OnlySimchas.com is a popular website which enables Jews around the world to share photo galleries of their celebrations with friends. It’s name is practically synonymous with Jewish simchas online. In an exclusive interview we get the inside story on the keys to their success.
Jew Central: What do you consider the most important factor(s) to your success?
Only Simchas: Our non-partisan, yet professional appearance has allowed us to grow within and outside the densely populated Jewish areas. OnlySimchas’ core product has become a vital tool for the global Jewish community. One of the most important factors of being a successful website is listening to your users. They are our “content staff” and their contributions to our website is among the main reasons our site has been able to have the impact it has in the global Jewish community.
JC: What do you consider onlysimchas biggest professional accomplishment/achievement?
OS: We have allowed ourselves to grow naturally without enlisting capital. This allows us to make long term decisions without an overextended need to satisfy 3rd party investors. We haven’t had to hire anybody to get where we are. We all enjoy doing this and each one of us contributes whatever we can to the site’s success.
JC: Only Simchas was started by five friends/family, what advice can you give about not having your personal life and professional life conflict?
OS: It’s extremely difficult to ignore business in other aspects of our relationships, but its best to leave the office in its place. There is little room for interpersonal conflict (a potentially dangerous by-product of intermixing business and personal lives) if the organizational structure is made clear from the start. We all share a passion for the site and its objectives and do not mind the slight mix of business and personal life.
JC: When the dot com bubble has burst and many web only businesses folded. How do you think web only sites can be profitable? Are you profitable?
OS: Profitability comes from a simple business plan, and realizing that not all business plans will result in an IPO. OnlySimchas.com reached profitability in late 2001 / early 2002, on a “minimal-to-none” financial investment, though a substantial investment of time and contribution of skills were offered by all members of the team. All programming and development was done “in house” by co-founder Dov Katz, who continues to enhance the site on a regular basis.
JC: What are the special challenges serving the Jewish market?
OS: It is obvious that Jews are unique, opinionated, and sometimes stubborn people. These traits have, in part, contributed to our survival throughout history. A business owner has to set guidelines for his content and accountability. One must realize how sensitive an audience one is serving, and be able to walk a fine line, and defer accountability to others when necessary. It is easy to feel that you have several thousand bosses in this line of work.
JC: Your site recently raised site $75,000 for Magen David Adom and is also started a new tzedakah drive, called the Simcha Fund, do you think this altruism is a good idea for all businesses? How do you balance charity and profit-making activities?
OS: My partners and I have a special tie to the Land of Israel and the global Jewish community at large. Every company should maintain a moral compass by engaging in acts of giving. We feel that our site can generate feelings of celebration among its visitors, and what better time to remind them “Im Eshkachech Yerushalayim Tishkach Yemini” ?
JC: What other online or offline companies do you look up to and why?
OS: We admire Google for their simplicity and focus in their product offering. We identify with the founders of the company – software developers by profession, with a passion for what they do, a constant hunger for innovation, and a determination to see their ideas to fruition.