We talked to Suhail Khoury, Co-Founder, and CEO at Soul Artists about the the world’s artist platform and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Suhail Khoury: My family and I are doing very well; thanks for asking. We make the best out of staying at home, reconnecting with our loved ones, and working remotely.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Soul Artists.
Suhail Khoury: My career started out as a salesperson in a bank selling credit cards, then moved to real estate, and then to event management. When ends couldn’t meet, I decided to rethink my life and do what I love: performing arts, magic, and fire dancing.
When making that decision, I sent my resume’ to every company I can find, but almost all of them never got back to me. When searching for suitable agents or events, I envisioned a platform where artists like me could showcase their work, rates, and profiles with the tools to get booked directly.
When I couldn’t find such a space, I called upon my brother and partner to create our own, and the rest is history.
How does Soul Artists innovate?
Suhail Khoury: We provide a direct and real-time space where entertainment seekers can directly reach out and book the perfect artist for their event while making sure they pay a fair price with industry-low fees, which can be achieved because our process is automated and the cost of running is at a minimal, our search engine lets anyone find the precise talent they are looking for in seconds rather than weeks of going back and forth with a traditional agency.
For artists, we make sure to take care of their interests by always paying on time, ensuring cancellation security for their events, and giving them free space and customization tools for their press kits allow them to share their work with a single link. We also throw in free SEOs to boot.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Suhail Khoury: COVID was a huge hit on the business and the whole industry, no one saw it coming, and business came to a complete standstill with all events being forbidden by governments around the world.
Luckily for us, however, we were able to survive that period with stale events; watching many event companies and talent agencies close down was very sad news.
Despite having no events to running, we saw a spike in artist signups and focused on that while things returned to normal here in the UAE, we saw proof that the future is online and that online platforms are COVID proof.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Suhail Khoury: Luckily, we did not have to let anyone go during the pandemic and simply rode out the storm, recently acquiring new partners across the region and increasing our staff, one lesson I learned is if you believe in something with all your heart, never tap out, things work out in the end.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Suhail Khoury: We definitely saw a rise in online communication (especially from artists) using our live chat on the website and app, WhatsApp, emails, and online registrations.
Our customer relation management remains strong as it was designed from the ground up to be contactless and widely available.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Suhail Khoury: Even though we applied for a government grant, we did not receive anything. The only relief grant we received was from Facebook’s relief program, and we are very grateful for that. It did help to keep the business afloat for that last mile.
Your final thoughts?
Suhail Khoury: My heart is with all the businesses that are aching through these tough times. I implore all other startups and business owners to hang in there and take this as an opportunity to innovate and grow.
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