I know it has been a while since my previous post but all good things come to those who wait. This next interview is with Shaz Amin – not only does he run a tight incent network but he gives brown people a good name when it comes to ballin, a rarity indeed.
I am especially pleased to do this interview as he was one of my first publishers at AVG and delivered consistent volume and quality and was always more than willing to communicate openly and transparently. I think you will all enjoy this one immensely so here we go:
1) Shaz, tell us briefly about yourself and how you got started in this industry and moreover, your forte’ into the whole Incent arena
Rick, first I want to say that I’m honored to be featured on your blog. I’m a long-time reader and I’m proud of how far you have come as a reliable industry personality. I’m going to do my best to give you a meaningful interview about our business and about myself, might be a “tldr” type of interview in some cases though. You’ve been warned!
It’s funny how easily I can talk about myself when no one is asking, but when asked, I can’t think of anything to say. Let’s start from the beginning: I’ve been in this industry for approximately 7 years, during which time I sort of climbed up the ladder from being one of the users who would sign up to receive a “free iPod,” to starting an incentive advertising agency. I was introduced to this industry when I was a very young teen by a personal friend, whom I’m sure you know, Fehzan Ali, co-owner of Adscend Media. RocketBills and Bonus Network were some of my early companies that had great success as well as helped me to understand the incentive industry as a whole.
In early 2009, while I was in college, I was ready to move one more step up the ladder and invested my time and resources into creating Blue Track Media. Our niche remains in the incentive space and we are a full-fledged incentive advertising agency. It took a long time to develop Blue Track Media’s proprietary system because I refused to use any of the generic tracking platforms available. I like to think of myself as someone who challenges the status quo. I see things very differently and usually choose to go against the established norms, which, as our track-record shows, results in innovative features that are of real value to our clients. Therefore I made a big investment in a proprietary platform; this was necessary to satisfy my unconventional, outside-the-box ideas as well as gain some early leverage in the industry.
Today Blue Track Media has transitioned into an advertising agency that represents advertisers who are looking for a reputable company to test out incentive promotional methods. Most advertisers are hesitant to experiment in this type of traffic, but we are happy to say that so far our advertisers have had phenomenal results. We are known for our quality incentive traffic which includes Virtual Currency, Social Incentives, Mobile Incentives, Content Unlocking, Co-Registration/Offer Walls, and many other methods. We work hard to make exclusive deals with advertisers and with our proprietary platform we are able to make virtually anything a reality for them. Be on the lookout for new, clean advertisers that are exclusive to Blue Track Media in the coming months!
Oh, I almost forgot to talk about my personal interests! I’m a huge sports fan, especially for the Dallas Mavericks (MFFL), Dallas Cowboys, and recently the Texas Rangers ( though I’m not afraid to admit that I hopped on the band wagon). I’m also a very competitive basketball player, as many have witnessed from the first annual ASW Las Vegas Classic Basketball Tournament. Aside from sports, I’d like to say I’m a pretty fun, kind, and outgoing person. I also tend to have no shame which sometimes gets me in a little trouble, but I can confidently say that there is no facade and this is who I really am every time.
2) Do you think being a Pakistani in this industry has hindered or helped you achieve the level of success you currently have or anticipated?
I think most people don’t even realize I’m Pakistani. It may surprise some to learn however that I was actually born in Pakistan and moved to the United States at very young age. You can’t tell with my American accent though, I did work hard at assimilating myself with my surroundings. But I must admit that I am THAT guy who wears socks with sandals; it’s something I’ll never give up.
I’m a very proud “Pakistani,” I never shy away from telling people where I’m really from. I wouldn’t say its hurt me at all, but that’s mainly because I have grown up in America and not many people I’ve come across so far in our industry would single me out for it, which I am very happy to say. I think in our industry the people living in the South Asian countries are perceived a different way than others and sometimes that perception is not favorable. I hope people like you and me can pave the way for other Pakistanis and Indians to be taken more seriously in this industry, especially with the marketing potential that India presents, given its massive population.
