Welcome to another edition of the Unusual Entrepreneur Interviews and today I’ve got another unusual entrepreneur on the hot seat. His name is Jeet Banerjee, a young and motivated entrepreneur, technology expert, and consultant looking to create innovations that have a lasting effect on the world.
He is the 19 years old founder of StatFuse, a revolutionary tool allowing students to calculate their chances of admission and making the transition from high school to college easy.
If you are just joining us for the first time, this is the unusual entrepreneur interview series. It is a parade of unusual entrepreneurs who are changing the world and profiting from purpose. Profiting from purpose by changing the world isn’t an impossible dream as many tend to think of it, but a realistic one as many unusual entrepreneurs have extraordinarily proven. Click here to read more unusual entrepreneur interviews.
Take it away Jeet!
Interview Questions Part One
ENTREPRENEURSHIP – Awakening the Spirit of business
1. Can you please tell us a little about yourself and your business? What do you do? how do you do it?, why do you do it and who do you do it for?
Yeah sure! I’m basically a 19 year old serial entrepreneur, technology expert, consultant, author, blogger, and college student. I essentially come across problems in the world every day. I write every problem I face down and try to create a unique solution out of it. Once I have created that unique solution, I begin to think of ways to turn the idea and solution into a successful business.
I created my first startup company at the age of 17 JB Media Force which was a basic service orientated company offering web design, web development, and internet marketing solutions to small businesses. I recently sold that business to focus more attention on my startup companies.
Currently, I have one startup company launched StatFuse and I recently just launched my second startup company called Vintelli. I am also in the development stage of two other startup companies that are set to come out later this year.
The businesses I create are simply to help others solve a problem. I do it for people that I know that face problems or think of common troubles many people face. I do it for the passion and enjoyment I get when I am able to help others while making it a profitable business!
2. How would you describe your entrepreneurial journey into the world of business? Where there any key incidents or life changing events that inspired your decision to become an entrepreneur?
When I was 15, my Dad sent me off to work. If I wanted to have the pleasures of going to the movies or buying video games, he thought I should earn it. Thankfully, he gave me a job working as his assistant at his software development company.
While working there for about two years, I quickly realized that I hated what I was doing. I was only there for money and I was absolutely miserable (not because of my Dad, but just because of the work I was doing). I quickly realized that I really wanted to be my own boss, work on my own terms, and be in control of what I do.
That’s when I decided to find a way where I can make the money I was making working at my Dad’s office while being able to work on my own terms. That’s exactly what I did in a few short months and was able to develop JB Media Force into a successful business.
3. When you started out in business, what specific idea, purpose or vision was your key driving force?
When I first started out with JB Media Force, my sole purpose of creating the business was to escape working under someone else. I did it so that I could be my own boss while making just enough to have the luxuries and fun I wanted. However, when I began working on my first startup company….I quickly realized that I wanted to create businesses to help others more than gaining for profit. Thus, I sold JB Media Force and began working on startups that fit my vision better.
4. What is your take on the general notion that entrepreneurs should build a business around what they naturally love to do?
I definitely agree! If you aren’t happy with something, it is really hard to give a 100% effort. When I wasn’t passionate about the work I was doing, I could tell because the results were severely slacking. When you work on something you love, nobody has to tell you to get up and do something. You are your own motivator and you achieve much more because you want to.
5. What is your personal life mission as an entrepreneur? That is; what contributions do you want to make with your life or what would you like to be remembered for as an entrepreneur through the businesses you create when you die?
My personal life mission as an entrepreneur is to create businesses and solutions that can outlive me. I want to help others with my innovative skills while doing enough as an entrepreneur to say that I really made a positive difference in the world. I just want to be remembered for who I was and what I tried to accomplish. I hope that my businesses and achievements through my life are enough for people to know who I was and what I wanted to do.
6. What would you describe as the purpose of entrepreneurship? That is; what role do entrepreneurs play in the world?
Personally, I think every entrepreneur has their own purpose. Some entrepreneurs are in it for profit, others are in it to change the world, and some are even in it to escape a 9 to 5 job. I think the purpose of an entrepreneur is to be who they want and to express themselves through their ventures. I think entrepreneurs help the world grow because everything around us was built by an entrepreneur at some point of time.
Interview Questions Part Two
STRATEGY – The unusual execution of business best practices
7. How do you identify business opportunities and what metrics do you use to measure their viability?
Everything starts with a problem. Even though we live in such an advanced society, we still have lots of problems. When you identify the problem, you have to find a solution that greatly improves or fixes the way things are. If I am able to get past the last step, then you have to find a way to implement the solution into a business. I have had a lot of great ideas, but more often than not, those ideas would make horrible businesses. Your idea has to be something others would be willing to pay for. You can find out whether people would pay for a product or service by researching the market, surveying individuals, or looking at industry trends.
8. Do you have mentors, business coach or external consultants that you work closely with to grow yourself and your business? If yes, to what extent would you describe their impact on your business? If no, are there any particular reasons?
No, until this point of time I have not had a mentor or business coach that I have worked closely with. I have learned everything I know today through experiences, the internet, resourceful blogs, and books. I never really put too much thought into obtaining a mentor or coach and until know I have really felt that I can grow and achieve what I want to without their help.
