[quote style=”boxed”]Work hard. That is the only way you will get lucky at the right time. Know that the process will always take longer than you think or want it to. Do not accept the words “no” or “impossible.” Remember that successful people probably failed sometime in the past.[/quote]
Shahar Vigdor is the General Manager of FanGager, as well as one of the company’s founding team members. In 2009 Shahar joined Eran Gefen, who is a leading figure in the field of digital marketing and advertising, and together they established the company and made it a leader in the field of marketing to brands in the social arena. Before joining FanGager, Shahar spent several years working as a technology investment banker at the Royal Bank of Canada, where he helped companies with fundraising transactions and mergers and acquisitions. Shahar Vigdor has a B.S. in biotechnology engineering and an M.B.A. His wife is a veterinarian, and they have a two-month-old daughter.
What are you working on right now?
FanGager provides a holistic, technological solution for brand managers and agencies throughout the world by assisting them with the management and engagement of their fans in the social arena (which is one of the most important assets brands have). We work with mega-brands from many countries around the world, such as the U.S., U.K., Argentine and Japan. Our principle objective is to assist clients in realizing the inherent potential of their activities on social networks and to provide value to their fans.
Where did the idea for FanGager come from?
It began with our first product, MyBrandz, which was a site for brand lovers. After the initial launch we approached several brands about bringing their users to us, so we could help those users enjoy the brand in the most social and democratic fashion, through a variety of content types and actions. We quickly realized brands faced real pain in handling their existing fans on Facebook, because the brands had no way of managing fans, and more importantly, did not know how to generate value from them.
What does your typical day look like?
Wow. That is a really good question, because each day is different. Managing a start-up company, especially a small one with large aspirations, requires you to wear a different professional cap each day. I can tell you that most days include meetings about the product and existing and future projects, conversations with brand managers and agents in different countries (sometimes late at night if we are connecting to people in Japan), and appointments with lawyers and accountants. Each day always ends with an effective, strategic discussion with Eran Gefen on our burning topics and business direction. This is when things are set in motion.
How do you bring ideas to life?
It always begins with encountering an existing problem. I see what solutions the world has to offer, and if there are none, or if they are not good enough, I examine the best way to approach the problem. This is the fun phase; it involves many thought processes and consultations with colleagues. Once there is a breakthrough that makes sense on a business level, I form the required team (the most difficult thing to do is to find a good technologist) to implement the idea. Then the idea begins to take form and very soon reaches the “irksome” phase of finding a partner or the right investor to begin the long and challenging journey ahead. During this period there are two exciting milestones: going out into the world with the product (which is like having a baby) and the first sale, which is where the market tells you that you were thinking and acting correctly.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I am excited by the accessibility and scope of technology, and I’m particularly inspired by the ease and experience of using smartphones. Applications like Draw Something are used by almost everyone I know, both young and old. My two-and-a-half-year-old nephew now plays with an iPod, sliding his finger across the screen to hear a song or play a game. Technology crosses all barriers and appeals to various types of populations all over the world.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I went to study biotechnology because I thought I would enjoy it, and because I was entering a world-changing field. The work itself was done in a dingy laboratory filled with vials, which I would check to see if their color had changed. I quickly realized I needed to get out into the world, where I could be around people–not vials and solutions–and create. I wanted to go beyond dealing with small details. The journey and your enjoyment of it are no less important than the end goal. But that is just my opinion.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I never think about that. Someone once told me that in order to make a correct decision, you have to make many mistakes and learn from them. So that is what I try to do.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Work hard. That is the only way you will get lucky at the right time. Know that the process will always take longer than you think or want it to. Do not accept the words “no” or “impossible.” Remember that successful people probably failed sometime in the past.
What is one problem you encountered as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
There are endless problems, and that is the essence of entrepreneurship. A problem that keeps recurring harnesses a team to an idea. In a start-up, the level of responsibility is high and the number of assignments for each team member is infinitely greater than those employed at a large company or corporation. The way to handle this reality is to: 1) choose the right people to work on finding a solution (which is no simple task at all); 2) allow the team to participate in the company at all levels so that they feel like an integral part of a family and understand their impact on the company’s overall success; 3) give them a stake in the company and define the objectives together so that everyone looks at the same step to be climbed.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I had this idea several years ago, while in the shower. Many people, including me, like to sing in the shower, but often don’t remember the words to songs. For this reason I thought of creating a shower curtain with song lyrics. You could order the curtain online and choose the lyrics that you like, swapping out either the entire curtain or just the words themselves when you were ready for a new song. That’s it, just a little bit of nostalgia.
But really, I have a bit of advice: the moment you begin with your start-up, stay busy with it and don’t be affected by the surrounding buzz. Once every two or three months, lift your head up, check the market, analyze the competition, and then get back to work with your new conclusion–otherwise it is very easy to diffuse.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I sense that the leaders of most countries make decisions that the people don’t agree with and generally view negatively. At one time, in Greece, democracy was direct. And it can be done again. Let’s turn social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) into the strongholds of democracy. Let’s ask the people how they think we should act as a country. A democratic referendum platform centered on the existing social platforms can create genuine change. Take what is happening today as a perfect example. Entire revolutions begin with a post or a page on Facebook.
Tell us a secret.
Almost every morning before work, I drive to the sea, look at the horizon, inhale the energy and begin my day.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
Jigsaw: Find the contacts you need in any organization, anywhere in the world. That is how we created our initial database for marketing activities.
Desktop World Clock: It has often happened that I called at the wrong time when someone wrote GMT+2 or ET-3. This application allows me not to make that mistake, because it shows me visually and clearly what time it is everywhere in the world.
Sales Force: This is a must for every organization, and should be installed a moment before launching into the world. The tool provides an effective, economical and holistic solution for managing all marketing and sales activities without having to be an expert in the field.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The Count of Monte Cristo.” This book has no direct connection to business management, but it is my favorite and I warmly recommend it for the following reasons:
1. The book reminds us that even the most dismal of failures can lead to the greatest successes.
2. If your start-up fails miserably, the book will help you plan your revenge on whomever you think screwed you along the way. (I personally do not believe in revenge, but this is something to consider.)
3. Never rely on accountants (not really).
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
A month after my baby daughter was born, my cat thought he was a baby too and began sleeping in the cradle with her.
Who is your hero?
I never had one. It is only over recent years that I have learned to appreciate and admire my father, who is my inspiration for his calmness, happiness and endless giving.
What do you think will be the next thing in social media?
The ability to connect between online and off-line actions, and the ability to measure and increase the connection between the level of fan involvement and fan consumption in the real world.
How do you manage the hard work of the start-up and family life?
This is a situation where you need a wife that you love very much, who gives you the confidence, strength and faith. Your home has to be the safe and happy place you go to at the end of each day.
Shahar Vigdor on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/shahar-vigdor/b/562/1a1