com

@NoReservations, Anothony Bourdain, but of course related to Food! He is an amazing writer and his show is all about food and travel.

@BarackObama, not because of my political views but because he inspired non-voters to vote and non-believers to believe.

When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

This morning when I took my son to his soccer game and for the first time decided to record his game on my camcorder until half-way through the game, I realized I hadn’t pushed the REC button!

Who is your hero?

My family by far. A hero is someone you want to be like, learn from and be inspired by. I want to be as dedicated as my wife, as she is to everything in her life. I want to learn how to stay driven like my mother who even at this age (for the record, she claims to be 28!) continues to push forward and is a true entrepreneur all to herself. And, I am inspired by my kids who encourage me to make Jeebster a household brand so that I could finance their higher education and perhaps in the future help other children around globe in need of a basic education.

How do you measure success?

By the number of lessons learned from the times I’ve failed and managed not to make the same mistakes over again.

What does Jeebster mean?

Jeebster is one of many nicknames of my son, Cyrus(no connection or logic). Jeebster.com’s co-founder Gary Gillman and his family unanimously loved the name off of a long list I presented to them. We chose the name because we thought it was catchy and simply because we just couldn’t come up with a name that wasn’t already taken or one that we could agree on.

Connect:

Jeebster’s Website: Jeebster.com
Jeebster on Facebook: facebook.com/JeebsterUSA
Jeebsteron Twitter: @JeebsterUSA
Jeebster LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/company/jeebster-com
Jeebster Blog: http://jeebster.tumblr.com/
Eman Talei on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/emantalei