I do however want to take this opportunity to let people know that I am a proud Muslim. Many of the things I hear in industry-related forums about Muslims and our faith are incorrect or taken out of context. I invite any one to get in touch with me to have a respectable and understanding discussion to clear up any misunderstandings about the faith and allow me to show them how peaceful and warm-hearted Muslims truly are. We value and respect all different types of religions, faiths, and people. Many things seen in the media are very bias and can be cleared up with a respectful and intellectual discussion.
3) What are the top 3 factors that you feel contribute to your success?
I’m going to pop in a quick Kanye lyric (huge fan), “They’re going to have to take my life before they take my drive, because when I was barely living, that’s what kept me alive.”
I honestly believe that my strong work ethic and resiliency has opened up many successful opportunities for me. I was literally that person who was at home working 24 hours a day while all my friends were out enjoying their lives. I never had much of a fun party college life either since I was running Blue Track Media and coming home regularly to take care of my mom. My father passed away when I was 16 years old and coming from a not-so-wealthy family kept me striving for a better life for me and my family.
I also believe my morals are a cornerstone of my success because without them Blue Track Media wouldn’t have gained the trust of many of our clients. I will choose ethics over greed any day, no matter how much money is in question. I’m not saying I never made any mistakes in the past or continue making them today, I have, everyone has. I think it’s important to learn from these mistakes and grow as a person everyday. I try to be someone people can look up to and trust that I have their best intentions at heart. Our clients confidently believe that we do not participate in any unethical types of business practices. You can trust Blue Track Media, we’re good people.
My family has also been a major factor in my success because without them I don’t know where or what I would be today. My father was the most generous man I knew; he would gladly help a stranger on the road. One day we were driving on the freeway when we saw an elderly man with a flat tire and pulled to the side of the road. My father looked at me and said, “Today I will teach you how to change a tire.” My sister was also essential to my early success in life by teaching me responsibility. She practically raised me when I was young because both of my parents worked low-paying full-time jobs. She made sure I always was keeping up with school and getting my homework turned in on time (sometimes I’d make her do it for me, I was a brat). The foundation of my family however is my mother. She gave up so much for our family, especially when my father passed away. She’s the reason I am what I am today and I uphold such high morals. She taught me right from wrong and worked hard every single day to support our family. I was never spoiled with the newest toys, but she spoiled me with her love. I credit my “no excuses” attitude to her and I would be happy if I could be just a fraction of what she is.
4) How important is it to you to communicate with your publishers? Is there a particular message you are wanting to convey?
I can’t overstate the importance of regular, meaningful communication with every single client. There is no reason that any of our clients should see us as some big corporation without any personality. I genuinely care about all of our clients and I am always trying to reach out to them to let them know that I am literally just an email or phone call away if they ever need anything. It’s never hard to get a hold of me and I strive to reply to all of the emails I receive in a timely manner.
The message I want to convey to all of our current and future clients is simple. Blue Track Media does not see our clients as “walking, talking dollar signs”. They are much more to us than streams of revenue. We are eager to connect with our clients and we love to talk to them about things unrelated to business. We are glad to share their happiness and help them succeed in their ventures with our knowledge.
5) Talk to us specifically about your experience and frustrations in dealing with people in the industry.
In the early stages my experience with the industry was different. We got burned a couple times from our advertisers for large amounts of money, which could have potentially ended us. However I wasn’t going to let that be the end of Blue Track Media. I found ways to work around it and we’ve been thriving since. I never got to enjoy our industry starting out as much as I do today because back then I was busy with college and Blue Track Media which left no time for anything else. The moment I started networking and meeting new people is the moment I started getting the most out of our industry. Networking is key to any industry and especially ours. It still amazes me to this day how intelligent and creative the people in our industry are. I never stop learning and meeting new people, it keeps the excitement going.
6) Who has been your motivation or inspiration, in other words, who is your driving force?
Two people are my driving forces. One is my mother, whom I already elaborated on in the previous question. I just want repay her for everything she did for me and keep her happy and retired for life.
