Know your market!

Posted on February 17, 2014

What happens when you turn an experience into an online business and localize the content? You win every competition you enter!

By September 2010, when my sister-in-law got pregnant, my partner and I realized how much mothers-to-be and mothers need a change in their lifestyle, nutrition, health and so forth – to keep up with both the internal and external demands of motherhood. We wanted to create a space, call it: “tools for moms to become supermoms,” and then we kept saying, Supermum, until we decided to tweak it, to become familiar to Arab mothers. We settled on SuperMama since mama is what we call our mothers.

Localizing the content made the site a practical engagement tool for the Arab mothers who read it. By ensuring that it is “for mothers, by mothers” (an authentic approach)  consumers have a completely different experience of the brand: instead of having some expert tell them how to be a mother, they have women in their position and environment advising them on experiences that they have also endured. This principle gave way to our business model.

Much like another online platform, advertising is the fundamental source of revenue. However, because our content is so specific and effective in communicating solutions, we charge an affiliation fee.  Every partnership we form, every advertising opportunity that we create (on the site, product placement in our videos or even in the text messaging of our database) we earn a commission for having an association with our brand. This is because, in our region, we have allowed the company to grow and become the louder voice in the community with regards to parenting. But it is not easy being an entrepreneur. Sometimes we face challenges unheard of in the online community because of the structures of the business model that we chose to create. For example: the other day, three of our content builders gave birth in the same week. That had a direct an negative impact on our content for that time. A challenge which we needed to overcome seamlessly – without causing an impact on our consumer market.

However, a constant challenge that we face as a company is finding a way to grow the largest online community whilst spending the least money. Up until now, we used a self-funding method to steadily grow the business whilst taking advantage of various entrepreneurship competitions to provide a cash injection into the business. In October 2010, we applied for the MIT Arab Entreprise Forum Business Plan competition. Being able to place (only from having an idea) validated the opportunities in Supermama. It also showed us how far we needed to go to succeed. We were not ready to win that competition, and we did not. So we entered more competitions and engaged with the experiences of mentors to help set-up business structures and principles that would promote sustainable growth. We entered and won the Next Generation IT Bootcamp Master class,  Arabnet Cairo (semi finalist), and the Google Ebda2 Competition (seni finalist.) Entertaining the serial streak of entering and winning competitions, it allowed us to network with other entrepreneurs (who later became partners) and earn money quickly.

So here is my advice,

  • Step 1: localize the content and create a great network of information for consumers to tap in to. This will help enrich your business model.
  • Step 2: enter competitions and win. The cash prizes go a long way in starting up a business.

All the best,