Merav Knafo, Founder iJoomla.com, Professional Joomla Extensions
An interview with Merav Knafo, Founder and CEO of iJoomla.com
1. Tell us about your background
I started out as a web developer 10 years ago, as a software designer for my own companies: LookBetterOnline.com – a photography service for online daters and PeopleFishing.com – a dating site network. I started using Mambo that then turned into Joomla in 2005, and never looked back!
In what project are you currently involved?
2. Tell us about iJoomla and usabilitytesting.tv? What inspired you to found iJoomla and usabilitytesting.tv?
I started iJoomla.com right after Joomla forked out of Mambo. I noticed many of the developers were doing Joomla apps as a hobby and I thought there could be a good opportunity to do it professionally.
It was fun! I was the first one who had an affiliate program, the first one who wrote press releases, etc. the market was fresh, eager and open. As for usabilityTesting.tv, that came about as I got more into Usability Testing. I’ve always been interested in Usability and how to make a website more user-friendly, but only a few years ago, I discovered another totally open and neglected market for usability testing. Most people haven’t heard about it, but if I told you that you can DOUBLE your business by doing it, that would get your attention, right? So research done by Jacob Nielsen, the usability guru, found that indeed, by doing usability (usability testing + fixing the problems found), sites double their ROI. The fact that so many websites are not aware of it, is mind boggling, and I work hard to spread the word.
3. What makes iJoomla stand out among its competitors?
First, we are probably one of the only apps developers who separate the software design from the programming. This is KEY! To design and to code a software requires a completely different skill-set, most coders aren’t good product designers and most product designers are not good coders. In iJoomla I am the one who creates specs and mockups and my coders implement it. This created by default a much better and more user-friendly software.
Another differentiator is that our apps are extremely well documented. We have links to video tutorials on each feature on the software’s backend, manuals, tutorials, etc. And of course, our team is excellent! Support is at the top of our priority list, we want our customers to be happy!
4. Can you tell us more about LookBetterOnline.com? How was the company founded?
LookBetterOnline is great solution for people who date online and don’t get the result that they want. In most cases this is a result of a bad and unflattering photo. My co-founder and I met on matchmaker.com many years ago and he, as an ex professional photographer, thought about this idea. We combined his photography knowledge and project management skills with my software design and marketing skills and created a network of 500 amazing photographers nation-wide. The result, 8 years later is over 10,000 photo shoots with 99.9% customer satisfaction. We are responsible to many people getting married and even having children. It’s very satisfying!
5. What were your business challenges?
On iJoomla.com, Trying to satisfy 25,000 customers is not easy. Each customer has their own needs and agenda and we need to cater to as many as possible and try to please them. For me this is hard, because I don’t like saying “no”. But I can’t implement every suggested feature and as fast as customers want it.
6. What's the biggest lesson you have learned in your career to date?
Trust my instincts and make sure people I hire do what they are good at and what they really enjoy doing. Trying to force someone to do something they don’t enjoy simply doesn’t work.
7. Did you come across other entrepreneurs who helped out?
Sure, there are many Joomla developers who always are willing to help.
8. Do you have any personal wisdom or tips to share with women who want to start their own businesses?
I’m glad you asked this question. I think it would be a good idea for women to practice taking emotion out of business as much as possible. I see many women write long emotional emails, get dirty on public forums, etc. Learning to tone this down can be very beneficial for a woman’s success. Always keep a professional demeanour when dealing with people and never show if are upset/angry. Keep it cool and work on finding solutions instead of focusing on the problems. Work on your mental well-being first and foremost and take good care of your body. Meditate. Get massages. Feel good. When you feel good, see the positive in every situation, don’t get overly emotional, you are un-touchable and people will respect you more.
9. What advice can you give to women website owners, women business owners?
If you’re hiring people, don’t be afraid to fire them if they make your life hell. Everybody is replaceable! I had to hire and fire many people during the years till I found a group of amazing, talented and conscientious professionals. Finding someone who cares about your business as if it was his/her own is not easy but do-able, make it your goal. Once you find people who you enjoy working with, don’t micro-manage them. I always say “If I need to micro-manage someone, I should probably fire him/her”. Make sure each person knows what they need to do and track their progress with a project management tool. So that they can update it with what they’ve accomplished. Don’t spend too much time getting personal with them, especially if you’re working in a virtual environment. You don’t need to know their children’s birthday’s for this relationship to succeed. Keep it strictly professional.
10. Do you think women have to have a higher education or extensive business experience to start their own company?
Absolutely not! All you need is a common sense, a good idea and the most important thing is that you LOVE what you do. Don’t start a new business if this is not something you’re totally passionate about. A good indicator is, ask yourself “would I do this even if I wasn’t getting paid”? If the answer is yes, you’re in the right business. Your passion will be obvious to every person who comes across your path. People love passionate people and want to help them! I studied Nutrition and Human Sciences for my BA, and as you can see, I don’t really do anything even slightly related to that. You can acquire many skills by simply opening some books or taking online courses. Find out what you love, learn how to do it better and you will be successful. Don’t be picky on the kind of jobs you take when you get started. Take whatever comes your way, once you get the experience, you will be able to be more picky.
11. What do you think being a Modern Woman is all about (briefly)?
Taking charge of your life. Understanding that that you can accomplish anything you want. No one is stopping you. Doing what you enjoy doing and living the lifestyle that makes you happy. Keep in good shape mentally and physically.
12. What is your typical day look like?
I wake up early 6-6:30 AM and get to work right away! I love what I do, so I never feel bad for working early. I work for about 8 hours and then go to the gym or go out. Some days I don’t work and some I work harder.
13. How do you fill your free time?
Gym, yoga, meditation, friends, movies, reading.
14. Looking ahead …
I would really like to help people get the most out of their lives, live better and feel better.
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