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Posts Tagged ‘Brian Esposito’

Congrats to Our Longtime Customer PaybaQ on 2011 W3 Award for Their Innovative & Unique Website

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Over the weekend we found out that our long time customer, PaybaQ won a very prestigious W3 Award for outstanding website design.  Paybaq was selected by W3 from over 3,000 entries. The founder of Brian Esposito has been a longtime KikScore customer and proudly displays his KikScore seal on PaybaQ’s website.  PaybaQ is a new age micolending site that has been growing fast and is getting a lot of attention. His KikScore seal has actually helped him increase registrations and sales on his award winning site over 20%.

To find out a little more about PaybaQ, Brian and his CTO Peter Hermsen told us their small business story just last month in one of our most highly read interviews on this blog!  They are clearly on a roll and this great award is just one further step in the growth and development of PaybaQ. Here are the details on the award that PaybaQ received.

Congrats Brian and team.  Keep it up!

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Posts Tagged ‘Brian Esposito’

“Putting Your Money baQ Where it Belongs”: A SmallBiz Interview with the CEO and CTO of paybaQ

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Today’s small business interview is with the founder and CEO of paybaQ, Brian J. Esposito, and the CTO, Peter Hermsen. You may remember Brian from his last interview with us when we talked about his Inc. 5000 company, AVEYOU Beauty Boutique . However, his enthusiastic entrepreneurial spirit inspired him to launch a new business, paybaQ, which focuses on helping people deal with their microloans online. Brian and Peter proudly gave us their business story and shared many tips that contribute towards the success and prosperity of small businesses.

Tell us about paybaQ and who you focus on serving?

BRIAN J. ESPOSITO: paybaQ was established in 2010 to fulfill a need: to address and solve the age old problem of personal undocumented microloans. The paybaQ platform allows users to document, arrange payment between two or more parties, and establish a positive personal Generosity Rating (Giver) & Responsibility Rating (Receiver). paybaQ’s purpose is to eliminate the awkwardness of borrowing or collecting personal microloans. Through our secure and simple system you will not only become more responsible, but possibly save a relationship from becoming spoiled.

“Money doesn’t have to be the root of all evil, it could grow into something good”.

Your paybaQ hub has everything you need to organize and monitor any transactions you perform with paybaQ.com.  Here, you can easily review account details and history, as well as view detailed reports on your transactions. You also have access to any reminders for transactions that have not yet been completed, and you can integrate your account with social network profiles to easily add contacts you may be lending or borrowing money from. No more wondering when you are going to be paid back; with paybaQ, you can set the terms of the microloan and easily remind the borrower(s) through email, text message, and/or through private messaging that monies are due. Lending and borrowing money has never been so hassle free. Although our top priority is creating more responsible individuals, privacy and security of our site and system is of the utmost importance.

Now you can do that all on the go with our iTunes app: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/paybaq-mobile/id454232420?mt=8.

How did you get started dealing with microloans online?

BE: This was an idea that I have had for a few years.  Especially when the financial crisis hit in 2008, I realized the timing was perfect to launch.  Money, family, friendship, and responsibilities are at rocky paths when it comes to lending or borrowing money for any reason.  Even when times are good these transactions could always have the tendency of going bad.  paybaQ’s system has all the necessary pieces in place to try and avoid those situations from happening.

What was one of the biggest challenges you faced and overcame in launching paybaQ?

BE: The biggest challenge was where to begin.  The paybaQ model has so many different pieces that it can branch off to.  During our initial meetings, brainstorming’s lead to hours of great ideas, but no real progress.  We finally figured out that we had to scale back all those additional concepts and get paybaQ off the ground and running on its core principles.

What tools would you recommend for small businesses in the online world?

BE: Small business should be required a specific set of tools to protect themselves, their families, and more importantly their employees and customers.  In the online world these tools should include SSL Security, Privacy Policies, Hacker Proof Services Monitors, PCI Compliance, Review/Feedback Services, and additional items that can be added to your site to increase trust and credibility.  There are only a handful of companies that have earned instant trust in the consumer world; for the rest of us, it will be a constant uphill battle to convert potential customers into actual customers.  That all begins with how you treat your current customer base and how your image and brand are perceived in the consumers eyes.

Security is of growing importance to all small businesses for a number of reasons. What are the most challenging issues at your company with respect to security?

PETER HERMSEN: Providing timely access to data by members while deterring unauthorized access.  We recognize the challenges faced by the commerce community with respect to security and privacy.  No matter what you do to secure your data, someone will try to figure out a way to crack it.  That’s why we partner with Authorize.net.  With them as a partner, we don’t have to worry about keeping any credit card information on our site.  We only maintain a balance of loan tokens, which have no value to anyone with the exception that they allow users to register loans.  In fact, we give the first 5 credits for free.

Based on your expertise, what two or three things do you think small businesses should be doing concerning online marketing?

