Mouneeb Shahid is the CEO of 2webdesign a Saskatchewan digital marketing and design firm that has been around for 12 years. When this podcast was being recorded Mouneeb was in Manchester, UK working on his Masters in Digital Strategy, an example of his dedication to improvement for himself and the clients he serves. Our conversation ranges from the struggles of starting out to the challenges of educating clients and leading internal teams.
Lots of thoughts, comments and insights from a Saskatchewan Digital Marketing Leader.
12 Years of Saskatchewan Digital Marketing Ups and Downs
Partial Transcript of conversation:
Steve Whittington: Mouneeb talks about the challenges of starting a business at a young age, what the industry is facing today, and daily rituals that help keep him focused. Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you are making a difference in your industry.
Mouneeb Shahid: Certainly Steve, my name is Mouneeb Shahib and I’m the CEO and Founder of 2webdesign.com, a digital marketing agency based in Saskatoon. We have been in business since 2004 really focused on helping our clients maximize their potential online.
We look at strategies online and see what our clients can make use of when it comes to the internet – and giving them a solid presence online, and helping them boost that presence to make the most of it.
Steve: You have been in business for 12 years, starting your business at the age of 23. What was the spark for you to start your own company?
Mouneeb: It’s interesting because I have never actually worked for anyone since I graduated, and I would say that I’m really unemployable as a person. When I started out at university I was actually doing a minor in computer science and I really go interested in this project that I was doing for the University Newspaper. I designed one of their websites at that time and that got me into website development and really knowing more about online marketing and the industry.
That got me into the industry, and I really started investigating how websites could benefit businesses from a commercial perspective. I really started doing a lot of research around that and developed my skillsets, and when I graduated I went on to launch my company at 23.
The other reason – it that I actually got married at an early age – 20, and I had my first daughter at 21 years. So I really had this overwhelming amount of responsibility and I really needed to make something out of myself. So it was a motivation I had, due to the responsibilities I had to face – to start my company.
Steve: Well good motivation is never a bad thing. I’m thinking about this, you said at 23 you started your own company, and I know from personal experience – I was an entrepreneur in my early 20’s, and I ran up against challenges because of being so young. There was a hindrance to being so young and being the representative or being the face of an organization.
Do you find, that in your industry, was being young helpful or was it a hindrance, and, do you have any strategies that helped you overcome detriments, or did you exploit the fact that you were so young and knew what you were doing?
Mouneeb: That’s actually something that’s interesting because it was a hindrance initially because when I was trying to approach business, especially seasoned business professionals who have been around and doing business a certain way for many years, it was sometimes difficult to change their mindset about what the potential that the internet has for their business.
It was also interesting to see how they would react when I came in for a meeting and they would think that there would be a much older individual working with them or providing them with information. It was definitely something I had to overcome, although I must say that once we did get into a conversation, and once I started explaining some of the benefits they could have, and once we really started getting into more detail – the age wouldn’t be much of a matter.
It was a hindrance, but once they got to know me it was all good.
Steve: So your strategy for overcoming it was just to bowl right through it, and just keep on going on your path… it that what it was? Just grit and determination?
Mouneeb: – I would say so. Definitely grit… there were a lot of rejections at first – primarily because I didn’t have much to show. It was really challenging for me to get those first initial projects. Once I did have those projects, I actually had a base to demonstrate and show our clients what we can do for them. It was definitely a challenge to get those first few clients, but once we had that portfolio, I was able to show how we either increase sales, increase response rates from their website and also convert more business.
And that data really mattered because when I’m speaking to a business person initially, they used to always ask about the projects we worked on – especially if there were any projects that we worked on that were relevant to their industry.
It was important for me to really develop a diverse portfolio of services working with different industries and be able to come across certain channels and provide those details to the prospect I was dealing with at the time.
Steve: so you have mentioned details, numbers, analytics, basically – I’m rewinding the clock and thinking of how things were over a decade ago – do you think that was a key challenge at the start – showing how a website could make a difference in ROI, and with that being said, do you think there is a continuing challenge – and my third question is – what do you think the challenge is now in your industry?
Mouneeb: The fundamental shift that has happened over the course of the past decade, is that businesses are more open to hearing about what the internet can do for their business online.
Listen to the podcast recording for further thoughts, comments and insights from a Saskatchewan Digital Marketing Leader