Current, former ASU students use tech tools to help businesses - East Valley Tribune: Tempe

Current, former ASU students use tech tools to help businesses

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Posted: Sunday, April 27, 2014 2:05 pm

Using the term “whiz kids” to describe Johann Beishline and Josh Valdez-Elizetxe is an accurate description based on the phrase’s definition. They are young — Beishline is still an Arizona State University student, and Elizetxe graduated relatively recently — and successful through technological innovation.

What the phrase does, however, is underplay the work and effort it took for the two to create and run a multimillion-dollar business — although they don’t specify a dollar amount — in a very competitive market. In fact, their relative youth serves as an advantage in their industry.

Foresold’s business model sounds complicated for people who don’t belong to more recent generations, but the concept is simple enough and easily summarized by Elizetxe.

“We help businesses looking to grow do that through the Internet,” he said.

There are a number of routes Elizetxe and Beishline said companies can take to accomplish that goal while saving the companies — often mid-sized or small in nature — valuable funds. The most straightforward means is to improve a company’s prominence on search engines like Yahoo and Google so potential clients don’t have to scroll down too far on the page to find them, a process called search engine optimization.

Sometimes it involves a focus on a company’s location: A small coffee shop in Gilbert, for example, would benefit from having its name appear high up if someone searched for “coffee shops in Gilbert.” To accomplish that, the aforementioned company could use key words like “coffee shop” and “Gilbert” on its website.

It sounds simple enough, but the risk comes from doing so incorrectly; Google will punish companies for boosting a page artificially by using spam dropping them deep into the search results. Beishline said recovering from that hit can take three to six months, although he added a company Foresold represents had its name moved back up on the page within two weeks.

“You have to do things day-in and day-out, and we work with Google to make sure we’re following their policies and doing things ethically,” Elizetxe said.

Another tactic employed by Foresold is the implementation of social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and the multitude of other avenues used by potential clients. Every tool has its strengths and weaknesses and specific audiences it attracts – a study by the Pew Research Center indicates women are far more likely to use Pinterest than men, while Facebook is more popular with users between the ages of 18 to 29.

Elizetxe said Foresold analyzes data to determine what strategies can work for a business, which he said has economic benefits for those companies. Why spend $20,000 for a television ad, for example, when a person can spend less to get his or her ad on a popular platform like YouTube?

“The cost is more efficient,” Beishline said.

Both Elizetxe and Beishline are in their early 20s and much, much younger than the average entrepreneur, but their relative youth serves as a strong advantage for them. They grew up with the social media platforms and the technology they work with and are intimately familiar with them; even adding an additional five years to their ages adds a level of disconnect between them and their web tools.

Additionally, having the connection to the current standards keeps them in touch with whatever is about to come next. Elizetxe said the industry doesn’t just change on a daily basis, it shifts “every 22 seconds.”

And it’s not like either of them are inexperienced in business. Beishline had his own company, Lezal Marketing, that incorporated into Foresold once the two began to work together, and Elizetxe, who said he volunteers his time working with Perry High School students, has dabbled in business opportunities since he started trading stocks as a 13-year-old.

“We’re young, but we each carry a decade of experience,” Elizetxe said. “The Internet breaks down all barriers.”

That youth has still acted as an impediment for the two of them, but the rise of young entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg and Instagram founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger have added a level of legitimacy to young innovators who are more than the label given to them.

“People use the term ‘whiz kids’ when they can’t understand it,” Beishline said.

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