BE: It’s very important to stay fresh and relevant.  I always say the minute you stop doing something, your competitor hasn’t.  Keeping this in your mind at all times will fuel you to keep striving for greatness.  Being the biggest is not important, but being the best is.  It is also important to understand marketing and its results.  Very few things are an instant success.  You have to keep with it.  Of course this is within reason.  You can’t keep pouring good money after bad.  Every business has different expectations and needs.  With ours, due to our position we are happy gaining a customer a day, but of course that does not apply to everyone.

If you had to pick two lessons that you’ve learned from launching and maintaining your business, what would they be?

PH: Launching a business and developing the software are definitely different things.  From the development side, the business waits (patiently) while development carries on.  Now that we’ve launched, we’re just learning about maintaining.  There are hurdles which must be crossed as you transition to a production site.  We made it past them, but have definitely learned that no matter what, you always have to plan on software taking longer than anticipated.  Also, when working in a new financial venture, you find that potential financial partners enter with good intentions; then, when they don’t fully understand your premise, withdraw gracefully.  Unfortunately, the development team engages with creating software to support partners, and have to start over when a new partner is introduced.  Unfortunately, there aren’t any standards. Google Checkout, PayPal, Yahoo, private payment gateways; all of them are different.

BE: I’ve learned to not give up on a vision or dream.  I’ve learned even your closest friends and even sometimes family members will try to deflate you. I haven’t figured out if these are malice words or if they are just trying to protect you from failure.  Failure is great, failure is better than anything you can learn in school or from a book.  Some of the greatest lessons and creations were born from failure at some point.

How do the folks at paybaQ let loose after a busy day working?

Due to our partnership with The Hearst Corporation for the rights to use Wimpy from Popeye, we like to let loose on Tuesdays for Hamburger night.  We will travel around our area in search for the greatest hamburger.  When paybaQ really takes off we may increase our distance a bit.  “I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a Hamburger Today:” © King Features Syndicate, Inc.  Hearst Holdings Inc.

Do you have any parting thoughts for our readers and the small business community?

The small business community is an elite group.  We are made up of people who took a risk and went after our passions.  Everything in life has ups and downs.  It is important to find a balance so you can save on the ups to get you through the downs.  Unless you are a 1-person operation your actions and decisions can have great affects.  Remember you have employees, vendors, suppliers, and customers that may depend on you.  This is a great amount of responsibility you have taken on, and you should be proud.  Our group will continue to be the backbone of our economy and we must prove to the world that we deserve that role.

Thanks to both Brian Esposito and Peter Hermsen from paybaQ for a great interview! If you have any questions or comments for them, feel free to write them below.

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Posts Tagged ‘Brian Esposito’

Inc. 5000 Entrepreneur & Store Owner Brian Esposito’s Tips on Growing an Online Business

Monday, September 20th, 2010

We came across Brian Esposito, the CEO of Avenue You Beauty Store,  last week and immediately knew we had to feature his great store on the KikScore blog.  Brian’s energy and passionate entrepreneurial spirit even comes across in his emails that he sends out.  We figured that the small business and startup community just needs to hear from Brian as he has so much to teach all of us.  Do not take our word for it by the way, his company was awarded by our favorite magazine Inc. the very prestigious honor of being listed as an Inc. 5000 company.  We are excited and honored here to not only have Brian share his thoughts with us here but also be one of our KikScore customers!

1. Tell us about AveYou and who you focus on serving?

AVEYOU is Your Unique Beauty Boutique.  We specialize in carrying some of the most exclusive beauty and personal care products in the industry.  Our entire concept is being all about you!  Our loyal online and in-store customers.  We focus on servicing beauty buffs around the globe.  With our extremely friendly domestic and international flat rate shipping rates we are able to put orders into our customers hands very quickly.  99.9% of all orders are processed and shipped the same day and are packed in our eco-friendly reusable AVEYOU personal shopping bag.  We are very big on personal experiences and sometimes that is very hard to accomplish with online shoppers.  Because of that we try as hard as possible to achieve that result when a shopper opens their AVEYOU box.  The box is carefully wrapped and all items are placed in the appropriate size AVEYOU Eco Friendly Reusable Shopping Bag.  Also included in that bag are samples, promotional items, coupons or special discounts on future orders, and of course the correct item(s) ordered by our shopper.    AVEYOU currently has one of the highest positively ranked feedback (check out the comments on Amazon!) in the beauty and personal care industry.  Our product selection is very important to our brand and image.  Because we specialize in very exclusive products, we try not to carry items that can be found at drug stores, discount stores, or supermarkets.  Because we do not discount or jeopardize the integrity of our brands, manufactures and vendors are at a point in our growth cycle where they want to be part of our company and be placed on our shelves, or web site.
2. How did you get your started selling online?

