Gabriel Shaoolian began Blue Fountain Media as a one-man operation from his Manhattan apartment and has quickly grown the company to over 70 employees with offices overlooking New York’s Union Square.
Blue Fountain Media provides web design, development and online marketing services for clients ranging from start-ups to major corporations and institutions. Shaoolian’s client list includes the United Nations, Sotheby’s , the New York Yankees, Nike and Oppenheimer Funds.
Shaoolian’s philosophy is deceptively simple: every project begins with the goal of enhancing his client’s bottom line. This “results-driven” business model is based on the idea that the key to any online business is not just to attract visitors to your website, but to convert those visitors into customers or clients.
As a result of Blue Fountain Media’s many success stories, Gabriel Shaoolian is in demand as a speaker, interviewee and expert columnist.
He has been featured in Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Inc., Crain’s New York Business and Crain’s BtoB. He has also served as an expert guest columnist for The Washington Post and Youngentrepreneur.com and has been named as a “Trailblazer” by Dell Computers.
What are you working on right now?
My skills as a juggler! Seriously, at any given time we are working on design, development and online marketing projects for clients of all sizes. At the moment, we are working on a massive intranet for a Fortune 500 company, an e-commerce site that will unite caterers with potential clients and several projects involving online reputation management and enhancement.
Three trends that excite you?
1. More sophisticated Tracking and Reporting Systems: On the web, it is critical to be responsive to the needs of your site visitors. There are several new tracking programs that provide in-depth real time data on visitor behavior.
2. Social Media Integration: Businesses can no longer ignore social media and expect to thrive. We are building websites for companies that integrate all of their social media platforms and give them the ability to “broadcast” their content in ways that enhance their business.
3. Video: As the explosion of YouTube demonstrates, video is the future of the web. It allows you to provide information visually, quickly and in an entertaining manner.
How do you bring ideas to life?
The simple answer is by framing every project in terms of goals and milestones. Clients often come in with a vague idea of what they’re looking to accomplish online. We take those ideas and help the client focus on specific business goals (more clients, more traffic, more revenues). By establishing goals and milestones from the outset of your project, then you can make sure that every step taken along the way will be taken with those goal and milestones in mind.
What is one mistake that you made, and what did you learn from it?
Just a few years ago, we only had a handful of employees and now we have over 70. A business of this size (and growing every day) needs to have processes in place that streamline how projects are handled. I have had to play “catch-up” in that respect and am now implementing processes that will allow Blue Fountain Media to continue to grow and continue to serve our clients well.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
The best online businesses are the ones that target a niche, fill a need in the market and then use every appropriate social media outlet to get the central business method across. By engaging your visitors, they become part of your team, providing content, community and excitement. When you serve your visitors’ needs, you develop a loyal following.
What is one book and one tool that helps you bring ideas to life?
Seth Godin’s Purple Cow explains how business success is all about standing out in the crowd. I feel that I’ve taken that advice to heart and use that advice every day in how Blue Fountain Media does business.
As for the one tool? Google Analytics. Few business owners take advantage of the business intelligence you can gain by using Google Analytics to understand traffic patterns, user behavior and what works and what isn’t working on your website.
What is the one key to professional success?
Enjoying what you do. If you love what you and are passionate about your work, it will sustain you in good times and bad. If you enjoy what you do, you can thrive even in the most difficult economic times.
What is the key to personal success?
The same thing. Work is such a huge part of your life. If you are unhappy in your professional life it is going to spill over on to your personal life. If you love what you do, that excitement and passion becomes part of your overall personality.