The other person that drives me is myself. I have great expectations for myself I want to make a difference in the world. I want to change many people’s lives and share my blessings with them. There is a lot I need to do to achieve my goal of becoming a philanthropist and that usually keeps my motivation in overdrive.
7) What do you think is the impact of the “new” media on today’s generation? Are they leveraging it effectively and more importantly – are they leveraging it for the betterment of our industry?
Our clients are always coming up with new and exciting ways to put a spin on incentive traffic. They usually come to me for advice and my thoughts about certain ideas they have and it amazes me how creative they can get. The best part of it is that most of their ideas involve cleaning up the incentive industry and making it valuable to advertisers. I’m not going to out any of their ideas or plans since everything is kept confidential, but I am proud to say that Blue Track Media has some of the cleanest and most intellectual clients who do their best to deliver quality incentive leads to our advertisers.
8) Being a minority myself, there are constant stereotypes that I have to overcome, have you ever experienced this?
When I was young I used to get picked on in school because of the way I looked, spoke, and dressed. Coming to America from Pakistan was a big step for our family. I used to tell my mom I didn’t want to go to school in the beginning because I couldn’t speak English well and I wouldn’t be able to make any friends.
Fortunately I found out at an early age the secret to a popular childhood. That secret is, if you are a talented athlete, people stop stereotyping you and start respecting you. As soon as I started developing my athletic skills and making the school basketball teams every year, I stopped getting picked on. Everyone magically became my friend and wouldn’t dare to mess with me. It’s quite sad, but I guess that’s just the way it is with young people. However, nowadays those kinds of things don’t really ever happen so it’s actually not an issue anymore.
9) Thoughts about the other brown guy from your neck of the woods – Fez@Adscend?
Fehzan is a good guy, we practically grew up together and previously ran The Bonus Network together. He has done a great job with Adscend Media and I hope the best for them. As I mentioned, he introduced me to this industry several years back and helped me understand a few concepts. It was helpful having a friend in the industry to bounce ideas off of periodically. Although we are somewhat in the same industry, our companies are completely independent of one another. People frequently mix the two of us up but I want to make it clear that Fehzan is not currently, nor has he ever been, affiliated in any way with Blue Track Media. My success is solely the result of the countless hours and hard work that I have invested in the company from the beginning, not anyone else. Although it is not the case, some people in the industry do mix Fehzan and I up or think we’re related and that always brings me a bit of comic relief. Oddly enough, I believe this is one stereotype I’ve experienced in the industry!
10) What are some effective tools and products that help you keep your life organized?
Google. I love Google. I call Gmail “God’s’ Mail. It keeps me sane and organized. I use it all: Gmail, Calendar, Android, Gchat; all of it! I also have such a bad memory so I create many notes and stickies to remind myself of the important things I need to get done. I get such a sense of accomplishment when I cross things off a list!
11) If you had a money tree in your back yard and could purchase anything for your business tomorrow, what would it be?
I’d take that money and build a bigger team to keep up with all the demand at Blue Track Media. I have a great team around me right now that works very hard, sometimes around the clock, to make sure things are running efficiently for our clients. Blue Track Media is more successful today and will be more successful in the future because of our great employees. I would definitely take that money to hire additional reliable members and ease up everyone’s stresses just a little.
12) Any words of wisdom for my readers looking to get into this space?
Wow, I feel old giving words of wisdom out at such a young age. I think my best advice would be to never settle for less and always expect the best from yourself. Once you set a high standard for yourself, your output becomes that much more valuable and impressive. Don’t make excuses of why you haven’t researched or put your new idea into effect – excuses get you nowhere. There is so much information available for free around the web and especially in forums. Research, read, take risks, get out to the conferences, meet new people and learn new things. Don’t be scared to fail, if you fail, learn from your mistakes and go at it again. You do learn a lot of things from failure, it’s a cliché because it’s true. In the end you are in control of your life and successes, no one else.
For more info on Shaz: