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WeCanDo.BIZ - Ian Hendry

Staff (Social Media Portal) - 21 April 2009

WeCanDo.BIZ - Profiled

An interview with Ian Hendry, Founder at WeCanDo.BIZ

WeCanDo.BIZ logoSocial Media Portal (SMP): What made you start WeCanDo.BIZ?

Ian Hendry (IH): The web is great for interacting with people regardless of where they are.  It can also be used to help solve common business problems.  And I found I had one: how can I get all my happy customers singing my praises to people who would buy from me if only they knew I existed.  When I couldn’t find an easy or cost effective way of doing it I came up with the idea of WeCanDo.BIZ.

SMP: What was the most challenging part of building the service?

IH: We are aiming the site at people who are not necessarily internet savvy, but still want access to all the benefits of social networking to win new business.  Getting your customers to work as your online salesforce is a difficult thing to achieve, yet we wanted to make it easy enough for everyone to master.  I think we’ve done it.Photograph of Ian Hendry, Founder, WeCanDo.BIZ

SMP: Who are your target audience and why?

IH: There are real benefits to be had from promoting your company online, of course, and social networking and search engines are easy to get business from if you know them well and can dedicate the time.  It’s tough for busy business people, especially those running smaller businesses, to afford the time to learn the art and then practice it.  Our service is aimed at those people.

SMP: How did you initially attract users to your site /service, and how do you do it now?

IH: The site launched last June and we’ve experienced rapid growth through the “viral” nature of the service – you list your business and invite your customers to endorse you, and while they are doing that they’ll realise they can list their business and ask their customers to endorse them and so on.  There are also some really forward thinking industry associations out there that have identified just how much their membership could benefit from better use of social media.  We are working with a number of them to get the businesses they represent winning new customers through the site quickly.

SMP: What are your best and low moments of what you have been doing so far?

IH: Our best moment was just a few weeks ago when we put our Pro Networker membership level live and saw people upgrading within hours!  I am delighted to report there have been no low moments so far!  Everyone who has seen it has been fantastically positive.

SMP: What do you see as your biggest challenges and opportunities?

IH: Without question our biggest challenge is getting business people to just take a look at the service.  We think once they have gone through registration, which takes less than a minute, and added their business then they’ll start to see the benefits pretty quickly - people will be searching for businesses like theirs within days and they’ll get the contact details of those prospective customers.  The greatest opportunity we have is to pull the rug from under the feet of Internet Yellow Pages services like Yell to become THE place where people search for businesses – that would see millions of businesses listed on WeCanDo.BIZ.  We are enormously excited by that prospect.

SMP: What are the next moves for WeCanDo.BIZ?

IH: With Pro Networker just launched, next up is enabling users of other social networks a one-click sign up option.  This will make it very easy for existing users of Facebook, MySpace, a Google account or OpenID to come and start seeing the benefits quicker.  After that we are looking at a version of the website optimised for mobile users – they currently constitute less than 2% of our visitors, although probably most of our visitors have a mobile; we could increase that percentage significantly with a site that is easier to navigate whilst on the move.

SMP: What’s the next big step for social media and networks?

IH: Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter and the other well known sites have done loads to help us all understand the benefits of social media, but we won’t expect to get everything from just a handful of current well known services in the future.   Social media and social networking will spawn many specialist sites that are easy to log into using your Facebook or Google login, providing a better solution to specific needs or interests, like business or sport.  This is what we are doing with WeCanDo.BIZ – providing a much better way of generating new business than companies could achieve on Facebook or LinkedIn for example.

SMP: What’s going to be hot throughout 2009?

IH: Twitter seems to be rocketing into the mainstream right now, but I am hearing more and more about Friendfeed.  No doubt though that the biggest thing will be the benefits of social networking being seen away from the big socnets, enabling you to use your, say, Facebook identity to log into other sites to share and participate with specific contacts around a particular need or interest.  Even Facebook sees this coming, which is why it is so keen to push Facebook Connect and is now schmoozing with the OpenID crowd.  With online social interaction happening away from the big sites, they want to make sure you still log in to them to get to your ultimate destination, and post back to their site what you’re doing.

SMP: How does this fit into plans at WeCanDo.BIZ?

IH: Web Single Sign On stuff I am very interested in.  If people could use one ID for logging into many sites then it would make life much easier for them and also make WeCanDo.BIZ even simpler to use.  We’re planning to offer this in the Spring.

Now some questions for fun

SMP: What did you have for breakfast / lunch?

IH: Always Fruit ‘n Fibre and two cups of tea.  I am ratty otherwise.

SMP: What’s the last good thing that you did for someone?

IH: Got some old pictures of my grandmother that I found framed for my father as a surprise.  But then he is down at the weekend to help me get my old Bristol car back on the road, so that is more of a trade than a purely selfless act!

SMP: How many hours to you work a week?

IH: Probably about 60.  I couldn’t do many more as my productivity drops right off after 6pm, so I get most of the day’s immovable stuff out of the way very early in the morning.

SMP: If you weren’t running WeCanDo.BIZ what would you be doing?

IH: Running a racing car team.  Still on my list of things to do!

SMP: When and where did you go on your last holiday?

Argentina over Christmas.  A fascinating and beautiful country.

SMP: What’s the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?

Put the kettle on and start to read my e-mails and Google News alerts to see what everyone else in our market is up to.

SMP: If you had a superpower what would it be and why?

Time travel.  Mainly to enjoy the recklessness of my school years all over again!

Read more about WeCanDo.BIZ here.


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