College tuition: $5,000
Room and board: $2,000
Saving $300 on books by using WeCompareBooks.com: priceless (actually it still costs $200, but you get the point).
I recently had a conversation with the owner of WeCompareBooks.com, Eugene Aronsky. Not only does he have a site that can help young entrepreneurs, he has valuable insight regarding the entrepreneurial process.
Eugene has degrees in business and philosophy from Carlow University and is finishing up his masters at Seton Hall. He is a self-taught entrepreneur who had no prior entrepreneurial experience before starting WeCompareBooks.com.
JB: Why did you start WeCompareBooks.com?
Eugene: As an undergrad I spent a ton of money on textbooks. I would visit various stores and sites comparing the prices by hand. Then after I would purchase the books, I was always able to find a better deal.
In the meantime, I started selling books on Ebay. This gave me experience selling books online and paid for a year of grad school. It primed me for the market.
I was able to find websites that compared book prices from various online retailers, but I couldn’t find any that I liked. Most weren’t user friendly and I had a hard time navigating many of them because I am visually impaired.
So, two years ago I set out to build a site that I would want to use.
JB: Briefly describe the process from conceiving the idea to launching the site.
Eugene: After I came up with the idea, I did a lot of research. The site I wanted to build was heavy on programming and I needed a top-notch developer. So I partnered with someone who could create the site and we worked from there.
The original project was OnceOwnedBooks.com. I really liked the site but others did not. So I hired a marketing consultant and he told me it was hideous and that no one would want to use it. It was what I wanted, not what people wanted.
Starting from scratch, my partner and I built WeCompareBooks.com. Now the site is up, working, and we just made an update to it last week.
JB: What has been the most effective thing you have done to market the site?
Eugene: Twitter. Very few people know how to use Twitter.
As an Internet entrepreneur, you have to be everywhere. When you google your name, you should be the first spot. But from a marketing perspective, I haven’t found anything to be more effective than Twitter.
Also, I have practically disowned Facebook. There are far too many restrictions on that site to be able to effectively use it as a marketing tool. Plus, there’s no way I can afford their ads.
JB: If you weren’t talking to me right now, what would you be doing?
Eugene: Writing for my site. I’m way behind when it comes to writing. Quality content is the most important part of a website.
I need to spend more time writing, but I always find myself busy with other things. It’s not uncommon that I spend 15-16 hours a day on my business. Then, I also like to have a life!
JB: If you were taking a young entrepreneur under your wing, what golden nugget of advice would you share with them?
Eugene: Look at what other guys are doing – and then do more. I believe this is a quote from one of Napoleon Hill’s books, but I’m not sure.
There is so much opportunity to improve on existing products, businesses and business models. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Just make it better.
JB: If you had to battle a giant, what weapon would you use?
Eugene: Twitter and social media. It levels the playing field.
There are all of these huge sites out there that have giant marketing budgets, but they don’t have a clue when it comes to social media. Most of my competitors have a couple hundred followers on Twitter [Eugene has over 7,500 and is ranked 6,291st in the world].
Also, Google gives a huge advantage to the bigger guy. It’s hard to compete in search engines, but I’m more than competitive in social media.
A note from the interviewer
Thanks for the interview, Eugene. I had a blast talking to you and certainly learned a lot.