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Interview with Gillian Muessig, co-founder of SEOmoz

By Kathy Heslop

February 21, 2013 | 8 min read

Today Ve Interactive is delighted to launch our first Interview Series.

With a roster of high achieving, entrepreneurial guests in the pipeline, from the business, technology and third sectors (all the areas Ve touches), we are thrilled to launch the series today with an interview with the wonderful Gillian Muessig.

Fondly known as SEOmum, Gillian is the co-founder of SEOmoz, she is a startup mentor at incubators such as Microsoft/Techstars, an author, speaker and CEO Coach at Her hectic speaking schedule takes her all over the world.

Ve Interactive was lucky enough to enjoy a fascinating discussion with this inspiring lady. We talked entrepreneurship, what the future holds and the rapidly growing SEOmoz enterprise.

Here’s some of Gillian’s insight to share with you:

Hi Gillian, what excites you in business at the moment?

What excites me most is the volume of entrepreneurship that is burgeoning around the globe. In 2001, the dot COM bubble burst, followed in 2008 by a global economic crash. On both occasions, people were laid off in droves and small entrepreneurship began out of necessity. We’re living in the time of the rise of the creative class and this is exciting. The old star is exploding and we’re seeing an explosion of new stars.

What is your definition of an entrepreneur?

My definition of a true entrepreneurial spirit is someone who loves the startup game and cannot think of any other way to make a living with so much joy. If you can think of any other way to get up in the morning, live your day and be satisfied, do not become an entrepreneur! It’s an obsessive lifestyle and you will be addicted to it. An entrepreneur is energised by building something from a dream to reality.

And what excites you about the future?

Three things. The Internet of Things. For example, refrigerators that will keep track of its contents and order the things you need. Everything will be connected and can all come together. Second, the rise of the Creative Class as I mentioned earlier and third, the 24/7 economy, vital for efficiency of space and time in our crowded cities. Look to SE Asia for examples of 24/7 economies in action.

How do you see these things changing the way we shop?

Impulse buying will still happen, but things like grocery shopping will become even more commoditised–we’re back to the intelligent refrigerator. Meanwhile the 24/7 economy will energise our cities and technology can be used to drive people back into High Street stores, where hands-on review of the product is available, but in which the actual purchase may or may not take place.

Listen up Mary Portas! So how do you see retail staff roles changing then?

Sales jobs will evolve into much more creative roles. They’ll be about giving service and no longer facilitating sales. The High Street will become much more experiential as a result, a place where you can be counseled on purchase ideas, get to taste or sample new products, do things like take a cookery class. It will be about experiencing the human connection and having multiple choices. I will still vote with my money, so convince me how to spend it with exciting interactive experiences using technology and human interaction.

And what will be the challenges ahead?

The big challenge for digital marketers will be determining how we will market products and brands in the time of the Internet of Things. It’s about understanding how quickly these systems will play out and figuring out how to respond accordingly. The future playing field will be complex and we will be competing on a much larger playing field too.

How did you go about building SEOmoz?

Our first goal at 'Moz was to democratise the spread of ideas on the web. We sought team members who wanted more than a mere paycheck - they were people who wanted to be part of something important. We demand excellence and commitment and we offer an exciting, supportive working environment in which our team members can grow personally and professionally, as well as a stake in the long-term success of the company.

The SEOmoz culture is legendary, how do you sustain it?

Through our TAGFEE code: Transparent, Authentic, Generous, Fun, Empathetic, Exceptional. This is the criterion of everything that we do at SEOmoz; it’s the congruence of our personal values and the corporate marketplace. Social media robs companies of the ability to ‘spin’ the message, so the truth about you will always get out. Today, companies have to walk the talk. It’s about being authentic to your personal values across everything that you do.

And what would you say to the new stars that are exploding out there at the moment?

Keep the purpose of your company in mind. Make sure your company is a responsible, valuable member of society. You are its parent.

Who is your business hero?

Alan Mulally the CEO of the Ford Company. He is one of the CEOs who brought his personal values to the corporate marketplace to the benefit of the business and its customers too. He is a visionary because he did this in the already mature industrial sector.

And finally, you visit London often, what are your favourite things to do in the city?

I love to walk through Portman Square and go see the Wallace Collection. London is a magnificent walking city and I love that it is a late night city too. However, the most fun I have in restaurants is in a tiny little continental restaurant run by a husband and wife called Lisa’s on Pitshanger Lane in Ealing. There’s a real sense of neighbourhood, there isn’t the anonymity of being in the downtown sector and I find this truly delightful. And the food is really, really good. I highly recommend it!

Thank you for your time and fascinating insight Gillian - we look forward to talking again, hopefully over dinner in Lisa's!

About Gillian

As the founder/owner of a traditional marketing agency and co-founder of SEOmoz, Gillian melds more than two decades of traditional media marketing experience with the demands of the fast-changing Inbound Marketing landscape. Although she usually works behind the scenes, such as during her time working on the business end of SEOmoz, Gillian addresses audiences around the world, support entrepreneurs with her weekly podcast, CEO Coach on, has authored numerous articles, is working on a book on Community Based Marketing, and serves on the Boards of companies in four continents. She is known as SEOmom throughout the industry.

About Ve Interactive

We're a multi award-winning, hard working entrepreneurial British start-up, that three years after inception, now has 8 offices across the globe, employs over 200 people, has 2,000 clients and works in 19 languages, so actually we struggle to still be classified as a start-up!

We began our journey by creating our revolutionary cart recovery software 'VeCapture" to address basket abandonment online and this was coupled with our proprietary remarketing software 'VeContact.' We still recover carts and remarket, but now our focus is on reducing abandonment and increasing conversion by improving our clients' overall online efficiency. We do this through a roster of additional software and services, and assist over 2,000 clients. Last year we made them a collective £1 billion in online revenues that would have otherwise been lost.

Ve Interactive also incubates five other businesses with strong online elements and Ve staff share in the ownership of these businesses too, which is not only great for their long-term wealth, but creates opportunities for them to gain greater business acumen as well. 
We also give our pro bono services to the international development organisation Concern Universal to assist with their digital strategy.


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