Interview with MicroGlobe Founder Burhan Şebin

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What were you doing before starting your business? How did you come up with the idea of starting your own business?

The idea of entrepreneurship excites me since my university years. I tried a couple of small ventures those times as well. After graduating from METU, I started working as a marketing manager at Procter and Gamble, an excellent marketing school, to experience corporate life. I learned a lot in a short time, both from my team and from the responsibilities I took. However, in order not to delay the idea of being an entrepreneur, which was always in my mind, I resigned and settled in New York to pursue my new dreams. Here, I started to provide consultancy in e-commerce and marketing to Latin America and Turkey brands that want to open up to the US market. While launching a new product to the new market, I’ve seen that these brands have the most difficulty finding people who will try it, comment on it, and tell it around.

People were needed to convey the brand’s message to customers appropriate to the local language and culture of the market. Here is where influencer marketing offers a great solution to this problem. Influencers know their audience very well, what that audience likes, and the language they use. Influencers’ followers trust them more than traditional celebrities, and the suggestions of these influencers guide their followers’ daily lives and purchasing behaviors. The idea of MicroGlobe was born in the light of these. MicroGlobe is an influencer marketing platform that helps brands and influencers create value-added and data-driven collaborations using real-time analytics. MicroGlobe, a platform that includes all processes from influencer discovery, contract, content approval, post analysis, and payment, can also see many data such as location, language, engagement rate, audience metrics. We also provide professional support on market research, content marketing, SEO, social media management for brands. Currently, we are bringing together thousands of influencers with brands that aim to expand their business to the American market or want to grow in this market.

Did you find partners while setting up your business? How have these partners contributed to your company?

I didn’t have any other partners when I start MicroGlobe. However, I have felt support from precious people whose ideas and opinions I trust since the first day. Later, we became partners with my brother Ayhan Şebin, a Harvard MBA graduate. I always discussed ideas with him on strategic issues, and his contribution is invaluable. Later, we formed a great team with my friends from METU. Then, this team grew even more with the newcomers, valuable friends. Since the first day, we have been making great efforts together, and we are constantly trying to improve ourselves more. We work every day to better our customers and our influencers, who are also essential to our team.

Did you have a business plan when you started your business? Did you act by this plan?

Yes, we have had a business plan since the first day, and we are trying to act by this plan. What we will do every quarter, every month is mainly in this plan. Of course, we try to keep this plan up-to-date with what we learned, what we experienced on the journey, and the market because success in entrepreneurship is closely related to how you react to the events you encounter on this path.

How were the first days of your venture? What kind of troubles did you have?

In the beginning, we focused on researching and developing the needs of our target audience and the market, how we should bring solutions to these needs, and how these solutions resonated. Since we are developing a platform, we have examined dozens of dashboards in detail and scrutinized which features are suitable for us and how the user experience should be. Then, it was necessary to reach the influencers who are the users of the platform and explain the value we created for them. Although we had some difficulties at first, I can say that we won the hearts of influencers with both our referral system and a reasonable marketing effort.

How much capital did you start your business with? What was the source of your capital?

We established MicroGlobe entirely with our financial resources. Even I designed and wrote the first designs and codes. Although I cannot give the exact amount, I can say that we started with very little capital, but there is a great effort behind it.

Did you get outside support? What benefits has external support brought you?

We reached the numbers we targeted for the first month of MicroGlobe when we launched it. Although this situation made me very happy, we were caught a little unprepared, and we had to enlarge the team immediately and act according to this demand. As such, we received outside support, especially for the software development, and this support helped us respond to the demand as soon as possible. Apart from this, we have consultants working in the USA for years and are experts in influencer marketing. We exchange ideas with them regularly and constantly, and they significantly contribute to keeping our route up to date.

What were the best and worst moments of your entrepreneurial life?

As an entrepreneur, we will most likely encounter many more moments and events at the very beginning of the road. As one of the bad moments, I can say that the team is one of the essential elements for a startup, and I feel fortunate in this regard. However, I was upset that day when a teammate had to leave for family reasons. We have many good moments, of course, when the first influencer signed up for the platform, we worked with our first brand, we were pleased when we finished the first campaign, of course, but one of the best moments is when a brand working with us recommended MicroGlobe to another brand. Then I made sure that we were on the right track and that a beautiful future awaited us.

How many hours a day do you work? Has this run time changed over the months?

The MicroGlobe team is a team on which the sun never sets. J We have teammates from Turkey, America, India, and France. Due to this time difference and the nature of the work, we experience sleepless days and nights. Sometimes I see 18-20 hours. Since the number of brands and campaigns we work with is increasing daily, this situation has not changed much even though we have grown the team over the months. However, it is out of the question for me to complain about this situation. It must be because we have big dreams and work for them because we love what we do.

If you had the opportunity to re-establish your business, what would you do differently?

I believe we are taking the proper steps for the most part. However, if we had the opportunity to start again, we could take faster steps for some things. We worked hard for our design to be perfect and user experience, and we are still improving. However, this is also a very time-consuming job; if we went back to the beginning, maybe we could have made some concessions and “launched” the platform earlier.

What are the most motivating factors for you as an entrepreneur?

The things that motivate me the most are problems and finding a solution to these problems. Later, people/institutions experiencing these problems use this solution, and it is beneficial for them. It motivates me to take notes of the issues I see, watch and read around me and think about how we can find a solution. Today we are solving a problem with MicroGlobe; tomorrow, we will solve other issues with the new solutions we bring. If these solutions continue to contribute to society and the world, there is no better motivation for me than this.

Are there any entrepreneurs that you take as role models if any? Who are they?

There are many entrepreneurs in Turkey and the world that I take as a role model. Some entrepreneurs share their experiences on various social media platforms, and the fact that these resources are freely available is a great blessing for young entrepreneurs like us. All of them are also influencers with the effect they create. For example, Aykut Karaalioğlu, who writes regularly every day, Garry Tan, who shares great content about entrepreneurship and investment on his YouTube channel, Hakan Baş, founded many successful startups. However, the most significant entrepreneur I take as a role model is Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The most important initiative is the Republic.

Who do you think should be entrepreneurs, and who should stay away from entrepreneurship altogether?

Anyone who has scalable dreams and has the time and energy to measure the risks to realize these dreams should be an entrepreneur. I don’t know if it’s up to me to say this, but I don’t recommend it to people who think they can make more money or work less, live a more comfortable life the easy way because it’s nowhere near what’s happening.

What is your advice to new entrepreneurs?

As an entrepreneur just at the beginning of the road, I recommend to my friends like me is to take action. We have people all over the world who are very talented and have great ideas. Our potential is very high, and we need to convert this potential energy into kinetic energy. To achieve this, taking action is essential. METU’s motto when I was a student was ‘we can change the world,’ yes, we can do that, but we can do it by taking action, not by thinking.

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