Interview with Daniel Tal Founder of Wibiya

I’d like to welcome Daniel Tal, founder of Wibiya, a free toolbar that’s becoming more and more popular online.  Today he’s going to share his experience as a successful entrepreneur.

Q: Is Wibiya your first business? What have you done before?

A: Wibiya is the first Internet venture we took to the full extent. Prior to Wibiya we launched a search engine called Joongel. We didn’t pursue this venture, because we came up with the idea of Wibiya and stuck to it. Working on Joongel taught us a lot about working as a team and most importantly staying focused. So I can honestly say that the experience we gained with Joongel, although we practically just launched it, was yet significant.

Q: Have you always considered yourself an entrepreneur? What do you think were the most important experiences that led you to become a successful entrepreneur?

A: No, I haven’t always considered myself an entrepreneur. But I was always creative,  interested in business and goal driven. I never framed all these as entrepreneurship. It was only in university when I finally understood that entrepreneurship as a profession is what I’m aiming to do with my life.

The most important experiences that helped me frame myself as an entrepreneur were my military duty and university and academic career. (Serving in the Israeli army for 5 years as a captain, second-in-command on board a missile frigate was a truly enriching experience.)

Q: Were you a good student? What where your favorite subjects in school?

A: I was a pretty good student. In high school I enjoyed mixing creative professions with scientific ones, and therefore focused on both music and physics. I think not limiting myself to a specific subject during those years was a great advantage; it allowed me to take the thinking methodologies applied in each and every profession and use them afterwards in anything I do in life. Later, in university, I studied business and economics, and during my last year, I entered the special entrepreneurship program which covered the different aspects entrepreneur should deal with: legal, creating new products, building a business plan, financed in your venture etc.

Q: How did you get the idea for Wibiya?

A: My partner Dror and I were presenting our previous venture Joongel at the Tech Crunch 50 conference in San Francisco. While there we met with publishers, bloggers and website owners, and we noticed the pain they had in adding new tools and features to their sites. We also noticed a gap between the social web, which existed on Facebook and Twitter, but not on destination sites and blogs.

We decided to create a tool that would allow people like us (non-technical) to add different functionalities to their sites without writing any code.

Q: What have been the most challenging aspects of Wibiya so far?

A: Every aspect has been challenging. Building a desirable product, marketing it, gaining a significant traction, recruiting talented team and getting funded. But we had a lot of fun doing it. These challenges are what’s keeps us going.

Q: What have been the most successful ways for you to promote Wibiya and acquire new users?

A: We never spend a dollar on marketing. We invest every single resource we have in creating the best product we possibly can. This methodology has worked for us in the past two years. When you create a desirable product to an audience with viral nature, you can basically expect the product to market itself, and your users to be your catalysts.

Q: How do you plan on monetizing Wibiya?

A: We will be launching a premium version of our product soon, where users will be able to enjoy professional functionalities and advanced applications while paying a monthly subscription fee. Wibiya will always have a free product to offer our users.

Q: What would be the most important advice you would give to a young entrepreneur?

A: This is a hard one. I would answer that the two most significant principles an entrepreneur should follow are knowing your audience and keeping focused.

Because the Internet is so big and full of options and opportunities, the question is not “what can I do?” but rather “what can I offer that is significantly needed by someone?” In other words, “what pain am I my solving?” Only few know your audience, and know their pain can answer this question and match a solution to it.

Focusing is the key issue as well, while in the process of creating solutions to the problem you are solving, you will confront many opportunities that will distract you from the main goal. Avoiding the temptation of building new features because you can, or shifting to a new direction just because it is offered to you, is key to succeed.