Stefan Debois

Start building a personal brand earlier. Do this by using your skills to help people outside your regular network.


Stefan Debois is the founder and CEO of Survey Anyplace, an online software tool to create engaging surveys, quizzes and assessments. Survey Anyplace is more playful than traditional survey tools and more affordable than interactive content tools. Stefan is passionate about the potential of digital marketing, and more specifically about the use of technology to have meaningful online interactions with people – at scale.

Where did the idea for Survey Anyplace come from?

In 2011, I made an iPad quiz about my daughter, with the purpose to entertain the kids at her birthday party. Based on that experience, I created ‘Tabletquiz’, an online tool allowing people to create their own iPad quizzes without technical knowledge. After creating some online publicity, I saw that the tool was used not only by individuals, but also by companies. Verizon Wireless, for example, used Tabletquiz to do an entertaining quiz during an employee event!

In 2012, I decided to quit my job and transform Tabletquiz to Survey Anyplace. Next to quizzes, we also delivered surveys. However the basic purpose remained unchanged: collect better data by focusing on the respondent’s experience, making use of all possibilities of modern (mobile) technology.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I have quite normal working hours, from 8:30 AM to 7PM. I make my day productive by starting the day by producing something instead of consuming something, as the morning is my most productive part of the day. Producing something means creating marketing content or reaching out to influencers. Consuming means checking emails, reading articles, surfing Social Media. These are things to do in the evening.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I have more ideas than I can realize, but I find it important that all ideas are captured. So I have one big sheet to list all the ideas. We have regular meetings to review these ideas, evaluate them and select the ones we are going after.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The use of Artificial Intelligence in Content Marketing to help (and influence) people in a personalized way, at scale.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I batch tasks in slots of 30 mins without any interruption.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Start building a personal brand earlier. Do this by using your skills to help people outside your regular network.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?

The rise in automation will put at risk “higher-level” jobs (accountant, salesman,…), rather than lower-level jobs (hairdresser, cleansing,…)

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

Only do the things you’re good at – delegate, automate or outsource all the rest. However, you (or someone else in the founders team) need a high level understanding about each business domain before being able to do this.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

It’s the combination of Content Marketing and SEO that has helped to grow our business significantly. More specifically:

– Consistent blogging and optimizing the articles for both main search term & related terms
– Consistent outreach to authors who mentioned a competitor, gently asking to mention us too

We 10x’d our organic traffic using this strategy.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

We focused too much on building a new version of the product in the early stage of the company, and not enough on promotion and marketing. We now have a dedicated marketing team and a large part of my time as CEO is dedicated to marketing.

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

AI-powered tool to identify online conversations, questions and content gaps in your domain, automatically suggesting answers based on your existing content.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Coffee machine 😉

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Podcasts, in combination with the smartphone of course. It’s actually the only way to learn while doing something else. This is not possible with books, e-readers or video. I listen to podcasts when I am commuting, working out, driving the car, anytime I get the chance.

Here are my recommended podcasts:

– Experts on the Wire:
– Growth Mapping:
– Marketing School:
– Mixergy:

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

Content Chemistry from Andy Crestodina, because it gives a practical and actionable view on content marketing (something that is lacking in other books)

What is your favorite quote?

“You know what you have to do. You just have to make yourself do it.” (Jocko Willinck)

This illustrates that the toughest challenges are in execution, not in strategy.

Key learnings:

  • Start your day by producing something instead of consuming
  • Find a way to help people outside your network in a consistent way, using your skills and knowledge. This helps building your personal brand.
  • Consider starting listening to podcasts, because it gives you the opportunity to learn something without having to spend additional time
  • Content Marketing will be the only Marketing left: ensure to establish content leadership in your domain


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