Sramana Mitra: How long did the model go on?
Issa Asad: I did that in 2007. Then I sold my company to a company called Blackstone. They wanted it for the technology. They were able to take it to a new level, which was beyond my reach. At that point, I took a new venture. I started looking at how to do Internet marketing.
Sramana Mitra: What year did you sell?
Issa Asad: 2007.
Sramana Mitra: You didn’t have to serve time inside of your acquiring company. You had a good exit. What happens next?
Issa Asad: The Internet now is something that people have in households. I believe the Internet wasn’t really real until 2005. You surfed the Internet and you were able to see articles, but it wasn’t e-commerce. It wasn’t fully developed. In 2007, I started thinking about how to sell and market online.
What I was trying to achieve was not having to have agents or middlemen. I wanted to figure out how to market directly to consumers. I started trying to do telecom products. It was good for about a year. Then Skype, MSN Messenger got developed. The market became harder and harder because people were thinking about making phone calls for free rather than buying phone cards. That became a very tough market.
I was thinking, “What else can I sell to people that was online?” I started dabbling with a couple of products. I realized that it was really hard to find a product. Then I said, “Maybe I don’t sell a product. Maybe I sell the idea.” Then I started partnering with companies. I said, “If you have a product, I’ll create the demand and I get paid in the middle.”
I started marketing online. If you had widgets and you wanted to sell to consumers, I would help set up the marketing for that. I built the system and basically tracked all of that to maximize the amount of sales at the best cost. At the same time, I was maximizing how much money I can make for every transaction that transpired. I did it based on a cost plus model. If they didn’t make any sales, I receive no payment. If I did, I receive a payment.
Sramana Mitra: What category were you doing affiliate marketing for?
Issa Asad: I started doing telecommunications products. Then I started doing Health and Beauty. Next, I did investment products. I would say, predominantly, my biggest category ended up being Health and Beauty.
Sramana Mitra: What specifically about the Health and Beauty market? What was the dynamics of the market?
Issa Asad: I tried to sell different products. I found that Beauty was the best product.
Sramana Mitra: Beauty was the best product.
Issa Asad: Beauty in terms of weight loss and diet. I tried a bunch of different things and that seemed to be the category that always had a high demand.