Maurice Harary on Fueling Growth in Competitive Industries
Maurice Harary is the co-founder and CEO of The Bid Lab
Could you give us a brief overview of your business and your role within the company, especially in relation to innovation?
When I was in college it was my goal to work for a large tech company. I had my heart set on working for a specific firm, but the only opening they had was on the ‘RFP’ team. Even though I had no idea what that was, I went for it. (I was on spring break in Chile at the time, so of course, I accepted!) Once I started actually responding to RFPs, I found that it was work that was both challenging and rewarding, and I worked my way up to be a top performer on my team. Eventually, with a little encouragement from my Co-Founder and wife, Jordan, I took the leap and went out on my own starting The Bid Lab.
What kind of innovations have you or your company brought to the industry, and how have these set you apart from the competition?
I am greatly interested in AI innovation. We use Google products all the time, and we are currently exploring some cool ways to implement AI through our newly launched software. A lot of people feel threatened by things like Chat GPT, but what I am more interested in is how people are using AI to supplement and support the human element - not replace it. I believe AI innovations are opening up an entirely new world that will support human innovation and creativity.
Can you walk us through a specific instance where innovation played a key role in solving a business challenge or capturing a new opportunity?
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms are increasingly intuitive; organizations should develop personalized messaging that resonates with their customers. Experiment with the tools that will most effectively sustain those long-lasting customer relationships, and you'll be rewarded with stronger loyalties that will drive long-term growth.
As a remote-only company, we've been experimenting with different technologies since before the pandemic. Finding ways to scale while maintaining long-term relationships is easier than ever, thanks to these evolving database management tools. What we do on our platforms is unique, but it's not anything bigger than what every business should be doing. Work with your employees and take advantage of the digital age and all the tools that come with it. You'll be pleasantly surprised by the high morale of your workforce and the number of regular customers that keep coming back.
How do you foster a culture of innovation within your team, and what strategies do you use to encourage creative thinking?
Behind any good salesperson is a great trainer or coach. Providing ongoing training and coaching can help sales representatives develop the skills and knowledge they need to be successful. Sales leaders can use feedback from coaching sessions to identify effective techniques and strategies that can be shared with the team-- and the best part about coaching is that both parties are guaranteed to exchange ideas and learn new things. It's important not to allow success to go to your head. You're never "too successful" to teach someone and you're never "too successful" to learn. This attitude is the point of all new innovations and industry events. Keep learning, keep teaching, keep growing.
Innovation often comes with its set of challenges. Could you share an example of a significant obstacle you faced while trying to innovate, and how you overcame it?
Marketing automation is in its infancy, but people are more sophisticated than ever in their understanding of marketing. It's important to us to play with our messaging and stay on top of trending analytics. We use marketing technologies like SEO analytics to analyze our results to see which ones create the highest ROI for our business. Marketing campaigns are dynamic. Those campaigns that create a higher ROI know what works for their business by refining their messages. With that said, we know our target demographic as well. Taking calculated risks is okay; if your messaging is everywhere, but no one is listening, then you've got a problem. As we were first getting started, we quickly realized that digital marketing gave us the highest return on our investments. For us, it gave us the confidence to grow our brand in the space.
How do you measure the success of your innovation initiatives, and what role does customer feedback play in this process?
Vulnerable. I know. It sounds scary, especially at work. But what if you weren’t vulnerable enough to pitch a new idea? What if you weren’t vulnerable enough to start a new business? What if you weren’t vulnerable enough to provide important feedback? Vulnerability involves risk, but we live in a world that appreciates risk-takers and looks down on vulnerability. Really they are one and the same. If you aren’t vulnerable enough to take a risk, you will remain stagnant. So the next time you’re feeling hesitant about being vulnerable, remind yourself of the great personal and professional strides that can be made when we risk vulnerability.
Looking ahead, what trends or areas of innovation do you think will be most crucial for businesses in your industry?
The most crucial trait to have as a successful entrepreneur is the appreciation and expectation of failure. You cannot succeed without failing. The sooner you accept and plan for this, the sooner you can recover and continue building your business. Crises bring to our attention things that need to change or improve or can be used as motivation to push through and prove your resilience.
My oldest daughter was born extremely premature when my business started to take off. Seeing my daughter fight to be healthy motivated me to push on with my company because if she could fight to be here, I could fight to create something for her to rely on and be proud of.
It's important to connect with yourself and learn how to find your own hope when demoralizing current events can make the world seems bleak. "Doom-scrolling" isn't a healthy hobby. The remarkable thing about the internet is that we're more plugged in globally than we've ever been in our history. Working together remotely with up-and-coming brilliant minds from all over is refreshing because it reminds me what an exciting time we're living in now. We're communicating and solving problems and coming together using technology that's still being refined.
When someone's feeling overwhelmed by the current state of affairs, my advice is to take a breath and think about the small steps we took in the past to address situations we've solved today. Draw your hope for the future from the progress we've already made, and from the potential that awaits us.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs in competitive industries who are looking to drive innovation within their businesses?
Shopping has consistently trended in favor of convenience. With mobile shopping dominating the industry, e-commerce is booming. Designing a responsive, intuitive UI for desktops, tablets, and mobile devices is the key to future-proof your e-commerce business. An app for your e-commerce business might be flashier, but I advise putting your resources towards an accessible website.