Who are you?
My name is Dirk Spannaus, I studied business informatics and worked at IBM. In 2012, I co-founded a company to make innovation accessible for small and medium businesses, and not just big enterprises. And that is where I co-founded webZunder.com, a social media management tool that makes social media easy for small and medium businesses.
Can you tell us the story of your business from idea to where you are now?
When we started, we were convinced (and still are!) it was not about online vs. offline. We focused on bringing online marketing and methods to offline businesses. The goal being to help “traditional” companies to strengthen their relationships with existing customers and attract prospects. (At that time,) Techcrunch tried to label this as “on2off”.
Our mission is the same today but we increasingly collaborate with businesses to set up their social media strategy and integrate social media in their daily business. Our social media management solution webzunder.com does exactly that: it allows our clients to easily communicate their messages to fans and followers across a range of social media channels, network with partners, observe competitors, follow interesting topics and curate the best content for their network.
What has been your biggest failure or struggle?
We initially focused on small, independent retailers and business owners in Germany. But they were not ready! We then changed our strategy to widen our target audience, but went too broad. It was like a pendulum – but we now found our sweet spot and focus on it!
And what has been your biggest achievement or success?
We won multiple competitions in the past but I feel that the greatest achievement (so far) is a revenue-generating client project. I was thrilled when one group within a large IT consulting company hired us to develop a strategy combining social media, content marketing and webZunder to set up a dedicated blog about cloud computing. Our solution gave 10 of their consultants the opportunity to run this blog and develop their personal brand throughout the journey. The client decided to use webZunder and work with our team, even if they already had a contract with the market leader in our line of business! It is an awesome feeling when a company chooses to work with us while the other option would have been easier to order!
What’s your must read business book?
- “Value Proposition Design”, which is a snapshot of the bigger “Business Model Generation” concept, both from strategyzer.com. We use these concepts when we meet our clients and ask difficult but important questions to understand their business. Only then can we support them with the optimal social media and online marketing strategy.
- To learn how to scale your business (and not only for SaaS businesses!), I recommend “From impossible to Inevitable” by Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin.
- I personally prefer the interaction and knowledge exchange with peers on a daily basis. “SaaS Growth Hacks” is a great example of a Facebook group that I love interacting with.
Who’s your most inspirational CEO or founder?
While I love reading about many different founders and their stories, from my point of view, the most inspirational is Elon Musk. He really has visionary ideas. Of course, many people have great ideas (and not just founders!!), but they often brag about it instead of doing something about it. Elon Musk is the one of the few people who starts bringing his ideas to life as soon as possible, even if he sometimes has many critics.
And can you tell us something weird or interesting about yourself?
I crossed the Alps from Germany to Italy by bike (approx. 300 km) with my friends five times. I just recently started learning to play the electric bass, despite having no clue how to read music up until now.