Caroline Thompson is a prominent marketing executive. She is serving as the Business Development Manager of Ask Bongo, the biggest on-demand SMS information service in Australia. She is a graduate of the University of New South Wales. She has held numerous executive positions in the country before embarking on the entrepreneurship path. The paid service has rapidly gained traction in the country and across the globe.
The super-intelligent monkey, Bongo answers any question thrown at it through a text-messaging platform. Caroline Thompson has guided the service to become the go-to text-based information network well beyond the Australian borders. She has achieved this through high-quality service delivery, cutting-edge technology and a highly dedicated team of experienced researchers who are proficient in multiple subjects.
She is inspired to drive the service to greater heights by the endless opportunity it holds as it evolves. The brand is in a unique position to exploit the emerging mobile market with penetration expected to saturate in a short time. She took some time to answer a few questions about her journey taking the brand to the top of the leaderboard.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
Ask Bongo has a mundane, everyday story behind it. During a social event, a friend of mine was busy on the phone when he looked up and asked a history question. At the time, we all looked at him and back to the phone and wondered, can’t you get that answer from your phone? This sparked the idea of a text-based information service. You can Ask Bongo any question, and you will have an authoritative answer within minutes. I love connecting customers to innovative solutions that have a direct impact on their lives.
How do you make money?
We have a solid business plan with benchmarked milestones. I am always reviewing the goals to align them with evolving trends in the industry. The service charges a fee for each text-based question you ask. The charge is a flat rate that includes the cost of messaging as well as applicable taxes.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
It took a while to get the initial database of information together in a manner that could support global service delivery. However, as soon as the platforms were ready, we were making money from day one.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
There was no doubt the service would be a success. We targeted an exclusive niche market with a revolutionary service. However, it is hard overcoming instinctual resistance as an entrepreneur. It was an eye-opening journey learning to trust my own instinct as well as the push from my team members.
How did you get your first customer?
Once our platforms were up and running, we launched an effective SMS marketing promotion targeting digital media, text, and email as well as video platforms. I can probably get the name of our first customer from the database, but once the floodgates opened, it was a question-and-answer fest like you have not seen anywhere else.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
Besides periodical marketing campaigns, I also focus on leveraging timelines and social media to push the brand. I am also tasked with aligning our business goals with developing trends to achieve growth.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
Some of our operating models were recently questioned in court. It is tough enough building an honest business. However, when some people do not understand the models accurately, they attack the whole business. I chose to stand behind our brand and its effectiveness in improving the lives of people around the world.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
Mobile phone adoption across the world. Kids and young adults are increasingly turning to their mobile devices for answers. As long as people have mobile phones in their hands, it is natural to be curious.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
It has been a great joy taking the company to the top. I am a born creative. I thrive in developing new solutions that impact people. I am also a successful role model for female entrepreneurs.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
We are uniquely positioned to grow with the greater adoption of mobile services. Soon, almost everyone will have one in his or her hands. We are looking at strategic partnerships to scale the platforms to different regions across the globe.
I am excited about future trends where we can leverage authentic sources of information by leveraging big data. It is also interesting to watch for stronger integration of the service with evolving trends such as social media and other digital assets. These will enable us to offer more engaging interactions and superior customer service.
What business books have inspired you?
I read a lot during my free time. I frequently reference The Art of Thinking Clearly, a book by Rolf Dobelli. Business is about decisions. The quality of your decisions reflects directly on your bottom line.
What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?
I just acquired a surfing kit to enhance my outdoor experiences. New learning experiences are the hallmark of the brand. I look forward to fleshing out the intimate details of surfing that I have only read about. Bongo is about to hone his kitesurfing skills to give you better answers on the subject.
How do you refresh?
Like I mentioned, I have a new hobby, kite surfing. Additionally, I enjoy adventure travel and reading. A trip to your favorite destination can give you a unique perspective on business projects and rejuvenate your creativity.