In 2002 we re-vamped our store and philosophy.  We created a new brand known as Avenue You.  The store was placed in Deal, NJ.  A very prominent and affluent area.  As the store opened in April sales were incredibly strong and stayed that way all summer long.  Come September we ran into a dilemma, as most of the town was filled with summer or vacation homes for those residents.  We needed a way to reach these customers all year round in order to survive.  It was then when I created and developed AVEYOU.com.  The site was mainly created to keep in touch with our local shoppers who were back to their winter homes for the season.  However because of the brands we carried any my passion for marketing and branding, customers from all over the world quickly began ordering at AVEYOU.com.  I knew we had something special and needed to be focused on and enhanced.  Because of how quickly we process and ship orders, people began talking and to this day word of mouth has been our best marketing tool.

3. What inspires you to grow the AveYou business?

Pride.  Whatever I put my name on I do all I can to ensure it doesn’t fail.  As a family owned and operated business you create a sense of home for the company and our employees.  As we began to grow and hire great employees, they also became part of our family.  We are at a point where we have created an incredible team of beauty consultants who each have so many different talents and strengths.  I have, and will continue, to do all I can to ensure each and every one of them will always have a job/home at AVEYOU.

4. If you had 2 lessons learned from your business that you could pass on to others about selling online, what are those?

The first would be to be honest.  This was my number one asset and at some times biggest downfall when creating AVEYOU.com.  The beauty industry is still filled and mostly run by its originators.  These people are threatened and do not understand the internet.  When I would go after a line I would have to spend hours and sometimes even days convincing them that the internet is a great place to be and we are not a company that would never jeopardize the integrity of your brand by discounting, diverting, or by not giving it the respect and dignity it deserves.  I am not sure about other industries, but I can still say to this day that we run into problems with manufactures not wanting their brands to be sold online.  Every vendor or manufacturer we work with, fully understands our business model and are kept 100% in the light as to what we do and where we sell.  The 2nd lesson I have learned is be fully compliant with every aspect of an online presence.  Of them I strongly suggest having a privacy policy that is backed up by a firm or organization, run your emails in an ethical and CAN-SPAM compliant manner, and make sure your site is fully PCI compliant with SSL security to not only protect yourself, but to also protect your customers who are choosing you over the thousands of other potential sellers.

5. Where has AveYou focused most of its energy this year?

While we continue to gain market share with our online presence, we are looking to once again rebrand and re-energize our store location.  We are working on a brand new prototype store that will offer more of a studio feel where our shoppers can come in, try products, have makeup, mini-facials, and nails done.  The personal experience is crucial for our brand and image.  We want our customers to feel special and of course feel beautiful.  Having more types of fun energy filled services that can be done in our boutiques will definitely create a stronger bond between our customers and AVEYOU.  Once the new prototype boutique is finalized we are looking to launch more locations in areas similar to Deal, NJ

6. What do you see as 2 new trends in for small business and in your business?

A trend we are seeing is to be careful where dollars are being spent.  Using money wiser and in areas that have a successful ROI is overshadowing the riskier areas.  Another trend is tapping into more social media platforms and applications.  Combining sites such as Facebook with applications developed by Wildfire you are very quickly able to promote coupons, contests, and/or sweepstakes.

7. If your business/store could be any movie or movie character, what movie/movie character would it be and why?

I am sure this has been used a lot in many situations but it would have to be the movie Rudy and we would be Rudy.  Every day we are met with opportunities, but also challenges.  The challenges come in many shapes and sizes.  The fortunate thing to date is that we have been able to overcome those challenges and survive.  Even through the worst of economical times our company was able to grow and become part of Inc. 500|5000 2010 list of fastest growing private companies in America.

8. If AveYou could have a dream spokesperson for your company who would it be and why?

Aishwarya Rai as she is often cited by the media as the most beautiful woman in the world.  She would make a tremendous spokesperson for AVEYOU Beauty Boutique.  Having fans and admirers all over the world and with no negative news she would be exactly the type of woman we would want relaying our brands messages and image.

9. What is the biggest challenge that AveYou faces as a small business and how do you work to overcome that challenge?

As a small business I believe our biggest challenge is gaining trust in a potential new customer.  If a shopper sees a Macys logo or a Best Buy logo they are not going to question is this a secure company/site.  As a brand that is growing, we are not mainstream and are years away from becoming a staple in the beauty industry.  We overcome that challenge by gaining one new customer at a time.  Proving to that customer we are legitimate business, that is not going to sell their name to any third parties, is going to ship their order, their most private and intimate information is in a very secure area, and if there is any problems whatsoever with their order we will do everything we can to correct it and make it right.

10. Do you have any parting thoughts for our readers and the small business community?

I know it has been a tough few years, but if you have the capabilities and mental strength do not give up.  If you strongly believe in what you are creating or have developed stand behind it 100%.  Don’t let outside influences discourage your dreams or interfere with your visions.  All you really have in this world is your beliefs.  Take that vision, access all the tools you need, build the necessary team, and then make It happen.

Thanks Brian for sharing your thoughts.

Please let us know your thoughts on this interview with Brian Esposito.

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