30 January 2024

Check Out this Awesome Startup: Knowem.com

By Ronald Smith

I love discovering new and exciting startups. Not only because I’m addicted to exploring new websites and online platforms, but also because I believe we can learn a lot from their journeys. Recently, I stumbled upon Knowem.com, a fantastic site created by Michael Streko and Barry Wise, aimed at preventing identity theft on social media.

Lately, I’ve come across stories like the one on StartupNation that highlight the significance of tools like Knowem for small business owners. These tools help protect their online brand, which is crucial in today’s digital age. Curious to know more, I reached out to Michael Streko, who is not only a small business owner himself but also devotes his time to assisting other entrepreneurs.

Hey, Michael! Before we dive deeper, I have to ask: How did Knowem.com come into existence, and why is it so important?

I’ll tell you about KnowEm.com—a website that I started. But first, let me give you a bit of background. I used to own a website called CheckUsernames.com. In February 2009, another similar website shut down. My partner Barry Wise and I thought it was a great opportunity to create a similar service with some improvements.

Our idea was simple: we wanted to help people check if their brand, username, or company name was available on 120 popular social media sites. It didn’t take long for us to start receiving requests for a service that would not only check the availability but also register the name on all of those sites. And that’s when the idea for KnowEm was born.

Now, you might wonder how I made the big decision to leave my day job and focus on KnowEm.com, especially considering the tough economy. Well, it wasn’t an easy choice, but I knew it was the right time. I prepared for the transition by carefully planning and organizing myself. I made sure I had all the necessary resources, such as the support of my partner Barry Wise and a solid plan to move forward.

I can still vividly remember the moment I decided to take a daring leap of faith. It was like a Hail Mary play, a move filled with uncertainty and excitement. At that time, I already had successful websites that were earning enough to support my family. But deep down, I had a gut feeling that this idea would be a game-changer. So, without hesitation, I took the plunge.

Now, you may be wondering, is the concept of working around the clock truly the new norm? And how many individuals are part of Knowem today?

Well, the answer is yes. In this challenging economic climate, running a .com startup demands your unwavering commitment. It’s like a 24/7 gig rather than a traditional 9-to-5 job. When we first started, there were only three of us: myself, Barry, and our friend, Rick. However, we’ve come a long way since then. Currently, our team has grown to include six more individuals, and we’re actively searching for two new team members to join us.

So, here’s the deal – we don’t have a fancy customer support team or a bunch of salespeople. Nope, it’s just us, the owners, handling everything ourselves. Funny story, when people call us for support, they often can’t believe they’re actually talking to one of the bosses. It’s little things like that which keep our customers happy and coming back for more. I mean, I’ve even been caught answering support emails at 2:30 am on a random Tuesday!

Now, let’s chat about how the Internet has totally revolutionized the game for us small business owners. It’s incredible how we can use the web and social media to spread the word about our startup. Seriously, it feels like everyone is talking about this thing called knowem. Have you heard of it?

So, here’s how it all went down: we sent out a press release through PRWeb, and big deal, it got picked up by Fox News, The Washington Post, CNET, and a bunch of other big-shot news sites. From there, we unleashed the power of Twitter with our main account, @knowem. We scoured Twitter for folks who we thought could benefit from our amazing service, and we reached out to them. And guess what? They saw what we had to offer, and man, were they impressed! They couldn’t help but share our site URL with all their friends. And that’s when things really started rolling. Twitter, my friend, is the place to be if you want to reach as many people as possible. So go on, don’t hesitate to get chatty with folks on the site.

But wait, there’s more! We didn’t stop there. We also dove headfirst into LinkedIn, looking for businesses that were just itching to get their hands on our services.

Now, let me ask you something:

The most important thing I’ve learned is that what you put into your business is what you’ll get out of it. If you’re feeling tired and don’t want to work, you might miss out on a great opportunity. And if you don’t want to put in that extra hour at night because your favorite TV show is on, you can always use TiVo to watch it later.

I want to ask you, what’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a new small business owner?

For me, it’s definitely been managing employees. In the past, I’ve always worked for someone else, so being on the other side of the table and actually being responsible for managing people was a whole new experience. We did have some issues with our team at the beginning, but we were able to work through them. I have to admit, I was probably partly to blame for some of those problems. It was all new to me, but now things are running smoothly.

Now, let me ask you, what’s the most rewarding thing about running your own business?

Being present for my son’s mornings and evenings is important to me. I used to spend four hours a day commuting into NYC, but now I am grateful to be able to be at home with my family. They are my priority, and everything I do in my career is with them in mind, striving to give them the best life possible.

How can you benefit from what knowem.com offers as a small business owner?

There are two main advantages: security and branding. We make sure that your name is not misrepresented on various social media sites. Additionally, we introduce you to social media and Web 2.0 platforms that you may not have known about. It’s all about creating a consistent brand and effectively managing it across the Web.

Do you have any advice for aspiring SMB owners who might be unsure about taking the leap? Also, what types of businesses should people be focusing on right now?

Let me be honest with you – I was scared to death when I first started taking leaps. But I had a fire inside of me that wouldn’t let me quit. The comfortable salary and health insurance kept me going for a while, but deep down, I wanted more. After all, you can’t become wealthy by working for someone else.

Now, when it comes to choosing a business to focus on, it really depends. What are your goals? Is there a demand for what you want to offer? It’s up to you to use your smarts and make the best decision.

Thank you so much, Michael. Your words of advice and wisdom are truly amazing, especially coming from someone who’s been through it all. By the way, if you haven’t checked out knowem.com yet, you should give it a try. It’s one of the finest tools out there for managing your online reputation as a small business owner.