June 8, 2011

Interview with Muhammad Skaka

Muhammad Skaka was recently featured in an article by BlogWatch. We thought it would be beneficial to share this interview with our subscribers. Posted is the article below written by Allie Coyne.

ITJ’s ‘BlogWatch’ takes a look at some of the lesser known Australian tech sites and media outlets, and this week we have a chat to Product Feedback YouTube technology review channel and website founder Muhammad Skaka.

Picking up a partnership after one year running a YouTube channel is a pretty cool achievement. Working for The Good Guys gave Muhammad Skaka a ‘pretty good idea’ of the type of information consumers look for when purchasing products, leading to the launch of the Product Feedback channel at the end of 2009, and its accompanying site early this year.

“I thought what better way to explain to multiple people by doing videos on YouTube,” Skaka said. “I have some experience in consumer technology previously through my work experience, and I decided that YouTube as the second most searched engine on the internet would be a good way to present news and reviews on products.”

Having been recently promoted to a YouTube Australian partner as a result of skyrocketing views, Skaka said the partnership’s main selling point is more exposure. 

“After about four to six months we were turning over about 50,000 views a month and got the opportunity to apply for partnership, and they accepted,” he told ITJ. “At the moment we’re getting between 100,000 and 150,000 a month, we’re pretty happy with that.”

Focusing on products ranging from cameras to headphones and TVs, Skaka said anything electronic gets a run to to help consumers understand the range of features on offer, with video the best medium to convey the reviews to consumers. 

“What better way to explain it in a simple an easy manner for everyone to understand,” he said. “It’s easier for someone to see a product in action. We want to develop Product Feedback to be a consumer portal where people can come and see advantages and disadvantages in products.”

Skaka admits there are some difficulties in conveying messages through video, leading to the launch of the Product Feedback site in May this year, which brought on Dimitry Novoselov as editor. Skaka will soon add to the editorial team, advertising several writing positions which he says will be funded by the profit he receives from his partnership deal with YouTube. He is also looking to increase advertising beyond staple Google Ads. 

“I’m looking for different partners to continue a constant stream of things to review,” he said. “I have a few other people I’m working with and hiring to write articles for our website.”

Working part time at The Good Guys as well as studying commerce and international business at university means Skaka has had to learn effective time management skills, and though it is a ‘lot of effort’, he says the benefits outweigh the difficulties. 

“It’s something fun to work on and really rewarding when you have consumers emailing, tweeting, and commenting on Facebook that they benefit from the content you’ve produced,” he said.

Despite the early success the show has experienced, Skaka laments on the difficulties in accessing products locally compared to in the US.

“I have a constant base of suppliers but you still have to go through companies to get pre-release items,” he said. “I find it difficult in Australia when it comes to mobile phones, in the US you can go to the carriers and say ‘give it to me before it’s released’, but in Australia Vodafone, Optus and Telstra don’t really do that. It’s not great as they’re missing out on a big market.”

Skaka occasionally uses his connections at The Good Guys to review freely-available products and plans to use such companies as partners in the future. 

“I’ve emailed quite a significant amount of companies to find out how to get products, however I think the best way to preview products, and what I’m hoping to do in the future is work with The Good Guys, Harvey Norman and Dick Smith who sell the products, and through them they can provide the products when they’re released,” he told ITJ.

“I can play around with the latest products and see what things cost, it’s a better way to provide correct information on what’s the best value at the moment,” he added. “Buying products comes down to cost vs benefit and if the benefits outweigh the cost the consumer will be happy.”

Skaka has a list of grand plans for the brand, also looking to grow the website into an all-consuming review hub, where “consumers don’t need to go to ten websites to compare products”: a place where it will be “all in front of them”.

“We’re growing exponentially every month, from last year we’ve doubled our view count,” he said. “Now our focus is the website, and directing traffic from YouTube to the website, and also bringing on writers.”

“There’s a big opportunity to expand in the future and we’re pretty excited.”


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