9. How do you strategically use your time as an entrepreneur? What key activities would you recommend entrepreneurs use their time for?
I strategically use my time as an entrepreneur for what really needs my attention. I try to work smarter instead of working harder. There are thousands of tasks that come up, but you do not need to do everything yourself. Whether you have partners, employees, or assistants, you should value your time. If someone else can do a task, let them do it.
I would recommend entrepreneurs use their time for things that really need their attention. With the thousands of tasks that come up, maybe hundreds of those require the attention of the entrepreneur. If something cannot be done without the entrepreneur himself, then he needs to go do it.
10. How do you generate profitable customers for your business? What unusual approaches do you adopt for marketing your products/services?
It really depends on a business to business basis. I always research my demographics and look at other businesses in my industry that have been successful. In order to obtain clients or sell a product, you need to really pinpoint who your buyer is. When you find your ideal buyer, you need to figure out the best and most successful methods of getting your product/service in front of them.
11. Many entrepreneurs complain about not succeeding in business due to lack of adequate funding, what is your take on this matter and how do you cope with funding issues in your business?
Having funding is always great. However, a business does NOT need to have funding to be successful. Funding is just a bonus to have because you have more marketing choices to choose from. When I created my first startup company StatFuse, I never had any money to use on marketing. Instead of praying for a miracle, I decided to find free marketing strategies that will get my website in front of my demographics. I was able to do just that and obtained over 12,000 users in a few short weeks. The following were the marketing strategies I used;
- Social Media – It is free for the most part to promote anything you like on places like Twitter or Facebook. Given that our demographics spend hours a day on these social networking sites, we decided to find creative ways to get our website/product in front of students. Whether it was by having friends of friends of friends share/tweet our product or us directly notifying students of our product on high school group, it really helped us acquire users.
- Press – You do not need a publicist or PR agency to get your business in the press. You have to simply find a personal way to appeal to an editor or press segment with your business. You looking for media outlets that fit your industry or niche and contact them. Be prompt and let them know the basic details about what your business does and why it’s a great article for their readers. If they like it, they will contact you. Through the press, we were able to gain rapid numbers of users.
- Partnerships – Find people that work to serve the same demographics you do. Chances are that they are also looking to acquire more customers. Forming a partnership (not with your competitors), but rather with people who are catering to a similar audience is a great way to acquire customers. You scratch their back by promoting their product and they do the same. You guys are now able to do cross-promotion to increase growth.
If I really need funding and have no other options, I then begin to approach investors. Investors are great because they are willing to give you funding in exchange for equity in your business. If you can find an investor who wants to invest, you should take it if you really need the money.
12. When starting out a new business, who are the likely possible partners or professional service providers you would recommend every entrepreneur work with?
I think every new business needs to work with a great team of web designers & web developers. Every new business in today’s era needs a website somehow. Online has officially taken over and no matter what your company does, you need to get online to be successful.
The second set of professionals that everyone should work with are lawyers. When you create a new business, there are a lot of legal issues and obligations that you must fulfill. Lawyers not only protect your business, but can protect you in the long run.
13. The pricing of products/services is always an issue for entrepreneurs, what unusual approach do you take when it comes to pricing?
Pricing is definitely tough. I struggled with figuring out prices for quite a long period of time. I found that surveying your audience is not an accurate approach to plan pricing for your products/services. People will say anything on a survey, but will rarely follow through with their actions.
Creating a successful business is all about trial and error. You find a price point that you think may work best and you try it out for a set period of time. You look at the results and see if you could have done better (most of the time you can). If you can do better, then tweak your pricing and even approach to see if you can improve.
Interview Questions Part Three
MISCELLANEOUS – Resourceful Recommendations, tools, books, and ideas for unusual entrepreneurs
14. Since you became an entrepreneur – someone who solves problems for people profitably; what has been your most outstanding accomplishments in the context of business?
To be completely honest, till this date I do not consider anything I have done as an accomplishment. Everything I have done thus far has been steps toward my accomplishments. My goal is to create million dollar businesses that have helped millions of people. Once I reach that point, I would consider that as my most outstanding accomplishment in the business world.
15. What would you describe as your major setbacks and what lessons did you pick from them?
My biggest setback was when I created a business without a clear vision of how I was going to generate revenue. At the end of the day, every business is about the money. For my startup company StatFuse, we wanted to help everyone and so we decided to go free and thought we could make a lot of money from advertising.
Unfortunately, we were unable to make the type of money we thought we would from advertising. Thus, we had to change things up and create a paid business model system. This whole experience taught me to always have a clear plan to monetize your business from the start. You do not want to waste months of your time only to find out that this idea isn’t a good business.
16. Where there any particular questions you expected me to ask that is beneficial to entrepreneurs and I didn’t? Kindly share with us such questions and their relevant answers here.
Nothing really, I think you did a great JOB asking a lot of detailed questions.
What more would you like to know about the Unusual Jeet Banerjee? You can ask him further questions below in the comment section and I will be sure that you will get an answer directly from him.
Also, what did you learn from this unusual entrepreneur? What lessons, what philosophy of his strike you the most? What ideas, insights or tips are you going to immediately apply to your business as a result of reading this interview?
Jeet has shared his unusual story with you, now is time to hear from you. Can’t wait to hear what you have to say!