Ahmed Saad of Crowd Analyzer on staying on top of emerging trends.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?.
Ahmed Saad: Those times are challenging for everyone. We miss the ‘normal life,’ but we’ve learnt to adapt and cope with whatever situation we face. The digital world has made things bearable and easier for my family and me to stay connected all the time and discuss emerging and anticipated trends. On a positive note, this past year made it easier for me to better explain to my family the value and impact of our ‘Crowd Analyzer’ tool on day-to-day activities.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Crowd Analyzer.
Ahmed Saad: I’m originally a mechanical engineer. My passion started at the university and grew over time towards media production and technology. I always dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur, and even started a small agency back in the university and always worked on fostering my innovations.
Post university, I started working for a full-time job while keeping my dream on the side. However, I realized over the first years of my career that my passion for SAAS and developing a B2B business idea is always growing. I started following my dream on the side, enrolling in competitions and enhancing my knowledge.
With the strong support of Bahaa, my lifelong friend and co-founder of Crowd Analyzer, the genius behind our tool’s technology, we both pursued our dream of becoming entrepreneurs while providing a valuable service to our target through the key use of the massive content that social media offers.
In 2013, we got an opportunity to compete in Startup Weekend in Dubai, and that’s how the Crowd Analyzer tool turned from an idea into an official brand name in 2016. We’re proud of what we’ve reached today, from 3 offices in Dubai, KSA & Egypt, over 13 shareholders, serving over 120 clients and having more than 60 full-time employees.
How does Crowd Analyzer innovate?
Ahmed Saad: We’re constantly working on innovation, whether for our social listening tool, team development or overall business direction. Staying on top of emerging trends is key for innovation. We start by listening to what the market needs and assessing its priority, then innovating our services accordingly. Last year we worked intensely to ensure that we innovate and provide businesses with impactful solutions amid all that’s happening around us. We started the year by acquiring TaskSpotting, a leading peer-to-peer marketing platform, to provide our customers with a 360 solution starting from monitoring online content to offering activation solutions.
We also worked on a number of enhancements and introduced new features to better support our Crowd Analyzer tool users with more efficient workflows and better data-driven insights. With the growing need for always staying in the know and ensuring that conversations aren’t missed due to COVID or are more tailored to clients, we launched for the first time our easy-to-use mobile app to better equip customers with information on the go! That’s one of the key things that we were very proud of, especially with the positive feedback it gained from our users.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Ahmed Saad: As a SAAS company, the pandemic didn’t much affect our core product, but it was eye-opening to how flexible we could be with utilizing it. We used to have standard packages offered to users when it comes to the tool’s consumption, but we found that flexible and more tailored solutions were more effective. We learnt how to be agile and think more openly. Also, our team of experts worked on offering a number of free solutions that better complement our tools, like shared dashboards around all conversations taking place around the world on COVID and a number of content pieces that provide tips on how to stay on top of your game using social media. This all contributed to an increased demand for our services and a more favored relationship with our customers.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Ahmed Saad: The uncertainty about where the market is going and the instability across the business scene made us rethink our business model. We invested a lot of time and came up with scenarios for every possible situation and how our product and team would respond to different situations. This agile plan made us restructure departments and teams to ensure that we’re more efficient and that there is a clear career path and product vision.
The key lesson learnt is that our company growth originates from the team. We wouldn’t have reached where we are today and made it through this challenging 2020 without our people!
What specific tools, software and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Ahmed Saad: Since we have offices in 3 different countries, and we’re always encouraged to connect and work together as a team, we were lucky to have a good base before the pandemic that we easily built on. Our key platforms that were further utilized during the pandemic included: slack for day-to-day communication, time doctor for productivity and time management, go-to meeting/zoom for meetings, asana for project management and HubSpot for customer relationship management.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Ahmed Saad: There are so many reputable brands in the market that offer social media listening and analyzing, but we’ve always been proud and distinguished with our very niche high Arabic accuracy that is being provided to customers mainly in the Middle East while monitoring over 170 languages. We’re well equipped with in-house experts and Arab engineers who are the key driving factor to where we are today.
However, to ensure that we sustain our position in the market and ensure ongoing product and team growth, our team is always alert for trends, market changes and customers’ needs. We always work on tailoring our product to customers’ needs to ensure that our tool is easy to use, comprehensive and impactful to businesses.
Your final thoughts?
Ahmed Saad: To all startups, keep going, keep building, keep fighting for your cause. We know how challenging the journey could be, but if you truly believe in what you offer and are certain that it has an impact, everyone else will follow you! Always give attention to your team; they’re the building blocks for your core service.