Communication is key – be it personal or on the internet

webZunder social media management tool for small and medium businesses, agencies and franchises

Please introduce yourself and your webZunder to our readers!
I am Dirk Spannaus, commercial computer scientist and co-founder of webZunder. After the many interesting positions I held in various departments at IBM Germany, I wanted to step off the hamster wheel. I took a sabbatical and together with a few smart colleagues, we developed webZunder, the social media management tool for small and medium businesses, agencies and franchises.
We evolved and today, I run the company with co-founder Stefan Machleidt, computer scientist and entrepreneur since he was young. Stefan and I met in the kitchen of a previous flat. And he is now married my then roommate!
Our business grew and we added development power, international marketing and sales competencies. When it comes to recruiting, we walk the talk – we use social media (a.k.a. social recruiting). In addition to the skills and competencies of the candidate, we also listen to our gut – and it’s usually right!
We moved our headquarters to Dresden while some of our team members sit in Berlin and Munich.

How did you get the idea to webZunder?
Stefan worked on software development projects in medium-sized businesses. I moved innovative themes forward for big corporations. As early adopters, we found that it was unfortunate that innovation took so long to reach smaller businesses. The main reasons were that these SMBs don’t have the resources and solutions in the online communication world. Most solutions were meant for professionals.
With webZunder, we aim to integrate social media in the everyday activities. Our focus is on ease of use and saving time – with all the important functions needed everyday in one tool.

How fast has webZunder grown?
Definitely different than planned! We learned immensely together with our small and medium clients about what works and what doesn’t (for them). We understand their needs better than at the beginning of the journey.
Based on these learnings, we developed new offers, such as the Jumpstart program where companies can book the setup of their complete web presence. We are not a classic agency – we offer a standard program including a blog, profiles in directories and maps as well as presences on the most important social media networks – for a one-time price. (Mainly in German but ask us about our English or French offers too!)
A complete offer from agencies is interesting – but at a later stage. That is, when a business understands its digital business model and tested it. Companies who understand their digital offer and want to master their offer (read: do it themselves!) get coached by us.

How difficult was the start and what challenges you had to overcome?
Looking back, it is most difficult to quickly make the right decision. In the field of start-ups, there are many people that I call ‘know-it alls’ – and some never even launched anything themselves! If I choose a topic, I have ideas of how I can improve it. But in a start-up, you need to raise the bar to a certain level. And being pragmatic is way more important than perfection!
We started with an EXIST start-up grant. Unfortunately, after this support, neither us nor the local market was ready for our solution. We therefore used our know-how and expertise in other, various client projects – a classic tale of bootstrapping. webZunder is being further developed while being on the market as a social media management tool for small and medium businesses.
Since Fall of 2015, we added another shareholder, Dr. Christoph Niemann, as well as additional capital. This gives us the opportunity to further develop webZunder, add new talent to the team as well as test and implement new ideas.

Who is your target audience?
webZunder clients are the doers. What I mean is businesses who have various goals they want to achieve on social media but do not have dedicated specialists nor want to delegate this activity to someone else.
Our clients are consultants – be it lawyers, finance consultants and creative folks as well as small- and medium businesses.
webZunder is also interesting for larger companies (corporations) who want to support their local partners and prepare them for the world of online communications. For example, it is the perfect solution for franchises, their subsidiaries and branches who recognize that social is an important theme for the local businesses.
We also developed partner programs to collaborate with agencies, developers and WordPress hosting providers as well as marketing and sales experts. Our partners get more leads, new revenues streams and focus on their core competencies (i.e. developing the communication strategy and coaching the client). We provide our partners with our technical know-how, set-up, content and support to use our social media dashboard webZunder with their clients – a win-win to get our solution in as many hands as possible.

What is the USP of your startup?
Someone who wants to communicate with their clients through multiple channels needs an appropriate tool. This is exactly what webZunder is: it provides a clear overview of the communications through social media, saves time and is easy-to-use. That is why we use the tagline “Social media made easy!” since our dashboard allows you to accomplish so much more in your day. Our social media management tool webZunder gives its users the possibility to prepare, schedule and send messages as well as many additional features to help clients manage their everyday marketing activities.

How does webZunder work?
webZunder centralizes the publication of communication on your own website (WordPress blog) and on your social media presence through the most important networks (Facebook, Twitter, Xing and LinkedIn). You can easily interact with your business partners through webZunder: you can comment, like a post and/or share an article with your network. It gives you brownie points as well as increase the opportunity to get additional engagement on the posts and messages! In addition, you can secretly observe competitors, gain insights and further develop your offer accordingly.

Can you describe a typical workday of you?
Typical is not a word I use in vocabulary! As an entrepreneur, I have to focus on what is most important and brings more value at a specific moment. It basically consists of marketing & sales as well as project management. I have a team that focuses on the marketing for our German, English and French presences, which gives me more time to focus on calling prospects, following up with clients, writing quotes, developing new offers, etc.
I regularly work on our strategy and collaborate with the team to further develop our social media dashboard. Plus, I often research new solutions, ideas and business models.
In addition, I speak daily with our team to discuss projects.There is also the whole administration aspect – to get funding, apply for awards, send invoices, etc.
It’s important to not give up on your life when you start a business and integrate the business in the daily family life. That is why I put my family first and enjoy spending time with them at the end of the day. For example, in the evenings, I sometimes attend local meetings or events to network and stay top of mind among businesses. Or I might turn my laptop on and do a bit more work when everyone is already asleep. All in all, there is lots to do and it is exciting to develop a business!

Where do you see yourself and your startup in five years?
Many providers fight for the title of the best social media tool for experts. We focus our efforts on users who want to save time through an easy-to-use tool. In five years, we see ourselves as a known and valued social media provider in Germany but also worldwide. That’s why we started the first steps towards our internationalisation.

What 3 tips would you give other Start-up founders on the way?
● Communication is key – be it personal or on the internet – and will help move your ideas (and yourself!) forward.
● You will also receive many useful tips and insights – pick and choose what to apply and what to leave aside.
● And lastly, social media is not an initiative you should push to “whenever you have time”. Your potential customers are looking for you – can they find you? Take a few moments everyday to start – your future self will thank you!

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Thank you Dirk Spannaus for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

Sabine Elsässer

Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

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