Dean Owen

5 years ago · 3 min. reading time · visibility ~10 ·

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A Masterclass in Entrepreneurship

A Masterclass in Entrepreneurship

For any of you considering a foray into the startup world, please consider that what we are witnessing here on beBee is a Masterclass in Entrepreneurship.

So put down your Peter Thiel book, stop watching Gary Vaynerchuk video blogs. As a member of the beBee community, we have the privilege of watching Co-Founders, Javier Cámara Rica and Juan Imaz teach us in real-time what it takes to build a successful startup.


beBee has attracted over 11 million users in just over a year.

The success we are witnessing is no fluke.


Juan Imax founded Mixmail, Spain’s first free web based email service, back in 1996, and sold it to Deutsche Telecom in 1999 - just before the dotcom bubble burst.

Their first venture together, an email marketing company called Canalmail, resulted in one of Spain’s largest technology exits just 8 years after founding.

That 60 million exit was back in 2008, and Juan stayed on as CEO of the new group whilst Javier started working on new projects building professional and vertical networks to help people find jobs. The pair stayed in close contact, and it was during a lunch in the summer of 2014 that they formulated a plan for what would be their biggest project to date.


Now whilst I have no doubt that if I asked Javier and Juan to grant me an interview, they would oblige. I would then be able to offer the inside track on their success. But then this article might come off as mere marketing. Instead, I have elected to draw lessons from their actions as an outside observer. This article is not about promoting beBee. It is about entrepreneurship.


The problem statement was simple: People were engaging less and less as they are being bombarded with clutter and noise. The buzzword for Juan and Javier was relevance. Instead of mining and crunching data and having algorithms decide what relevant content users should see, why not just give the power to the users?

Strategic positioning: Juan and Javier identified not just a gap, but a gaping hole waiting to be filled. This was the intersection between professional and personal, LinkedIn and Facebook. They understood that our professional and personal relationships are often not mutually exclusive - that it is often easier to strike up a relationship with someone you share common interests with.

TAM: No need to crunch numbers here, the Total Addressable Market is huge.

Identifying a Niche: They knew they planned to go Global, but understood that this is an almost impossible task for a startup with limited funding. In order to gain initial traction, they focused their limited advertising budget on a much overlooked demographic in social media, the Spanish-speaking world. With a small initial following from their legacy projects, they managed to grow their userbase to 10 million within the first year. They are now positioned well to tackle the English-speaking world and early signs are extremely promising.

Product Market Fit: By analyzing existing platforms and listening to negative user feedback on those platforms, Team beBee were able to build a product from the ground up that satisfies user concerns.

User experience: From the day we first signed on as newBees, we were made to feel welcome. The founders not only mobilized their amazing team to come out and greet us, but very often the founders themselves would join the conversations, welcome individuals, invite feedback. “Users first” Javier has been known to say, and that is certainly the mantra we have come to know beBee for. We, the users, are made to feel special. If we found a bug, or spotted a functionality that could be improved, we could set aside our frustrations and tell them. And they would listen and respond. We are willing Guinea Pigs, willing to dedicate time to providing feedback. Bugs did not discourage us, as we knew that by reporting them, the team word go to work fixing that bug immediately. We felt important. As far as I can see, they did away with the need for AB testing. They could do this as they created an environment where they encouraged open feedback. Why waste money on AB testing which yields mixed results on a focused choice when you can have your finger on the pulse and receive constant feedback on all functionality?

Marketing: By making us feel special, they got our support and an army of brand ambassadors who were willing and wanting to spread the word. In marketing, there is no more cost effective strategy than word of mouth. In addition, the beBee team has successfully managed to leave a substantial digital footprint via social media. Other tools, such as contests, a forthcoming brand ambassador program in return for equity have also attracted substantial traffic.

Iterate, Iterate, Iterate: Their apparent mindset is not your typical “We will decide what you want”, but “Tell us what you want, tell us how we can improve”. As a result, we see constant improvements almost on a weekly basis, many of which are as a direct result of a user comment in our feeds.

Now before I finish, there is one topic that I have purposely omitted, and that is monetization. I do not care to comment on their plans for monetization and will not hazard a guess. I am quite certain their plans are laid out quite clearly in a pitch deck, but with social media, there are so many ways to monetize – marketing solutions, premium subscriptions, big data analytics to name a few. It is clear that Co-Founders Juan Imaz and Javier Cámara Rica understand the priority is to build a huge userbase first. Shortsighted investors will want a detailed plan and exit strategy. Peter Thiel (Co-Founder of Paypal and one of the first outside investors in Facebook) would jump right in once he understood the concepts and saw the traction.


As a first time entrepreneur myself, I am finding the whole beBee experience an invaluable lesson. Sorry Peter, your book Zero to One has been relegated to my drawer. I have a live show to watch.



Dean Owen is Co-Founder of Quimojo, a revolutionary new concept in Global Campus Recruitment.


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Comments
Joyce 🐝 Bowen Brand Ambassador @ beBee

I have only been here for a week. I thoroughly enjoy this marvelous platform. Still learning the ins and outs, but I'll get there. Thank you, Javier \ud83d\udc1d beBee

Gert Scholtz

Gert Scholtz

4 years ago #38

Dean Owen I read it the first time and now again with even more admiration. This line says it all: "Users first” Javier has been known to say, and that is certainly the mantra we have come to know beBee for". Like you I have put the book aside and enjoy watching and being part of the beBee entrepreneurial start-up.

Javier 🐝 CR

Javier 🐝 CR

4 years ago #37

#50
Thanks Lisa \ud83d\udc1d Gallagher is one of our first stronghold/bastion

Lisa Gallagher

Lisa Gallagher

4 years ago #36

Whoa a blast from the past! Glad this came back up Dean Owen. This stood out, "“We will decide what you want”, but “Tell us what you want, tell us how we can improve”. As a result, we see constant improvements almost on a weekly basis, many of which are as a direct result of a user comment in our feeds." One of their successes!!

Dean Owen

Dean Owen

5 years ago #35

This one doing the rounds again I see. Apologies. And thanks all for the comments. Thanks also Dean Carlton for the shares on LinkedIn/Twitter.

Dean Owen

Dean Owen

5 years ago #34

#42
Thanks Lisa Gallagher! You need sleep!

Lisa Gallagher

Lisa Gallagher

5 years ago #33

Worthy of a repost Dean Owen!

Jim Murray

Jim Murray

5 years ago #32

Bravo. Right on the $$$.

don kerr

don kerr

5 years ago #31

Really interesting post Dean Owen Nicely done.

Javier 🐝 CR

Javier 🐝 CR

5 years ago #30

#35
thanks Dean Owen. Too "big" words for us.

Kevin Pashuk

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #29

Thoroughly enjoyed this one Dean Owen

🐝 Fatima G. Williams

🐝 Fatima G. Williams

5 years ago #28

Great Post Dean Owen Thank you :)

Dean Owen

Dean Owen

5 years ago #27

#30
Amazing that they have created an environment where the early adopters are so willing to be a focus group. They did this by making users feel special, and by building a product that users wanted built. Entrepreneurship genius. Thanks Louise Smith

Gert Scholtz

Gert Scholtz

5 years ago #26

Dean Owen Move over Peter Thiel - here comes Dean Owen! Great post Dean!

Louise Smith

Louise Smith

5 years ago #25

#32
A potentially more dangerous place near Down Under.

Dean Owen

Dean Owen

5 years ago #24

i should move to Bali then. Is that why you moved there?

Paul Walters

Paul Walters

5 years ago #23

Cool article Dean as always. As we would say in Bali, " you such a clever man!"

Louise Smith

Louise Smith

5 years ago #22

Yes Dean Owen After 6 Semesters of Uni Statistics struggling to get a sample of 30 I actually love being able to participate as Paul \ says in a "focus group of 11,017,177 people." I am looking forward to being part of and reading about the successful results of the project soon !

Lisa Gallagher

Lisa Gallagher

5 years ago #21

Dean Owen, you really laid things out well. Excellent post and many lessons for people thinking of entering the world of entrepreneurial ship! It's been extremely interesting and fun watching beBee evolve!

Dean Owen

Dean Owen

5 years ago #20

Thank you John White, MBA. If it wasn't for you, I may not have made it to beBee. One day, case studies and books will be written about beBee. Every decision I see from the outside, even the tiny ones like extending the deadline for contests, offers us a lesson to be learned. I wish you and the team huge success.

John White, MBA

John White, MBA

5 years ago #19

Dean Owen. It's been fun to learn from a couple of real pros.

Dean Owen

Dean Owen

5 years ago #18

#23
"ultra-shine" article lol Laurent BOSCHERINI. Not intended as an "ultra-shine" but purely as my observances and the lessons I draw as a guide to others. I think you touch on an important point, and I think the reason why engagement is flourishing is because many writers are exploring the realms outside their mandated field.

Javier 🐝 CR

Javier 🐝 CR

5 years ago #17

Thanks again. beBee would be nothing without you - all the bees helping and contributing to make beBee much better!

Laurent Boscherini

Laurent Boscherini

5 years ago #16

Thank you Dean Owen for sharing your insightful and ultra-shine article. Following your thoughts shared, I understand the first reason of Bebee success, well calibrated into its concept, so discriminating as unifying : Affinity linked to Passion (as Desirability = business matters).That affinity means having a feeling connection of closeness and understanding for someone or thing shared. That desirability has to do with the qualities, fact, tact, relevance of being desirable to share the passion to build fruitful intercultural bridges both sides. The Plus of Bebee is to be sustainably open minded and be driven by experienced Entrepreneurs and wise Listeners in a perfect timing.

David B. Grinberg

David B. Grinberg

5 years ago #15

Very nice post Dean Owen!

Laurent Boscherini

Laurent Boscherini

5 years ago #14

Thank you Dean for sharing your insightful and ultra-shine article. Following your thoughts shared, I understand the first reason of Bebee success by its two simple elements so well calibrated into its concept, so discriminating as unifying : Affinity and Passion (as Desirability = business matters).That affinity means having a feeling connection of closeness and understanding for someone or thing shared. That desirability has to do with the qualities, fact, tact, relevance of being desirable to share the passion to build fruitful intercultural bridges both sides. The Plus of Bebee is to be sustainably open minded and be driven by experienced Entrepreneurs and wise Listeners in a perfect timingrogros..

Franci 🐝Eugenia Hoffman, beBee Brand Ambassador

Terrific buzz Dean Owen. I feel sure our beBee is going to hum like a fine-tuned engine.

Dean Owen

Dean Owen

5 years ago #12

#17
Oh you are the Master of Comments CityVP. Trust you to bring in Sinatra!

CityVP Manjit

CityVP Manjit

5 years ago #11

"You came along and everything starting to hum"...I say the complete opposite, enjoy success in whatever form it takes and stand on the shoulders of the great or prove your genius as a complete pioneer, but most of all give the value creator breathing space, the time to think and play and where anything begins to take a life of its own, just be sure of one thing, always heed what Frank sings https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmf1AYgYj6I

Dean Owen

Dean Owen

5 years ago #10

#9
You raise an important point Emilia. It is so easy to get buried working on an early stage startup, one sometimes forgets to eat properly, sleep properly, get some exercise. Health first!

Dean Owen

Dean Owen

5 years ago #9

#8
Paul-sensei, 1,000 apologies. Perhaps you will be the one to write their first biography! (Now there is an idea!). I am sure your article would have blown mine out of the water. In terms of flow, you are the best I know!

Dean Owen

Dean Owen

5 years ago #8

#7
Much appreciate you taking the time to read it Amroussi Mohamed. Thanks for the comment.

Dean Owen

Dean Owen

5 years ago #7

#5
Thank you Adrian, we all look forward to the day when these two feature on the cover of Forbes magazine!

Dean Owen

Dean Owen

5 years ago #6

#4
Indeed you raise a great point Mamen Delgado that should be mentioned, and that is team building, and I think we would all agree that as far as we can see, they have put together an incredible team of talented, energetic, and highly motivated members, often doing what it takes even during their offtime.

Dean Owen

Dean Owen

5 years ago #5

#2
Thank you Maja Vujovic, also important to note that they recognised the importance of mobile above all when building beBee.

Dean Owen

Dean Owen

5 years ago #4

#1
Thank you Javier. I think you and Juan are certainly a role model for many of us here. Certainly it has been an education and beats studying Entrepreneurship on Coursera.

Mamen 🐝 Delgado

Mamen 🐝 Delgado

5 years ago #3

Woww Dean Owen, you are such a great Bee!!! As you explain, we are witnessing a very special phenomenon in social media and I would like to remark the humility of all the beBee team. They are an extraordinary human team with their feet on the ground. Learning from them and from all of you. Let's enjoy the live show!!

Javier 🐝 CR

Javier 🐝 CR

5 years ago #2

#2
Maja Vujovic we are working on it. There is a lot space to improve

Javier 🐝 CR

Javier 🐝 CR

5 years ago #1

Thanks Dean Owen

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