Turkish software company PB Bilisim has worked on a variety of websites and games since its launch in 2007. Its biggest projects to date include Suggest Me Movie, a robust film recommendation engine, and an online value estimation service called Worth of Web, which enables anyone to type in a web address and see an estimate of that domain’s current value based on web traffic and ad revenue.
We sat down with PB Bilisim co-founder and CEO Aykut Pehlivanoglu, who talked with us about ways to avoid the entrepreneurial burnout and how his schooling as a chemical engineer led him to create his own company.
What was is the backstory behind PB Bilisim?
I started web design as a hobby in 2005. Back then me and my partner Ercan were developing little websites for ourselves, friends, and family members. Then in 2007 some of our colleagues started to ask if we could develop their business websites.
We also had some projects of our own that we were looking to work on. We decided to convert our hobby into a profession, and that’s how PB Bilisim was born.
When did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I’m a chemical engineer and I graduated from Middle East Technical University, a very good college here in Turkey. I found after I graduated that I didn’t really like working in chemical engineering at all.
Beginning in my time at university, I knew I needed to follow a different path, design a different life for myself where I would be free to create something. I started to ask myself questions and look into the lives of others by reading biographies.
When I wrote down all the expectations I had for my future career and answered each of them, I knew that I was on the path to entrepreneurship. I wanted to start my own business.
What was the very first job you ever had?
Before establishing this business, I had a very different work experience. As a chemical engineering intern I worked at two corporations: one produced defense electronics systems for the Turkish Army, and the other corporation produced ceramics.
For some time before that I was a math and geometry teacher. Before that I was an officer and team commander in the Turkish Marine Corps. I can’t really single out one job, but as a whole all of these experiences helped me to better understand what kind of work I wanted to do in the future.
If you sold your company today for $1 billion, what is the first thing you’d do with the money?
It would be a lie to say I wouldn’t buy any fancy toys for myself, or my loved ones and family. I’d still like to create something that people would use and appreciate.
Even if I had that much money I wouldn’t give up thinking about, creating, sharing, and working on our projects to make them better. I love this cycle.
What advice would you give to any beginning entrepreneurs out there?
Be careful about getting burned out. Anyone who has the entrepreneurial spirit will start to think about their project 25 hours a day.
For the first few months it will keep you motivated and you’ll wake up in the morning while all your other friends are sleeping, but after a while you can start to get exhausted. A lot of brilliant projects can start to fall apart at this time.
My advice: don’t play Superman. Publish 0.1 version and develop it on the road. If you don’t have a budget, don’t quit your day job. Carefully plan your resources. Design an organizational chart, create a system, create rules, and live by them.
Hire overseas virtual assistants, designers, coders, marketing people. In short, get some help after you’ve saved some money.
Who are some people that inspire you?
Derek Sivers, Tim Ferriss, Ken Robinson, and Matt Cutts.
What is your idea of happiness?
Living a peaceful life with loved ones. Having friends around who are on the same frequency as you, both in your private and professional life. I see other things (money, fame, success, etc.) as just tools.
What does 2013 have in store for PB Bilisim?
We’re planning to expand our team, develop our production and marketing systems, and we hope to create a number of new successful products for both ourselves and our clients. Just last week we published our addicting mobile quiz game, Quiztator, which we’re very excited about.
We’re working on our main site, Worth of Web, to increase the accuracy of our website value calculator. Worth of Web Blog is another new project we’re recently proud of. We’re trying to help web masters and blog owners increase their traffic, reputation, and website value by giving daily tips on our blog.